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November 10, 2015

Matt Limegrover

Minneapolis, Minnesota

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach Limegrover.

Q. Matt, all the things we talk about Mitch, almost take his toughness for granted in some ways by now. How do you explain how he's able to take all the shots he does and hang in there?
COACH LIMEGROVER: It's hard to explain. I mean, he's a tough guy. There's no two ways about it. The kid, he loves football, he loves playing.

One thing is, is he's a guy a lot of times you don't use quarterbacks in this way, but he's a guy that loves the weight room. He's a guy that actually at one point Coach Kill had to scale down because he was working out so much that he was starting to stiffen up some and maybe getting a little too big. So Coach Kill had to pull the reins back.

I think he learned a lot last year as far as the physical part of it, at what level he had to be to get through an entire year. So I think that really helped him going into this year.

Q. Like he didn't even want to come off the field after that last hit.
COACH LIMEGROVER: No, he never wants to come off the field. You're going to have to grab him and pull him out of there. On the one hand, that's what you love about the kid because he's so competitive.

He's feeling good right now. There's kind of a hidden component. You see it with quarterbacks. When a guy is confident, he's in the 'zone,' it isn't just about when he's throwing the football, but how he's controlling the huddle and those types of things.

He's done a great job with the way he's gotten us in and out of the huddle, the way he's made adjustments out there on the field. He has great awareness.

If you ever saw what we're working off of play-wise, there's shifts, moves, motions, could be something subtle, could be something big. As a quarterback you have to get that relayed to everybody and then refocus and understand what part they all play, when you have to motion them, what you have to do. Then you add in crowd noise, things like that.

I think that's something that's underappreciated with Mitch right now, how he's taken control of that huddle and that group of guys.

Q. (Question about the Iowa defensive line.)
COACH LIMEGROVER: I don't know if they do it on purpose, but they have a lot of guys that have numbers in the 70s and 60s. Looks like they took real athletic offensive linemen out there. They're not going to let you get off them, play at the line of scrimmage. They've always been a beast as far as their front four. Trying to run the football against them has always been a challenge.

You have to get a little creative, play to your guys' strengths. If you try to go toe to toe with that group, they're going to beat you down.

Q. When you're calling a game, the running game is not going, is there a tug of war with you abandoning the run, or do you have to stick with it?
COACH LIMEGROVER: You get to a point, I feel more and more comfortable as the season's gone on, a lot of our short passing game, you have to mentally say, It's as good as a run. You get to a point where you say, A five-yard gain is a five-yard gain. One coach on offense constantly reminds me, You never go broke taking a profit.

If you can get those five yards with a short pass or with a screen or something on the perimeter as opposed to going between the tackles, that's kind of the ultimate goal at the end of the day is how you move that football.

Yeah, we'd like to be able to run the ball better. But at the same time with what Mitch is doing right now, guys like KJ Maye, Brandon Lingen, they're opening up some other opportunities in other areas.

Teams are still under the thought process that they're not going to let us run the football, they're going to get one more in the box than we have. They're going to keep daring us to throw the football. Each and every week we get more comfortable with that facet of things.

Q. Would you offer an evaluation of Tyler Moore through his first four games?
COACH LIMEGROVER: Tyler's had his ups and downs. The number one thing he's done is it's allowed us to kind of steady the ship inside there. Knock on wood, he hasn't had any bad snaps. That's not an easy thing when you have the kind of D-linemen that you're facing, D tackles in the Big Ten, you're going into an environment like Ohio State where it's loud, those types of things. I think he's handled that well.

Technique-wise, you're playing a freshman, really, the offensive line, it's a challenge. There's going to be the highs and the lows.

Fortunately he's an intelligent kid, he's a physical kid. Now just the technique part of it is the part that needs to come along. That's what gets him in trouble from time to time. Overall I've been really pleased with what he's been able to do this year.

Q. Have you had other freshmen centers in your history as a coach, make any comparisons?
COACH LIMEGROVER: This is a first. This is one of the many firsts of this year as far as that goes.

But it's so hard. You put the levels together, it's hard to play offensive line as a true freshman, then compounding that with snapping a ball every time puts that exponentially tougher. What he's been able to do overall has really been impressive.

I really think the sky's the limit for him because not only is he a kid that's going to grow physically, but he really thirsts and hungers for knowledge. He wants to be the guy in charge out there, making the calls, getting everybody where they need to be, learning, trying to get as much out of it as he can as the center.

I've been lucky. I had guys since I've been here, starting back with Ryan Wynn, Tommy Olson, Jon Christenson when he was healthy, playing there. Those guys knew their role, they knew they were the quarterback of the O-line. Tyler each and every week is gaining more and more confidence to be that guy.

Q. With Rashad scoring touchdowns the last two weeks, when did you realize he had the potential to play as a true freshman?
COACH LIMEGROVER: We had a pretty good idea in camp, the physical part of it. It really comes down to it's a matter with really any young man it's the mental part, the maturity part.

I think he learned some lessons. He got a chance to play early, but then he also realized there are some things I can't just go beat a guy because I'm a better physical specimen than the one I'm going against like he did a lot in high school. He's worked hard a lot at the mental part.

I have to give him credit. Him and the older guys, Eric Carter, Drew Wolitarsky. The big thing is Rashad has really listened, he's paid attention. The things he's been able to do the last couple weeks is a byproduct of having the physical talent and also having the understanding of, Hey, I just can't go out there and win a race every time, catch a deep ball, I have to become a more complete player. He's not there yet, but he's learning, and I think that's what is helping us and allowing him to get on the field and contribute.

Q. What do you think of Drew Wolitarsky's performance?
COACH LIMEGROVER: There's kids that come along, happens with all of them, but Drew played as a freshman. I kept saying there were things that happened. Two or three times I said, Junior Drew will make that play where freshman Drew didn't. That's exactly what's happening now. He's matured.

Sometimes with the way our situation is, kind of the leadership role was thrust upon him. He had two choices: he could have either shied away from it or embrace it. Fortunately he embraced it.

He is a guy that comes to practice every day and works. He likes catching the football, likes getting the ball. He puts his work in. Also, too, now our younger guys are able to look at kind of our big three of older wide receivers with Drew and Eric Carter and KJ and their work ethic in practice is starting to rub off on Rashad and Melvin Holland and those guys.

Q. Are you concerned at all about the durability of Rodney and Shannon? When you look at what David was able to do as a senior, bigger body, almost makes that look more remarkable the way he held up to all those carries.
COACH LIMEGROVER: Yeah. It's always a challenge. You're a back. In our offense you're going to get carries but you're also going to take hits.

Coach Poore has really tried to make sure he hasn't overburdened one over the other. Everybody this time of year is a little nicked up here or there. There's nobody that is 100%. Those guys are the same way.

Come Saturday, they're ready to rock, ready to roll. I know Tracy mentioned something about Rodrick Williams. He's a guy that could in a game like this have some secret weapon type of attributes, a little different change of pace type of guy.

Q. (Question regarding Lincoln.)
COACH LIMEGROVER: You know, he's always had the ability. He was hit pretty hard with injuries last year. Then playing as a freshman, it was tough for him, got banged up.

I think that we finally were able to kind of get a pretty good idea of what suited him the best and where he kind of fit with things.

Rob Reeves has done a great job with him, Nate Wozniak, Nick Hart, putting them in spots where they can succeed. I think that's what's happened with Brandon. He's so versatile. He can catch the football. I don't think he's going to make the spectacular catch that Maxx Williams would, but he's a consistent kid, got great hands. He'll be where he's supposed to be. He's becoming a dependable target. He will block his tail off, even if he's going to get out-physicaled by a bigger, stronger guy. He's not afraid to go in there.

That's what we look for in that position, that versatility. It gets harder and harder to get him off the field. That's why I think he's showing up more and more. We can keep him out there and feel good about him in the pass game or if we want to go ahead and get in the run game. He can do both which is awesome from a coach's standpoint.

Q. Are you optimistic at all about getting anybody back on the O-line this week?
COACH LIMEGROVER: I'm always optimistic, you should know that (smiling).

But I don't know. I literally take it day by day. If Ed comes to me and says, This guy is ready to go, we'll welcome him with open arms, get him back in the rotation. At the same time the guys that we've had, they've been warriors and hung in there, fought their tail ends off. You'll go to bat with those guys. Whatever else we get is going to be gravy at this time.

If they tell me somebody is healthy, we'll roll. If not, it's like in Hoosiers, That's my group out there, and we'll go from there.

Q. My team is on the floor.
COACH LIMEGROVER: My team is on the floor, exactly. Although I don't know if I'd be allowed to play with four O-line men. We have to figure that out.

Thank you.

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