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November 23, 2015

Kevin Wilson

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH WILSON: We've got Thanksgiving break week here. So it's no classes. Last game, regular season for these guys. Big game. So good op -- good week. Last game, several things I thought from the Maryland contest.

I think the kicking game was pretty big that game. Not just because Griff made some field goals. We had it twice on the 2-yard line and had to kick field goals, which wasn't good.

So our red zone offense still needs to continue to improve. But I think our punting game, kickoff cover game, their greatest kickoff cover was when we kicked it for a touchback. Our cover units were good, that was against a really good return guy in Likely, one of the better guys in the conference. As a matter of fact, I think they actually started inside the 20 with punts and kickoff coverage.

I thought that was huge. I think coming off the six losses the way we had, we keep saying those guys battle and just impressed with the way we started. Poorly. I think the game is similar to the Rutgers game in reverse, where the first 10 or 15 minutes we're standing around, not good in any phase, then played 40, 45, 50 minutes of good football, shows finishing good is better than starting good.

We'd like to start play and finish the game well, but there's ebb and flow. We talked to the guys about continuing to play no matter what happened.

It was good to see that because we get on a 44-47 run. And I think kicking was good there. Defense except for one long run settled down. Offense got going except for a few score zones. I like to point out we talked about recruiting stuff. Got a couple of the recruiting guys here.

But you look at our team, like there's about 13, 14 walk-ons that came as walk-ons, had a huge impact on our team. You've got Mitchell Paige, five catches and two TDs. He's got 41 catches for the year, six TDs, counting his two punt runs and four on offense. He's on scholarship now.

But we recognize Mitchell. We recognize Andre Booker now has two touchdowns this year that was on scholarship, is not this year. Gotta re-earn them, the way we do it.

And he's a tremendous contributing player. But with their numbers is not on aid right now, had a big touchdown against Michigan State, and big touchdown the other day.

Michael Cooper, two touchdowns, had one came here from Arizona as a walk-on, had to earn it. 14 catches. Luke Timian had his first play. He had an ankle sprain gimping him a little bit, kind of like Mitchell and Damon Graham all similar personnel set guys at the slot. And Luke had a big catch leading to some points. That was a huge play. Damon Graham had another play, 16 yards, 16 kickoff returns for 21.7 for the year, doing well for us in that capacity.

We had A Wilson and ARod, Rodriguez at tailback playing for us.

Offensively, you've got, what, two, four, six, seven skill guys that are contributing. Defensively Mario Swann had three tackles on special teams. Ben Bach had three tackles as a corner. Played 37 snaps.

Let alone Thornton that we moved to receiver, scholarship guy. Scholarship guys, replacing Dooley like we did, got [indiscernible] and Pericht's been good and Toth had 26 kicks out of 25. It's 47 percent. Averaging 41 yards .4 and Oakes leading the conference. He's leading in scoring and percentage and touchbacks. Those are all non-scholarship guys. We threw it out to our guys. We want our recruiting to keep doing well. When you're in state school, get in state kids the nonscholarship kids are huge.

There's a bunch more that we don't mention help us whether being in practice, their roles aren't that great we threw that out there.

Offensively, yards after catch was the best it's been in a while. Simmie in particular. We thought when they made the big run in the third quarter to have the next two drives, third quarter touchdowns was huge because they cut it to 30 to 20.

We didn't like the red zone production where we keep stalling. We did have five offensive penalties and a couple of guys were playing with heart we like, be careful not to overcoach it but we were crossing the line a few too many times.

Winning performance: We had several guys up front in the perimeter. Sudfeld played well. Michael Cooper again, Devine Redding had 130. I think Maryland had given up 104 yards in the previous four games rushing to Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Iowa, and Devine had one-third himself. Loaded the box. That's why some of the passing was good, one-on-one. Good running game and a hard running day. Devine played well. Dan Feeney played well again. Jason Spriggs, Jake Reed, Simmie Cobbs and Mitchell Paige and Andre Booker. Players of the game were Simmie , Cobbs, Sudfeld and the scouts were Jacob, Albomonte and Reakwon Jones, who showed up several times as a young guy.

Defensively, responding from the 21, first start, we had a turnover, gave up a couple big plays. I think they thought they kept their poise. I think the offensive drive gave them a little bit of momentum and then they kind of got five 3 and out as the game went along. Only one defensive penalty. That was a PI call that was a competitive play.

We had eight tackles for loss. We were 13 and 16 on third down. We were four of six on fourth down. So getting some stops, the best we've been in a while. We only gave up seven second half points and zero in the fourth quarter which was great.

We didn't have any turnovers that we created that we got. And Maryland had been a little sloppy. Maryland did a much better job. We didn't get them. 15 missed tackles. We've got to clean that up.

Some big plays we gotta clean up. Got started fast and love their finish. They had several guys that played well we thought Nick Mangieri, Darius Latham and Zack Shaw, playing very hard up front. Ben Bach and Leon Thornton at corner both showed up well physically for us. Jonathan Crawford and then Marcus Oliver, Tegray Scales. Player of the game was Marcus Oliver. Marcus is probably playing as hard as anyone on our team, caring and giving and fighting. He's beat up and got a lot of passion and he's a phenomenal kid and he gives a lot.

He's kind of the glue keeping those guys together. Special young player, as a sophomore, third-year sophomore. Scouts Danny Cameron good to see and Chandler Miller. In the kicking game we had several good performances, players gamed Griffith, Oakes, Eric Toth recognized Ryan Watercutter and (indiscernible) as kick scout, covering kicks, covering kicks was really good. I thought Mitchell Paige did a good job managing the kicks had one get over his head

And then again moving on to Purdue, again very fortunate to have again what I consider a great rival and a lot of respect for their team. Through my years from high school as a player through college and where I've coached, been lucky to be able to be at a place with good rivals. Not everyone has that blessing. It's nice that we have fan base from both sides and there's a lot of talk and smack, I guess, but it's really good that it's -- I'll slow down, like the commercial, but rivalry week and we have a great rival. And we embrace that.

And it's going to be a tough challenge. If you put on the tape and we keep saying that sometimes we're playing good and the record don't show it. You put on the tape, watch how hard they're playing in all phases. Two quarterbacks. I guess one's hurt, maybe plays, maybe one not.

But the guy that comes in was their starter played against us last year, threw for 280 last week against Iowa, we threw for 180. That's a great defense.

I think it was 23 of 40. Marco Jones, their running back, was a touted kid everybody knows that we recruited, know him well and know the coaches well defensively, creating a lot of turnovers in the secondary. Williams, front linebackers. It's going to be a tough challenge. That's why you don't win on the road a lot. It's going to be hard and a big game but at the same time we go back to approaching it as it's the next week and we want to get better, and that's what we talked about yesterday.

Here's the game. Here's the good. Here's corrections. Let's fix it. We had some good preparation today and it's Thanksgiving, so a lot to be thankful for. But really as much as anything a good group of kids and just need a good week and fortunate to have a big rivalry to go play a good game in.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH WILSON: He's got a knee that they'll try to manage here. We'll go see, visit with him. He could have -- actually had it coming out the last game, so he didn't get hurt in practice. Just been fighting through it.

And why do you always ask negatives? We just had the first time in the history of the school two players of the week. Ever. And third largest comeback in the history of the school ever, and we're going to start with negative questions. That's our way.

See, we don't operate that way on the second floor. Start doing press conferences in the positive venue of the second floor here.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH WILSON: But we've always got to get injury updates. Why don't we get like who is playing great updates? We'll see. We're going to always be smart. He's got a short-term and long-term, but like last game, even like they try to get him on the bike, could go. But they were putting seven and eight up.

It's going to be tough sledding. He didn't feel comfortable. We didn't feel comfortable. We'll go through the week and see, we'll be smart with it. But I don't know. Fortunately, again, we've got still the same line and good backs if we don't have him. But we'll see. Time will tell.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH WILSON: He's out there. Didn't do anything last week same week, they take so much beating. They try to get some of those guys to Saturday this time of year.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH WILSON: Dan Feeney is nicked up. And some of those guys are wearing boots until they get off the bus Saturday then they're out there playing. That time of year with some of those guys.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH WILSON: I hadn't yet. Because, again, you just start with moving on to Monday, here's the initial formations and tendencies you think you see or how you think you're going to get attacked or blitzes and here's your kick units and threats, and so you kind of start with game planning at the end of the day. Road games are tough. That's why it's hard to win on the road. And we haven't had a lot of success doing that.

We haven't figured anything out except last week we just kept playing and playing hard and it was good enough. We'll need to do it again and better because again Purdue's -- you watch them on tape. Maryland came in playing very well. And they started playing very well. And Purdue on tape looks the same and let alone it being a rival and as you wrap up the season.

So bottom line we really talk a lot about the opponent and keeping your eyes on your job instead of surroundings and distractions and all that.

Q. (Question about the senior class).
COACH WILSON: Yeah, again, I was told, because, again, when you're in the midst of the game, when you're in my position of sometimes it's hard to stay with a group because you're kind of what's up next, what's your kicking situations, what's your O and D and all those kind of things. But I was told from a couple of people that they thought some of the things, some of the veteran defensive players did early in the game really helped some of the players and just some of their comments, whatever they were, their body language, their challenge or their positive reinforcement or let's get it fixed or whatever. But in particular, Latham and Rayner and Shaw and Mangieri, those guys were really strong on the sideline.

I think the offense gave them some energy. We kind of fed off each other. We played about three quarters of good team ball.

It's a good group of guys. I've got a lot of respect for them because of the way they battle, what they bring every day. And like I say, I was just happy we got a good win for them. And we want to have another good week, see if it's good enough to maybe get the next win. So it's coached a long time but really just got a nice -- when you're not a head coach, as I was prior to being here, you know, you're working with guys where you've got them -- I've been in several places nine years, whatever.

So you see kids develop, whether it be your position, whether it be your side of the ball, now you're the head coach it's all positions or all phases.

But to see guys grow, this is as good a group as I've been around, just what they do, the way they fight and bring it and keep their spirits up. And they're to play sometimes where they have to bring it themselves.

There's not a lot of external help bringing that energy or staying with you, staying on your side. So it's been a very unique group. And I have a lot of confidence in them just because of how they do it, just the way they prepare. It's pretty consistent.

I like to be a little bit more consistent and confident on game days. But I think the way we've battled, I think we've shown, even without the results, that this team's growing with some confidence, the way they keep battling, the way they keep coming back.

We haven't figured anything out. We have shown as most teams show in this day and age of all the outside influences, the social media, all the comments of good, the positive and negative, it's really easy to just drop your guard.

Everybody uses the word "focus." But in our world, to me, it's a little bit like boxing. And if you drop your hands, you're going to get knocked out. And it's really to keep that spirit and that fighter's mentality up, it's challenging.

And we've played some good ball up short. Now we just played hard and we didn't figure anything out. We just finished a game. Now we've got to have another good week and get better and finish it again. You've got to be mature enough to handle that. I've got some confidence I think they will but you watch the teams, that's why I think there's so much consist, you think there's teams that don't, but it's tough to keep those guys hungry and focused.

And I expect these guys to have a good week. Didn't do a bunch of rah rah, standard issue, here's how we approach it, here's what it is, it's the next week and it's the bucket week and let's have a good Thanksgiving week.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH WILSON: I don't know. And you say that, because people can still reach out to them. Sometimes they've got a little more free time now. Maybe it's more -- like we actually have some guys, hey, they'll be doing some academic work because we have a window, we've got exams coming up, papers due. So we're kind of working on a reasonable week. We back this, that's why I appreciate you guys being a little later. Let them sleep another hour or two because we didn't have to get to classes.

But we've tried to work hard to make this the last couple of years just -- it's been more about the week than the game or playing on the road, or we tried to make this a strong week for the kids. And because there are no classes, it can be a little bit more team oriented. So does that help us, hurt us, I don't know.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH WILSON: Again, all we're talking about just the week of prep, the process and then playing hard. The other day we talked about we don't want to look at the scoreboard; we're not going to look at time, just keep our eye on the opponent and doing our job.

And that will be the bulk of it this week, because again you talk about results versus what you gotta do to get the result. The result is you have assignments to do and you come over -- I thought the other day it was probably the best communication we had with kids talking. Nate was very good at halftime: I want this and this; I don't want this. He's always been good. He's the best he's ever been Saturday.

I heard several comments. I didn't see it because I was working the offensive and defensive players, they were very encouraging of whatever.

So, like I say, we don't -- we're not going to play a game with a lot of pressure. Our pressure is going to be to prepare and then go up there and play hard.

And like I said, we're not going to get caught up in the results, because there's a lot of factors that go into that.

So ball security, kicking, play calling, execution. There's all kinds of things that can determine an outcome. Our deal is the process of the week and each week we keep talking about getting better.

So we came in and said, hey, this needs to get fixed and this was good and here's what they're going to do and let's start the process of getting better. That's not coach-speak, that's just how we do it.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH WILSON: Because you guys already did last week. And I said, hey, you can't be a bowl team 5 and 7, don't worry about it. That's never been our goal we talk about. Our goal has been to be the best we can. You will Twitter and talk about it, talk about it, all we talk about is living each day and living each week and getting better as a player, as a student and in your life.

And that's all we talk about is getting better and playing better football, and continuing to play, and not riding the ups and downs and highs and lows.

Our true goal is always to be the best we can, get better and continue to improve. We haven't put a sticker on it's got to be this.

This should be the best week we've had because it's the next one. And that's all -- not because it's the rival or any other records or implication, this should be our best week because it's the next and that way to me I think our kids can approach it with some confidence and not have stress, not have worry, same with coaches.

It's our best -- our best week is going to have human error because we're human. There are going to be glitches and mess-ups and we've got to take -- that onside kick was great because it worked. We made a decision.

Sometimes you make decisions that don't work. Players make decisions. Our deal is just what's the process of getting better and that's all we've been trying to do. And we're not making it any bigger. We're not minimizing it. We're maximizing it. It's the next week we've got to get better, we've got mistakes we've got to correct, and we're fortunate to have a great rival with so many great fans, and let's go play in a great game and play the best we can. That's all we're doing.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH WILSON: It should be. My only frustration has been seeing the way they've work, prepared, sacrificed, the effort they give not to have more of those rewards.

So whether poor decision-making, play calling, execution, guy making a play, something is going to get you, came up shortly. That's been the only frustration.

Coming in with these guys every day has been a ton of fun, done it a long time, too long, but being in a place where you love practicing and working with kids and playing with them, it's a pretty good group down there.

That's why I think we've been able -- as it's not looked good, we've been able to keep doing what we're doing because our guys is a good group, as coaches we've been able to maintain that.

So it's just a credit to their buy-in. And my only issue is outside of where our fan base them getting the success they truly want is really the guys that need it. No one's putting in more time and energy and effort than those guys.

Especially a kid like Shaw or a kid like Rayner been there five years, or Mangieris and Sudfelds and Spriggs and Corsaros, go down the list of the guys, you want them to play their best football and see what opportunities come their way.

Q. (Question off microphone)?
COACH WILSON: Because again on the weekends you'll have some bowl practices, which are like spring practices and official visits, and there's energy there. We've got basketball games. If that presents itself, great.

But, again, the real deal is just we had a good Monday and now we have to go down here, get on some tape, have a good Tuesday and get this week. Keep it in perspective.

Q. (Question about Sudfeld).
COACH WILSON: Again, you hope in so many of these games, talking about keeping emotions under control. He didn't play very well last year against Maryland. 14 of 37, maybe; is that right? For 134, something like that. It's close. I try not to remember that. But that's close, I think. I think that's right.

But his teammates didn't play well. We didn't block. He was running for his life. We didn't have good rhythm. We didn't call it well.

And so for him to come back and play this year against them and whatever was nice. The same deal, you want to just see him, even didn't play in this game you like to see him as a fourth year, fifth year guy be extremely prepared. I think he's going to be pretty diligent in what is going on with his preparation.

And you like to think he'll be big enough to see what's there and rip it and not, quote, try to make a play. Because if you're trying to make a play it's late, it's not there, it's cloudy. This team gets a fair amount of interceptions Purdue does. We've got to be smart with that. It's going to be watching him play defense the way Young or Plogle is going to play hard up front.

The guys are getting picks, linebackers are big and athletic. Our offense has played decent down the stretch. It's going to be a challenge. Offensively you guys saw Iowa and the way Iowa has ball control. I would say Purdue had the ball 33 minutes give or take against Iowa. Let Iowa get into their deal.

We've got to function as a team. If the team plays well I think Nate will play well. I know Nate will tell you it's not about him.

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