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October 3, 2016

Kevin Wilson

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH WILSON: Last game about performances that were good, up front defensively, a lot of activity, not a lot of stats, but Nate Hoff, Patrick Dougherty, Greg Gooch very active, Ralph Green. Ralph had some strong leadership throughout the week in the game, so the front four guys were recognized just for the strong effort; we needed it. We played a lot of other guys that kept those main guys fresh. Tegray Scales had 14 tackles, two TFLs, Marcus Oliver, 10 tackles, one tackle for loss, quarterback hurry, forced fumble. Jon Crawford not a lot of action; ball didn't get his way, but very, very good, playing with a lot of confidence. And A'shon Riggins, who's a freshman, seven tackles, one great pass breakup on a third down and really good big-time play for a young freshman in that situation. Really proud of him.

Offensive line, Coy Cronk and Wes Martin, best game that we've had to date with Jacob Bailey; and Brandon Knight also fought and played very, very hard and well. Danny Friend, 86 percent. He had 12 knockdowns at tight end. Both running backs recognized, Tyler Natee 33 yards after contact, Devine Redding 40 after contact 19, 100 yards, always tough sledding against Michigan State's front and their scheme, and to run the ball fair enough was a strong effort by those guys.

Ricky Jones played well, five receptions, 124. Mitchell Paige, one touchdown, one touchdown pass, big-time return he had for us. Richard Lagow had some stats. That's his best game, settling down, fighting, finishing, graded very, very well, two touchdown passes and one touchdown receiving.

Not a lot of action in kicking. Still our field goal team has gotta get better. Players of the game: Defensively, Tegray Scales. Offensively, we recognize two guys Richard Lagow and Rick Jones. Special Teams Player of the Game was Chris Covington, showed up very, very well in the kick cover. He's on three of our teams, played his best game at linebacker as well, really growing into the defensive mindset, really healthy now off his knee. He had back-to-back high school and freshman year knee injuries. I think he's just physically and mentally just stronger and more confident, and again, proud of him.

Stallings, Albomonte and Attar were our Scout Defensive Players of the Week and Jack Trainor and Peyton Ramsey are our Offensive Scout Team Players of the Week. Some really good plays in that game. Luke Timian's pick catch was awesome, the throwback, Mitchell making a play and under duress, you know, a couple of touchdown catches were very impressive. Westbrook's fumble recovery, when the Michigan State guy got away from Devine going up and over and the ball got loose, Michigan State made an awesome play keeping it in bounds. They get that ball, that was a point drive. So great effort to be there.

Some things we really gotta work on. We had three holding calls, couple of them again in scoring zone situations that really, really were offense, busted coverage, gave up a pass. Richard missed a shot that should have been big-play touchdown and floated one, he got picked off. And Devine just taking care of the ball, he's gotta clean up.

Some big plays in the game, too, that people forget about, the blocked field goal, first drive by Dougherty, which was a huge difference in the game. The last three plays on defense, Tony Fields with a huge one-on-one tackle and the two sacks by Hoff and Dougherty, fumble recovered by Westbrook. I think Lagow's resilience and staying confident and more mature down the stretch was great to see.

The fourth quarter our defense had a chance to make a finish and they didn't. We've been down that road before. A little concern there. As a matter of fact, somebody said after the game, did you think about resting your defense when mathematically, and you never do that. But it was really great to see those guys respond and get a three-play stop because typically we've never done that. Would have been great to have gotten the stop and get them on schedule. We had a fourth-down opportunity, a lot of chances. Credit Michigan State and their players for fighting and giving them a chance to win the game, but I was really proud of the defense for that overtime one-two-three stop there. That was awesome. Offense, we're still missing some red zone opportunities. Our third downs were better; still need to work on that.

We played hard. I don't know how well we played. We got so many things we can get good at and we gotta improve at. And this week got Ohio State coming in. They're awfully good, always are. Very, very talented. Right now it starts with right now it starts with Coach Meyer and the standard that he and the staff set in recruiting, development, you name it, tradition, talent. They got players, got a great program. And they're playing about as good as anybody in college ball right now. They're first basically in every offense or defensive stat in the conference, so whether it be yards, points, rushing, time of possession, defense stops, defensive yards, they're first in every stat.

We were looking for a statistical advantage and we noticed their punter wasn't very good, and then we noticed he only had 11 punts. He's not registered. He would be first in the NCAA. So I don't know if you're a great punter why you would want to go to Ohio State, to tell you the truth, because they don't use you. But their punter is awesome. And they're just a great football team, a great program. It's an awesome challenge, strong challenge but it is what it is. It's Big Ten East football, and we're in the thick of it, so it was a nice win; it was a good win, but now it's Monday and it's the next one and here comes one of the premier teams and programs in college ball. Questions.

Q. Where was Jake Robinson this week?
COACH WILSON: He had a concussion.

Q. What about Cole Gest?
COACH WILSON: Had an ankle, hurt in the last game.

Q. What kind of challenges with that offense --
COACH WILSON: Notice all those injured guys from one week to the next week. Wasn't the reason the week before and wasn't the reason this week. You dance with who you got. We always gotta talk about medical. There's a bunch of guys played hard the other day. Y'all -- anyway, just FYI. But it's that time of the year in the season. Like I say, our guys we're just trying to work them hard to get back in. We'll see, again, where Dan is. Dimitric is out for a while with a back deal, and it might cost him the reason of the season, but I know all the other guys are working to get back and our medical crew will do the best they can with them.

But we recruited well enough. It's not the next guy that's gotta pick up; everybody's gotta pick up, because you don't replace Dan. It's everybody does their job better. It's not Jacob; it's everybody around him. You know what I'm saying? That's called team. And like I say, one individual and you go through a couple years ago when Tevin was playing, those closing drives at Missouri and those closing drives at Purdue, he's on the bench because he couldn't go because of his condition he had. You know, so you play with the guys that are out there, and unfortunately we're not great yet; we're getting better guys. Like I say, I'm proud of the team, you know, and I think that's one of the things to concentrate on.

Every team has injuries. You deal with it. And our guys work hard to get back, but really just like I say, not just the guy that comes in, but the whole team's got to rally and step up, and that's what you do when you play in this conference and you play in this game. It's what you gotta do.

Q. Dimitric, I think you said on the radio show that he had like an actual surgical procedure?
COACH WILSON: Correct. He had a bulging disk had to get trimmed. And does that take him through the season and the bowl and he's a fifth-year guy? You know, we'll just kind of see how it goes for him. But again, Brandon Knight, very talented, played his best game.

Q. What kind of challenges does a guy like Curtis Samuel present where he can -- he's done damage both on the ground and in the passing game?
COACH WILSON: Well, they got a bunch of fast guys. He's a guy that can come from the perimeter to the back field, can go from the back field to the perimeter, so whether it be on the wheel passes and the jet sweeps, I mean he's fast. To me the credit to those guys and why I think they're such a strong team, here's a kid that's been one of their most dynamic players, but has been patient through time and now all of a sudden this year -- we see a lot of guys get frustrated when things are not going their way. I think one of the premier players in college football is J. T. Barrett, and one of the reasons why he's probably one of the best teammates because as he battled through quarterback controversy as a great player. And that's why to me that's a credit to the program, and I think Samuel is a credit. Here's a talented guy, has a lot of skill. There's always a lot of skill. Everybody wants the ball; there's only one football. How many plays you get on the field. You see this guy now at the end of his career playing so dynamic, it's a credit to him and Coach Meyer and their staff for keeping those guys buying in to their team aspect, because he's a great individual, but he's a part of what is a really strong team. He's fast, great playmaker. Like I say -- you can't identify just him because you have to identify all their guys. The one receiver is making some unbelievable catches, but they all are. Tight end play has always been good. They lead the conference in rushing. Mike Weber is tremendous back. One of the best players in college football -- they're talking about a lot of quarterbacks. J. T. Barrett is one of the absolute best players in college football. So to me it's a cast of great talented players. I respect the way they play as a team, and when you have all those skilled kids keeping their egos for the good of the team, that's a credit to the way those guys coach and play.

Q. Natee was saying when you were recruiting him, you kind of went down there with the whole package. He said you went down there with the whole package, kind of centered around him, pitching him on that. When you first saw his recruiting film and you first heard about him, are your eyes getting big thinking of all the things he can do?
COACH WILSON: Well, it was weird because I went down to see Lagow, and I had some time to kill, went to two really good schools and asked two coaches that I know very, very well from my time at Oklahoma who's the best player around that's kind of nobody is really recruiting at right now. And they said quarterback at Euless Trinity. And so 15 miles away, know that program well, been there many times. I just drove in, called the coach. As a matter of fact, didn't even get the coach on the phone. Walked in, say, hey, I'm killing time, I'm here to see a kid later at night; they say, you got this guy, tell me about him.

Like, well, you know, he's a quarterback, he's a lefty, he's kind of short and heavy. And he goes, I don't think a lot of assistant coaches are selling him to the head coach. I said, let me see the tape. And he's basically doing a lot -- it wasn't a Wildcat offense, but in his running style he's basically like a Wildcat. He threw the ball. That's why we threw it the other day with him, we tried. He doesn't have a bad arm. He had two years, I think 2,700 yards total offense. I just didn't think we had a big back like that. And in spread offenses, short yardage, it would be nice to have a fullback. We had a kid at Oklahoma named Trey Millard that was awesome as a fullback and Matt Clapp, who was our strength coach, was an awesome fullback, and we were a spread team. When we had that big back, we were a better team.

And I just thought hey, I'm the head guy making decisions, we need to have a guy like this. And I saw his tape, I liked him. I met him. I liked the look in his eye. I was afraid some other people might come in on him late. I think luckily enough it just fell our way. I'm glad he's here, and he's got a chance to be a really good player.

Q. Talk about Pat Dougherty a little bit. Can his improvement and what he brings to the table, is he a guy that doesn't get a lot of publicity, nobody talks about very much.
COACH WILSON: Pat has different skill set, but much like some of those kids we were talking about from Ohio State, he's been a good teammate who's worked hard, gotten better. He's taken time to get to where he's now contributing more. We need him to be better, but he's been a guy like in so many places for us to be good, and like we've talked earlier and made a comment about a couple of guys that are injured. My concern with injuries, kid needs to get healthy, but we're a team where the kids always have to keep getting better. And that means you're getting stronger and you're more mature and you're learning the game and you're growing each day as a player and as a man. And that's what Pat Dougherty has done.

I mean he came in, kind of had a shoulder surgery in high school, so he wasn't very strong upper body. We didn't know if he might even develop into an O lineman or D lineman. But he's got a great mindset. He's matured. Again, I wouldn't say by any means he's one of our best players, but he's got enough confidence now. He's playing hard in that ^ rotation where guys are playing hard. He's got enough confidence he's coming along. I'm very proud of him because he could have been a guy that could have went through the motions and blended in, and sometimes in a program like ours guys can blend in and not develop. For us to be good those kids gotta come through. And it's nice two and three years down the road when you're projecting a guy to help you he does his part, because it's a credit to him and his work because he needed to do some things to give himself a chance to grow, and he's done so. And now because of that he's playing and he's helping us. And we'll need him down the stretch and in the years to come here.

Q. How much better has Luke Timian gotten over this last year?
COACH WILSON: Stronger. He's always been kinda good. That was a great catch the other day. You talk about plays made. That was a great catch. That was a big-time play. He was one of our players of the game I didn't recognize, too, as a winning performance guy. I mean that was a point play. That play and Nick Westbrook's play, you don't make those two plays, that's are 14 points. When you're playing teams like Michigan State and teams we're going to play this week, those plays get you point opportunities or make it look like you didn't have a good day. And that's a kid playing hard kid making a play. He's from Southlake Carroll. That's one of the schools I went to when I found about Tyler Natee. And he just he's been good. We actually had him at camp coming out of high school. He's just gotten stronger, and with that he's now a little bit more competitive, and hopefully his role, he was one of those guys that really you look at I wish I had a scholarship to give that kid because he's as good as a lot of scholarship players.

Q. Right place at the right time?
COACH WILSON: It was the right play call. You talking play calls, like the other day because we were in a big-guy set, that one touchdown Ricky Jones had went to him. If we'd have been in a three-receiver set, that was Mitchell Paige's play, just personnel that was on the field, but because we were in big guys there was two receivers, we got in a formation, that thing got dialed up to Rick. If we'd have been a three-receiver set with a flaked-out receiver, Mitchell would have been the inside guy and made the same play, if that makes sense. So sometimes when guys are getting balls or not getting balls, it's coverages and opportunities.

I think the quarterbacks trust him. Sometimes whether you look away, but sometimes in one-on-one matchups you like guys and you could ask -- I hope I don't have guys that are locking on receivers, but I think they know if they throw the ball to Luke, he's got hands, he'll come down with it.

Q. (Inaudible).
COACH WILSON: And I don't know if it's spotlight, but he's pretty good with his body in here torquing because some guys kind of -- I'm not saying he's acrobatic, but he can kind of twist and turn and maintain his focus on the ball and make some -- and as he's gotten stronger, he's making more competitive catches where he's kind of strong enough to finish. He'll get challenged big time by these big defensive backs this week.

Q. Are you still rotating field goal holds?
COACH WILSON: Yeah. Gedeon's got more time. Mitchell early felt playing offense his emotions, it was hard to calm down after a score because he was so involved with that. He wants to take his gloves off. And he asked earlier, I said, no, you need to do it because I trust you. And the kids just -- after we had our blunder at Wake Forest, you know, I asked Oakes, what do you want, and -- because to me that's his team. And right now, like we addressed that this morning. You need to make sure, and as coaches we're going to help you, but you get your group right. And because he can only make a field goal when the other 10 guys do their job. If you can't snap it, you can't hold it and you can't protect, the kicker gets all the credit. Everybody football play is an 11-man job, and right now that team's gotta get better.

Hey, that kid's got a boatload of talent. He's very, very competitive. He is a great kicker, and I'm kind of putting it a little bit on him to make sure, and he said, let me have Joseph, because we've just had more time together. And not that Mitchell has had bad holds. That's who he wanted. It's kind of like, you know, a lot of times you ask the quarterback which play you like, which one are you more confident in. Because quite honestly, I don't know if Mitchell is a good holder as much as I have confidence in Mitchell as a player. And I think where Griff's like -- because when they're in practice, those guys are doing it the whole time. He goes, I've just had more time with Joseph. So we're going to stay with Joseph for now. Mitchell will be in the mix if there's an issue, injury or whatnot. Danny Cameron also does it.

Q. Looking at film of Ohio State, why have they gotten so good this year at this point?
COACH WILSON: Well, now, again, they lost a lot of players, but they've recruited so well. They're very, very talented at every position. It's very, very youthful where there seems to be a lot of competitive spirit where guys are fighting to get on the field, fighting to get open. Throw me the ball, fighting to run hard so don't throw it, give me the ball against the runner, and it just looks like they have a lot of competition over there where they got a young team that's buying in, and Coach Meyer has a great staff. He does a great job, and he's got a great team atmosphere going right now. It's a young team that's very, very talented but playing very, very well as a team. Very, very well.

Q. Tegray and Marcus, two guys that obviously played from almost the gun basically when they got here, but now they're upper classmen. They're kind of at the heart of that defense. Is there something maybe a little different about the way they're carrying themselves or obviously the way they're playing. I mean Tegray --
COACH WILSON: That's a good point because they are more mature. And there's individual confidence in yourself as you mature as a player and as a man. But I think they got a lot more confidence in the defense, and they're a lot more sure of what they're supposed to do, and I think that's a credit to COACH Allen and Coach Inge, because I think they're not second guessing what's going on or trying to make guys right. They're communicating the call up front, guys up front are for the most part doing their things properly, and now they're doing their things properly. I think a year ago a lot of times they were trying to make everybody right, they were trying to cover up everybody else's mistakes. With that you're playing with a lot of stress and with a lot of stress comes bad body language. You don't look as mature. So I think it's a credit to them growing and it's a credit to the coaches, Coach Allen and what's going on with the defense. I think that is probably as much of it as their personal growth.

Q. You talked about calling the game the other day with confidence in their defense. Is that the first time depending on the defense? Is that right?
COACH WILSON: Correct. I didn't like the fourth quarter deal where they could have made that stop, but again, like early in the game I didn't think we needed to do things because -- now, Ohio State's a different animal. These guys just score, score a lot, score often. So but last week in Michigan State style, you felt like if -- you know, they played a little closer to the vest, that if we didn't give up the big play and we gave up the one big one early, had the busted coverage play in the third quarter, but you thought you didn't have to be as greedy on offense, getting behind chains, getting your quarterback hit and rattled, forcing the ball. And so we were trying to get it to the second half.

Now, the second half we were a lot more aggressive, and that's why, again, to me you had to score some touchdowns. Maybe we take points that first drive -- we went for it on fourth down at the 2; they punted from the 2. I thought we had a play from the tee that we could get a little pop, that didn't work. The disappointing thing to me was that the offense didn't do anything after we got the ball back on the 30-couple-yard line after Mitchell's return. But again, we thought we needed some.

So as the game went we got more aggressive. But I think early in that game -- again, each game is different. We'll put this game plan together as we look at their kicking, their O, their D. This is a different deal. And what works one week -- I had a coach say the other day that your offense attacks each week different stresses of the defense because every defense is different with their structure and where you go. And we'll try to put this one together. This is going to be different. So that wasn't the magic formula. That's just what we thought last week could give us a chance in the second half against a good team. Anything else? Thanks, guys.

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