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October 2, 2012

Andrew Maxwell

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Andrew Maxwell.

Q.  Burbridge moves to No.1 on the depth chart.  What have you seen from him in practices?  What do you expect to see different?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  He's the guy in the next play.  He's a guy when he has an opportunity, he's been able to make those tough catches for us.
For him now it's a matter of the offense becoming second nature to him.  Hearing the formation, hearing the play, and knowing this is my assignment, this is my place.
He'll be working hard this week and we expect him to make big plays.

Q.  Talk about developing that trust with him.  Is that something that takes a while?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  That starts in practice, starts in meetings.  It's knowing the checks, knowing the looks where you can expect to check.
Obviously not every play is going to call for a check.  As he gets more comfortable realizing the looks, whatever play we might have called, might not be a good one to run, he starts expecting a check, starts getting comfortable with what those checks are, I don't think he'll have a problem with it.  That starts with practice, will start today.

Q.  The Burbridge starting line, surprising to us after he didn't play at all last week.  Are you surprised at all by this?  What have you seen in practice?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  This is the first I've actually heard of it officially.  Kind of new to me, too.  I'm trying to figure it out.
Like I say, he's a play‑maker.¬† He's shown that in practice, in individual drills, seven‑on‑seven, and in team periods.

Q.  It seemed like he had some success against Central with short throws, screens.  Do you feel those are the types of things that could help confidence for the young receivers and you get some early completions under your belt?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  When you have guys who are athletic as the guys we have, can make runs in space, are so fast, so strong, can do things with the football, anytime you can get the ball out of your hand quick, get them the ball in space, let them make a play, good things can happen, as seen with Keith on Saturday.

Q.  With change at center now, Travis out, Ruhland in, does that affect anything you do?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  Not really, to be honest, because when I was a two, Ethan was a two.  Ethan and I have taken thousands of snaps together.  Going back to him will be like second nature and he'll do a great job for us.

Q.  Back to the receiver question.  Obviously Bennie Fowler was presumed number one coming into the season, with Burbridge taking his spot.  How does that change the dynamic?  How does that impact things?  How do you address that?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  Well, I would say don't expect this to be the last of Bennie Fowler.  Bennie is a competitor, a guy who is not going to take this lying down.  He's going to come back, fight, do everything he can do in practice.  You want to have that constant competition.
Whether you're number one or two, you're always getting pushed, getting better.  If everybody on that receiving core is getting better, everybody on our football team is getting better.

Q.  Paul Lang got a catch, looked at times to be playing well.  Assess his development.  How much more would you like to see him become part of your offense?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  Yeah, Paul has come on really strong the last couple weeks.  You start seeing that during the week in practice.  He's probably had his best two or three weeks of practice that I've seen him have these last couple weeks.  He's reaping the rewards of that, getting the playing time, getting into situations where he can get a catch, be involved in the route concept.
Hopefully this is just the start of him hitting his stride, getting that confidence that he needs.¬† Good‑sized kid, catches the ball very well.¬† As he starts getting more comfortable, I feel like he's going to be able to start making plays for us.

Q.  How frustrated are you that this offense hasn't lived up to its billing yet?  What can you do to fix it?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  We're still fighting, making improvements each and every week.  I thought last week as an offense, even though we didn't win, me personally, I felt the best about where we were as an offense from an attitude standpoint, from an energy standpoint, from an intensity standpoint.  I felt like we played from the first snap to the last with that tenacity that we try to come out and play every week with.
If we can do that, it starts there, then it starts with being better on third down, turning field goals into touchdowns.  If we come and are better every week, the points are going to come and we're going to get to where we want to be.

Q.  You've watched this program make plays late in a game to win a game.  You can look at last week's game and find dozens of plays where if one thing goes differently, maybe you win that game.  How confident are you going forward that you have a group that at some point late in the game somebody is going to step up and make a play to help you win?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  I look at Keith's play.  That was at a point in the game, I went to the receivers and asked, Who is going to be the first to make a play?  Keith answered that call.
I think it's important to realize we're giving ourselves those opportunities, we're in situations where plays can be made.  The further we go, the more comfortable I think it's going to be one that sparks the whole fire.  Maybe that's Keith.  Maybe that's the thing that gets the ball rolling.  Maybe it's a play that comes this week.  Whatever it is, we're going to know when that comes and those plays are going to start rolling on top of each other.

Q.  Andrew, Lawrence Thomas saw a lot of action last week.  Can you talk about his role on the offense.  You saw him on the other side of the ball chasing you around.  Where do you think his future lies?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  I think it remains to be seen.  I think he's a guy who has enough athletic ability, talent, to be plugged into a lot of places.  Whether that be at fullback like last week when Niko was out, that was something that he was ready to do.  He's got the ability to do it.  For him, it was learning those extra plays, putting a little extra on his plate, which he responded to very well.
Who knows if maybe we need him back on the defensive side of the ball.  That's something he came here to do.  That's something he would be comfortable with.
He's a guy who has the talent, ability, and he's willing to play wherever we need him to play.

Q.  How much criticism of the offense do you hear on campus, in the media?  Maxwell isn't as good as Cousins, the offense isn't any good.  When you hear that stuff, how do you respond?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  I mean, you hear it.  You have no choice but to block it out.  If you start getting caught up in that, you start doubting yourself, you start not feeling well about how you play the game, not feeling well in the position you're in.  That's the last thing you want to do, is lose that confidence.
What's important for this offense, myself, everybody on this team is just to have that internal drive.  Coach Dantonio says you have to be an internal optimist.  When everything around you, the naysayers, people criticize, people say you're not as good as you should be, as we thought you would be, that's just talk.
We know what we have.  Most important thing is that we feel good about the way we go about our business.  I think starting with last week, even with a loss, I think the offense, we feel good about the way we went about our business, from an intensity and enthusiasm standpoint, and we're going to continue to build off that.

Q.  At the beginning of game, it seems like Dion is not as involved as he is in the second half.  Are there things that defenses are doing in the second half?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  Well, I don't know if there's a special formula for that.  I think it's the way it's played out.  He's a guy that has proven in clutch times he's somebody we can count on to make the big catch or to be open.  But definitely the sooner we can get him involved, keep him involved consistently throughout the game, our offense is going to be more productive.

Q.  You talked about the benefit of the competition at wide receiver.  Is there any hindrance in another guy rotating in, another guy rotating out, not having that standard group of two or three guys that you're counting on necessarily, asking who would be the guy who will step up instead of knowing who that guy is?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  I think that remains to be seen.  Time will tell.  I think as long as we're being productive, as long as we have guys who are showing they can make plays, I'm going to be comfortable and our offense is going to be comfortable.

Q.  You only played one road game.  That was more like a neighborhood drive to CMU.  As strange as it sounds, as much as you like playing at home, is this almost a good time to get on the road, to bond a little bit?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  I think it's a new challenge.  Anytime you go away from home, it definitely draws the team closer.  You go into a territory that's not yours, the fans aren't yours, everything is a little unfamiliar.  That really causes you, like I've said, to really realize internally what you have in this team, what you have in the program, to bond, to grow because of it.

Q.  Have you had a chance to watch much film on Indiana, get a sense of what their defense is like yet?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  I have.  I watched them last night.  They'll bring a variety of different pressures.  They'll bring some secondary pressures which always causes some problems because that causes your back to get in protection as opposed to getting on a route.  I think the biggest thing for us is recognizing them, realizing what the play or the concept call that is going to match up to that.

Q.  Teams are stacking the box to stop the run.  How desperately do you need to develop a home run threat and can Burbridge be that guy?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  I think he can.  I think we have a couple guys can do that.  I think that's when Coach Roushar feels we need to make that play and we need to make the play when the opportunity presents itself.

Q.  Can you talk about Burbridge's skill set?  What does he do really well?  Is he an outside guy more?  How does he work in the offense?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  Well, once again, I think that's tough to say because I haven't been around him for as long as I've been around these other guys.
From the times I have seen him, I think his speed is a big attribute.  He's smooth, a good route runner.  He has the ability to make the catch coming out of his break quickly when he's going through traffic.
All those things are going to be beneficial for him.

Q.  Most of the focus has been on the passing game.  The best two defenses you've played, you haven't been able to run the ball.  I know injuries on the offensive line affect it there.  What else is not working with the running game?  Are some of these things fixable?
ANDREW MAXWELL:  That might be a better question for Coach Roushar, Coach Staten, because I don't know all the technicalities of the blocks and the concepts and the gaps, all that.
But I think as we start to make more plays on the outside, I think that will soften it up a little bit in the box, open up more holes for us to run through.  What teams are giving us is what teams are giving us and we're going to have to find a way to be more productive.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Andrew.

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