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November 4, 2013

Kevin Wilson

COACH WILSON:¬† We actually punted five straight times in a row.¬† And got behind 35‑13.¬† It's a heck of a comeback, and I think it says a lot about our kids, and buying into it, playing hard, and fighting, and there is a great stretch where we got great stops and got in more phases and thought our kicking game effort was really good for the game.
Coverage on kicks, kickoffs, coverage on punts, our play, we didn't have one kickoff out of bounds, kick return, only popped one.  Got to get a punt return just close, but we didn't get the opportunities we needed.  Thought kicking was pretty good, so, again, we see a lot of growth.
We need to get Ws, though, because I think when I talked with their coaches, and they even said it a week ago and talked with us before the game, the best thing about the victory, it just solidifies what you're doing and keeping the energy of your fan base and recruiting and all of that.
Tough go at the end, just to execute and something that we needed to do, that kind of happens, and we've got to coach and call better plays and put them in better spots and we've got to make plays too.
Offensive Player of the Game, Tevin Coleman.¬† Excellent game.¬† I think he's up right now for ‑‑ what is it?¬† Who is my Notre Dame guy?¬† One of the players of the week for the Hornung Award.¬† Played a heck of a game.¬† Lot of energy, effort, played fast, played hard.¬† Got great complementary play from Stephen Houston, which we needed both of those guys.¬† Over 100% since 2003, first time we've had 200-yard backs in a Big Ten game.
So pretty good show from those guys.  We've got to keep building on that.  Defensively, did not have a player of the game, several weeks in a row.  We got to keep working at that.  Thought there was a lot more effort.  We tried to tackle a little bit more.  We got burned some and made some plays some.  We've got to keep fighting and playing in there.
Special teams Player of the Game, Greg Heban, only a couple of teams ‑‑ even D'Angelo Roberts made a nice play there, because his job is to secure the kick, and what he did with his job actually made the reverse guy kind of bubble, and bought a little time.¬† Made the guy go a little deep and gave Heban a chance to make a nice play and get the ball for us.
Then we gave Hunter¬† a chance.¬† A guy that's played for us in years past.¬† Fourth‑year player, walk‑on guy for us that came out and played for two teams.¬† Not only did he make a nice tackle there on the end on the kick team, he did a great job on kickoff return.¬† We finally popped a couple kickoff returns, so recognize Jake.
Behind‑the‑scenes guys, offensive scouts of the week, and a lot of times we're working our second‑team guys little bit on scout team because second‑team guys don't get a lot of work.¬† We thought Dimitric Camiel, who plays a little bit and plays second‑team tackle, had him working on the scout team to give our defensive team a go.¬† Dimitric Camiel and Damon Graham were the offensive scouts.
Defensively, Justin Nowak played good for us at special teams back at DB.  Michael who plays on special teams and is our fullback, and Patrick Dougherty, a young defensive lineman.  So those are three guys there.
So yesterday had some light work, kind of trying to keep our guys focused, fresh.  Thought our energy was really pretty good.  Some things we've got to correct and clean up and coach better and some mistakes they've got to fix.  But at the same time, the effort and the way those guys played was very much what we're trying to build our team on.
So we talked a lot about four weeks to go.¬† Two‑thirds of the season.¬† Prognosticators would say everything's over.¬† But in our world, there is a lot of football to play, lot of things we can accomplish.¬† Best thing to do, our constant goal is consistent improvement, constant improvement.¬† Two weeks in row we played a pretty good team.¬† Got them into the fourth quarter.¬† Hadn't been able to get over the hump.¬† We got a couple good wins this year against a couple good teams, but we're getting close.¬† We're in those games and our deal is we've got to keep fighting and pushing to knock that thing down.
I wouldn't say we're blowing games as much as we're playing some good teams, getting in close games, not executing at the end.  Got to make a play, got to make good play calls, got to get stops.  Got to play O and D.  But the teams are right there.  That is our deal.  We're at that part of the race where you can keep pushing or stop, and we've come too far to stop pushing.
I expect Illinois to come in 0‑5, much like us, hungry teams.¬† And I think it's going to be a good challenge, exciting game at 3:30.¬† We're down to 4‑2 at home, and we need another good crowd to get some energy in the stands for the guy this is week.¬† Questions?

Q.  Coach, what is the mindset?  Can you talk a little bit about the fighting and pushing and that sort of thing.  How does your team come back yesterday after that kind of a loss?
COACH WILSON:  That's a tough deal of course.  You want them to hurt a little.  The locker room was hurting a lot because it was like, hey, man, that's the first time I've ever seen it like that.  Because that was a game we wanted, we had a chance, and we just weren't able.
We had chances all game.  We had a missed touchdown opportunity in the first drive.  So we can talk about the last blunder, all it was.  But we gave ourselves a chance by it.  So we tried to, you know, late Saturday night snap out of it.  Tried to ride the coaches.  Saying, Man, these kids are giving us a good go, they're fighting.  We have to keep coaching them better and pushing them to do better.  There is a lot of positive energy, and we have all of our guys in all phases of our program behind them, so let's keep pushing.
Last night at dinner, it wasn't quiet.  At the same time it wasn't goofing and laughing like it was fun.  But they were talking and watching the pro game.  It was good.  We had our workout.  We didn't overdo a lot.  We just got them really loose, and lifted and tried to get some sorts out and got into the tape work.
I think in talking to them they appeared good.  It will be interesting Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.  These guy have worked hard.  So we're trying to practice, trying to coach these guys like they're winning, because I think they're giving us a winning effort.  We've got to put them in good places and building on our strengths and making corrections and we've got to keep working it together.  We've got to get some Ws for these guys down the stretch.
So I thought it was not positive, but I didn't think it was a bad day.  We'll see how we go tomorrow as we work through the week.

Q.  The coaching staff comes from a lot of different varied backgrounds.  But from a fan standpoint, do you think it's possible to understand the breadth and depth of the frustration from a fan base that desperately wants you to do well, but continues to come up short, not just this year but in the past as well?
COACH WILSON:  I can appreciate and understand that.  At the same time I saw the crowd that was standing there.  We had the last play and it was a chance to make a good comeback.  What you need to look at is Ted Bolser and Stephen Houston if you want those guys, because they've been running all the sprints and doing all the work.
Again, we're making some gains, but we've got to get Ws.  The Ws will be more for the outside world and the seniors.  My feel is we've got some great opportunities.  Let's keep it because we're right there knocking on it.  Let's keep knocking on it and knocking down.  Saying we got close, let's try to get later.
There is a lot of football to play, two‑thirds of the season.¬† Four weeks to go.¬† Two great home games, two great road travels.¬† But it comes back to let's get back to this week.¬† We tried not to get rid of the Minnesota game.¬† We went back and said look at all the good things you're doing here.¬† Look at 15 minutes 61 seconds, it's 26‑0, and you're flat‑out rolling in all phases.¬† Look at the first half, we're out of sync, can you give us some things?¬† We had a critical error in the end.¬† If you get in a one‑possession game, but because of their effort and fight, they gave us a one‑possession deal.¬† I appreciate the fans and feel for them.¬† All I know is those guys give it a good go.¬† Our staff, I'm almost worried that sometimes staff works too much.¬† Like get away, go get a workout.¬† They'll be here till midnight.¬† You know what you're doing, you know the plays you're going to run, and get these kids behind you in playing order.¬† That's the part of me I feel for for fans.¬† But I'm telling you, these guys are close, and it's my job to keep it coming.¬† We can get close and fall short or we can get close and keep coming.¬† My deal is let's don't change.¬† Let's keep fighting and competing.¬† To me, it's the hardest step because it's the next step.¬† We've gotten to the point, and it's nice to feel some frustration, because there is a point in time I don't know if anyone really cares sometimes.
So I kind of like some fans that are upset.  That's what you want.  You want them in the stands.  You want them loud.  You want them critical.  That is part of a good football program is you have to energize fans.
They're reading your stuff.¬† They're on the message boards.¬† They're calling into the call‑in shows.¬† We'll get our two calls a night.¬† Donovan why are you doing this, what are you thinking, great job, why did you do that?¬† What about this?¬† That is the part of the game.¬† It goes with it.¬† It's what you want.¬† You want callers that are critical.¬† What are you thinking here and there?¬† It's nice because that's part of winning.
To me, again, I think in general we've all came, and we've all got to keep coming.  Like I said earlier, the best way to do it is to do it together.  I'm going to keep it as much down stairs.  It's not just them and patting the seniors on the back.  These guys have gotten us close.  We're right there.  We need to make that step.  And the more people with us, the easier it's going to be.  But which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Bottom line, we've got to win.  It's all going to come easier after that.  That is the hard step, the winning step.  There is not one reason we're losing.  We're not playing well enough.  Is it lack of poor play calling?  Is it more coach management?  Is it lack of players?  Is it injuries you're coming up short?  It's a combination of all because we're collectively a part of the problem, and we're collectively the answer.  That is our deal.
You saddle the horses and you rally them up and circle the wagons and keep fighting and punching, and that will be the plan this week and that will be the plan through this season.  Then you can regroup and see where you're at and assess and adjust your recruiting.
Right now, you're right there, keep going and give ourselves a chance.  If we don't, we give ourselves no chance.  These players who give us a chance, and as a coach I've got to keep us going.  That has been my mojo the last two days.

Q.  You watched the tape and you watched that last play?
COACH WILSON:  Excuse me?

Q.  As you watched that last play on tape, what went through your mind after the game?
COACH WILSON:¬† We're coming off a timeout.¬† They take a timeout, and they took one, actually gave them a chance to get their call up.¬† They had played them basically a man coverage, the play before, two‑man.¬† They showed the same look.¬† We called a play to beat the coverage and off that triggered two blitzers.¬† We didn't block it right off the back side in protection, so the quarterback is feeling a little‑‑ he throws it a little quicker.¬† The guy comes off the edge, Tevin bellies out to get away from it.¬† Nate feels it and throws a little quick.¬† Now it's a backwards pass, and it shouldn't be.¬† But it was one of those where we didn't do a good job as coaches.¬† We got bluffed.¬† We're in a no‑play call too.¬† Did a great job.¬† Coach Clay said they took a timeout to get it in.
The play before they had done it.¬† We ran it down there pretty good.¬† Then I'm seeing the ball coming to them, and I want to run out and get the sucker because it was actually about, I mean, I almost ran on the field because I could see the ball.¬† But, again, just poor play calling on our part.¬† I had the opportunity.¬† As coaches we all do it together.¬† Could have changed it, could have executed it better.¬† That to me doesn't minimize why our kids didn't get us back.¬† That's why I went back and said okay, got down there, called the right play, didn't execute it good because of what happened.¬† We had one busted coverage on the drive before, but other than that, there is a 25‑, 20‑minute mark where we're playing against a good team, lights‑out football.¬† High‑level football.¬† We've got work to do that more consistently, more often because we're going to need that this week and on these road games and we'll need it in the game.

Q.  How fast did you make them grieve?  You talked about wanting it to hurt a little bit.  But when you got in that locker room, how fast did you make the read that we've got to accentuate the positives here?
COACH WILSON:  Really not until later that night.  Then tried to start reaching out to guys, let's get them going, and with the team yesterday.  So I think everybody was emotionally and physically exhausted and drained.  Fans were, you guys were.  Again, it's no moral victories because I'm not into that.  It is what it is.  We're here to win.  We're building up, getting close, but we're here to win.  Coming up short is not acceptable.  Not acceptable by me, not acceptable by our administration.  Not acceptable by the standards of the school, and the school is pretty good at some things, and it's our job to get it there.
We've gotten a little closer, but we've got to keep on coming.  Again, there are a lot of things that needed to be corrected.  We had a lot of direct, straight criticism yesterday on thing that's needed to be corrected.  For example, we have certain guys that need to quit worrying if they're better than someone else and start being the best that you can, and start beating yourself up, start playing as well as you can.  Don't worry about how Tevin Coleman is doing, Stephen, you do as good as you can and see what that is.  You take care of you.  You beat yourself up.  You make tomorrow better individually.  You make tomorrow better in practice as a team.  That's what we talked about.  Here's where we are.  We've come.  Our constant goal was constant improvement, and we need to see what we did well.  See what we need to improve on, and let's go do it this way.  It was a pretty direct meeting.
It wasn't like, hey, feel good for us.  No, that stunk.  There was a lot of bad football in that game.  A lot.  A lot of bad coaching, lot of bad playing, lot of bad execution.  There was a period of time it was pretty doggone good.
How do we accentuate that and learn from the mistakes?  We don't acknowledge that the mistakes didn't happen.  Don't acknowledge that, no.  These are things you cannot go as an offense and have five consecutive punts with our style and expect to have the outcome you want.  To overcome that shows a lot about the kids and what they're capable of.

Q.  How did the running game get going for you especially down the stretch?  Big holes for the backs, and it looked like you ran out of the pistol pretty well?
COACH WILSON:  How did it?

Q.  Yeah, what was the key to that really opening up?
COACH WILSON:¬† Little bit of you kind of throw to set up the pass, a little bit sometimes now maybe Nate's in there and thinking it's more pass.¬† You get more pass and get more man‑to‑man.¬† They get a little bit more tired.¬† They did a good job of blocking stayed on blocks, and both those backs, great play by D'Angelo on the touchdown play who we faked it to.¬† Didn't get it, came back, got a block, and at the end played a 7‑yard play.¬† Great play by D'Angelo, some kicking plays.¬† Great effort there.
Just, again, you were down.  It wasn't like abandoned.  You've got to take what's there.  That's part of this stuff.  Sometimes we're trying to go some tempos to get the perfect play up.  Some of the plays need to be reasonably clean.  Other times you're getting some calls up.  There are some times when, hey, they're playing the pass and we got some runs and the numbers worked in our favor.  Then we blocked well for us.  That was a decent front.  That was a sign that we're playing with Bailey and a couple of linemen.  So I think it shows those guys are gaining on it.
That's what we expect when you start seeing some of those guys on defense.¬† You're going to see Jake Zupancic come in and Brandon Grubbe played well on the kick, Ryan Thompson played well on the kick.¬† Some first‑timer guys that haven't played a lot.¬† We need to see more of that with our defense.¬† We've got some young guys that now played a lot.¬† Some of them got beaten and we have to do a better job in practice.¬† When you're not doing well, you need to practice hard to do a lot.¬† When you get beat up, how fresh are you?
It's a double‑edged sword.¬† We have to make strides in all phases.¬† We've got examples of guys that are stepping up, and we're trying to show that and challenge some other guys and say, hey, you're capable too.¬† Get your oar in the water and hold the rope a little bit.

Q.  Is there a position area where you're most proud of the way the guys have continued to battle?  Offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, running back, whatever?  Is there one group where you said these guys really get it?
COACH WILSON:¬† No, I do really like‑‑ like I like Bolser's effort.¬† It's at a level it's never been at for three or four weeks.¬† He was just getting after some guys down the field.¬† Just playing fast and hard.¬† Almost out of control and sometimes maybe missing.¬† His effort and energy.¬† So I'm seeing some things out of older guys that you kind of like.¬† You want them‑‑ the best way to lead is by example.¬† Very impressed.¬† I thought Tevin has played a lot.¬† It was nice to see Stephen, because I thought Stephen and (Indsicernible)and down the stretch Kofi has done well.¬† Want to see how much can we get Greg Heban.
So my comment is I've got a lot of respect for those guys because we had guys that didn't stick with us.¬† They could have been with those guys.¬† They chose to do different.¬† They bought in not only by talk, they bought in by action.¬† They're playing as hard and giving us‑‑ if they're not giving us all they've got, I don't know what's in there, but they're giving a whole lot.¬† To say he's giving all he's got, I don't know what all he got is.¬† But I'm getting a lot out of a lot of guys and I respect and appreciate that.

Q.  You mentioned the quarterbacks are getting in their head a little bit, who is playing, who is not.  Has that gotten more difficult to handle?
COACH WILSON:  It is because of you guys because everybody's on the phone.  Everybody goes to Twitter and everybody's got comments whether it be a personal rip of him or an article you guys write saying this guy should be here, that guy should be here.  So it's hard.  Mike goes, Quit comparing yourself.  Quit worrying about it.  You're going to do this.  The whole world does this.  Go to an airport and nobody talks.  You're going to do that.  That's okay to do that.
But at the end of the day it comes down to you need to make sure you look in the mirror.¬† I had a better meeting than I did yesterday.¬† I had a better lift.¬† I warmed up in warm‑ups better today than I did the day before, whatever my role is on the field.
So I went back and shared the story a few years ago.¬† We were playing and Tebow won the Heisman, then Bradford won the Heisman.¬† We were getting ready to play, and a guy asked Sam, Compare yourself to Tebow.¬† And you want him to say, I'm a little bit of a throw guy and he's a running‑type guy, which is I'm sure the direction.¬† Because every time you ask a question, there is a slant to your article, and we need to validate your slant when you ask the question, right?
And he had the greatest answer I heard a kid say:  I don't compare myself to anyone.  I'm just trying to be the best I can be.  I'm just trying to take care of myself.  I'm not trying to be better than no one.  I'm not trying to be better than him.  I'm just trying to be my best.  And that's what I shared with the quarterbacks yesterday.
Let's just start worrying about you.  You be better than you.  Quit worrying about him, me, the offense, you just take care of you.  Individualists take care of individuals.  Let's coach better, play better.  Let's do it as an O, let's do it as a D, let's come along in kicking.
So, again, it's not like there are issues.¬† It's just hard in this day and age when you want to be the guy.¬† The best way to be the guy, I can tell you today, LeBron James has fundamentally awesome practices.¬† Kevin Durant is working his tail off at a high level.¬† There is a reason Tom Brady went from splitting time in Michigan to a Hall of Fame guy.¬† There are reasons why.¬† There are reasons why Peyton Manning was and is what he is.¬† There is a reason.¬† Every day the first golf lesson you had is grip and stance.¬† And the greatest players ever are looking at their grip and stance every second, every day.¬† It's keep working on fundamentals, and keep buying the process, keep coming.¬† That was the direction from yesterday.¬† We changed what we're doing.¬† We have things we've got to fix, short things to fix, you just worry about you.¬† You watch those guys, they're chest bumping everybody and high‑fiving everybody.¬† They're good teammates.
My comment to them yesterday, and again, Tre was a little bit off early, and actually helped us in the second half and set some things up.  Nate came in and played well.  They're both capable, both a little inconsistent, and we're going to keep them coming.  There are no problems, no controversy.  We're not mad at them, I just want them to get better.  That's my job and I expect them to.

Q.  Is it any harder to guess right with them in terms of who is going to be on that day?
COACH WILSON:  They can tell you.  Yeah, the nice thing for us is the offense doesn't change.  We might call a little bit more run plays that could get in Tre's hand that maybe doesn't always get called.  But the passing is the same.  So it's not like only call this play for Nate.  Only call this pass play. The offense stays the same.  You might emphasize some of Tre's ability to run.  That is the only difference.
So for the most part, the blocking stays the same.  The fringe players run the same.  It's not two different offenses.
You can look at warm‑ups, I've seen one guy warm‑up hot and play horrible.¬† Like the old basketball thing, you warm up and make every shot.¬† And then you can't make one in game.¬† I've seen guys be hot today, and go out there and struggle.
Sometimes, I mean, sometimes we don't even tell them.  It's just practice, they're kind of equal, and maybe the reason they're equal is they're comparing themselves to each other.  That's what I told them yesterday.  Maybe they're staying the same.  When you're up and down, and up and down, you're really just staying the same.
Maybe you're up and down because you're worried about him.  Just worry about you.  Take your game to the next level, and quit comparing it to somebody else.  There are no problems, we're just going to keep working them and make them really good, because we're not quite there yet.

Q.  Yesterday (No microphone) collapsed during the game.  And John Fox had a problem on Saturday.
COACH WILSON:  I just tried the blood pressure machine downstairs.

Q.  I was going to ask you.  Particularly college coaches are on the road even more than pro coaches because of the recruiting and that sort of thing.  How do you try to maintain your health during that?  Have you had any kind of health scares?
COACH WILSON:  No, thankfully.  But I just shared with the guys, like I mentioned earlier.  Like right now they all should be working out.  Because, one, you need to get away from it a little bit.  You need to get your blood flowing.  It's good for longevity, it's good for your mind.  You're going against some better ideas instead of just sitting there, grinding, grinding, you can get writers block as a coach.  You only see what you see.  So you need to get away.
So I'm trying to encourage our guys because our guys, I can promise you this, the players and coaches are all given, in my opinion, me an extremely strong go as far as effort.  We need to be more productive and do a better job.  One of the best ways of doing it is to take care of yourself.  Rest well, be positive, be more energized and workout.  I'm not a great workout guy.  I've got some minor deals that make me want to walk and run less than I need to run.  My body, knees and back hurt more than it needs to.
But you do make a great point.  I don't think it's just our profession, there are a lot of great organizations where you shut down and just don't get a double cheeseburger.  But get out and get yourself some fresh air.  We're in buildings all day, so you can just get stale.  So get out and get some fresh air.
Seth, did you get a workout in?  See.  He didn't follow the rules.  See, I said we're supposed to get a workout in.  That is part of it.  At the same time, is it the stress of the job?  Yeah, yeah, but there are hereditary issues, lifestyle issues.
But my deal is, again, we've got a great group of guys, players and coaches working hard.  To be successful, you've got to be confident.  The best way to be confident is to be rested.  So you've got to work hard and feel like you're prepared and know what's going on.  But you can overwork and overprepare.  There is a fine balance there.
My previous boss was one of the best at it.  He'd shut her down every day, 11:20, 11:30, he would go hit golf balls for an hour and a half or get a workout in or ride a bike.  Coach Walker was a pretty good workout guy.  So we kind of shared that with the guys last week.
As a matter of fact, when the team was warming up, I was on the treadmill inside when they were out doing warm‑ups.¬† As a matter of fact, they came out and said, What are you doing?¬† I said, I'm trying to stay calm so I don't yell at you guys today.
Anyway, that's part of it.  Great question.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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