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January 2, 2010

Ken O'Keefe


JASON ALPERT: Iowa Offensive Coordinator, Ken O'Keefe, joins us. You've now been in South Florida a few days as you get ready for the FedEx Orange Bowl. What have you been doing to prepare for Georgia Tech?
KEN O'KEEFE: Well, we've been practicing. I can tell you that. Looking at a little tape, and, you know, really trying to get into our normal routine like we would any other game week at this particular stage.
We've been treated very well by everybody involved in the Orange Bowl and everyone in the city of Miami. We're really excited about having the opportunity to play in this ballgame.

Q. The Georgia Tech offense gets a lot of publicity, a lot of people talking about their attack. Talk a little about the Georgia Tech defensive attack for those of us that won't know how they're going to line up and try to play you?
KEN O'KEEFE: That's great. The way you ended that statement -- You don't know how they're going to line up is a great way for me to begin it, because they have been very multiple all year long.
First of all, they're a very athletic defense. They've got excellent speed, and they're strong. They're strong. Obviously, you know, Morgan's gotten a lot of attention, you know, with what he's done up front and the kind of season he's had. But he's got a pretty good core of people around him that help occupy some other folks so he's able to do what he does. But sometimes he can be a one-man wrecking crew.
The other Morgan, his first name, Burnett, No. 1, he's an outstanding player. But great speed on the back end, and at the linebacker position, you know, athletic and strong up front.
They have played a variety of different looks all year long. From early on in the season against Miami where they played basically nickel almost the whole game probably to match speed. Other times they are a base four-three team in a lot of ways, you know, with how they line up at times. At other times they've played a three-four against Clemson.
So they have the ability to adapt, you know. I'm sure usually by the end of the first quarter like most ballgames, everybody settles into what they're going to do and you begin to, you know, go to work from there. But there's going to be definitely a period where we've got to find out a little bit about them and what they're going to come at us with in that first quarter.

Q. How have the practices gone here? At the intensity that you wanted and everything?
KEN O'KEEFE: Yeah, things have gone well. Our guys are pretty good at working through distractions and staying focused on what we're after. But we've worked them real hard the first few days we were here. Now, obviously, transitioning into game week which is more -- it's more about being mentally ready at this particular point in time and being fresh physically than it is anything else.
But our guys they understand. We've been to a few Bowls. Our guys are good at getting back on track when they need to be. They're excited about playing the game.
I can tell you, you reach this point in preseason as well where everyone is sick of looking at each other, you know, so to speak. The offense doesn't want to face the defense anymore; the defense doesn't want to, you know, face the offense. The players, you know, I'm not sure they want to see us around anymore. It's, you know, it's time to play. You know, it's time to play the ballgame.

Q. You brought up Derrick Morgan. Is he a guy that you specifically have to game plan for and figure out how to take him out of the equation as much of as possible, and, if so, how do you do that?
KEN O'KEEFE: You have to be careful about how you go about those things, because it can affect some schemes and put some pressure on other areas. You know, there might be a few things you can do to get some help to some guys if we need to. And you might be able to, you know, work a scheme here or there. But you really you need to count on the people that are playing over him to do the job that they're supposed to do.
Again, you know, he lines up in different places as well, even sometimes standing up as a linebacker inside. So it's not like you're always going to know exactly where he is. Where you can call this or call that and necessarily be right with what you're doing. So you've got to be smart about making sure you're still able to do what you want to do. Take care of that with help if you need to, and at the same point in time, you know, just do -- just run the game plan.

Q. Talk a little about Adam Robinson and Wegher as far as how are they coming back from some of the late season wear and tear and being freshmen playing in their first Bowl game?
KEN O'KEEFE: The second question, you know, their first Bowl game, I don't even know if they've even thought about it that way yet. I don't see that being anything different.
Everybody right now it's just like, really, I'm not sure statistics matter. I'm not sure what matters at this stage. Everybody's got 12 games into it. Everybody's got some sort of layoff that you've had to work through. So, you know, things are brand-new in that respect.
Even when you break a team down, sometimes they returned X-number of starters. Well, that matters at the beginning of the season, it might matter a little bit in the middle of the season, but now everybody's, like I said, has 12 games under their belt. So the experience that comes with that is something hopefully that Wegher and Robinson can hang their hats on. So I don't see that being a big deal.

Q. Talk about Ricky. How his health is, his mobility, and is there some anxious mess for him to get back on the field and lead this team again?
KEN O'KEEFE: Yeah, from the time he was hurt, he was anxious to get back. You know, he's been full-go basically since before, you know, before we let the guys go at Christmas up in Iowa City and down here.
He's doing well. Our folks in the medical area did a great job getting him back. And he's worked extremely hard rehabbing to make sure he's where he's at right now, too. So, yeah, he looks good.

Q. I know this isn't your first Bowl game by any means, so how do you reestablish any sort of offensive continuity or tempo when you have a six or seven-week layoff?
KEN O'KEEFE: Great question. You go out and play the game. There's no magical formula. You know, you try to make the practices as intense as you possibly can and build in competitive periods where the guys can go at it and have some fun competing, first of all.
But, secondly, keep the intensity level high so that it feels a little bit about -- a little more like the competition you might get in a ballgame. Other than that, you're just practicing.
And one of the things about football, unless you're a quarterback or a receiver, you know, football's not a whole lot of fun to practice. Especially if you're one of those guys that's playing somewhere where you're going to get hit every play or you have to hit somebody every play. It is physically demanding, and sometimes it even hurts.

Q. Want to go back to Ricky for just a second. Have you noticed a difference with him for the fact that he had to sit out for three games? Has he learned anything from having the starting experience and having to be on the sidelines and kind of be a coach and mentor for those last three?
KEN O'KEEFE: I don't think so. No, I haven't noticed any difference. I don't think he's thought a whole lot about that. Great question to ask him. I know I haven't asked him. Maybe I will now when I walk on out of the room (smiling).

Q. What about Dace? What's he look like? Can he play in this game?
KEN O'KEEFE: We're still working. We're a lot closer than we have been. He has a legitimate chance to play. There is no doubt about that. We're hoping, he's hoping, and he's really done a nice job to get back to this point in time.

Q. Can he help you out?
KEN O'KEEFE: Yeah, you know. I mean, he was having -- before he got hurt, he was just really starting to climb. You know, he's got -- it was a significant injury, obviously. He's still working his way through. If he helps us out, it's probably going to be at certain points. I don't know that he would be ready to play a 60-minute game if he absolutely had to. But he'll be ready. You know, he'll be ready to do something.

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