It was great to win the football game. I can tell you that, it’s always good to win. Sometimes, they’re not very pretty, and this would be one, but you have to give Air Force a lot of credit. I think they do a tremendous job of coaching that offense, and running that offense, and I think they did a good job when you look at the counters they put in when you counter one way. It’s a chess game a little bit, and I think Greg at the end…Coach Mattison, at the end, really had changed things up that helped us make the stops at the end by the defense, which were timely, and huge, and needed to be there. We played an awful lot of plays on defense. That means you’re not doing a good enough job getting them off the field. But their tempo was, you know, one of those things that’s good, and I think we learned a lot about them, and we played a lot of guys. We played a lot young guys, and freshman, and they kept – you know, it helps us as we continue through the season.
Can you talk a little bit about Devin Funchess’ development? He really seemed connected to Denard today on the field.
Well, I think he did a nice job. I think there was some – you like to go to play makers, so there were some things set up for him, but he also makes plays, so he’s coming along.
What made you decide to go with Joe Bolden as linebacker for the second half?
Well, I think we were trying to play as many guys as we could, and Joe had a pretty good feel for the option part of it, you know? At Colerain High School, that’s all they run, so he kind of saw things more than we weren’t, but it is more to fresh and rotate them through.
I think it was in the Northwestern game last year where you really talked about edge. They got to the edge on you guys and you needed to do a better job.
Can you talk about, obviously, what Air Force is doing? They’ve had a lot of success with their pitch, you know, toss left, toss right, and what do you guys need to try to do a better job of to kind of, obviously, make that…?
Well, it depends. There’s a whole series of, you know, do you load, do you get arch? I mean, there’s a lot that goes into it. Are hey T-blocking it or X-blocking it, and it’s – who has the pitch? That varies, depending on how they want to block it and attack it, and most of the time, if we do a good job constricting the line of scrimmage, they can’t get a tackle up on your safety, or they can’t get the tackle up on the linebacker, who can continue the flow, and then your safety has a chance. So there’s a lot of different things that go on with it.
You mentioned Bolden earlier, but you guys played a lot of guys – freshmen on defense. Are they just outperforming veterans at this point, or is this something…?
We recruit them because they’re pretty good players. I think they’re all competing.
How would you asses both your non-Denard running game, and also how your lines played today?
You know, I think the non-Denard running game, I guess if you want to call it from now on, it wasn’t productive enough. Therefore, I don’t think we played well enough upfront. And then defensively, 297 yards rushing, you didn’t play well enough upfront.
You talked about the freshmen, Devin Funchess in particular, really making some big plays after Brandon Moore went down?
Say that again?
Your freshman tight end; the game he had.
Yeah, he looked like he played a good game.
Can you expound on that?
He was productive.
With your defense, do you look at everything and then chalk it up to it’s a unique offense, and it would be hard, do you have some real weaknesses that you have to address?
I would say there is a uniqueness to the offense, and to schemes, but at the same time, I think we’re a work in progress, you know? And Quinton Washington’s getting better every time he plays, you know? I think Ondre Pipkins, I think he’s getting better every time he plays. You know, Heitzman. I mean, he played a decent amount today. Then the four outside guys – Ojemudia, I mean, he’s getting better. Frank Clark, having him back, and Craig, and the older guys I think are doing a pretty good job, but I think we’re a work in progress on defense total.
Can you talk about how big a swing it was, you’re up 14-3, driving, and you get the tip pass interception, and then go in and half time 14-10?
It was one of those things, you know? And I didn’t get as good a look as I’d like to have. I don’t know if it was a little high, or what, but that’s football, and when you’re called to play defense, you have to keep them out of the end zone, and we didn’t do that.
A year and a half in, are you still wowed by Denard and the things he can do, or do you see it so much in practice that you’re used to it?
You know, I see a lot of it in practice, so I don’t know if you ever get used to it, but when he sticks his foot in the ground, he has an ability.
Two games in, are you seeing enough out of the team that you really want to see to be a Big Ten Championship team?
I think if we keep improving every week, then that’s our expectation.
Can you talk about Jake and putting number 47 on him, and the outcome of that today, and his performance?
You know, as we looked at it as a staff, the guys who – from a character standpoint, and from the standpoint of how he goes about his business every day, there wasn’t a better job than to have Jake represent Bennie, so I think that was – as a staff, we came up with that, and it’s the right guy. How he played, I think he made some plays in there. I think he got on the ground sometimes, so for me to say how he really played, I couldn’t tell you. I know he played hard.
Couple big plays at the end there.
Yeah, he did. There’s no question about that, and I think what we’ll probably look at as much as anything when they load blocked on him, and he got chopped, or arched on him, and we didn’t have that pitch player we needed.
You talked about Coach Mattison, some of the adjustments he made in the fourth quarter, I noticed you put out your own papers. I know you made some cross checks, whatever you did. When you spoke with him, was there some advice you gave him that…?
No, Greg and I think an awful lot alike, you know? And we knew we need to do a little bit something different in the back end, because we had three different possibilities, and with two of them would have been too confusing, maybe, to try to do on the sideline without them seeing those looks over and over again. So we kind of went back to a little bit of base stuff for playing defense.
You talked about the non-Denard running game. Was it rust there with Fitz, or was it just something where he never got into the flow?
I don’t think he ever had a chance to get started.
We didn’t block well enough.
Did you see any rust with him …?
…or was it just up front? You think it was all up front?
Yeah. He’d been practicing the whole time.
The insane tempo that they had on offense; how do you go about preparing the team for that type – I mean, there are fast tempo teams, but those first couple of possessions that they had, were, frankly, insane.
Right, and really, besides the tempo part, it takes you about a quarter to get used to the speed, and how they execute that offense. You know, we tried to mimic it, and our scout guys, you know, they’re playing with guards and tackles that are 255-lbs, and we have Ben Braden who’s 315-lbs trying to veer block, and he’s giving everything he’s got, but it’s a little different tempo, little different speed. Joe Reynolds did a good of a job as anybody could on being Connor Deitz, but it takes you about a quarter, it really does, and I thought we hung in there, we weren’t pretty. The thing that we needed to do was get the ball on the ground a couple times and we didn’t do that, but it’ll be interesting, because I’ll talk to the kids tomorrow and see how they felt about the tempo, because I never really – I didn’t really see us not set and ready to go, as a defense, which you’ll see, and so believe it or not, that’s a big step, in that everybody’s on the same page.
Brady, Brennen Beyer was in an air cast after the game, what’s his status?
Well, he strained his knee, I don’t know any more than that right now, but that’s kind of what’s going on.
And health wise, elsewhere, anyone else?
Not that I know of.
What about Ash?
He should be ready next week.
How many true freshmen do you know that you’ve played so far this season that by design, and by necessity, how many have been out there?
I want to say 12. It’s by design and necessity. I’m being honest.
When you use Funchess the way you did today, what kind of matchup problems does that cause for a defense?
Well, you know, he’s a tall guy, he’s rangy, he can run. You know, I like him. He’s not afraid to block, you know? And he – matchups on strong safeties, matchups on linebackers, you know, it’s kind of what you look for in a guy like that.
Can you talked about the game Frank Clark had, especially on the last drive?
I know Frank was active; I know he was disruptive. Especially there at the end of the game, now, we’ll see how he played the other 80 plays.