Question: Obviously you take a lot of pride in the defense, you’ve told us that a number of times; what do you think is the biggest concern at this point and how do you rectify that?
Ryan Van Bergen: “I think we’ve been inconsistent at times. I think that we’ve given up…the big plays really hurt us. We’ve given up a lot of big plays. Plays that have gone for 20+, 30+, both in passing and in running. We just got to be more assignment oriented and eliminate the big play because, if we can get rid of that, we can play consistently at times, which will help us.”
Question: What do you remember about last years Illinois game?
Ryan Van Bergen: “Last years Illinois game, they threw a couple new wrinkles at us, because they were a little bit earlier in our schedule. Juice Williams played really well against us. They had a really good zone read scheme going, but overall I feel like defensively they were about as good as an offense that we had seen as far as running the spread. So watching film on and stuff on them this year, I don’t think they’ve changed much. So we’ll be well prepared if you played in last year’s game for them this year.”
Question: They haven't changed much even though they haven't won a Big Ten game?
Ryan Van Bergen: “No scheme wise I don’t think they have. I think they are doing the same thing. I think last game they put in there third string quarterback for the second half. Obviously they are adjusting personnel to try and help them offensively, but scheme wise, I feel like they are the same team.”
Question: Are you surprised with how much they’ve struggled?
Ryan Van Bergen: “Yeah, I guess I would say that. They returned a lot of guys especially offensively that I thought they would be a more dominate team. They still have all the players and the capacity to be that team so we have to prepare like they are the best team that we are going to play this year.”
Question: What makes Juice Williams so dangerous to try and defend?
Ryan Van Bergen: “He’s got an excellent technique in the zone read. I’ve seen Denard (Robinson) and Tate (Foricer) and everybody run the zone read where they can pull the ball or they can give it off and he does a great job of keeping his hands in there. There are times where you can actually see the whole play develop and you still don’t know if he has the ball or not. He’s really talented and really good at that. He is really good at what he does…he’s been in the scheme since he was a true freshman. So he knows all the holes and he knows exactly all the reads. He can be dangerous when he’s on.”
Question: Denard and Tate are probably the only quarterbacks that you’ve seen like that his year, right?
Ryan Van Bergen: “This year in practice, right.”
Question: In the games, you haven't really faced too many guys that run this.
Ryan Van Bergen: “No.”
Question: When you’re facing a team like Illinois, which has struggled; how much are you kind concerned that they have so much talent that eventually they are going to put one game together?
Ryan Van Bergen: “We are concerned with every team that they are going to give us their best effort and so we have got to look at what they do and some of the mistakes they’ve made and hopefully we can go ahead and use that against them and hopefully we can establish ourselves as the dominate team when we come out because they do have the players like I said to be dominate, so we have to prepare and be ready for them.”
Question: Brandon Graham has been on a nice little run here in the last month; playing with him, what is that like?
Ryan Van Bergen: “We have a great time on the defensive line. We’ve had some pretty good numbers I think. We’re coming on a little bit stronger, but Brandon is just a funny character. Most of the time he’s making plays from the back side, which means that he is coming to my side on the play, so as long as I stand it up, he’s going to make the play in the backfield is kind of his whole scenario. On pass, the same thing, if I can get enough push up the middle, me and Mike (Martin) and the quarterback can't step up, he’s going to give us credit when he wins an award or something. It’s really cool playing with him. We’re a really close group. We have a great time playing together and I think we just keep growing every game.”
Question: Is that his motor or is that them trying to run away from them and he is just faster than them?
Ryan Van Bergen: “I can't even tell you. He’s a playmaker. It’s part of his motor. It’s part that he just has great football instinct. There is not any guy that can take the right step on every play every time and he is getting awful close on that.”
Question: Does the fact that being one game away from bowl eligibility, even entered into your consciousness; is that something you’re thinking about these days?
Ryan Van Bergen: “No that’s not something that I’m thinking about. Obviously we want to play in a bowl game because we missed out on that last year and broke the streak, but it is not really in our minds. We just got to win one more because if that’s the approach you take then I don’t think you take every game as seriously. We are just taking the approach that we got to win every week and we got to win this week.”
Question: What is the mindset of the team? I mean all these injuries piling up and losing (David) Molk; that’s a pretty big blow?
Ryan Van Bergen: “Yeah Molk’s my roommate. Injuries and stuff, obviously it is part of the game. I feel like the team’s mindset is that we’ve dropped a couple that we had literally been yards; I wouldn’t consider Penn State that, but Iowa and Michigan State games that we dropped, we were literally yards away from winning those games. We’ve got to rebound and bounce back and there is still a lot of football to be played and hopefully we can come out of the next one with a win.”
Question: You said Molk was your roommate; what was he like yesterday when he found out about…?
Ryan Van Bergen: “He’s pretty lighthearted. I know he take its seriously. I think the biggest thing with Dave is that he feels strongly that he wishes that he could be there for the team. It’s not an individual thing for him, which is why the coaches and everybody loves him so much. It is just because he went out there on a tore ACL and bad foot to play for the team.”
Question: He told us after the game that he’d probably be back; did he give you a different message?
Ryan Van Bergen: “No. He said he would be back this week and then got a phone call from the doctors and said that, you’ll probably not going to be able to play the rest of the season.”
Question: He got his MRI yesterday?
Ryan Van Bergen: “I don’t remember when he got his MRI, but I know he received the information that he wasn’t going to be able to play for a while.”
Question: Did you watch him on the phone when he got the call? Was his face just kind of…?
Ryan Van Bergen: “No actually he came up into my room. I was doing homework and he came in my room and told me. I was trying to be there for him. We talked about it and stuff. He just is looking forward to helping the team as much as he can now vocally because he’s a good leader and just try to be there for the other guys on the offensive line; they are going to need to step up.”
Question: What was he like when he got the news, dejected, sad?
Ryan Van Bergen: “I think he’s really good at hiding emotions. He’s obviously upset. Anybody would be upset if you weren’t going to play the rest of the season. He took it really well and he just says that…he kind of said, you’ve got to pick up the slack for me a little bit. He took it well. It’s a hard thing to do. It is not something anybody wants to encounter.”
Question: Are all these injuries that pile up a function of playing a pretty physical team in Penn State or is it more coincidence?
Ryan Van Bergen: “There are a lot of things that lead into it. We haven't had a bye week, which is kind of unusual. This is our eighth straight game that we’ve played. There are a lot of guys that are on the field for a long period of time because of the no huddling stuff, so we get a lot more plays than most teams do. There’s a whole bunch of factors that can attribute to it. You can't really place it on one thing, but I think the whole team is rebounding pretty well and we’ll be alright.”
Question: A couple of Penn State players said that there were plays where you guys looked confused and weren’t sure were to line up; did you sense any of that or do you think that was something that they were seeing?
Ryan Van Bergen: “I think that is something that they were seeing. There is different plays where we have different men that we align too and they were disguising it a little bit. There wasn’t too much confusion, maybe once or twice there is a little bit of delay, but there was no confusion. There is a lot of time when we were trying to confuse them by stunting on the defense line in our fronts to mess with their blocking schemes. Maybe that is what they were thinking of.”
Question: Do the two of you live alone?
Ryan Van Bergen: “We live with Steve Watson too; the three of us.”