Sept. 11, 2006
Coach Frank Solich
On the offense against Northern Illinois:
"Offensively, we played well. We were able to fix things up quite a bit. The short-passing game became effective for us, and with that we were then able to keep some drives alive. I thought our receivers did a great job of catching the balls and then getting turned upfield. We made some crucial third-down conversions with receivers just catching the ball and getting up the field an extra two or three yards. Austen did a great job of getting the ball where it needed to go, and then upfront, as the game went on we were able to do a pretty good job of, I don't know if controlling is the right word, but somewhat controlling the line of scrimmage to the point where we were able to establish a running game and do a little bit of both. What we wanted to move to was an offensive football team that's able to throw and run, be very multiple in our formations and our attack, and I thought we were able to get that done so that is certainly pleasing to us from the offensive standpoint."
On the offense coming together: "There were signs through fall camp that we were going to be a better offensive football team, and certainly as we prepared for the first game we had a pretty simplified game plan. We thought it was going to be a solid game plan against Tennessee-Martin, but it really didn't give us a lot of options in terms of what to go with. Looking back on it, if we wouldn't have played so well on special teams and played so well defensively we maybe would have hurt ourselves with that approach offensively, but it worked out okay and allowed us to really come up with some things with Northern Illinois that they had not seen in that first ballgame."
On how it's rewarding to see Everson improve:
"You know he's a great person and a great leader for our football team. He stayed on the field last year through some tough times, took some big hits but continued to keep himself on the field last year. I have nothing but great respect for him in terms of how he's handled things and what he's been all about. I'm glad to see that his athletic ability is showing in a manner that he's productive on both ends because he can be a good running quarterback, and he can be a good throwing quarterback. I think we're helping him out a little bit this year with our receivers catching the ball. We had no sacks in this past game, and if we can keep that up, that will help us some in the passing game, and allow us to keep utilizing Austen in both those ways, a passing attack and a running attack."
On whether Brad Bower will still see time:
"Yeah, we want to still get Brad snaps. We think he's a good player and the more snaps he gets, the better he'll play. In the limited number of opportunities he's got, he's played well. We'd like to still get him snaps."
On the time of possession advantage at Northern Illinois:
"Keeping their offense off the field was a real key and that comes back to time of possession. Although that stat, when you look at it week after week, can be misleading. Controlling the time of possession and converting that to wins doesn't necessarily just automatically happen, but in this case it was big for us because they are so explosive in the big play end of it that if you allow them too many opportunities you know they're going to have their share of them. What we call an explosive play is a run of 12-or-more (yards) or a pass of 16 yards or more. They had 10 and we had nine. So even though they are a very explosive football team, we were able to basically match that. And turnovers, we gave up two turnovers to their none and normally when you have something like that happen you can be in trouble. They went on two fourth-down conversion tries, and we kept them from converting those into first downs so we got them off the field. That's kind of like a turnover. The sacks were even, and so when all those things come into play and they're pretty evenly matched up, time of possession is big. Also what was big was third down conversions. I think we were 11-of-16, which I don't know if we've been there before. It's good to get that statistic going in the right direction because that's a real key. That played into time of possession and keeping their guys off the field offensively."
On trying to contain Garrett Wolfe:
"It worked out pretty well. He's going to get his yards probably against anybody he plays. Their offense is built around that, and he's talented. The thing that was key was not allowing him to get a bunch of yards in the running game and then also a bunch of yards in the passing game. They did a great job of that against Ohio State, and I felt going in if we could just hold him under a total of 200 yards, we'd be doing pretty good. I think he had 195 maybe, something like that, and it all came from rushing yards so that was a key for us not to allow them to get going with him in the running and passing game."
On road victories:
"It's extremely important. Road victories are not easy to come by. There is a reason they call it home-field advantage. It's tough to get on the road, and if you're not careful you find yourself being distracted in a lot of ways, so we've tried to become a good road team. We're showing signs of maturing along those lines and doing what it takes to be able to win on the road. I think that was critical for us to get a big win like that on the road. It gives us a great deal of confidence and with seven road games this year, if you don't get ready to play well on the road you're going to be in trouble when you look at your overall record at the end."
On how this was a big win for the whole team:
"We played well enough in all three areas to win the game, and it was on the road and against a team that was the preseason pick to win the conference. We can't let that run us now. That game is in the books, and we're going to have to really start zeroing in on Rutgers right away. They had a chance to sit back, put their feet up, enjoy that win at home yesterday while they were in their apartments or dorm rooms. Now it's on to Rutgers, and that will be a huge challenge there. Of course Missouri's playing extremely well, so there's a lot of tough football ahead for us, but I think that game gave us confidence and the idea that if we really play well, there shouldn't be a game that we're not in. "
On the biggest Improvement from week one to week two:
"Third-down conversions were huge, but we improved in almost all facets of the offensive game - the passing game, the running game, third down conversions, just execution without a lot of mental breakdowns. I though we played hard every play. We had six offensive linemen play in the game so we didn't get the guys a lot of rest in the offensive line and everybody held up, so I couldn't have been more pleased with the fact that we showed improvement in all areas on the offensive side of it."
"(Brian) Leonard is basically an All-American fullback for them. He's a great blocker and a great receiver. They could use him in the one back set if they wanted to the whole game, but (Ray) Rice is playing so well at tailback and is a legitimate big time player there, so they've got what you look for in two running backs being on the field at the same time. They use both of those guys very well. The quarterback, Teel, is throwing the ball well. He's a composed quarterback. They've got a lot of things going for them in terms of being able to move the football on offense. They've got a great blocking tight end, maybe as good as we've faced since we've been here in terms of a great blocking tight end. Their line, two guards and center, are huge, huge people, and so we'll be faced with a physical attack that will be coming after us play after play. It will be interesting to see how we hold up with that. We're going to face a lot of great backs as we go through the season, but probably none better then the combination of those two."
On how physical he anticipates Saturday to be:
"They're a team that I think takes a lot of pride in being physical. You can see that by how they play on both sides of the ball and special teams. They'll come after you. They'll black punts. They'll fly around on the football field, and they've got good team speed on both sides of the ball. It's obvious that they feel good about where their program is at right now and how they're playing so it's going to be a huge test for us to slow them down a little bit and get some points on the board. They're not very big up front from the defensive end of it, but they do a lot of slanting, angling, and use their team speed really very effectively. They pride themselves in being a tough physical team."
On how this win has changed the mentality for this upcoming road trip:
"I hope it hasn't changed their mentality because the thing we've been working on in the program is to really develop a belief in themselves, their teammates, the system and the program itself as to what it's all about. We're just going to continue to get better and continue to improve. We'll continue to coach that way, and we'll continue to play that way. Certainly it's huge in terms of momentum and wanting to get that feeling that every time you step on the football field you can win, and I think our team truly believes that now. The problem with that is there's a lot of other teams that when they step on the field think they can win too. There's a lot of battles ahead."
On the effect of last week's win for the program's reputation:
"When you play a game your score comes up across the ticker nationally and people are very observant. Those people that follow football, and there's a ton of them around this country, they know exactly what every team's doing in terms of wins and losses and so that was a big thing nationally. People saw that as a real positive for this program and like I said after the game, Joe Novak's done a great job there. This staff wants to do a great job here. We want to get this program where we're playing for conference championships and doing the things that some of the teams at the very top do year after year. That's what we want to be all about."