Ron Zook on His Team and Indiana

"Believe it or not, we can make a little progress. Obviously we still have a long, long way to go. I told the players after the game, we're going to keep pushing, coaching and demanding, and were going to keep getting better."

I know you get tired of hearing me say that, and I get tired of saying it. We're not as far away as I'm sure many of you would think. It's our job as a coaching staff to get them over the hump and get them to where they're capable of playing.

"Obviously playing Indiana is going to be a heck of a game for us. They're coming off of their first loss, they're 3-1 and it's going to be imperative that we go down there and play as well as we possibly can play, and I'm sure they have the same thing in mind. They've done a nice job with a new program just like us. They're a little more of a veteran ball club. They've got a lot of guys who started as freshman and now they're seniors, and they've played a lot of football. I'm sure that makes a little bit of difference. Nonetheless, we've got to go down there and play the best."

"JJ Simmons is probably listed as 'questionable,' although he was out there yesterday running around a little bit, Morris Virgil practiced at the end of last week and he practiced last night, so he should be okay. Other than that, it'll be a matter of when the doctors okay him for contact.

"The thing that is frustrating to me is that we've got to play the way we're capable of playing. We've got to take what we've been practicing and take it to the game field. Some of it is inexperience, some of it is just maybe being a little bit back on our heels. They've got to go compete. We've got some guys that have got some athletic ability and we've got to go compete. I don't know that we're in a position to say that we're going to do a lot of scheming things. They've got to go play."

...on Indiana quarterback Blake Powers:
"He's an athletic guy; he can throw the football anywhere. He can run, he can make things happen. They run an option and, once again, it forces the defense to make sure that they are option sound in everything that they do. He's an active passer, he's a leader, he's a winner. The tougher it gets, the harder and better he plays."

...on Indiana red-shirt freshman James Hardy:
"He's a basketball player, so you know right now he's a great athlete. He's got hand-eye coordination, he's got all of the things that you need to have. He's a guy that was on the outside, the strong side and then when No. 1 got hurt, they moved him over and now he's their go-to guy. He's very impressive, he's a big guy and he's tough. A lot of times basketball players, when they play football, they don't like to get in there and mix it up, but he gets in there and mixes it up and enjoys playing the game of football.

"They're hard guys to play against, particularly basketball players, because they use their body to shield people. Whether they play zone or boxout, they know how to do that. They have a feel for that a bit and he does a nice job of getting his body into position."

...on Justin Harrison:
"When we were at Rantoul, other than being a little rusty from not going through football since last fall, you can tell he's a guy that's got some special qualities. He's got that fight, he loves to compete, he plays with energy, and that's one of the reasons we made him captain this week."

...on young players and red-shirting:
"I like to talk to them and make sure that they want to do that. You don't want to waste a year of a young man's career on one side, but on the other side, I think you want to make sure that its going help the football team. If he can help the football team, then I say 'use him.' You never know about injury or something like that, you never know when he's going to have to be red-shirted anyway."

...on recruiting:
"Recruiting is recruiting--players don't look at the first year, the second year or the third year. They look at what you have to sell. A recruit is not going to go to a school, I don't think, because of wins and losses and ties. Obviously that's important, but they're going to go because this is their opportunity to get a degree. This is their opportunity to go somewhere where they're going to feel good, they're going to be happy, they're going to be with a winning program.

"What is any school in the nation selling kids? That they won? Does that guarantee that they're going to win when they're there? Recruiting is something that is abstract. I'm not selling them a car. You can't see an education and you can't see a degree. We've got everything we need here to recruit, we've just got to go do it. It's easier to recruit here than a lot of places I've been.

"I think young guys now coming out of high school want an opportunity to play. They feel confident that they're going to get the degree, they're going to have an education, they're going to get all those things that you're supposed to go to a school for, and then they feel confident that the program is going in the right direction and they're going to get an opportunity to play early; that's what they want to do."

...on Coach Hoeppner:
"I knew him when he first went to Miami. I've known Terry through the years and he's done a great job, he really has."

...on Jason Reda's kicking against Iowa:
"He was fine. Last week he was fine. There were a lot of things going through his mind right then. You just don't become a bad kicker. He can kick, he's a good kicker. Things were going so well: He was going home and he's talking to the media, all the things that can lose that edge a little bit. Whether it did or did not, I don't know."

"You're not kicking with one of those tees holding the ball. When you're kicking a field goal, the timing and the snap and the hold all go into effect. That's the think with Jason, he's kicked well. I'm not concerned about it, and he's not either. I'm not going to change how I think. He's fine."

...on improving:
"The things that needed to be corrected are corrected. You evaluate. We were dropping balls in the end zone. You can't miss a block here or there. Those are the things that you need to get better and better at. When you get into the locker room at halftime 16-14, like it very conceivably could have been and now the mental part goes on their side more than on our side.

...on this weekend's game against Indiana:
"They are all important. I'm looking at it as this is a game that we need to win. I'm sure they are saying the same thing. We got to win this game."

...on Indiana's football program:
"He's trying to do the same thing we are trying to do: get the program to a level that is not only respectable but competitive in the Big Ten conference."

...on running back Rashard Mendenhall:
"Jerome Bettis is not a long-run runner, but he's a pretty good runner. Some of those NFL guys are long-ball runners; some of them aren't. I mean that in the sense that there are different types of running backs. I think that when Rashard goes on in his career and gets better and better, he'll probably be the type of back that will have that explosive step."

...on his team's progress:
"The one thing that I want our players to understand is that we aren't as far away as they think we are. It's not a straight jet. We'll make the progress. We are getting better. We're going to continue to improve and do the things that we have to do to get there"

...on defensive personnel changes:
"We are trying to get the right linebacker combination there. On secondary we need to play all those guys. We need to settle on who is going to play the most because those guys will play the best."

...on Kyle Kleckner's play against Iowa:
"Here is a guy who looks like he was in a barroom brawl. If you look back, he competed. He fought and that's why we played him. He showed me that he could do that, so I'm going to expect him to play like that all the time. He's a warrior. He practiced yesterday. It looks like he shouldn't, but we wouldn't let him if we knew he wasn't ok. He did get my attention."

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