This press conference will be separated into two six-page transcripts.
"I think we tried to take last week into a little bit of my thing, which is in a preseason development process because the open date was so early. We didn't over-practice. We came out of a two-a-day mode. We went two-a-day, one-a-day, two-a-day, one-a-day, and there were many scrimmages and all that stuff. So it wasn't -- maybe the work, physical side of a preseason where you're trying to just pound your guys and get them tougher, and we did have some contact and had I thought some good physical work, but it wasn't a preseason tough deal as much as a preseason mental deal and how to keep growing and come together as a team.
"I thought, again, liked the way we practiced and our habits. Been talking about our team about that, the winning habits that you need that good teams have. I thought our leadership has been good. I think we're moving forward, I think we're progressing. I thought we had a chance to do some corrections on ourselves, spend as much time looking at IU as much as the upcoming game with Bowling Green or any other opponent, and it was really again looking at not how we play the game but bullets are flying, areas of concern, so again, put a lot of time in on ourselves, concentrated on that and trying to keep ourselves on schedule.
"To us we're kind of back to game week and really kind of kicking off a good stretch here. It's about building momentum this week. A lot of guys will tell you when you're playing sometimes, you like an open date maybe to get yourself fresh, but if you're playing well you want to keep going. We did not try to overdo the first game because we knew we were going to have to sit down, so we're trying to build through the first game, through last week, now trying to get some momentum as we go into a six-game run, three of which are on the road, first two on the road and playing some good teams.
"Bowling Green this week, 12:00, ESPNU, they're defending MAC champions, 10-3 last year, back-to-back bowl games. They're a winning program with winning habits. They have a new coach. They have a coach that's coming into a situation where they've had some success, and there's a lot of good leadership and a lot of good habits, a lot of good things going on. Even though there's a transition, their defensive coaches really have two games under their belt, we've got one here with our new defensive coaches, so if you look about it, I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage.
"They have a quality program. We knew that a year ago. I'm very fortunate, I go back to knowing enough about that place, and going into Doyt Perry Stadium, he's a tremendous coach. At Carolina we played them in I think '83 or '84 there with a guy named McClure, big quarterback, great player. You go into the Mid-American he coached for nine years, you play Bowling Green every year it's one of the haves of that conference, always has been, always will be.
"Go to Northwestern and with 9/11, which is this week, we lost a game and we had to make up a game and we played Urban Meyer's Bowling Green team in late November at our place. We crossed into Northwestern. We go to Oklahoma and Adrian Peterson's first game, here come the Falcons into town and we saw the Falcons, and now you get up here and two years in a room with Coach Clawson's team, and now this team, so having worked at five D-I schools, I've kind of crossed him as a player and a coach everywhere I've been, so know them, respect them, and it's really about this week, it's not about the past. They're a winning program, great program.
"It's not about playing the MAC. They talk about the MAC has awesome success as evident last week. I think the Mid-American won two games against the Big Ten and had a third one in hand and didn't close it out. Those teams always play well. There are a lot of players that we know from those teams because we recruit them.
"Real quick, when we look at them real quick, defensively they're very aggressive to me. The first game kind of got rolling, and Western Kentucky got on a roll, but you can tell from week one to week two the strides they've made at a different opponent and it was an FCS opponent but they were more aggressive, more assertive, more downhill, closer in coverage. They've got a lot of vets on their team. They've had a few injuries, but they've had guys step in and play well, so a lot of guys we've seen and won against, led against. Led by Sutton their DB who's from Fishers, Indiana. Their linebacker last week No. 30, I think his last name is Senn, maybe I'm not saying it right - I didn't see it in their pronunciation guide - but he had 13 hits, so a lot of guys back, they're always good up front, they're giving up very little rushing yardage. They did a year ago. They're one of the premier defenses in the country a year ago. Statistically a lot of those guys are back.
"They didn't have one good game in an opener just like we had some numbers in the opening that can skew your stats, maybe that skews them. I think their defense is really salty and really good.
"Offensively similar but different in what they've done. They've been a no-huddle team, they've been a spread team, but now with Coach Babers coming in, a background from some Big 12 territory, was the coordinator at A & M. His background goes back, he was a coordinator at A & M long before I was at Oklahoma, so he's got a great background of NFL and what he's doing, crossed some paths at Baylor, doing a lot of things that Baylor does, some things sometimes we try to emulate in our style, but they do it really, really well.
"It starts with a really good running game, two backs that are pretty good, averaging over 100 a game. Freddie Coppet, a guy we offered and wanted here and he chose to go there, so I don't want to hear the deal that they've got the MAC players we didn't want because there are guys on their team that we offered and recruited, yet they chose to go there, so I don't want to hear that stuff about it's a chip-on-the-shoulder week. Trust me, when you're playing here trying to earn your respect, there needs to be a big chip on our shoulder every week.
"Two good running backs, starts with a good downhill running game. They had an injury at quarterback and another Indiana kid, James Knapke from Luers comes in, great start, again, it's all a part of their system and package and it's well coached, and the running game gets going, high percentage throws, he's throwing it to some quality receivers. One of the receivers, a guy we recruited, his brother played here my first year, was a quarterback for us. So again, know a lot of their skill kids, like some of their young receivers particularly, and a veteran O-line.
"Kicking game is outstanding. A year ago they blocked a punt for us for a touchdown. Last week they blocked one for a touchdown. Last week they returned one for a touchdown in the punting game, in the punt return game, and in week one they would have returned one except the guy tripped because he was in the open field, gone, or he'd have had back-to-backs, so again, great returner back there.
"We know the players, we've recruited them, we know the staff, we've got a lot of respect. I still come back to I like our team and I like getting started with this team. Really get started now for a great run. So like where we're at. Know we've got an awesome challenge.
"Looking forward to seeing a lot of our fans in Northwest Indiana and our Ohio fans getting over there. Like I said, again, we know this team well because whether it be the Ohio kids we recruit so hard, the Indiana kids, and then they go down and recruit Florida and Georgia just like we do, so it's a lot of kids you know, it's a great program. I think it's going to be a great game. I think it's a great opportunity for our team. I'm sure it is for their program, and I know we're looking forward to the preparation and having a good week. Questions?"
Q. Offensively how ready do you figure the defense will be because you're so used to practicing against that same kind of speed?
COACH WILSON: "Yeah, to some degree, and at the same time we have to kind of slow down a little bit in our practice because I really want our defense to get a lot better in their fundamentals and assignments and all that deal. We have not majored in ourselves in being as hectic in our practice because we really want to see our defense make some strides with the new system and communication and all that. We'll try to do it, and at the same time you're going to see it from week to week, it's a part of football. Again, their attack is very, very sound, very aggressive, and has the ability to go fast. I do think, though, with the way we're doing things with the referees, you're going to have a chance to always match up, and it just is what it is. We do it so they'll see it some, but come down Saturday, our ability to communicate, get the calls, be sound in what we're doing, be aggressive in what we're doing and the nature of that offense is try to limit that, and we'll see how it goes Saturday.
"But hopefully I'm sure we'll have a good preparation, plan, we'll work together and hopefully be in a good state to play, to have another good outing. It'll be a much different outing for our defense, and looking forward to see how they rise to the occasion this week, not rise to the occasion but show up and take advantage of this opportunity they're going to see on Saturday."
Q. Where do you see yourself in terms of offensively the passing game and being in sync with the quarterback and receivers?
COACH WILSON: "I think we're working hard at it. We've been getting guys in the right spots, things we want to major in as you get defended, what's going to be there. So I think we had a really good week a week ago without overdoing it but just with sense of urgency and communication, and we met a lot together, quarterbacks and receivers. We do that quite a bit. Hey, I'm seeing this as the quarterback, what are you seeing? I want to throw it to you here. Do you see the space, because sometimes in your passing game what you're doing is you have a concept, that concept is relative to space and where they're at and there's minor adjustments the way you settle and choke down and give your body or accelerate through to increase spaces for the quarterback.
"So we've worked a lot together. I thought we had good preparation last week. We'll need it to be a lot better because we're going to play a defense this week is really going to commit to stop the run. It's going to be tough sledding for the run game."
Q. You mentioned Knapke. How does he strike you as similar or different to Johnson, the kid that got hurt?
COACH WILSON: "Only one game, and against the opponent how much did they do. You know, bigger. The previous guy had decent size. I think James is taller, stands in the pocket tall, very strong arm, can make the shots down the field and spit it out quickly with all the quick throws they do, get it in and out of his hand. They didn't do as much in this first game running, and I don't know if it's because maybe they didn't need to because they just kind of took it right at him with their downhill stuff. You do know that the quarterback run game will be a part of it. They didn't major in that.
"I know coming out of high school he had an injury to his knee. It was at a part maybe they don't have as much depth. I know at Oklahoma one year, a quarterback got hurt, all of a sudden we didn't want to get the guy hit as much. They have other ways. They didn't get away from their run game, they just didn't maybe do as much with him as they were doing with Matt, but maybe it's because they didn't need it. The offense did not change significantly at all.
"It was kind of the same stuff, stuff you see, and like I said, I enjoy watching good football, so I record or get coaches' copy of every Baylor game I can, every A & M game I can, every Oklahoma State game I can. If you're good on offense you like to watch it and just like to study guys.
"When you see their offense, you see a lot of things when I've studied Baylor the last couple years, some things we tried to do, although we don't truly run that offense, we run similar things, and like I said, I don't think it changed a lot with James. I didn't see a lot of run but I don't know if they needed it and maybe didn't want to do it. I'm sure we'll see a lot more of that, quarterback draw and zone read and power read as they do it."
Q. Is that the kind of stuff they ran at Eastern Illinois basically?
COACH WILSON: "Yeah, exactly, and again, maybe a little bit different because maybe four wides or less, maybe more tight ends or less just based on what's going on, but it is that system, that package. It's a great system, and of course Coach Babers has a strong background and bringing all the stuff with them, so they're in sync and they started off really, really good. Even the first game they struggled a little bit the first quarter but when they settled down they put up good numbers, got rolling. They'll be one of the better offenses not only in that conference but in the country this year."
Q. Are you happy with the way the team approached the bye week, and are they mature enough to keep everything kind of level, on an even keel?
COACH WILSON: "Yeah, for us, because again, we saw -- I think it's nice we have some guys that played that the offensive line could look and see, there's a lot of things that were far from clean in the run game. You can take those numbers and say, look at this. I think Tevin would tell you some things that he missed he really needs to work on. I know Nate and the receivers for sure, and defensively we had some 3rd down opportunities, we had some score zone opportunities, we had chances to get some turnovers, we didn't. Had our hands on the ball.
"Same in the kicking game, so I really like this team. I think they're listening, and again, we didn't over-practice by any means. We specifically showed some things that we thought needed to be corrected. We addressed it, let's move forward, and I like the way they practiced a ton. We had a couple mental days where we didn't do much. We had midweek a couple physical days, we did some light work at the end of the week to polish us and really get us ready for this game week, but I really liked last week's work from our players. I think they're buying into the way we're doing it."