Q. Do you follow the same routine on road games that you always do, or do you change back and forth? I wonder if your plans for this road game are any different than what you've done in previous seasons?
COACH WILSON: "Kind of the same. Everybody is different from where you've been and what you do. We do what we can here and then it's just based on travel time and game time. The earlier the kick on Saturday maybe the earlier you try to get there. We're very fortunate in our sport that we actually probably miss, I think of all athletic sports, the fewest class days due to travel. This year with our administration we need to have our fall break on an away game instead of one where we'd have a better crowd here, but two, that's a day we're traveling, we're missing class, let's make that -- we don't get that day off as far as we're kind of working and doing our stuff. We miss very few class days. We come in and do our work in the mornings. We don't go super early, let them rest a little bit more, sleep, steal a little bit of time, get started 8:00, 8:30 and go to about 11:00. Typically we go to class from there, and if it's a travel day it's just are we getting on a plane.
"This week we're just bussing to Bowling Green. It's a four-and-a-half-hour drive, so we'll hit the road about 12:30, 1:00, 1:30 and get up there about 5:00 or 6:00. Home games we go to a movie. On the road we let them watch a movie in their room. We'll have a quick team meeting. We do not do a lot of last-minute Friday night work with the team. I think that shows a lot of stress. I think that shows a lot of worry.
"I remember at North Carolina one time, Carolina was playing Duke, and I saw Coach Smith driving his car to the game because he didn't want to be with the team because he got nervous. He wanted to let them go and he'd show up when they were ready to play. Sometimes as a coach a lot of times in warm-ups you don't want to be around them in warm-ups.
"When you go to see the basketball, (inaudible) you don't want to watch them shoot, you don't want them hot. It's not superstitions or routines, it's just things you do. I'm not a big last-minute deal. We kind of do our work at the first part of the week. We front-end load it, then we talk a lot about Thursday or Friday mentally what our team needs to do and from a rest, nutrition what our team needs to do to peak on Saturday.
"The only thing we've changed this year is we've changed a little bit of our work on Thursday and our work on Friday and what we're doing Thursday and what we're trying Friday to try to get our team in a fresher mode.
"We've tweaked some things, whether it be lifting and how we practice and what we're doing to hopefully get our guys feeling fresher and faster on those Saturdays."
Q. Do you do slightly less on Thursday and Friday?
COACH WILSON: "We're doing a little bit less on Thursdays, a little bit more on Fridays than we used to do, just kind of to recover from the practice and then build up for the game, so kind of just talked with some people, flipping it around, we didn't change our time but just from the physical activity and what we're doing, things to jump-start your body and not be dead-legged or mentally tired. We're talking a lot to our team about their Thursday night habits and things they need to sacrifice when Thursday night is a great college night around town. Hey, we're talking six weeks here in a row we need to give that Thursday night up because what's in your body Thursday night, dinner on Thursday night, you're playing with Saturday at noon more than what you put in your body on Friday, so we're talking a lot about things we need to do.
"To me when you say winning habits, it's not practice. There's winning habits in your sleep and what you're eating through that week that helps you become a winner, and those are things we're working hard to communicate and have our team embrace, and I think they are."
Q. I know you mentioned earlier last week about wanting to get Nate and some of the young receivers more in sync with one another. How much closer are they to being more in sync?
COACH WILSON: "Well, I wouldn't say it's the young ones, I'd say it's all of them. Shane is playing outside so to me he's still a little bit new out there. Our tight ends are new, so to me it's just kind of across the board. And there's a fine line, we talk about trying to stay fresh so we've got to run our routes as fast as we can, we've got to do a lot of it to get good at it but if you do too much you get tired and dead-legged and you're slow.
"If we practice too much, we practice at a pace that's not game speed, and then the quarterback goes to throw the swing route and all of a sudden he's behind the tailback or throwing the curl route and he's not getting out on time. Sometimes it's really doing less reps and doing them faster and at game speed and make sure that the guys are -- we've really tried to concentrate hard to make sure that the quarterback is throwing the balls to the guys he needs to throw to, so he's getting timing with guys he throws to. In other words we don't want to throw a go ball to a freshman we're red shirting if Nate is throwing it. Throw that with one of the young quarterbacks. That kid needs that work, but I don't want that to be Nate's shot. I want that to be with Stoner or with Shane Wynn, one of the guys that's playing, so it's just a little bit more how you practice it, and we've worked hard at it and I think we're gaining, but hopefully we'll keep gaining throughout the year, every day, every week."
Q. Is it just development of you as a head coach, those kind of areas to where you recognize maybe we change who he's throwing that ball to?
COACH WILSON: "I don't know if I've changed so much as much as the first time just trying to see who's in. Now you know they're in because they're here because some of their buddies chose not to be and went by the wayside. There's good buy-in. Initially sometimes you're doing things hard enough just to figure out are you in or out. You know, a guy gave an analogy the other day on a scale of 1 to 10, are you in or out? He goes, no it's either yes or no. Did you marry your wife on a scale of 1 to 10 as a 7? No, it's a 0 or a 1 and you married her, and let's go. She's the one.
"So like with this team, these guys are all in where before maybe we were a 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and now it's like, hey, you guys are in, so now you're just changing some thoughts in practice. Now, that being said, you cannot lose your physical toughness, and I like the way we started. I think we are so much stronger, and we're not as strong as you need to be, but we are so much physically stronger, that's why we have the rush numbers we needed, the rush defense we needed, we had fewer mistakes, we had fewer penalties. We're one of the fewest penalized teams, we only had four in the first game as a team. When you're strong and you're tough, when you get tired is when you make mistakes and you grab a guy and you hold or you flinch and jump offsides. So as we have developed our team physically with, number one, program development and physical maturity, that being said, it's a different way you practice because your team is more -- a part of the way we practiced was to physically try to mature them through practice.
"You don't -- there is no off-season. You're always maturing. Well, part of year one and year two was maturing the team. We're still maturing now, but physically we're in a place where it's a lot more mental maturity and timing and being in rhythm and sync than it is physical smashing heads all the time. We've got to smash enough to hit because you're a boxer, man, if you don't get on the ring and do those gut shots and jabs and if you can't take punches and you can't deliver, you can't play this game.
"So there's got to be some contact. We had some contact last week, but shoot, first year we might have went a two-a-day on Labor Day Monday. This week we took it off and just watched video, and game two -- we practiced hard on Wednesday and Thursday, gave them a little time to recover from that preseason deal. Had a lot of learning on Sunday and Monday, learn from the game, see things you're doing. Now let's come out Wednesday and Thursday and really go hard, and then we kind of polished a little bit Friday and Saturday and now we're into game week."
Q. After this weekend it seems like the national perception of the Big Ten is a probably a little down. Just curious your thoughts on this past weekend?
COACH WILSON: "Yeah, I'm not into -- we've got to carry the Big Ten banner because we're a Big Ten team, but my only concern is always about us, and I want to do our part to continue to try to raise our part and value the Big Ten. I know we've got great coaches, great players, and, in a quote, it's one game, when a guy or team wins or loses. I like the fact we're getting bigger games. We'll be playing one this week, playing a championship team, then we go to Missouri, play another high end team. I like the fact our league is playing good games. We've got to continue to do so. You need to win those games, but you've got to keep playing them.
"Those are some decent contests. I didn't sit there and study them. I tried to watch them like a fan and just watch it, but I didn't take it to mean as a good day or a bad -- to me it was just an Indiana day to me, and we did our work Saturday morning. We brought our kids in Saturday morning, did some work with them and got them out of here right after lunchtime so they could go watch some games and have the afternoon to themselves.
"We started, I think we had 111 plays in the stadium Saturday ourselves, so we tried to do it like -- that was kind of a mini-game day without smashing heads and playing an opponent."
Q. Was Saturday good evidence of how good the Mid-American Conference is?
COACH WILSON: "Well, I go back, to me, I sit here today because in 1995 we went to Evanston, Illinois, and beat what turned out to be the Big Ten champs because those guys went 10-1 that year but Coach McCullough's team as a running back beat that team, so MAC has always had -- it goes back to the style, it goes back to those guys, shoot, Coach Mallory coached at Bowling Green, did he not? I mean, so it's really about Bowling Green. That's a winning program, and I say that because again, where we're at, we recruit those kids. All those kids on their team we official visit, they've been here, they've been to camp, we've been to their schools. So I think it's a heck of a game for them, for us, and we've got to travel there. That doesn't happen a lot, a Big Ten team going in there, but to me we've got some fans in Northwest Indiana, so it's going to be closer for them Fort Wayne guys to get over there. We've got a lot of fans in Ohio that are IU guys, so we'll have a great group of cream and crimson guys in the stands.
"But to me as a coach, I don't look as much about I want the Big Ten to do well, but I really want us to do well, and I know Coach Babers would say the same thing. He's more excited about Bowling Green and his opportunity this week than representing the MAC. We represent our league, but at the end of the day you really represent your team and your institution, and that's what I'm looking forward to. That's why I say, we looked at Saturday as a day for us, and we worried about us and had a little practice work and then let the guys go watch some games, and we're going to move forward this week with what I think -- I thought they were a tremendous team last year. That's why they're the conference champions, they won, and we had a great week and we had to play at a high level. Let's go back to that game, too. 600 yards. I remember 1st and goal getting stuffed twice, had the ball inside the 10 and didn't score. I remember a crappy first quarter, a blocked punt that made national TV as one of the bloopers of the week in the 10-10 game, and then we kind of got on a roll and it snowballed, no different than what happened to them in their first game; team they played got on a roll and it snowballed.
"I mean, that happens in a game. That doesn't mean you're a bad team. Last year is last year. I respect these guys, it's going to be a tremendous game. I'm looking forward to it."
Q. Do you want them watching Bowling Green and Missouri? Would you rather the coaching staff present those than have them watch other games?
COACH WILSON: "I think the more they watch the better. I get mad at them all the time if they're not watching the Big Ten Network. If I go in the lunchroom and it's not on the football game, I'm going to put it on. I'm not sitting there watching -- I love baseball but not this time of year. I don't care about watching SportsCenter for the 40th time in a row that morning as they keep cycling. We'll put a taped game on, and let's watch football, learn football. It's a great classroom, and you can Google up all the time. Our guys, too, we've got iPads and stuff, and we're trying to get our guys, too, to understand, as you watch football and learn football, it's better to watch it as a group so it's better for three or four of you guys to get together and talk about situations, man, that was a bad penalty; man, look, it just cost those guys, and the kids are talking about it instead of you just watching the game by yourself.
"To me the greatest thing these guys got is with all the technology to have a chance to learn and to watch. We're asking them to watch games in a group and study tapes in group instead of individual because the game is played as a group, and the more we combine those guys together, I think the better.
"Again, I like them watching everybody. I expect them to watch Monday Night Football tonight, and as soon as they're done studying, I'd watch that game because I'm going to be asking them tomorrow what happened in the game, and if a guy don't tell me what's going on, look, what's up with you, it's Monday Night Football, (singing Heavy Action) da-da-da-dum, I mean, don't you guys have that on your phone? It's Monday Night Football. It's one of the greatest nights ever. Thursday night? We're going to tell them Thursday, here's who's playing Thursday night. Watch this.
"We put on our Friday travel schedule, here's the game tonight on TV, watch these guys play, learn football."