The Hoosiers will be looking for a 3-0 start on the season when they host Wake Forest on Saturday. IU wideout Mitchell Paige met with the media on Monday to talk about how the bye week went for the team, and what challenges the Demon Deacons will present for the Indiana offense.
Q - You guys played Wake Forest last year. What are the differences you have seen from them this year when watching them on film?
MITCHELL PAIGE: Not that they were bad last year, but they’re really good on defense. We have a lot to get ready for. They are going to play a lot of man coverage and they are really good in coverage. They’ve got some good DB’s. The biggest difference is hopefully it is not going to be raining I guess. But they’re good just like they were last year and we’ve got a lot to prepare for.
Q - When going up against their man defense how do you go about beating that coverage while also trying to get the ball out fast enough to beat their pass rush?
MITCHELL PAIGE: It is about beating the rush. Coach (Kevin) Wilson talks about that a lot. Usually it is not about 1-on-1 routes, it is beating the rush and getting open before the guys can get to the quarterback. We’re just going to have to make a lot of competitive plays. They’re going to be in our stuff and Rich (Lagow) has got to make good throws and get the ball out on time and we have to be ready to make plays.
Q - How has the bye week helped this team? What were you able to take away from it?
MITCHELL PAIGE: There is a lot of learning that we can take away from the first two weeks. Obviously with our quarterback he was able to learn from some of the stuff he’s done in the first two weeks and get a little more comfortable, and he will be getting even more comfortable this week. It’s just getting back to coaching. Coach (Kevin) Johns made a big deal about how he wants to coach us better which means focusing on our techniques and our base fundamentals that can help us when it is the fourth quarter and fourth down in Columbus. When you’re not thinking about fundamentals and you just have done it and it is just a habit. So that is what was really improved this bye week.
Q - With one less non-conference game this year how important is it to finish undefeated going into the Big Ten season?
MITCHELL PAIGE: Obviously it would be great to be 3-0. I’m not trying to look ahead to the Big Ten. We’ll get there when we get there. Any time you can win…it is hard to win in Division I football. They’re going to have good players. Winning is a hard thing to do so any time you can win you will obviously try to do that. We’ve got a lot to prepare for and I’m excited to do it.
Q - You guys kind of struggled on third down against Ball State. How can you improve on that going forward?
MITCHELL PAIGE: That has been a big emphasis. We have not been good on third down at all. That goes back to making competitive plays. Wake Forest is going to play man-to-man coverage in our face on third down, whether it is third and 5 or third and 12. We’ve just got to make plays. We’ve had chances to make them and so far we haven’t done as well as we probably should. We’re going to try this week to improve on that.
Q - As far as punt returns go last year they (Wake Forest) didn’t get any hang time. They seemed to just try and pinball it off of you guys. What challenges does that present for you?
MITCHELL PAIGE: It is a lot about communication. I know they have a really good punter. When he wants to boom he can boom it so we’re ready for that. And when they do that kind of low ball (kick) we’ve got to make sure me and…I think we’re going to have a couple guys practicing at it…we’ve got to make sure we’re up ready to get guys out of the way if we have to because it is coming and it is hard to hear out there. It’s going to be loud so we just have to make sure that we really communicate and we’re being loud and being demonstrative with our calls.
Q - When Camion (Patrick) gets on the field it sounds like it will be at wide receiver. What can he bring when he gets out there?
MITCHELL PAIGE: He is a big, strong guy. He adds a big body on the outside and he’s got really good hands, especially once he gets more comfortable out there because he was at running back. It’s just going to take him a second to get…I think he has done a really good job during the bye week…he’s been working out there a little bit. It will just add another dimension to the outside receivers. He’s big and fast and it will help other guys that are on the field. It will draw attention and help everyone who is out there play a little faster.
Q - The first few games there were times when the offense would bog down a little. What issues did you see on film and how much did you work on that during the bye week?
MITCHELL PAIGE: Like I’ve said, the competitive plays are important at receiver, but also our point of attack blocking so that when a run is coming to us we’ve got to make sure that we’re on our guy and our guys don’t make the tackle. That is one thing on third down when we do call run plays our guys have been making the tackles so we’ve really emphasized at the point of attacking making sure we finish our blocks and our guys never finishes at the pile is what we say. So we’ve got to emphasize that this week and make sure that gets changed.