I have spent more time in this team room lately than I have at home. I have been staying with the team and it has been great. Today turned out about what I had hoped. I thought that our first stab at picture/fan appreciation/select-a-seat day was a win for sure for the Hoosiers. That is really good for the players. It is great for the players to be appreciated and have people want their autographs and want their picture taken with them. I think it serves a purpose that way. Part of my goal today, because we have done this before, in fact Miami University is doing the same thing today. They are carrying it on. It serves as a way to create some distractions prior to playing football that is hard to do.
It is hard to simulate everything that goes on when you really play the game. Two weeks from last night, we are playing a football game for real. This day, at first when we talked about it at Miami. They said it was a lot to ask of the players. I said "Yeah. That's good." We need to stress them out. We need to create a lot of distractions. We need to fire them up with the fans. We need to get people here. We need to sell some season tickets.
We've accomplished all of that so far. Now, they have some time to regroup a bit. Get some energy and some drinks in them. We'll bring them out at 1:20. It won't take much to warm up today. It is nice and hot. Then, we'll have a controlled scrimmage with all phases of the kicking game being live. We'll start out with our kickoff return. We've already won the toss and elected to receive. It is amazing what you can do when you control things like that. I wish I could do that two weeks from now. We are going to start full go with a kickoff return. Then, we'll have a controlled scrimmage. We as coaches have already set that up.
Camp has been good so far. I love this team. We have had a good time together. Sometimes, that is hard to do. This team room is somewhere we spend a lot of time in the evenings for leadership training. It is also team building. The team is getting to know each other. For example, one thing I do and have done since my days in South Carolina when I was a high school coach down there, I pair them up. I make them have roommates. Last night, I picked out John Pannozzo. He has to stand up and his roommate, who is Bryan Payton, stands up. They have to talk about each other. In order to talk about each other in front of the team, you have to talk to each other and get to know each other. They finally got it. In the beginning it was pretty random stuff that you could get out of a media guide. They have been coming up with some good stuff.
The best one, I was waiting for this one. We had Ben Ishola from Berlin, Germany and Brian Zematis who spent some time in Austria speaks fluent German. English has been Ishola's second language. I was wondering did they find out. Ben gets up and talks about Brian. He never said anything about the fact that Brian speaks German. I said Ben, say something to Brian in your native language and he does. Brian answers him and Ben's eyes get real big. They talked a bit more. I asked Brian what he said. Brian said he had been listening to him talk to his girlfriend in German. Ben was trying to remember all of the things he's said to his girlfriend. He had been talking in German so that Brian couldn't understand.
We have had a lot of fun with that and the players have gotten into it. They have come up with some things that I didn't know and most of their other teammates didn't know. That is an example of the fun we had in camp.
Playing football becomes very routine. We've kept things changed up. We have gone into the stadium on the practice fields. The tempo has been good. We are not where we need to be by any stretch. We need to get a lot better. The staff has done a great job. We have a great training staff and equipment staff. Everything here is first class. We are tied for first in the nation in a lot of those areas.
The players are doing a great job. We have a few dings with some guys out. Nothing serious, though. We haven't had anything that will affect us in the long range. James Hardy has missed a few days and we've held him out. A couple other guys as well. At this point, with a guy like Hardy, you want him practicing every day. He came out of the blocks flying early and now he has missed a few days. We'll be able to catch him up. He is one of those guys that made great improvements over the summer. People wouldn't recognize him in Fort Wayne. He is 218 pounds and looks great.
On evaluating talent during camp:
Blake (Powers) was a guy that we were anxious for as well as (Graeme) McFarland to see what kind of progress they made through the summer, because it is one of the real interesting parts of our job. It is important that these guys get better as players, but we can't have anything to do with them over the summer. They can come in and watch tape. We can talk to them. I didn't see Blake Powers throw one football from April 15 until August 8. I was just hoping that he was accurate.
Getting to see how these freshmen that you have recruited and see if they can truly play. Did you do a good job there? That is why that is such a big day for a college football coach. That first day when the 105 get together. Victor Adeyanju, for example, I had never seen him play in person. I've seen him on tape. I am excited to see those guys and the freshmen.
The quarterbacks took some summer school classes and got good grades in summer school, but they got an A in football this summer. They needed to make a good jump from where they were in the spring and they did in combination with the receivers. That part was very encouraging.
Both Blake and Graeme have really player well these two-a-days. Still, we are still in the learning stages. I think it will be a good thing, because right now we come out of our locker room and turn left. That is a long day. We have to play against our defense. We turn right and we get to go play somebody else. I am looking forward to that day.
The new kid on the block, Kellen Lewis, from Jacksonville. He is a late addition and things happen for a reason, folks. As Russ Richardson said today, I was talking to him today. We did our team picture and our group pictures. We also did our individual pictures and video headshots this morning. Russ said, "Coach, you did good with that new quarterback." I said, "Thanks Russ, I appreciate it." That is a senior defensive lineman commenting on the quarterback. Kellen has caught his eye. We are really happy with those guys. It is not a game of perfect. I don't expect them to go out and complete every pass today, but we have gotten better.
Chris Taylor and Yamar Washington are running the ball well. Along with Josiah Sears and Kenni Burns, plus the freshmen crop. We are deep at running back and it is not just in numbers. The quality is there. Someone said, "Can you have too many good running backs?" and I said, "Nope." There is a song by Alan Jackson. Too much of a good thing is a good thing.
On what specific area the quarterbacks needed to improve on over the off-season:
Throwing the ball so our guys could catch it. It wasn't really that complicated. We weren't a really good drop-back passing team in the spring. We are not a great drop-back passing team right now, but we are much improved. 7-on-7 is a drill where you work on your passing game. You are void of linemen. What I do is time every throw, so you don't get a false sense of security. Wow, that was a good throw, but you took five seconds to throw it. We don't expect our line to protect that long. Every throw we make, I time it. I have been doing that as long as I have been a head coach. I timed every throw Roethlisberger ever made at Miami. Sometimes, without the linemen you don't get that sense. We want to make every throw under three seconds. If we do that, then we should be able to protect for that long. That part of it has been remarkable. We'll throw 45 passes in 24 minutes.
It is rapid pace. We have had days where we complete 33 of 45. I call those archive days. You need to save those days so you can go back and look at them. That is what is should be though. If there is no pass rush and you don't have to worry about the defense. The defense is a little bit at a disadvantage. It challenges them too.
We've had days where we didn't complete that many. Yesterday, we threw 30 balls with three quarterbacks throwing and we were 21 of 30. You should do that. We want to complete 65-percent of our passes. That is one of our goals. If you are going to throw it, you need to catch it. Then, you need to include a pass rush with protection. All of the sudden, Vic Adeyanju is flashing off the edge.
I am glad he is on my side. He is the first guy off the bus, because he will scare half of them. If the first guy looks like him, what are the rest like? Vic is the real deal.
On the most improved aspects of the team:
The most improved is the player's continued attitude and effort. I talk about that leadership training. The first thing I told them is we have to have the ability to work hard. This ain't work, but you know what I mean when I say that. The opposite of the ability to work hard is L-A-Z-Y. L-A-Z-Y and football player should never go together. We have been hustling and flying around. We have been playing with enthusiasm. The intangibles are there with this team.
The senior leadership, I have challenged the underclassmen and the staff that we need to do everything we can do to make sure they go bowling. That part of it has been great.
We have fun together. I was going to dismiss them a little early last night. Our second practice last night was a little shorter so that we could go to the women's soccer exhibition match against Memphis. You will see the women's soccer team here today. We got back from the soccer game and did a few other things. I was ready to go. They wanted to hang around and do their roommate stories. They enjoy being around each other.
The X-and-O part of it. I think we are running the ball effectively. That would be a strength for us. We are playing pretty good defense. We are improving our quality offensively. We still need to throw better. We are doing well in 7-on-7's, but we need to do it when there are other guys rushing you.
The kicking game, we have got some good kickers. They have not kicked in a game. That is a lot different. Like Tiger Woods says, everybody can be Ranger Rick out there on the driving range, but can you take in on the course. That is what kicking is. Kicking is not really football. It is just full-contact golf, if you think about it. I tell the kickers that. I am responsible for them. That is how I coach them. I coach them like it is golf.
I really like our potential. We finished practice the other day with our fourth-quarter drill. If you've seen that, the players do a series of pushups, situps and up-downs where they have to be synchronized. If they get it wrong, they have to start over. It is a mental exercise that only becomes physical if they do it wrong. We were doing five, but we can end up doing 35 at times. The other day, I called Russ up. We do kicking at the end. One kick, 47 yards into a slight breeze. Austin Starr was kicking. I told Russ Richardson to call it. Double or nothing for fourth quarter. I am thinking of a number. If he misses it, it is double. If he makes it, it is nothing. Who has the pressure? That kicker. That is not a game situation, but all his teammates are putting the pressure on him. He knocks it right through and they all jump on him like he just won a game. Had he missed, I would have been depressed with the team.
On the response from the community:
As evidenced by the turnout today, it is a marked improvement. Our marketing wing of our athletics department has done a fantastic job. I don't know how many billboards are around the state, but there are people here from Fort Wayne who said we saw the billboards. There are billboards in South Bend and West Lafayette. We have gotten their attention. We have people wanting to be involved. There are people that have never been to a game that are buying season tickets.
We have gotten their attention and it is a good start. I am not saying, that we have arrived. We are nowhere near where we should be. The challenge is still there. Student tickets sales are up 46-percent or something like that. When we get them back on campus, which will rise. They are the ones I wanted to target first.
Also, I have done a lot of alumni events across the state. We have gotten their attention. There are still some waiting to see. It is what we had to accomplish. We needed to get people excited. We need them to come to Bloomington and be here. I don't want any excuses.
On whether there is any extra pressure to perform with all of the extra marketing efforts:
You want to do it for the seniors. I want to do it for the team. That part of it overrides any external pressure that you feel from the fans. You also want to do it for the fans. I said it would be easier to do it with them here. We have to produce. We have to play.
The commercial that I did and struggled with. The promise. I think the last time that I said I promise is when my wife was standing beside me at the altar. I am reluctant to say that. I showed the commercial to the team. The reason I agreed to that was because of the team. They have to help me back it up. I promise week-in and week-out that my team will show up and play hard. The only thing we ask is that you do. We have to keep our promise. We have to play with enthusiasm and hustle. Regardless of the outcome, we left that game. The great feeling is to be exhausted on the field victorious. It is going to happen. The players have to back me up.
On how the team will respond to adversity:
I hope we don't have any. I have said that. I talked to the team about that. We talk about the realities. For me with this team, we will keep learning throughout the year. How do we handle going to a bowl game? How do we handle success? That is part of it. How do we respond to the next play? That is part of my job to make them aware of that. That is part of the leadership training. It will be interesting to see. We are laying the foundation for that now. We have to continue to do that.
Then, when we take the opening drive down and score to go up 7-0, what does that do? Nothing that happens early in the game necessarily affects the outcome of the game. It is a long time. We had a tip on a team. They are telling us every play if it was a run or a pass. Pepper was pass, salt was run. We were coding it every time. That team went right down the field like we were the scout team on the opening drive of the game. We knew it was coming, but couldn't stop it since we were so worried about calling the code. It looked like it was going to be a long day for us. I called them up and said forget the code. Start playing football. We won the game 42-7.
In 2003 at Miami, we went down and scored first every time. We were behind 6:58 the entire season. How do you respond to that as a team? It is too easy and you think about it. You don't want to lose the intensity.
I am curious to find out, but am confident because of the senior class that we have. They are tough guys. They will respond. We will have some guys that are tested. I am confident that we will respond.
Terry Hoeppner Verbatim
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