Hoeppner Verbatim

IU Coach Terry Hoeppner addressed the media Tuesday afternoon as the Hoosiers prepare for their Friday night season opener at Central Michigan. Hoeppner talked about his first game as IU's coach as well as what IU can expect to see from the Chippewas.

Opening Statement:

Before we start talking about IU football, I think the rain today gives us a little bit of a sense what the people down south are going through.

We're directly affected by that. Some of our families – Dean Kleinschmidt has a home down there, his wife and daughter had to move out. Joe Palcic's parents, his dad is coaching with the Saints, his mom is with the other Saints' wives. They found a hotel up north of New Orleans.

Our thoughts and prayers go out. It's sobering for us – I was feeling bad that we couldn't practice exactly where we want to practice today – we have to go inside. Wow. Big deal. We're very fortunate. We can only hope for the best.

In our world, and I've gained the ability to do this at Miami, we played a lot of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday games – I've convinced the staff and I'll convince the players shortly that this is Wednesday, tomorrow will be Thursday in our football world. We will depart on Friday and play the game on Saturday. It just makes more sense to what we do.

We do that for a purpose, because even though we haven't gone through it with our team, there is a traditional, normal Wednesday routine that we'll be going through, and this is establishing that routine. Sunday was our Tuesday routine. So at noon on Sunday we'll declared it Tuesday, so that we could have a normal Tuesday practice as we will do throughout the season, since we'll be playing on Saturday, at least through the regular season.

We went to class yesterday and again today. Now, that's an element that I remember as a freshman in college I didn't handle real well. I was loving football practice, and now all of a sudden I have these other obligations that didn't seem as important to me as it should have at first. So I spoke to our freshmen from experience – you need to get off to a great start, you need to go to class, and I'm confident that they did.

What's the health of the team? Anyone not making the trip?

No. We're taking 70 on the trip, and all 70 are expecting to play.

Probably the latest addition to the able to go list is James Hardy. Again by design, I met with Dean and the doctors and we decided last week at some point to stop messing around with him and get him well so that he's not two steps forward and one step back.

I saw James yesterday even though we weren't practicing, I saw him and he said he felt good. So hopefully he'll be able to practice today and play a limited amount. I'm not expecting him to go out snap one and play the entire game, but for a guy who hasn't played in a game to be able to ease him in, even if it's 10-12 snaps, will be a bonus for James for sure and for us.

Can he go full speed?

He won't play if he can't go full speed. I'm not going to put him out there if he can't and Dean wouldn't allow it.

We're anticipating him being ready to go. He feels good. He's been doing water workouts, we have that underwater treadmill in Assembly Hall, and he's been able to do that, have a degree of conditioning and stay in shape there. Obviously it's not football shape.

He needed camp – he needed it as much as anybody. But I have a plan, work the plan, plan for the unexpected. He came out of the shute and had a couple really good practices early on. He's really into it, he really wants to, and that's half the battle.

His role will be limited, but he's a pretty talented guy, so I'd like to see him out there in the game.

What's the status of Blake Powers? He's good. I think it was a good part on our part. It's tough as a coach to make yourself do that. Again, that was a cooperative effort. We were limiting his pitches and being careful, and I said let's take a couple of days off and see where that gets us. It turned out to be a good move.

When he came back on Friday, he felt good and he's felt good since. We're still monitoring it, but…he just needed that. He was pretty good throughout the summer, had some days, and then you overload it like you do in the early part of camp, so it was a good move.

It's hard to do that. As coaches, you want your guys practicing, and you want your quarterback, who needs all the reps he can get, practicing. But discretion was the better part of valor there.

With Blake and all of the young guys that you have on offense, how are you feeling about their readiness for this first game?

One of the reasons this is a special day – I haven't heard any college coach say I agree with Coach Hoeppner or dispute it, but for me those three days have great significance. Signing day, so much goes into getting a recruit to signing day to actually sign on the dotted line. In some cases, years of effort.

Then, to get the team to Aug. 8, and the anticipation for that first day.

Then, there's the element of the unknown for us. You don't know your team. If I was still at Miami (Ohio), I'd still have that same level of anticipation, because how is that team going to be once you step between the lines, how is that team going to be this year – the 2005 version of the team.

Then you combine that with the unknown about the opponent even though it's an opponent you've played before. We've seen this team on tape against us last year. I have played against Central Michigan, I have been at Kelly/Short Stadium, coached games there. But they are going to be different than they were last year. They are going to do some different things.

Their players, some of them are gone. Some of them are a year older, so you assume they are better. You throw all that into the mix, and then there's that anticipation.

Plus it's been so long. I love playing games. Maybe that's part of my reasoning behind saying this is such a special day. I love to play games, and it's been a long time – a long time since we played a football game. Plus, there's the learning curve of going through a game with this staff, with this team.

That's why we did what we did on Friday. We tried to the minute – we kicked off at 7:34. We took the field at exactly the same time we'll take the field on Friday. We were organized to the minute. How will that work?

It was new – it was familiar to me, but it was new for some of the coaches and for sure the players. What do we do now? Where do we go now? That's why we did the dress rehearsal, and we felt good about that on Friday, as far as the organization for the first game.

You've got some veterans on the team. They have memories of other coaches and other systems. How have they taken to your system?

I've said, this class will always have a place in my heart because of the way they helped us get to this point.

Coaches can only do so much. They are the ones, especially during the summer, were with their teammates, much more than we were, by legislation. We can't be with the players in the summer. We see them, but we don't see them practice, we aren't out there, we can't run them. Dr. Herbert was talking about watching the team run…how did they do? I didn't get to see them run this summer.

This senior class, they have made this transition – I haven't been through anything quite like this – better than I thought it might be. So I owe a lot to them, so I've challenged the underclassmen and the staff for us to do whatever we can.

Your senior year is a special year. Then, all of a sudden, you have this change thrust upon you. Change is difficult, for everyone.

There was some initial…you know, I called John Pannozzo a reluctant warrior. Now, I'm probably as close to him as any senior on the team. We go to the women's soccer game, and John says, ‘coach, can I ride with you?' ‘Sure John, that would be great.'

Early on, he would have said, ‘I'm making sure I'm riding with anybody but that guy.'

They have experiences, life experiences, experiences as a college football player traveling, and I will remind them of that, and how they can continue to lead us, not only into this game, but throughout the season.

Talk about your placekicking situation?

At one point, I thought it was a little bit like our quarterback situation in that we had talent but some inexperience. It is even greater with these guys, because none of them has taken a kick in the college game. Quoting Tiger Woods, Ranger Rick can do it on the driving range, but can you do it on the course where it counts? Can you do it on the field?

We tried to simulate a lot of things with the freshmen hollering at them and singing the fight song. I've walked in front of them. I've threatened them, cajoled and pleaded. I've tried to put them in as many game situations as possible. I think the guy who has kicked most recently in a game appears to be the most game ready. The guy I have started to recently call Johio, Joe Kleinsmith. Even though he is a real freshman, when you think about it he kicked in a game this summer. He has kicked in a game. Where Austin Starr has a great leg. He gets the ball up and kicks it high better than any kicker I have been around and any NFL kicker I have seen. He hasn't been as consistent as I would like.

Kevin Trulock has been consistent at times. He seems to have lost a little pop in his leg lately. I think he is getting that back. We have had some competition. I have done that before. You get to a point where you finally have to make the call. Joe is going to go out and kick the first extra point and field goal. Austin Starr will kickoff. Kevin Trulock will be on the ready. Mike Hines can kick. He will make the trip also. He is really improved as a backup punter. Tyson Beattie is our punter. I feel really good about him.

I also feel really good about Tim Bugg. No one asks about the long snapper. Maybe his mom. You ask me about the kickers all the time, but not one time have you asked me about the long snapper. You just take him for granted. I don't. Tim Bugg has gained my confidence to the point where he is part of our scholarship group now. He is an outstanding young man and excellent student. I am fortunate to have that guy. Mark Naaman is also a senior linebacker who also improved a lot since spring. Almost like Mike Hines as a punter, Mark Naaman as a snapper. They work together. We have some quality there. We have a number of guys. Joe is a real freshman. Part of that decision was if we were going to use Joe. If you use Joe one play, that is one year gone. He has a great attitude about it. He has a real simple solid swing. If he misses, they are really far off. That part of it has given me the confidence to go with him. It is going to be exciting.

How about the situation with the holder?

We have a plethora of competent holders. That is part of the reason we have to call him Johio. Our number one holder is Rhett Kleinschmidt. Fisch would struggle with Bugg to snap, Kleinschmidt to hold and Kleinsmith to kick. He can just say like everyone else, Johio. He knocked it through. Tyson Beattie, you like to have your punter who has good hands. What I have done with those guys is who do you like best as a holder? Rhett will go out there first. They work with different guys. Graeme McFarland is also a holder and does a good job with it.

How have the players responded in terms of enthusiasm? Have they matched yours?

That is easier for someone else to say and comment on than me. I think so. I think what I have observed and I have talked to my wife about how much I like this team. It hasn't taken me very long to become very fond and enjoy being around these guys. Their enthusiasm for Indiana University and the football team has been good.

It is natural and is not a staged thing for me. Very few times have I had to say that we need to pick it up. They are very enthusiastic for this first game. They want to go. They want to play. The seniors want to lead. I like where we are right now mentally going into this.

How will you feel playing at Central Michigan, your first game as a Big Ten head coach?

I can't wait. I thought about it the other night. When we get under the goalpost and run onto the field. It is one of my favorite things to do. My mom will be there and she stills gets goose bumps when she sees me run onto the field with the team. I will, too.

On what he has heard from fans about the game?

Like President Herbert reminded me – we are going to see how good of a hire it was starting Friday night at 6:34 Indiana time. He will find out how good a job he did picking a football coach. I told him you and the rest of the world. The Hoosier Nation, as evidenced by some of the phone calls we got last night on the Don Fischer Show, there are a lot of people from Louisville, Warsaw and I know Fort Wayne. The rest of them that won't be there are going to be watching. They will find someplace with ESPNU and make sure they check us out. They are hoping. I have been telling them we are going to win. Let's see what this team has.

Is stating that they are going to win his first guarantee?

We are going to win with a winning season. That is what I believe. If you think you can or think you can't, you are right. If you are reading into it that I am guaranteeing a win, you have been doing this job way too long.

What kind of team is Central Michigan?

I think they will be improved. The fact that they played here last year. The fact that they have us here at home. I said on the teleconference today that many times in the past as the coach at Miami, the greatest difference between the Mid-American Conference and the Big Ten is outside the lines. The size of the stadiums. The resources that you have to draw upon. The perception of the public and the media.

The difference isn't as great as you think. There are a number of guys at Miami who could be playing at Ohio State. There are a number of guys on Central Michigan's team that could play on our team. They have some guys that are outstanding football players. They have a coach that has a great tradition of winning and knows how to win. He is infusing that winning attitude into his team. Don't get premature. There are 60 minutes of football to play.

When we step between the lines, we better be ready to play 60 minutes of football. I have been on the flip side of it and I have seen teams that we played against. We had one game I remember in particular that guys knew each other on teams. Some of their guys told our guys that their coach was saying they would only get to play the first half. If he really said that, he shouldn't of said that, because we won the game.

Sparks are going to be flying out of our eyes. I can't wait to see Chris Mangiero go block somebody for real, and Adam Hines just keep blocking them. Watch that defense get after people. I love football games. I love to be on the sideline of football games. I haven't really watched that many from the stands. I love my view.

Is the MAC conference as good as it's been, top to bottom?

Hard for me to say. Joe Tiller said it a few years ago when we were getting ready to play Bowling Green. He said your league has benefited most from the reduction of scholarships to 85 and the trickle down effect. I think they got beat by Bowling Green that first game.

When you look at the NFL with how many MAC players are in the NFL. Miami might have eight legitimate draft choices. That would be a record for the MAC. That is a lot for any team to have. I think it is a league where you aren't going to out-coach anyone. You aren't going to out-coach a Joe Novac. I don't anticipate us out-coaching Central Michigan's staff. We have our hands full. What time of a road team will we be? My teams at Miami played pretty well on the road. A few years ago, we changed our nickname over there. I just said to change our nickname to Visitors. I like playing on the road.

Will this be your one and only Friday night game?

If I have my way, it will be. I thought I was going to be a high school football coach. Friday nights are special. I never wanted to do. I don't have any problem with Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. I like those games. That was Monday Night Football for us. We were the only game on. It is amazing how many of my buddies in coaching would flip it on. Not Friday night. I am not criticizing Central Michigan. I have great respect for them. This is a unique situation there. It wasn't even done for television. Television was an afterthought. They wanted to open on a Thursday night, because they had the Labor Day Weekend to have extra days to prepare for the next opponent. I always tried to get that at Miami. In reality, it is Saturday for us. I never want to do it here for sure.

What are your thoughts about the defense?

They have been going against scout teams for awhile. The defense is healthy. I want to see John Pannozzo play the game as a middle linebacker. I want to see these corners. I want to see Vic Adeyanju. I can't wait to see Vic play a game. Russ Richardson and Greg Brown. Greg is a young talent you haven't seen. Also, Ben Ishola. Wow. He has come a long way since I've been here. He is an improving football player. I am really anxious to watching our defense play.

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