"We feel like we've had a real good open week to get refocused, correct mistakes and emphasize on fundamentals coming off the Iowa loss. And we've gotten the team a little healthier and are starting to get a few guys back that missed the Iowa game. I feel like we've gotten a lot done and are anxious to get back on the practice field today."
"Northern Illinois is a tremendous football team that's ranked 20th in America and are very deserving of that. They're undefeated. Joe Novak has done a fantastic job over at Northern Illinois. He's done it right and built it through time. We don't find any weaknesses. There are strengths all over the place and they're a veteran team playing with great confidence. When you watch the Tennessee Tech and Maryland games on tape, it was no surprise that they were able to go down and play a great game at Alabama. They're going to be a major challenge for us."
"We're looking forward to the trip. This is our first away game. We've had our first three games at Jack Trice Stadium and are looking forward to a matchup with a highly ranked football team in Northern Illinois."
On Big 12 as possible disappointment so far:
"I wouldn't have any feelings like that. There are a lot of real good intersectional games being played right now and there are a lot of challenges and parity all over the country. I don't look at it that way at all. There are a lot of outstanding teams in the Big 12 having great success. Teams that have struggled in recent years are really playing well, Kansas and Baylor being the first ones that come to mind. They're off to great starts. I think the Big 12, through time and the next nine or 10 weeks of the season, will match up with anybody in America."
On possibility of players getting stipends or expenses paid:
"It's an issue that's been kicked around for a long time. I remember when I was in college, we were given some money and it was legal at that time. It was laundry money you were given. It wasn't very much, but was still appreciated. Here it is 2003 and we're not doing anything beyond a scholarship, which is very valuable and much appreciated by student-athletes.
"I am very much in favor of looking into it. I have no idea how long it would take or how the money would be distributed. I would be in favor of supporting any action and move they can make in that direction."
On MAC team's physical play up front:
"There's no question there are no physical mismatches. When you can take, as Northern Illinois did, Maryland at home and Alabama on the road – two highly respected, successful programs – it says a lot. There was no physical mismatch at all and matched up very evenly in the trenches and skill positions. They made plays all over the place. Alabama had won 16 of its last 20 games, they went down there and it was no fluke. They were very physical games."
On depth chart changes in bye week:
"I don't think any significant ones. The best news is we're getting some people back. Matt Robertson, who broke a foot in two-a-days, is back practicing now. Johnny Smith has been out for a number of weeks and he's back. Matt Bockes, who missed the Iowa game, is back.
"Bob Montgomery, our best offensive lineman who has missed our first three games, will get some work starting today. He was on the stair master and treadmill last week. He's on track to have a great recovery and there is a possibility he'll play this week. He's not going to go out and play 75 or 80 snaps, but depending on how this week goes, he's got a real chance to come back and play some. That would be a great boost to our offensive line."
On getting back to using one primary tailback:
"That's kind of what we wanted to get into after last season – here's the starter, here's the reliever, here's the number one guy and here's the number two. But for various reasons, a little bit from an injury standpoint with Stevie Hicks and from an inconsistency standpoint just with our offense rushing the football, we haven't been able to do that. But looking at the tape from Iowa, no matter who was back there at running back, there wasn't a whole lot of daylight or opportunities. Their defensive front dominated our offensive front."
More on Northern Illinois:
"They blocked kicks, returned kids, their coverage is outstanding and they've got one of the top field goal kickers in the country. Their quarterback is throwing at a 62 percent completion rate. Michael ‘Burner' Turner nearly rushed for 2,000 yards in 2002. Alabama was giving up 50 yards a game rushing and he puts up 156 yards in the game against them the other night. They're just an outstanding football team."
"He's so physical as a running back. He's hard-nosed, physical and can make you miss. I haven't seen him in person yet, but just watching him on tape, he's so powerful and strong from the waist down, in watching and evaluating him last year, and then again this year in the first three games. He is a real high effort running back, whether he's blocking, running or catching the ball. He's one of those guys that is explosive. He doesn't seem to lose any of that strength, power or explosiveness as the game goes on."
On first road trip of season:
"It's got to bring out the best in us. We've got to be a real close and unified football team. Going on the road, it will be a great environment for college football. We know what we're stepping into here and the success they've had. This is what really brings out the best in competitors, coaches and players alike, when you go on the road."