How did things go without Bob and how will that affect you guys down the road?
I don't know. Bob is a big key to what we do. But Chris (Smith) is doing a great job in there stepping in. We're just going to prepare every week and get ready to go out and play hard.
Were you guys able to get a gauge on how you improved from last week?
I really didn't get a chance to notice what was going in out there. But we all played together and just did the things that we needed to do to win. We're just going to prepare this week and come out ready to go next week.
Are games like this fun?
It's fun. But you can expect that they can hurt you. People get lazy sometimes and kind of relax. They kind of forget that they we're trying to get better as a tea, better than we were last week.
Does the defense change philosophy wise with Bob out?
There's nothing we really change. We run the same defense every week no matter who is in there. We adjust our defense according to what the other offense is going to do against us.
How is Bob doing?
He's Bob. He's ready to get back in there as soon as he can.
Do you miss his leadership?
He's a leader when he's out there. But when he's not out there, Chris Smith is out there. Our defensive line and linebackers take control. We just play together as a team.
How did it feel to get out there?
It was nice. I was very thankful to get out there today.
Was it fun?
It was very fun. It was like, you practice all week and that's great. But you get out there and there's people in the stands. You really don't hear the fans too much, but you feel it. After you score, you hear them.
How has practice been going?
It's been nice. You just have to stay focused all of the time. There's not time to take off. You have to get everything down. You practice hard, and you play hard.
How many reps are you getting in practice these days?
I start with the two's and Fred (Russell) runs with the one's. I get a nice ammount of reps. When I got in the game this week, I kind of knew what was going on. It was nice.
Is the college game what you expected?
Yeah. We practice with the first-team defense in practice. We've got one of the better defenses. It's like a game. It makes it that much easier.
What do you use to evaluate your performance?
I know what I'm suppose to be doing each play. So, it's more than yards. It's how I read something. If I read something that I thought I could do better, I know in my head that I could have been better.
You seem to be running with a lot of confidence. Where does that come from?
It's my third year here, second year playing. That confidence from my redshirt freshman year to this year is just an unbelievable difference. I'm not really as nervous when I go out there. I'm confident in my line. That's a huge factor.
Do you feels like you guys improved much from last week?
Yeah, I feel like we did. We came out ready to play today. We made very few mental mistakes. The biggest thing the coaches have been stressing is not making many mental mistakes. I just have a gut feeling that we made a lot of progress from last week to this week. I think we'll see that on film tomorrow. You could also tell on the sidelines listening to guys talking about how they were doing this week compared to last week. There were a lot more guys happy with their efforts this week.
You seem to have a really good spurt through the line. Are you 40-yard dash fast or football fast?
I'm more football fast. I think if I ran a 100-yard dash I would be faster with pads on that without them. That's what my high school coach always said.
What do you run a 40 in?
I was hurt this spring when we ran 40s, so I didn't run. My freshman year I ran a 4.8 electronic.
Were you guys able to evaluate your performance today in the short time you were on the field?
We weren't in there a whole lot, but that's a good and a bad thing. It's a good thing because we can get some new faces in there. We can get a good look at those guys. It's a bad thing because we as starters don't get to play a full game in preparation for next week. But if we have a good week of practice, we'll be fine.
How much do you feel you guys improved in the last week?
It's tough from the game because we didn't get to play as much. But we got to see some different things from a different offense. We just tried to adjust to everything that they were doing. I think we did that well.
What's the key to you finding success?
I just have to go out and play like I know how and not think so much. This was my first time out there and i just want to try to get into a groove. But it felt really good out there.
What did you think you did well?
Once I got out there after a couple of plays, I felt more relaxed. The nerves were bad at first. I think I might have been excited more than nervous.
How well did you run your routes?
I felt good out there. It felt like I broke open a couple of times. It just felt comfortable. I felt like I got in a groove.
How much better have you gotten since this time last year?
I think a lot. The reps are helping. I played my senior year in high school, but I needed reps. It's a lot different here. As I get more and more reps, I'm learning a lot more and feeling a lot more comfortable. I'm getting technique down.
How hard is it to be patient?
I'm learning. I'm trying to get better in practice. But I'm trying to get out in game situations and learn some from playing and mistakes. I'm just trying to move forward, and my teammates are helping me out a lot. I'm just trying to get out there and contribute.
How important was it for the inexperienced guys to get some reps today?
It was real good for some of the younger guys. It was kind of like a developmental stage for some of them to get some game atmosphere.
Did you think you got the touchdown when you were called out at the one?
I thought I got in. I gave the refs a look. But I'm not the type that's going to question the refs. I just looked at them and gave them a smile.
What do you take from this game?
We were just taking care of business, winning the games that you should win and just playing a smart game.
Drew (Tate) saw his first action today. What did you think?
It was his first time out there, but he was ready to go. He was ready from the start.
Did you get bored today?
The game got a little long in the second half. My feet started hurting. That's the kind of game it was.
Did you feel like you were able to evaluate things today?
I think we improved. We played a smarter game this week than we did last week. Things just fell into place for us.
How did you think the young receivers like Matt Mellow and Calvin Davis did?
It was good to see them out there. It's just good to get those guys experience.
Did you guys see this kind of stuff out of Ramon Ochoa in practice?
I've seen it coming. I know Razor can play. For the last four years, he's been talking about "All they need to do is put me back there on punt returns. I'll take one back. I'll take one back." And they gave him the opportunity today, and he did it.
Drew Tate appeared to get the loudest applause of the day when he took the field. What's your take on that?
The fans know that Nate is our guy. I think they have a lot of confidence in Nate. But it's always exciting to see a new face, especially a freshman. There was a lot of hype surrounding Drew when depth charts were released. I think people are excited to get a taste of it.
They did cheer like that when Mike Elgin went in?
No, they didn't (Laughter). But they should have. Mike proved himself today that he's going to be good player.
How is the line coming along?
Real good. I think the chemistry has improved. From day to day, week to week, the more time you spend bonding with the whole unit, the better things get. And it's not just the guys on th field. Sometimes people get too caught up in the five guys on the field. But you're with those guys every day. You're a close unit. We work the hardest with maybe the exception of the D-line. They're like our counterparts. We're the blue collar guys. You're not going to see my picture in the paper tomorrow. You're going to see guys scoring touchdowns. So, the more we work together, the tighter we are.
What have you learned the most in the last two games?
Things happen a lot faster out on Saturdays than they do at any other time. It's different. I'm used to only playing against our guys. When you're out there playing against other guys, you're learning on the job.
How did Sam Aiello fit in this week?
Great. He turned to me on the bench and said that it feels good to be in there again. We're happy to have him out there again. He's a hard-nosed player. He fit right in. The best thing about our line right now is that we have a lot of guys that can play and play competitively.
How do you think you played today?
There was a lot of stuff that happened. It's hard to remember the reps I had. I was happy with the way our offense played and improved from last week. The play up front was outstanding. There were huge holes. I had time to throw. What more could you ask for? It was great to see execution like that after a good week of practice.
Did you get what you needed to out of this game?
We had a good week of practice, which we didn't do last week. They did some things with their safeties that we'll see later in the season. It's kind of tough to read. Anytime you get out in Kinnick and play in front of the fans, it's an awesome experience. And then, anytime you're out on the field, period, getting work done, it helps you to improve. You take a lot away from a game like this.
Drew Tate seemed to get the loudest applause of the day. We're you happy to see that?
Yeah. I hope that he tears it up because everybody on our team needs to be better. That's something we work on. And he's a competitor. It was great to see him run out there and have the fans welcome him to Kinnick like that. I hope he gets a lot of playing time this year (laughs).
It doesn't hurt your feelings, does it?
No. And I'm clapping for him too. Guys that work hard and get a chance to go out there, we're rooting for every one of them. You want to see him make big plays. You want to see him score touchdowns. He did a good job of moving them out there.