Is it tough to play that well on defense and still not come away with a win?
It's not a good feeling But if you play good defense, you can come back next week and have a good chance to win. If you play good defense, you're going to win most of your games.
Did they do something to confuse you guys on the punt block?
No. They were just trying to come in and rush hard. They found a little crease in our protection. We knew they would be coming hard with where we were on the field. We just didn't get the blocking job done. We had both outsides locked up, but the middle was a little weak for some reason. It's just one of those things that happen.
Did you feel like you guys had the momentum after you scored on the fake field goal?
Oh yeah. We got some points. Everything was going in the right direction. The defense got a stop. The offense couldn't move it. The defense got another stop. But we just couldn't get it done.
Is it hard to play from behind every week?
Yeah. It's not good. But you try not to think about the score and just make the adjustments.
Does this take away any margin for error in terms of winning the Big Ten?
Yeah. We feel like we should win every game. We feel like we should be in the hunt for the Big Ten title every year, along with Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue and some other teams. But we definitely have to win out if we want to be in contention.
You guys didn't give up any offensive points to Ohio State. Do you feel good about that?
We would have felt better if we won. But we held a good offensive team to under 200 yards. We can't really hold our heads down. We just have to come back and do it again next week.
Did you get tripped up or blocked in the back on Jenkins' punt return?
I really don't know what happened. Some people were telling me that I was pushed in the back. Plays like that happen. Sometimes the refs don't see them, sometimes they do.
Are you guys kind of shaking your heads? Special teams have kind of carried you. They let you down today.
Week in and week out, you never know what aspect of the game is going to step in there. But you want to come out and start fast in each. We just let down a couple of plays. I give them a lot of credit because they capitalized on it, and they got some points on the board.
Where is this team right now?
I mean, it hurts. And you have to deal with it. But after 24 hours, it's over. We want to move on, and we want to correct our mistakes. We've got a lot of football left. We're not going to give up. We're not going to lay down because we had a tough loss today. I think that we're going to come out harder and stronger to push ourselves even more.
Is a Big Ten title out of the picture?
I really can't tell. The Big Ten is a little shaky. So, you never know. You never know what to expect. There's still a lot of football left.
Is the inexperience up front hurting you guys?
I don't worry about that. The guys out there aren't trying to make mistakes. Nobody's out there trying to let somebody come through them. We're giving out best effort. It's just sometimes we do little things that hurt us, and we can't do those little things. I know how it feels to be where they are. We've got to clean things up. I've got to clean things up. The whole team needs to do that this week.
How was it walking Mike through some of the game?
It wasn't bad. I thought that the kid did a great job for his first start, especially against these guys. You know, he made mistakes? I made mistakes. Everybody made mistakes. I just tried to help him out as much as possible. He saw a lot of looks. Things he didn't see in practice. But things are going to look a lot different on the field. It's a lot faster. I was just trying to be there if he needed support, if he needed help.
Was that the question you got a lot from him today, who to block?
He didn't really ask that many questions. I just tried to let him know what we were doing. If we were working together, I would tell him what his assignment was. He had some questions, but I had some questions. I helped him out on a couple of things, but he helped me out on a couple of things that I didn't think would be there. His rookie day is over, so now we're going to get after it in practice. He got his first game in him, and we'll look ahead now.
Where do you go from here?
It's a tough loss, but after tomorrow, we've got to look at next week. There's a lot of football to play here. Our season is not over. We have two losses, but we've got five games left and we can do a lot of great things yet this year. I'm not writing off the season. I'm going to learn from this one and get ready for next week.
How are the injuries making it hard for this offense to gain continuity?
It's obviously tough when you have injuries and new guys get thrown in there. But that's football. It would be great if nobody ever got hurt, but that's pretty unrealistic. So, we can't use that as an excuse. We don't. We know it's part of the game. We've had a lot of back-up guys play key roles this year. So, we're going to play with who's healthy.
How essential was it to keep all of you guys on offense healthy last year?
It helps. I played next to those guys for two or three years. But that's football. You're not always going to have a veteran offensive line. Things switch. The defense is a little more veteran this year. We're just going to keep working and grind away.
We you guys prepared for what they were doing on defense?
I don't think it was a lack of preparation. I don't think it was a lack of effort. I just think when you get through a course of a game, stuff's flying pretty fast out there. We just didn't come out and play the mistake-free football that you need to play against these guys in order to win.
You guys had some mistakes on the handoffs again today. What was the problem there?
It's a big play in the ballgame. It kills any drive that you have. It kills any momentum that you have. It's something that we have to fix.
How big was Nate Kaeding's score?
It was huge for us. We got the ball down there. We weren't able to punch it in. We got pretty close. The difference between seven and three at that point was huge because it made it a one-touchdown game. It really gave us some hope on the sideline that we would get ourselves back in there.
With the two losses, where does this team go from here?
We have to look at this game tape. We have to find out what mistakes we can fix. We need to find out where we can get better. We need to come back next week and focus on that game. Two losses for a whole season isn't that bad. We just need to make sure that we learn from this.
What makes Ohio State's defense superior to what you had faced so far this season?
They don't take a whole lot of chances. Some teams we caught doing stuff and exploited it. They don't really give you anything. They make you beat them. 80 yards is a long way to go.
Did it feel like it was always 80 yards?
Our defense played great. They stopped them and helped us. We had a couple of instances that I can think of off of the top of my head where we just killed ourselves. Also, their punter was great. He really did a good job of pinning us back.
How well do you think you played?
I don't know how well I played but I do know that no matter how you play you can always get better. That's what I'll try to do next week and I'll do that by working hard in practice.
How did Robert help you?
I was asking him what protections we were in and what we were doing. A lot of times you couldn't hear, so I'd just be asking him just general questions.
Do you feel like you were ready to be out there today?
Yeah, really, I was. But, like I said, there's a lot of stuff that I have to work on and we'll work on as a group.
You know, just recognizing defenses. Knowing where to go on pass protections. But sometimes today I didn't know where to go because I couldn't hear the call. And just working on fundamentals because it all comes down to fundamentals.
Were you kind of shocked when Coach Ferentz called you last Saturday?
Yeah. Somewhat because I didn't know the extent of Brian's injury. I knew when he called me at my home that he wasn't just calling to say hello and how are you doing. I was a little shocked, but I accepted the offer without even thinking about it.
How many times had he asked you to take the redshirt off this season?
Before that, maybe three times.
And you resisted because…
You know at that point in the season it was a combination of a few things. I wasn't sure if I was ready. But I felt now I was definitely ready. And he really needed my so it was just a no-brainer.
Was it a crash course for you this week to get ready to get out here?
Yeah. That was exactly how they termed it. It was a crash course and every night I was staying late going over tape and just trying to get everything down. I had been on the scout team.
Did you feel like you were recognizing what you saw on tape?
I was definitely recognizing things. I think I'll be a little better off next week being home at Kinnick and being able to hear things. But it really comes down to fundamentals, and that's what I have to work on.
Was there any way to prepare for what you faced today?
I don't think that you can. They're the defending national champions. They have one of the best defenses in the country.
Does it make it more difficult knowing this one was there for the taking?
Yeah. Close games are always hard. Close games always hurt. They made some big plays on special teams. It cost us. This hurt because this was a close game, and I felt like we all played hard. Our offense played hard. I mean, we've had some injuries on our offense. And we've got young guys playing on our offense. People might want to blame the offense, but they really can't because these offensive guys are busting their tails. We're losing people. People are stepping in. And they're working hard. It's just that the special teams got us today.
Do you guys feel somewhat snake bit with all of these injuries after not having hardly any last season?
I wish we were like last year where we didn't get hurt. But, that's football and that's life. You play a game like this, and you can expect injuries. So far, it hasn't been going our way. But I feel like we're coping with it. Yeah, we have a lot of injuries, but teams are not dominating Iowa. They're not whipping Iowa. We're still 5-2. We lost some games, but we're not getting dominated out there. We've still got the chemistry. We've just got to overcome.
Were you able to talk to Jonathan at all? He's got to be pretty down.
I know he has to be pretty down. Babineaux, he's the type of person to keep things to himself. He always stays positive. He went down before, a year or two ago. He worked hard and came back. I mean, Babineaux is an excellent guy to be around. He's going to do his thing next year, if he comes back. So, everybody that knows Babineaux knows that he's going to keep working hard. He's not going to let this get to him. He still has another year here.
Are you confident in your offense?
Yeah, we're not scoring as much as we did last year. But those guys showed they could do it against Michigan. They still have the potential to win. I don't know if it's a lack of confidence on away games because these guys can do it. I'm still going to take this offense. And I still feel like we can win out with this offense. There's nothing wrong with this offense. I mean, Iowa is doing better than what people thought we would do. The beginning of the year, they probably didn't think Iowa was going to win two games. We're still giving the fans something out there. Yeah, we lost. We lost by (nine) points. We're not getting blown out here. It's not like you're watching Iowa with a 1-10 record. We're doing what we can do.
Can this team bounce back?
We obviously played our hearts out. That's the way this season's been week in and week out. But we know we can't be making those mistakes like we did today. As a team we need to go out there and realize that we need to bounce back and sure those things up so we can finish out the season strong.
Did you ever score a touchdown in high school?
No. This was the first time, and I'm sure it will be the only time. So, it felt pretty good.
What do you run the 40 in?
I don't know. I don't do a whole lot of timing of that stuff. I would probably say 4.8 or 4.9, something like that.
Had you ever tugged on Coach Ferentz's sleeve before to get him to run that?
Not really. It was just kind of something that was a spur of the moment thing. We had a little extra time having it be a change of quarter too. So, when we were going down there I was like, "Coach, you know, let's run this play." He agreed with me. I think we had the same train of thought that we needed to get seven, whether it's our offense taking it in or whether it was us scoring on that fake.
How often do players do that on the sidelines?
I don't know. I don't do it very often. I just figured I'd remind him. He knows that's just kind of the way I am too about things. I let him know my mind. It's good to have that kind of relationship with the coach too knowing that he's not going to take offense to something like that.
How much had you guys practiced that and when did you put it in?
Me and Dave, you know we have a lot of time on our hands, especially during camp. So we messed around with it a little bit before hand. We ran it once as kind of a surprise against our defense during camp because things had gotten kind of monotonous. So, we had it in our back pocket and decided to bring it out today.
Was the strange wind in this stadium affecting Dave's punts?
It might have been. Dave didn't have his best day. I'm sure he would be the first one to admit that. Everybody has those kinds of days, myself included. Dave's a competitor. He's going to come back and work hard at it. You can't use those things as excuses because playing in venues like this and stadiums like this, that's expected. You've got to prepare yourself for these kinds of atmospheres. We knew that was going to be part of the game today.
Did you say something to Gamble after you scored?
I knew him from a couple of All-American things we were involved in last year and the Playboy thing. So, we kind of had a little bit of a relationship. And he was heckling me before the start of the second half there saying, "Kick the ball to me on kickoffs." So I kicked it 10 yards over his head and said to him, " I kicked it to you. You've got to catch it." So, after the touchdown I kind of gave him a hard time, a little high five. It's fun to come out here and play against competitors like that in games like this. That's what it's all about.
Are you guys still in the Big Ten race?
I think so. You judge things in their entirety, not just one game. We've got a lot of football ahead of us left to be played, and we've got to regroup and go from there.