Is there any way to put your finger on the high number and ill-timed penalities you guys have been having?
Not really. A lot of times with penalties, there are just guys playing aggressively. You don't want to step back with your tempo, but it's just focusing more and maybe using your head a little bit more.
Is that the same thing with turnovers?
Yeah. It's being aware of what's going on around you. Holding the ball out, you've got to protect it. You have to keep your elbow tight with the ball. You've really got to protect the ball.
You're playing a lot of young guys. Does inexperience play into it?
It's a little bit with the experience, but everybody on this team that's handling the ball right now has handled it in the past. Everybody knows how to do it. Maybe it's a lack of focus sometimes when we're out on the field. I think we've got to get back to focusing and taking care of the football.
What has to happen to break the bad luck on the road in the Big Ten this season?
We've just got to go in and play our game. We have to do the things that we're good at. When we do that and we take care of the football, we're pretty tough to beat.
What are the obstacles that you have to overcome on the road?
It's probably just the opposite of what we do at home. At home, we want to get the crowd going early. When we're on the road, we want to go in and make a big play, get up on them early to try to take that crowd out of it. It makes it a little easier on our offense with our checks and cadence, things like that. We want to take the crowd out of the game early.
Do people not give Purdue enough credit for the strong defense it plays?
They're a great defense. Their offense probably gets more credit, but their defense it tough. I have great respect for them. They do a lot of things that most teams don't. They're really physical. They're one of the most physical defenses in the Big Ten, right next to ours.
Do they give you a lot of different looks?
They bring a lot of pressure. They're really aggressive in what they do, and they're pretty good at it.
Do you feel like you guys took a big step forward on offense last week?
It's starting to go a little bit. We're starting to get everybody back, starting to get a little continuity in there. It's really going to help us throughout the next three weeks.
How are you feeling, and what do you think the chances are that you'll play?
I feel good. I can't tell you any more than that. Right now, I feel pretty good.
Does it seem like Purdue has changed what they do on offense at all?
They're trying to run the ball a little bit this year, which is good. They have talented offensive linemen and some good running backs. They've been having some success with it. So, I expect them to try to do the same thing.
Your consecutive game streak ended. Was that tough?
I didn't even know about it until my brother called me and said there was an article about me not having missed a game. I didn't even really think about it.
Did you try to play?
No. There was no chance that I was going to play last week. I just would have done more damage to myself. You guys watched the game. Neubauer and Robinson did a good job in there. And knowing that you've got backups like that is comforting. I wasn't as worried about playing in the game because I knew they'd play well. And they did.
Is it hard not to think about testing yourself against the Purdue offense when you see that game on the schedule?
I know what you're saying. You have to look back in the series to see how close these games have been. I respect the Purdue staff a lot. I mean, they always seemed to be well prepared. They know where to attack us. They're a lot like us in the fact that they play really hard and they really seem to believe in what they're doing. It's going to be a great game up there. I'm looking forward to it.
Is the improved quickness on your defense going to help you against Purdue?
Sure. Speed always helps. Those guys are doing a great job this year so far. The biggest thing that we've got going right now is that we've got confidence on defense. Our defense really understands the defense as well as it ever has.
How do three or four guys (on the defensive line) beat five guys (for Purdue)?
You get lucky sometimes. They've got a good offensive line. Obviously, they're good at what they do, which is pass block a lot of the time. You have to hit them at the right times. The biggest thing this week is not so much...I don't think you're going to see a five, six sack game. You're going to see a lot of pressure, and that's as important at times just trying to get their rhythm off. You've seen their offense. They hit a lot of timing routes and quick throws.
Will these guys do things you haven't seen on tape?
Every team has a wrinkle for us every week. Michigan tried to hit us with some different Power-Os. Ohio State tried to do some things. Michigan State. I mean, every week a team has got something different from what we've seen but it's all still within their basic gameplan.
Will having played against Michigan State's wide-open offense help you guys?
I think it will. But we've seen a lot of passing teams this year so far. We'll be confident.
Will we see you guys using six defensive backs a lot on Saturday?
I think it's possible because they'll come out with five wide. We've got to be able to stop it.
Does a cornerback get up for playing a team like Purdue?
I know they're going to test us because they throw the ball a lot. It's obviously a week that you have to get up for because you've got to be prepared, you've got to be excited and you've got to have that edge that makes you want to go crazy out on the field.
Do you feel like a veteran now? Do you start to do things naturally now that maybe you didn't at first?
I don't think I'm a veteran now, but I'm a lot more experienced than I was before. And I'm doing a lot more things out there a lot better than I used to.
Is the rotation with David helping you?
Yeah. I think the rotation is good for both of us. We both get plenty of rest, and we're both doing a great job out there.
What is going on while you're out and David is in?
Usually I just stand next to Coach Morgan to see what plays we're running. I just watch David and when he comes off of the field I give him any help I can give him about what the defense did. He does the same thing.
What the biggest lesson you've learned so far?
Just the speed of the game out there on game day. And just thinking real fast at the line and knowing what to do right away.
Has your track speed translated onto the football field?
Somewhat. Speed is speed. But, they're kind of different. In track, I was more of a long distance sprinter, 200 and 400. I really wasn't an out of the gate short sprinter. That's the kind of speed football is. I just want to concentrate on football and quickness.
How much bigger have you gotten since you got here?
I'm 200 right now.
What were you when you came in?
Like 175. I weighed in yesterday on the scale at 202 and then they subtract 2 pounds. I was telling all of my teammates, "Look, is this scale right? Is this serious?" I can't really believe it myself because I don't feel like I'm getting any heavier.
Did you ever doubt you'd put on the weight?
No. I knew I was going to put on weight. My first year, I put on like 15 pounds. I know I'm going to get bigger and stronger going through coach Doyle's program. I'm just still working.
Can you see the added strength helping you on the field?
A little bit. Not so much right now. Compared to when I first got here and now? Yeah, like as far as going against DBs and having a little more arm strength. But I feel like I've got a long way to go.