Hawks Talk: Flu, Lee Evans and the Badgers

"After the Purdue game, I was glad to see him (Jermelle Lewis) go out there and look so good. I was talking to Coach (Carl)Jackson saying, 'Since Jermelle is back, when am I going to get back to return some kicks?' He said, 'Oh no. We're going to wait until we see some of the old Jermelle.' After the Purdue game, they felt comfortable to put me back to return kicks." --Fred Russell. More quotes from Abdul Hodge, Chad Greenway, Jovon Johnson, Ramon Ochoa & Jermelle Lewis in this report.


What are your thoughts on playing against Lee Evans?

When you see a guy go for five touchdowns and 258 yards against a great defense, it kind of scares you. But, you've just got to be ready to play for anything.

Is Evans the best guy that you've seen all year on film?

Yeah. He's probably the best receiver that we'll see all year. He's probably one of the top receivers going in the draft this year. Covering Mo Brown in practice kind of simulates playing against Lee. It's going to be a challenge.

What makes him so good?

He runs good routes. He has speed. Good hands. Most of all, he competes for the ball. Most receivers don't do that. If the ball is in the air, they don't attack it like Lee would do. So, that's one of his better assets.

Have you had the flu?

No. Not yet. A lot of people have been getting it around here.

Are you staying away from those people?

Yeah. I try to stay away from it as much as I can.

In regards to Evans, how do you handle him?

I think we've got to perfect our zone defense against him. It will be tough to stop him in man to man. But that's Lee. He's a great player. So, we've got to be fundamentally sound with our zone, and play the type of defense that we're used to playing, and hopefully contain him as much as we can.

Do you land a good lick or two to intimidate him early?

Yeah. We've got to put some hits on him and try to separate the ball from him. I know that everybody is going to be running to the ball when he has it. We've just got to play through him, be tough and be ready to go.


Have you had the flu?

No. I can't get sick around this time.

Who has been the sickest?

Recently, I'd have to say Bob. Bob has been sick, but I think he's doing all right right now.

Were you happy with your performance on Saturday?

Um. Yeah. I felt better than I have in a lot of other games. I felt good reading holes. It seemed like they were opening up a little bit more.

How close to 100 percent do you feel right now?

(Laughs) You all ask me that every week. I think I'm doing pretty good. I would say that I'm anywhere from 90-95. I don't think I'm quite 100 yet.

Is your stamina and conditioning there?

I feel pretty good. I did a whole drive for the first time in a long time. I felt pretty good after that.

Do you hope to get more touches every week?

I think so. It not only helps with my confidence, but it helps with as far as learning the game plan and staying used to the speed of the game.

Do you like to see the one-back set with you in there?

Yeah. I like it because it gives me a chance to block. I like blocking a lot more than I did last year. I got a chance to work on it in the off season. It gives me a chance to block, and it kind of throws off the defense.


How have you been able to have the year you're having?

It doesn't matter if your big or fast. If you run precise routes, you're going to get open.

Do you see yourself playing at the next level?

I don't know. That's always a dream. That's always a goal when you come to a Division I school. That's the reason you come here so you can try to pursue the next level. Right now, I'm not sure. I'll talk to coach. If he feels like I have an opportunity to play at the next level, then I'll give it a shot. But as a prototypical receiver, I'm not it. We'll see.

There is always Arena ball or CFL maybe.

Right. There are opportunities for me to play at the next level, not even the NFL. I'd love to give it a shot.

Your ability to play special teams has to help you.

Yeah. I hope. We'll see after the season is over. We've still got to get one more and hopefully the bowl game.

When's the last time you and Edgar scored a touchdown in the same game?

That was the first time, actually. I remember him scoring on a two-point conversion I threw him in high school. I scored a couple of other times. But that was the first time we both scored a touchdown.


Have you been sick?


How do you feel now?

I feel a lot better. I was just running a little temperature yesterday. I'm doing better. I'll be able to practice (Tuesday).

It sounds like it's really going through you guys?

Yeah. It is. It's been kind of bad around here. It's like that movie called Outbreak.

Who is the sickest?

Bob was real sick. Eric Rothwell was sick during the game. He did a good job of fighting through it. Our trainer, Ed, he's still sick.

Are you fine with the number of carries you got Saturday and the distribution of the work load between you and Jermelle?

Yeah. After the Purdue game, I was glad to see him go out there and look so good. I was talking to Coach Jackson saying, "Since Jermelle is back, when am I going to get back to return some kicks?" He said, "Oh no. We're going to wait until we see some of the old Jermelle." After the Purdue game, they felt comfortable to put me back to return kicks.


Are you worried about all of your teammates being well enough to play?

There are a lot of guys that are fairly sick, but they'll come through. They're football players. They'll hopefully play. It's early in the week. There's still a couple of days left. We should be all right.

What do you think are the keys going into the Wisconsin game?

We need to sit back and play our base defense and just play how we have been. I think we should be able to play with them. Evans is obviously a great receiver. He makes a lot of great plays. But we can maybe do some things to maybe control him a little bit.


What are some of the keys to slowing down the Wisconsin offense?

They have a very powerful offensive group. They have Evans that can catch the ball. The quarterback likes to throw the ball. They have great running backs and a big 'ole fullback. It's going to be very competitive.

Is there something that you need to take away from them?

They're a balanced team. We're going to try to make them one-dimensional. First of all, we're going in there to try to stop the run. And we'll try to force them to throw the ball. We need to force the quarterback out of the pocket, and hope that it will create some turnovers.

Do you guys understand what's on the line this week in regards to the postseason?

I know we're 8-3. I know in the bowl picture that this could be a big step towards where we're going to end up in December or January. But as far as team wise, we just need to focus on getting a win and then let everything fall into place.

Why is it so hard to win on the road in the Big Ten this season?

Every stadium is different in its own ways. Going into stadiums where 80,000 fans are against you and the crowd noise for your offense is kind of different.

Is the key to have a quick start to take the fans out?

That's a key. You want to get the fans out of it and make them sit back down in their seats. We have to start fast. We haven't done that on the road. That's kind of hurt us.

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories