Can you talk about playing Penn State?
They're going to present a unique challenge. Obviously we haven't won on the road this year. It's a test for our team. If we can win these next two on the road, it puts us over the hump a little bit as far as getting road wins.
And the last three road wins at Penn State have been terrific.
They've all been very close games, exciting wins. We know that we're going to get a good challenge this weekend.
You look at the scores they've had in the first five or six weeks, they've all been really close games. They've played some good teams, too, and they've only given up 16 points.
Coach Ferentz talked about speaking with the defense about getting the edge back. Do you feel like you have it back?
I feel like we have the edge back. He kind of mentioned that Michigan State drive where they got the ball on their 3-yard line and went the full length (of the field) and kicked a field goal. That's not typical of us to give that up.
This weekend against Ohio State, it was the same situation. They didn't move from that 2-yard line.
That's kind of what Coach Ferentz is talking about getting the edge back and not letting the opposing team drive the ball on us like they did.
What was missing?
It just kind of comes down to that third down buckling down and getting off of the field. We were in a third down situation against Michigan State, and we couldn't get off of the field. This week was the difference of us kind of buckling down.
Maybe it was watching more film. Maybe it was just better practice preparation. But we got off of the field.
Coach was probably kidding. But we asked him who he was going to bring over to be a running back. The subject led to you.
Really. If they needed me to I would. But I'm sure he was just joking. It's just a matter of pure numbers. We don't have anybody over there. We lost another one this past weekend. It seems like whoever starts at running back for us at home gets injured. That's been the thing this year.
Hopefully we can keep Sammy and Damien healthy these next couple of weeks and maybe try to get Marques back.
Can you talk about the Penn State offense?
The have a veteran quarterback. He's been there forever. They have a good skill position players. Hunt is a very explosive guy. They also have some young guys that have done some things. They're right on the brink of doing some really big things this year. They definitely have the talent. It's a huge test this weekend.
Is their getting Robinson back kind of a wildcard for them?
He's been their wildcard for three or four years now. He's been that guy where you've got to look at. He can come in and run the option. He can come in and throw the long ball. And he can do all of these different things. They can put him at wide receiver; running back. He somebody we definitely have to be aware of, sort of like Ginn coming into the game for Ohio State.
How do you contain a guy like that?
You have to recognize when he's in the game what position he's at. You just watch the film. When he's at the running back position, what do they do? What do they do when he's playing quarterback?
Is Mills kind of like Stanton in that they can hurt you with their feet and their arms?
Definitely. Mills hasn't had the weeks that Stanton has had recently. He's had a couple of great weeks. But he's on that same line in that he can hurt you both ways.
It's kind of become the thing for all the quarterbacks now. They're going to hurt you both ways. And if they bring Robinson in, they definitely can do that.
Does it keep you honest?
Yeah. If you drop back into coverage, you can't really turn your back and let a guy run around. He does some things to put a strain on our defense.
You guys have had some success in the super huge stadiums. Does it not really bother you?
We're not intimidated by anything. The field is the same length as it is here at Kinnick. We're not going to get intimidated by a big stadium.
Is there any black and gold in Erie?
There's a ton now. Growing up, I don't ever remember hearing of Iowa. Now, it seems like it's all people talk about.
Do you feel comfortable with Sam (Brownlee) at RB?
I'm good friends with Sam. He's always working hard. He's a guy like Razor (Ramon Ochoa) last year. He might not have expected to be in the spot that he is now.
Coach always says at the beginning of the year that there's probably someone sitting in the room that's probably going to be playing a lot for us that doesn't know it right now. Sam fits into the category.
What turned it around for this team?
Probably losing to Arizona State like we did. That really got us back with our focus. We started practicing better after that game. We've been a better team.
Did that have to happen for this to happen?
Yeah. If we didn't start practicing better, it was going to be a long season for us. We have to continue to keep practicing well to be successful.
How many of your friends and family are going to be at the game?
I know close to about 200 that are coming from Erie.
You didn't have to take care of all of those tickets, did you?
You don't have to fight Bob (Sanders) anymore.
Yeah, but all the New Jersey guys are trying to get the tickets now. (laughs)
What does this trip mean for you?
It's going to be the last time I get to play in front of a lot of the people from Erie. I'm looking forward to going out and hopefully putting on a good show for them.
What do remember from that last game there? You had the big catch.
The catch was just unbelievable; you know, right there in front of our fans and in front of everybody and just winning there. Being able to walk out of there with my head held high was just awesome.
It's been crazy there the last two games. Do you expect a similar scenario?
Yeah. Penn State is a good football team. If you look at their scores of the games they've lost, they haven't lost by many. They've been in some tough games. We're expecting a tough battle this week.