Obviously, we're all just extremely pleased about getting the victory today. We knew early in the week that this would be a tough ballgame. We're in the thick of Big Ten play right now. Purdue is an excellent football team, and boy they play hard every week and they sur eplayed hard today.
So, what we saw is two teams really battling out there. It was just a hard-fought win. I'm not quite sure at this point how we're doing it, but we're finding a way to get it done. That's really all that counts. It's kind of a motto our team's adopted a little bit.
The good news is that it's not like that Florida election. There are no recalls. It's in the bank. We're just happy to be 7-2.
What about the defensive side of the things?
Our guys are doing a great job defensively. That's where our experience is right now. That's where our strength is. I can't say enough. It's just great team defense, too. Our coaches are doing a great job, not only defensively, our whole staff is doing a great job of giving our team a good plan. Most importantly, our players are executing. They're just going out and playing.
Defensively, the guys did a great job. A lot of it starts up front. Our front line has been difficult to block. The guys behind them are playing well, too.
Today was one of those games, too, where every play was big, every sequence was big. It was just an outstanding football game.
Can you talk about the confidence level that Drew shows?
Drew is just going to keep playing out there. And it was a tough day for him because we got off to a great start and then we hit a wall a little bit. I said earlier in the week, Offensively and defensively, Purdue is a very tough, challenging perparation. They've got a million personnel groups offensively. Defensively, they're aggressive. They've got a great blitz package. It seems like they always have a little wrinkle for you and we certainly saw one or two today that was a little difficult.
The thing about Drew that was impressive to me was that he hung in there. He weathered the storms and brought us back into the ballgame there in the second half. Every game right now is a learning experience for him. The good thing is that he comes out of it on his feet and is just moving forward.
There was a point in the second half where he tore his helmet off and it looked like he was really upset. You came over to talk to him. What did you say?
Ken does a great job of working with those guys. We're all on the same page. We'd probably prefer he'd be a little less demonstrative in those certain situations.
But the bottom line is the guy is a competitor. He wants to do well. He's not blaming anyone other than he just wants the team to move. When we don't, he gets frustrated. That's a great trait. We'd rather have to throttle him back than push him forward. That hasn't been a problem with him. He wants to go.
Special teams played a big part, both good and bad today.
They did. We really thought today might be one of those games that got decided (by special teams). Probably the worst call of the day - it's my call - was that last field goal. On fourth and one, we should have run the football. They had one timeout left. In retrospect, I wish that I could get that one back. That gave them a chance to get great field position. They ended up with a score there. In retrospect, that was a bonehead play in my part.
Our guys for the most part are really doing a good job on special teams. I thought David Bradley punted the ball extremely well today. Kyle Schlicher really had a good day. That block sure didn't look like his problem there at the end. And he hit the one off of the goal post. But he's focusing right now, and he's really kicking with some confidence. That's great to see because that's going to be valuable here in the last two weeks.
You had a tough time covering Stubblefield.
There's a reason he's got all of those yards and catches. He's a smooth, smart, tenacious football player. He didn't fall into that yardage by accident.
You put Greenway and Babineaux over there on him a few times.
Depending on the personnel groups. We're getting a little bit more multiple in terms of our defensive personnel groups. But when our regular guys are out there on the field, they get all of the guys involved because of their formations. Chad was out there quite a bit in coverage and George Lewis as well. And at times, they even pull Abdul out of the box and make him work in pass coverage, too.
Compared to two years ago, we've really made some strides in that regard. The guys are getting smarter back there, they're playing smarter. It goes to the preparation. They've really worked hard.
With all that's happened to you guys, you're still in position to win the Big Ten and go to a great bowl with two games to play. What's going on here?
We're not even thinking about the title right now. I promise you. It's cliche, but I tell you, with our football team, especially, we just have to take the next step. That's really all we've tried to focus on.
We have gone through our share of bumps in the road. Even today, you look at a guy like Ben Gates jumping in at left tackle for us. And then Ben Cronin follows him and does a great job at center. We're just finding something from everybody.
Sam Brownlee, he's got 52 yards. Those were a tough 52 yards he ran for today and Tommy Bush blocking up in front of him. It just seems like collectively guys are getting the job done for us. I can't give enough praise to our coaching staff. Our coaches are doing a great job giving our guys a good plan and preparing our guys during the week.
But the credit goes back to our players. They're the ones that are doing it. We're not the prettiest car in the lot, but our guys are really playing with great heart. They won't quite out there. They're not afraid to fight and give their best. And that's what's keeping us going right now.
What's your injury situation?
Not good. It went from lousy to a little bit more lousy.
Mike Elgin sprained his ankle. Based on preliminary reports, it's going to be tough for him to play this week. It may be two weeks.
I think that's the only serious thing that we incurred today. I don't see us getting anybody back this week.
Is Lee Gray hurt?
He's been injured. He's been nicked. It limited his practice time this week. Typically when you limit practice time, it shows up on Saturday. So, we made the move to go with Ben. Ben had good week of work. He's finally back 100 percent now. That's a positive. So, we went with him.
What about Eddie Hinkel? There was a series or two where he was on the sideline.
Ed's been taking a beating the last couple of weeks. He's a little stoved up. But it's that time of year. Purdue had a lot of guys in the same situation.
But Ed's doing a great out there. He's a money in the bank type guy for us. But he's a little stoved up right now.
Did them using Kirsch change anything for you guys?
No. Not really. I really thought Kyle Orton a year ago played like a senior. It would have been nice if he had left after that year. So not having him out there, he's been playing excellent football, had to affect them.
The flip side is that Kirsch wore us out two years ago. So, it's not like they were just running some guy out there that didn't know what was going on. Kirsch knows how to run that offense and does a great job, too.
I'm sure not having Kyle in there was a factor, but we had great respect for both quarterbacks.
Can you talk about Drew escapability?
It's pretty impressive. We thought that he had pretty good feet when we recruited him. But he was under some fire today. Those guys brought some house blitzes at him, and he has a knack. He just has a sense where the rush is coming from. He has a knack of stepping out. I have no idea what his 40 time is but he's got pretty good feet and he has a sense about him. You can't teach that.
Did they blitz even more than you thought they would?
That's hard to say. We thought they were going to blitz a lot, and they blitzed a real lot. They concocted a couple of variations today that I don't think I'd seen. Maybe I'd have to go back to pull out some '80s tapes when I was here. Maybe that had some of that stuff then.
But they had some creative stuff today. It had us rattled for awhile. It had us off of our track. They keep you on edge.
You guys blitzed more.
A little bit. We didn't think that we could just sit there and let them pick us apart. Norm and his staff do a great job. They play to our strengths and allow us to do what we can do without exposing ourselves either.
Why did Drew wear the visor?
I don't know if that was just this week or a couple of weeks. I don't pay much attention to that stuff.
Did he get poked in the eye?
Not that I know of. I'm not good at that stuff. Coach Fry used to yell at me because I didn't know if guys had their knee braces on. I don't pay attention to that stuff.
He had a helmet on. I know that. I remember one time when he didn't.
He's a pretty good reveiver, too.
Yeah. That wasn't bad. He should have scored, right? Nah, that probably would have been tough. But he did OK.