Will Saturday be Chad Greenway's last game at Kinnick?
I sure hope not. What are you expecting him to get hurt or something? Let's not even talk about that.
When do you address that?
We don't want to start that talk already, do we?
Is this the best turnover margin for you guys since you've been here?
I'm trying not to talk too much about that right now. But given where we came from, because it wasn't so favorable six games ago, we've really kind of quietly snuck up the charts on that one. That's been a big part of our success.
How much of that is luck and how much of that is what you practice?
It comes down to the guys that have the ball in their hands. To me, a lot of that is practice and preparation. The first guy that pops to mind is our quarterback, and Ken does a great job of coaching that guy.
The turnover battle is always important. Some years it's more important than others. This is one of those years that without it we'd be dead.
Nineteen takeaways in the last five games, how much does that equate to...?
Same thing. The kind of team we are right now, for us to have a chance, we need every edge we can.
We're not going to outrush Wisconsin. I can tell you that right now. So, there's got to be something else that you can do to maybe balance the equation a little bit. (Turnovers) have been one of them for us.
Are there certain things that you do in practice to try to cause fumbles?
Just the standard stuff. We're not doing anything different now than we were five years ago. We always coach that, but it's not like we're doing extra gauntlet drills or something like that.
Do you have a TV in your locker room (to watch the Michigan-Ohio State game)?
I just told the guys on the radio that we have an old stadium. We don't have TV. Are you kidding me? It's Kinnick.
At Oregon, they have plasma TVs?
Oh yeah. Are you kidding me? Touch Tone, I'm sure. Stereo. Surround Sound.
So, you're not going to be watching the game while you're getting dressed?
Are you going to have them when the stadium gets rennovated?
No. Absolutely not. We have TVs in our locker rooms here (The Jacobsen Building) for the recruits if they want to know that. But when we're over here on working days, nah. When the guys come into the building at 2 o'clock, the TVs are off. Spring ball is a little different.
When it's football time, I'm not into TVs. Out of season, they can have them on all day long, but not during football hours. We have to have some sanity in our lives.
I know that you can't talk about recruiting specifically. But you're still involved with some high-end guys who like to throw the ball and catch the ball. Do you think that the genie is out our the bottle? Will guys see what Drew did this year and be impressed?
It won't hurt. I guess we can probably sell both now.
Was that hindering that process? I know you guys struck out on some big time wide receivers last year.
I didn't get that sense, but it's possible. I can say this, Chris Leak wasn't concerned about it. And Drew wasn't either. It didn't hurt us at that position. Receiver, I don't know if I can answer that one. I didn't get that sense, but it's possible.
How do you guard against some of the things that were alleged at Ohio State?
Instituationally, we're in pretty good shape. We went through a little thing last spring that caused us to review some things. We've been down that road already.
All that being said, every coach is concerned about what can happen in terms of people off of campus. You're crazy if you're not. First and foremost in my mind is the agent population. That's the first threat. We try to be as proactive as we can there. But obviously, it goes way beyond just agents.
There are a lot of people that can get involved if they chose to. You've got to keep your antennas up.
How much do you talk to the guys about that?
I wouldn't say frequently, but it's a topic of conversation. And when things happen outside of our walls...every day in the paper there are things that are going on that we try to point our to our guys. This is how easy it is for a guy to get in trouble. This is how easy it is for a someone to make a dumb decision or make a mistake. Weekly, there's a good learning example.
What do you remember about recruiting after the '99 season these guys that are seniors?
Wow. That's a long time ago. We were just trying to sell a vision, a hope. It's in a lot of ways not different now because we can't guarantee anybody anything. We still can't other than they're going to have a great opportunity to grow and develop in all phases of their life.
Back then, we were trying to sell that we really believed that it was possible for us to be a Big Ten contender and a championship caliber team. Now we can say that we've proven that we can do it. Now the challenge is to continue to do it.
Was it a tough sell?
For some people, yeah, for a lot of players, no question. They had things that looked a little better. But it's all worked out.
You take a guy like Matt Roth. He was one of the few guys that was heavily recruited. For whatever reason, he thought that this might be a good place for him. We did OK. We got our share.
You guys had to take some chances with some Florida guys. Have you been able to pick and choose what you guys take long distance wise?
Yeah. Back then, it was really tough for us to recruit locally. When I say locally, the Midwest. We had to go out further. Five years ago, we didn't have a network that was as strong where you get so much information from people that you develop a relationship with. That's a big part of recruiting, learning who you can trust to give you accurate information.
Being in place now for five plus years, that's helped a great deal. You'd like to think that the closer you are to home, too, that maybe you have a little bit more access to information. Plus, you might have a higher population of prospects that would be interested in coming because their moms and dads or moms or dads can get in the car and drive here.
Does developing the relationships help almost as much as the winning?
It does. It goes hand in hand. Having some success just gives you credibility. You're not having to defend yourself or talk about hypothetical situations. Now we have some tangible things that we can point to.
Is Marques Simmons lobbying to get back on the field?
I wouldn't say that. He's been working on his rehab. It's gone slow as you would expect with that injury at that position. It's just the way that it has come out.
And if he doesn't look just dazzling the next two days, I can't envision him playing. He has missed so much playing time, I don't know if that's realistic.
We'll see what he looks like the next two days. At this given point, I'd really be surprised if he plays. I hope he can prove me wrong. That would be great.
What did he do on Sunday and what can he not do at this point?
It's just a matter of being able to cut, plant, accelerate, those things that really are tough on the joint that a running back is going to have to do. It's a tough road.
It must have been a bad sprain. It's been about five weeks now.
That's the nature of high ankle sprains. It's a bad injury for anybody, especially at that position, and obvioulsy there are different degrees, too. But if you're a running back or a receiver, that's tough, or a defensive back, where you're stopping, starting driving. That's hard. You can't put a big cumbersome brace on them. That kind of defeats the purpose.
"FInd A Way" has that gone on a T-Shirt yet? Have you seen that anywhere?
Nah. But I don't get out much. But I noticed that Coach O'Keefe has got it up on his window. It's been floating around. It will show up somewhere. Somebody will grab it and make a couple of bucks off of it probably.
This is the last game in the "Old" Kinnick. Have you thought about that?
I hadn't really thought about it until someone mentioned it. That's the great thing about the project. It's not going to afffect the ambience or the character of Kinnick. If they were going to do a total makeover, I don't know how wild I'd be about that. But it's going to retain it's charm and character. The only thing better than that is that I'm not going to be involved at all, which is a positive.
What are you guys going to do in the spring?
We'll probably practice out back. Unless we can go and tear West High up. I don't think they'd like that. West or City, I don't think they'd be too happy about that. We'll just practice out back.
So, no spring game?
That was really part of our thought of doing the August deal; opening it up to kind of take the place (of the Spring Game). We'll probably do that again next year. I assume we'll be allowed to get fans in there in August. But it's a construction project, so maybe not. Maybe it will have to be at the North End. But yeah, probably not.
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