Talk about Drew Tate being named first team all Big Ten by the coaches, and how he did that with all that he had on his shoulders, the lack of a running game, etc
I think that is one of the more amazing stories. Our team is an amazing story and Drew is an amazing story. I am so pleased to see him be recognized in that fashion, but I can't tell you that I am surprised.
Everything he has done this year has been remarkable, especially given what you alluded to. You look at our football team this year, the lack of the running game, the injuries and inexperience up front; it was not like we had a lot of different dimensions, offensively. Everyone we played recognized that.
To accomplish what he has is phenomenal. He would be the first to tell you that he had a lot of support. Our line got better during the course of the year, the receivers really grew up, especially since spring ball, and our running backs did what they had to do in blocking and protecting. They also protected the football; turnovers were major for us this year.
Maybe as remarkable of anything, was the last ball game. I think we all noticed those first two picks. The thought running through my mind was that we are playing a young quarterback who was probably due for a bad game, and it looked like during those first few minutes that this might be the bad game. Timing wasn't great.
For him to bounce back and perform like he did the rest of the game, I think that might be as telling as anything about Drew Tate and the kind of guy we are working with. I tell you, he is our kind of guy.
What is he like off the field. To be that size and run around, to be that that durable, does he have a bit of Matt Roth in him?
From where you sit, you can sense the intensity and the emotion that he plays with, that is how he is built. He is different from Nathan and Brad, not only with his abilities but also his personality. That is one of the neat things about football; there are all kinds of ways to get things done and there are different types of players that can be successful.
The bottom line is that he has great desire and great emotion and he plays with real passion and prepares; that is the common bond. He prepares like those other guys did.
Did he show the ability to stay on his feet and get out of sacks in high school or did he develop that here?
We didn't know what kind of speed he had. It looked like he had adequate speed, but I am still not sure how fast he is. It's a little bit like Abdul Hodge. When Abdul got here, he was a little quicker and more instinctive than I had sensed off of film. In some ways, there is a parallel there. Drew seems to have an extra sense, he can feel the rush and see it. He has proven that he has great escapability; it starts with having instincts and sense back there. He has the ability to get away from people; he seems to know which way to go.
(From Bob Brooks, who has seen a lot of all Big Ten Teams) Is this the first time since the coaches started to vote that two linebackers were chosen from the same team, unanimously?
Deservedly so, too. Those guys (grunts), they are football players. They would be the first to tell you that they get good help from those guys up front. The thing that I appreciate as much as anything about those two; the production goes without saying, but the personality they bring. They have been leaders ever since they stepped into the lineup, and they grew in that aspect this year. It is comforting to know that we have both of those guys to build around next year. That is a pretty good start for next year's defense.
Were you surprised that it was the coaches and not the media that left Babineaux off of the first team?
Yeah. I don't know what films they were watching. Maybe head coaches don't watch endzone. I am biased, but I am glad that Babineaux is on our side. This guy is a football player, and I think that when the All Big Ten team comes out next April (meaning the NFL draft), he will be recognized. People who watch football for a living…this guy is one heck of a football player. He is fun to watch. Matt is more out there on the edge, and that is sexier. It's hard not to notice Matt, but Jon Babineaux is one heck of a football player.
Where do you think he fits in in the NFL?
That is the problem that everyone is having right now, is that they are not quite sure what he is or who he is. It's hard to say, but everyone recognizes that he is a very productive football player and he is an extremely high character young man. He is a winner. I have heard different reports from different people, and I am not sure any of them are wrong. No matter where he ends up going, they will find a place for him. He will make their team better; he is just that kind of guy.
It depends on the scheme. He will never be a 320-pound guy, and some folks are hung up on that. James Jones, who is a UNI guy, I will never forget the first time I saw him. I had been hearing about James Jones, James Jones, da da da…the first time I saw him in the weight room, I thought to myself, ‘That is James Jones?' But I had a different respect for him once he put the pads on; the guy knew how to play football. A lot like Jonathon, just a real class human being.
He could play inside, he could play outside, he may end up playing linebacker. If we had eight of him, he would be playing all of those things for us, plus tight end and full back. He is a very versatile guy, but it gets back to the kind of person he is. He is a high-character, quality guy and he is a winner. He is a quiet leader, but a strong leader.
Will you get any of your RB's back for the bowl game?
(Laughs) We will have Marques. We were fortunate to have him the other day. I told you last Tuesday, and I was being totally honest; I would not have predicted him playing based on what I had seen the Sunday before, but he had a pretty decent week of practice. It seemed like he could go, and he gave us a little spark.
You know, we have to get through 15 practices, but I expect to have him back, but the other players will be out of action.
Do you have any news on Paschal?
I think we are looking good there. They did a CT scan on Monday, and he has been better each day. We are real optimistic that he will be ready to go. Pete McMahon did have a foot injury. I think he will miss about a month, or three to four weeks. But we expect him to be back in the middle of our preparation. He should be ready for the ball game.
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