Illinois Week: Tate Transcript

Iowa quarterback Drew Tate through for almost 300 yards and three scores in last week's big win against Iowa State. Find out how the senior his feeling, his thoughts on the running game, his thought on Dominigue Douglas and much more in this HN.com Premium Q&A.

Fullbacks don't get a lot of touches. How nice was that to see Tom catch his first touchdown pass?

It was great. He deserves everything he gets. He's probably the most not looked at person on our team. He's probably one of the best fullbacks in the country. He's come so far because he came in as a linebacker and only played fullback a little bit in high school. The way he's improved in catching and route running, it's great. As far as blocking goes, I don't know if anybody blocks better than him in the country. He's an extremely tough guy; smart. He's just one of those kinds of people Iowa looks for in recruiting.

How did you feel Sunday morning and a day or two after the game here?

I feel good. My body feels good. I'm just ready to keep going.

Do you feel like you're over it now?

I think so. I hope so. It hasn't bothered me. It was just a little sore probably just from running more than throwing. But, it feels pretty good today and it did yesterday and the day before.

How are the receivers coming along from a quarterback's perspective?

They're getting better as well as every position. Everybody is getting better and growing. We lost Calvin in the middle of the week. That's just unfortunate. That's how football is and that's what happens. Like I said, if I wasn't here, someone is going to play and do a good job like Jason did. We've got guys stepping up and playing and accepting the roles that they've been given. They're just playing the best that they can. They did well on Saturday.

Were their expectations on Andy (Brodell)?

I don't think so. I don't think there were expectations on anybody. He started against Northwestern last year and did a good job. But that was it. He's has all offseason to think about what he wanted to do instead of just one week. It just took him a little while to get comfortable. Once he gets comfortable, and that's with anyone, they're going to do a lot better and improve week to week.

It's only Tuesday, but what do you think the second half against Iowa State did for this team?

It showed a lot of guys when we're not hurting ourselves, especially on offense, like we were in the first half, we can move the ball and we can put points on the board. Our defense played really well in the second half. That's just Iowa football in the second half. And later on as the season goes on, we just get stronger.

Do you think Albert is ready to cut loose now? He's faced a lot of eight-man fronts.

Eventually they're going to have to start dropping guys deep, now and we'll be able to run. Is he due? It's not like baseball or anything, but it's pretty much what they give. You can be Barry Sanders, but if you've got eight guys in the box, that's going to be pretty hard to run the ball.

The last three teams have done that. Are you guys more built now to handle an eight man front at the line of scrimmage?

I don't know about how we're built, but that's just a good job by the coaches making adjustments in the second half. We've been able to come out in both games in the second half and play better, well all three games. We just take what the defense gives us. If they want to pile all of those guys in, we have guys that can run and catch. If they want to start dropping off like they did in the second half, we started hitting runs here and there. We'll take four yards a run, five yards a run any time. It's just a matter of everyone being on the same page. There were a lot of times where we missed runs even though they had eight guys in the box. There were still plenty of times we missed some big runs. All those guys are there, but if you can get passed those guys, there's nobody left in the secondary, pretty much. We were real close. We just couldn't hit a big one.

Illinois plays 16 true freshmen. How do you prepare for a team with so many new guys and so many unknowns?

I have no idea. I don't do the game plan. We'll maybe be different at the line of scrimmage with some calls and stuff like that and try to get those guys off balance because it's a lot different than high school in the way that snap counts are and everything is. That's something we wanted to do against Iowa State because they had two freshmen on the line.

Does it make a difference to you whether you guys are opening at home or on the road?

Not really. We get a schedule and we go. Whatever is there is there. Teams like Utah in '04, I'm sure they opened up places, too, and they won. Iowa in '02 won, too, on the road. That's just the way football is. It's just when you're on the road, you have to be sharper and pay more attention and just be more alert. There are plenty of distractions. You're in a new hotel. You're going on a new bus ride, so some people might want to look around.

You guys don't run a true spread offense, but you came close in the second half with Albert in the slot. You said Saturday that you felt that opened things up. Do you anticipate maybe more use of your running backs because they are so strong?

I think so. That's what we want to do. We want to get our personnel groups and do as much as we can with them. We've got great backs. Albert is doing a great job in the slot. And then we've got Damian and Shonn back there, and those guys can run probably just as good as anyone in the country. Albert is better in the passing game than those two guys. But those two guys are pretty good how we've got them, rotating in whenever Albert is in the slot. It's also because of our receiver situation, too. Albert brings a lot with that.

It's not really a spread, but it's close, isn't it?

I don't even think it's close, but we had a good game plan going into Iowa State with quick throws and stuff like that. Quick throws are just a glorified run game to me.

Did you see this many guys in the box early in the year last year?

I don't think so. It might have been about the same.

Do you think that's because of the young receivers?

I think so. Plus everyone knows Albert's success from last year and knows that we graduated two pretty good receivers. But we've only played three games. We've got nine more to go. A lot can happen in those nine. People are going to a lot different things.

Are you concerned about a letdown at all this week?

No. I don't think so. Every game is a big game, especially in the Big Ten and on the road.

When did you know that Douglas was a freshman who could step in and become a dependable receiver?

In the summer when we were running seven on seven. He was diving after balls and stuff like that and caught everything with his hands. He was just a great guy to be around. Coach Ferentz always talks about keeping young guys' feet on the ground, I don't think he's got a problem with that. He always has a smile on his face and he's a good guy. I don't see him getting a little crazy or anything like that.

He can talk, apparently.

Yeah, any one can talk, but he's just very humble and just plays the game.


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