Have you thought about the Northwestern game from last year now that you guys are preparing for them?
I don't think it's anything we've been harping on or thinking about too much, but there shouldn't be a problem getting up for this game, definitely. We know what happened last time we went up there and we let things slip away from us.
How do you think the offensive line has adjusted to injuries?
They've done well. Marshal went from one side of the line to the other. The guys definitely have shown versatility across the entire line. We had to move on the fly with everything. We were talking about it. Every position on this team had an injury this year. Overall as a team, guys realize we have to move on and make adjustments on the fly. The O-line is a prime example of guys doing that.
Do you still think back to how surreal that fourth quarter and ending was against Northwestern?
In the last couple of minutes, a lot went on. If you go back to the film from last year, it's difficult to figure out how we lost that game. But it tells you that you have to play the entire game, the entire 60 minutes. And anything can happen on any Saturday.
The offense was on the sideline. What was it like just watching that unfold?
You've got to just keep pulling for your defense. We had some calls that (coughs) you can say didn't go our way. You guys remember some. We had to deal with that. Our defense was out on the field for a period of time. As an offense, we had to sit back and hope that our defense would take care of everything.
How big was Saturday for you to get past that 100-yard hurdle and maybe silence some things?
I was more pleased that we just had a successful running day. It was nice to get over that number, though. It's been a while and that's something that I was getting accustomed to. It was a team accomplishment, though, with the O-line. There were some nice seams. Any one of our backs could have ran for over 100 with the holes we had the other day.
Has this been an enjoyable year for you?
It's definitely been up and down. I've learned a lot from this year, I'll tell you that. But everything makes you stronger. Everything happens for a reason. But I'm having fun just playing the game.
What did you learn?
Everything isn't going to be sweet all of the time. It happens to players all over with injuries and whatnot. It's just how you come back and rebound from those things and being productive in other areas to help your team and teammates. It's not always about your individual things or worrying about getting over a certain plateau during the game. It's more about bringing the whole package to your team to help them win. It's not like I was worrying about it, but it's just something when you do fairly well at it, it's sort of what you expect. But, things aren't sweet all of the time.
From a team perspective has it been a fun year or has it been a grind? How would you describe it?
It's been fun. We work so hard to play. But there have been some ups and downs. Right now, we're still trying to find that balance and just stay consistent for a while. The season is always a grind. But if we keep winning here, there are going to be smiles all over.
The Hawkeye program is known for getting stronger as the year goes along. With three games left in the season, do you see the team getting stronger and getting better now that it was a few weeks ago?
I would say, yeah, but we realize there's still a lot of improvement to go. There are three more games. We have major leaps to make. Coach Ferentz already stated that not too long ago. As a team, we definitely agree with him. There's definitely a lot more improvement to go. We'll leave it at that.
Have you had a chance to look at Northwestern and what they present defensively?
I haven't seen anything on them yet. I'll see a little today. But just going from the score, Michigan was held to 17 points at home. That's a pretty stout performance with a team like Michigan has. The weather was poor, but Michigan is still a team with a successful running game. We realize we do need to score. We also know we can't have the type of turnovers we did on Saturday against an offense like Northwestern's. I haven't seen them much, but knowing their type of style. They can score and they can do it quick. We all have first-hand experience with that from last year. We just have to be solid all around.
What is the motivation with the Big Ten title out of the picture?
The next game is the most important. We want to be able to get win No. 7 here. Everybody has their own different motivations. There's a lot to shoot for for us here. Not too many teams made it to so many January bowl games, so that's definitely something that we realize is a possibility. That's definitely something worth fighting for.
Your personal numbers are not something they were last year. Is that something sticks with you at all?
Not necessarily. You might get frustrated at times, in the beginning of the season, definitely. But you want to win. There are guys on our team all around that want to do more to help this team be more successful. It's not from a numbers standpoint. My main concern is just winning. Like you said, I had the numbers last year, but we didn't really win. We didn't win the Big Ten. So, we're really in the same boat now. We just want to win around here.
You can argue guys like yourself, Kenny, Paschal have had lost seasons because of injury. Is that frustration floating around with some of the guys?
Guys realize that there are so many things that you can control. Injuries are something that we can't. Those guys that you named, we all want to do well, but if your body tells you you can't go, you can't go out and perform. We've had guys all over this team playing hurt. Who's to say you're not doing as well? I don't think numbers can put a stamp on what a guy does each season.
Can you talk about the expectations you had going into the season personally and as a team to where you are now? It doesn't seem like you guys are having as much fun as you'd hoped to have or am I way off on that?
(Laughs) I'll tell you this, we're fine playing the game. I'm having a good time out there regardless of what's going on. Yeah, we had a slip here and there. We wanted to win the Big Ten. That's not going to happen. I don't know how happy you're going to be about that. It's just natural when you don't reach a goal that you want. But you can't let it hold you down. We're going to keep fighting and keep pushing.