Let's go over the last game. What can be done to put things on the positive side?
That it's over (laughter). That's about the only thing I can say positive out of that. We just have to forget about it. That's the only thing I can think of. We've got too much ahead of us and too good of a team to come in and worry about what we did last week.
As a quarterback, they're going to point to you like they point to a head coach. How responsible do you feel when things go awry or your team has struggled this season?
Oh, probably at the top. Coach always takes responsibility every time we lose, but as a quarterback I have the ball in my hands all of the time. It's my job to take care of it and to do what has to be done. With my position, if we win I'm great if we lose I'm not. It's just something you've got to deal with. It's not that big of a deal, really. It's not that big of a deal when the people tell me that stuff that people say because it's just funny how quickly their minds can change in one week. Hopefully their mind will change after this week.
Are you a better quarterback than you were your sophomore year?
I made a huge step from my sophomore to junior year. The only reason I was all this or that was because I won the Big Ten. I was way better last year than the year before. This year, it's been hard because of injuries and missing practice. And missing practice means a lot. It's still no excuse. And we're a different team. We're young and inexperienced. Going into our 11th game, we should be experienced, but there still are a lot of miscues and things like that. That's just the way it happens. With the skill guys, if we're just all on the same page it makes everything a lot better.
How fast has it gone?
It's gone by extremely fast. I was driving over here and I was with (Brian) Ryther and he said they're going to ask you about your last game in Kinnick. I didn't even think about that. I figured they'd ask other questions. Thinking about it, it is amazing how fast it's really gone. This will be the last time I'll go in there and the last time with the crowd and everything like that. It's going to be real emotional. But to answer your question, it's just amazing how fast four years go by.
What is your best Kinnick memory?
When we won the Big Ten and beat Wisconsin here. I'd take that over the LSU game any day of the week. That was just the atmosphere, the crowd, the night, the lights, all that stuff, it was just great.
You guys overcame a slow start in that game if I remember correctly.
Yeah, I started off slow. We were fortunate to have the defense that we had who really just killed those guys. That touchdown before the half what made it 14-7 really gave us momentum because we came out in the second half and it was over. It wasn't even close.
How is your hand?
It's alright. I still have to wear a splint and everything. I can't use my thumb.
Did it affect you more than you thought in the game?
I don't think so. (long pause) I don't think so. I don't know though. It's hard to say. It's hard not being able to use your…I can't really grab a ball in my left hand, so it throws off some stuff. You just have to work through it. You have to find ways around it.
Can you talk about the notion of leadership? I know leadership score touchdowns or block or tackle.
I think I was reading the Des Moines Register. Who is Sam Keller? Is that his name? Is that you?
Sean Keller: That's me.
Tate: Yeah, OK.
Keeler: It's Sean, by the way.
Tate:OK, sorry about that. It's funny though because you know when we win and you all ask, god I love his fire and passion. When we lose it's a problem. I thought that was kind of funny. But I'm not trying to make you mad or anything like that. That just goes to show you how things are. When we win everything is fine. There's passion and competitive and all of that stuff, but when we lose it's a bad thing. I haven't changed the way that I play emotionally since my sophomore year. You all have seen that, or even last year.
Leadership has nothing to do with throwing an interception in the red zone, checking out of a play, making a tackle, running a route, catching a ball, none of that stuff. We have great leadership on this team. I've been here for four years and Elgin and Yanda are the two of the best leaders I've been around. And on defense, Ed, Miguel and Marcus are unbelievable. Just being around them more this senior year and seeing how they deal with things, it's been great and it's great to be a part of those guys. But what our deal is we need to make plays and we're just not making plays. It has nothing to do with leadership making plays. We need to make plays. On the third down, when I threw the vertical ball to Dominique, he went up and made a great catch. That's not leadership. He went up and made a play. When Stross against Northern Illinois made that play, we need to make plays like that.
When you were a sophomore and junior, you status on the team was that you were still the young guy. Do you think maybe you being the senior and some of the guys you've had to play with this year are young, inexperienced guys, you might have wanted to tweak things a little with how you approach guys on the field?
Yeah, I know what you mean. I'd like to, but it's hard to. That's just the way that I play. I was around (Brian) Ferentz, Hinkel and those guys for…I mean they were around me a lot so they could understand. But like Andy and Stross and some of those guys, they want to do so good and I want them to as well. It's just really frustrating for me and for them when things don't work out. That's all.
Has this been a very frustrating season?
Somebody said that I said that I was disappointed. I don't remember saying that. It's not that I'm disappointed. It's just frustration. That's all it is. Coming into this year, we knew were going to be really young in the skill positions. We knew it might take some time to be explosive. We've shown it in some games. It's just consistency. We haven't done that enough. That's probably my part. Coach always blames himself. It's not coach's fault because he's not the one playing. It's us. This is going to be a huge week for us in practice, especially today, going out on the first day and see how everybody is. The way that we talked on Sunday, you have to flush it because we have a very important, big game. It's a big game for a lot of reasons. Wisconsin is very good, It's the seniors last game. The crowd will be into it. It always is. Last week, we got exactly what we deserved. I never heard them boo, but I probably would have done the same thing because we just didn't do well at all. It wasn't even close. It was bad.
Do you feel like you've been made out to be the fall guy for this?
Well, if I am, that's fine. People can say that I am. But it's a team sport. We win as a team. We lose as a team.
The camera always seems to catch you when you're chewing somebody out. Do you ever worry that can either alienate someone or just get them so down on themselves?
You know, that's the approach you've go to take to some of the young guys. I think they realize it that when I say things to them it's to help them and to get better. If I didn't care, I wouldn't say anything to them. I think they realize that. And they're great guys on the field and off the field. They're great guys around the locker room. They're friends of mine. They might have caught the media saying our receivers are this or are receivers are that so they want to do so well. If something happens, they just get so down on themselves. But they're real tough mentally. This week will be a big week for them because we need everybody really involved.
The camera also catches at you yelling at Coach O'Keefe. What's that relationship like?
It's hard. Since he's on the field, it's kind of hard for him to see things. It might take a little longer for him to see things. That's my guess. I don't know. He's always trying to figure out the spot and what defense they're putting in or things like that. It just takes time to get the play in. But it's not like he and I are at a war or anything like that. He's just real competitive and so am I. When you put two people like that together, you're going to have differences. But it's all for the team. We want to win.
You said you never heard fans boo before. Does that affect you guys when you hear that?
Not really because we really deserved it. I think everybody feels that way. Playing in it was just horrible, so I couldn't imagine even watching it.
Why isn't this team playing Hawkeye football like people have come to know?
Well, I don't know. It's consistency. We just haven't been able to put everything together and go with it. We'll play really good against Ohio State for two and a half quarters or Michigan, and then we get beat in Indiana then we come back and lay an egg against Northwestern. We just need to forget about all of that and just worry about today at practice, Wednesday, Thursday and then our walk-through and then the game because we can't change anything that's happened. We can only move forward.
Would you be surprised if this team didn't just play lights out great on Saturday? You guys have played well on recent senior days.
Yeah, we have. Since I've got here, we've played great. I hope that stays on it, keeps it going. But Wisconsin is going to make it tough. They don't care that it's senior day. They don't care about that. They want to come in and win. Coach Bielema played here, so I'm sure he's going to have them going. Everybody needs to take care of what they do as an offense. After that, you go forward as a team.
Is the psyche of this team OK right now? Are people still positive?
Yeah because we still have two games left. These are huge games left for us. If we win the next two, we're 4-4 in the Big Ten and 8-4 (overall). These last two games will probably determine the bowl and all that stuff, too. We don't ever want to go out there and hope we win. We're being positive. We were being positive against Northwestern through the home game until the end of the fourth quarter. Each week is a new season. That's the way we're looking at it.
How do you want to be remembered here?
That I did everything I could for the team and just gave everything I got every game. I don't care about touchdown passes or this game or that game. It's more of how much the guys that I played with really like me and how much they looked up to me and enjoyed playing with me.
Can you talk about Dominique Douglas' development as the season as gone on?
It's unbelievable what he's done because he was in high school like six months ago. What he's been able to do since he's been here through camp and through the games has been unbelievable. He still stays pretty humble. He's a great guy to be around. Everyone would say that about him. He's always got a smile on his face. He's a great guy. I don't if you all will get to talk to him until next year, but you all will see the same thing. Just how he plays as a quarterback you want guys like that. He's already established himself as guy in the receiving room that if guys need to ask questions he could probably answer it for them. That's how fast he's come along.
Does he want the football?
Oh yeah. We called a play against Michigan. We broke the huddle and it was a four vertical route and he hit me on the butt and looked at me because he wanted me to throw him the ball. As a quarterback, you want guys like that. That's probably one of the things we've been missing this year, honestly, is just guys wanting that ball. I know the guys on the line want the ball run over them. Albert wants the ball to run it, and Chandler always wants the ball, too. We didn't do a good job using him last week. We need to use him more. That's not a coaching thing. We just didn't throw him the ball as much as we need to. Past that, you just want guys who want the ball. Everyone says that TO is a bad teammate, but the guy wants the ball and he performs and does well. It's kind of like if the guy really wants the ball you know he's going to give everything he can to get after it and make plays. You just want that as a player.
Is it hard to find avenues to get Scott open because teams focus on taking him away?
Against Northwestern they did an unbelievable job covering everything as the game went on and then they took away the run game with the safeties. Towards the end of the third quarter, they started dropping everybody back and we just couldn't go anywhere with the ball. Nothing was open. Some days are just like that. But to answer your question with Scott, they're putting a safety and a linebacker on him now and it makes it real hard for him. We still need to find ways to get him the ball because he's a big guy and he can catch the ball and run with it. That's what our offense wants to do. We want to put the ball in the hands of our playmakers.
If you get a safety and a linebacker on him shouldn't that free up a receiver?
Yeah, but that's the thing. It goes back to them making it hard on us because they did a good job in the box with their four down linemen and putting pressure. It was hard to find other guys because they were doing a good job rushing.
Drew, if this were old-school football and you were calling the plays in the huddle would you call about the same game plan that has been called or would it be dramatically different?
(Laughs for a few seconds with kind of uncomfortable silence) I don't know. They know what they're doing, obviously. They get paid a lot of money to do what they do and they do a good job. Some days it's there and some days it isn't. I'm not saying that I could go out there and call a better game. That's crazy because I'm worried about other stuff. Peyton Manning maybe and a few other guys, but a lot of other guys can't just go out there and call their own plays. That's hard to do.