Full Transcript: Demens, Kovacs, Lewan, Fitz

Kenny Demens and Jordan Kovacs talk about the game from the defensive point of view... Taylor Lewan and Fitz Toussaint from the offensive...

Kenny Demens/Jordan Kovacs

DEMENS: Coach Hoke let me know earlier in the week that I'd be wearing number 11, and he asked me how I felt about it, and of course I felt it was a huge honor. I've worn 32 for quite some time. I think I'll always be 32. But I think it's a great opportunity to recognize our legends, and that's the approach I have. I did a little research on the Wisters and I actually had the opportunity to meet Albert yesterday, and he said that when he was first given 11, he was just so humbled, and he was so excited, and it was a huge honor for him, and he said that he prayed before every game that he put it on that he would be worthy enough to wear it, so that's kind of my approach. It's a huge honor and I just hope that I'm worthy enough to wear it.

Kenny, Are you almost hundred percent assigned to Colter on those last couple plays, and what was it like to make that play at the end?

DEMENS: Well I just had my reads, you know, the coaches, they give us bullets to come out with, and to make that play. I just felt so proud of myself, but not for me but for my teammates. Defensively, we didn't play as well as we wanted to, and just to come up and make a play, and to finish strong how we did, it means a lot.

Jordan, just talk about what went wrong, I guess, defensively. Did they come up with anything you hadn't seen?

KOVACS: First, you have to tip your hat to Northwestern. They were, what, a seven to ballclub coming in? Very tough team, got a very good offense, a great coach, and they executed well. I think defensively we didn't get off blocks well enough, and we gave them too many big plays. I'm sure those are things that will get corrected here, but like I said, you have to tip your hat to those guys. They're a very good football team.

To the both of you, what's it like to try to defend two quarterbacks, something you had to do all day?

DEMENS: Well, you kind of had to game plan for two different guys, you know? Number 13, he's the passer, number two, he's the runner, but he came out today and made some plays in the air. It's kind of tough, but we just want to make plays, and rally to the ball the best way we can.

Was it surprising for either one of you how well their receivers were blocking downfield for some plays during the game? It seems like on a lot of those plays they had open space but the receivers were blocking them.

KOVACS: Yeah, and like I said, they have some good receivers, and we knew they were going to stock block us, we knew how they were going to approach us, and from a defensive backs standpoint, we didn't do a good job of getting off those blocks and helping the front seven by keeping it inside and in front.

Jordan, like you said, you wore 32 for a long time. Was there any hesitation at all, this late in your career to switch numbers, being how comfortable you were with it?

KOVACS: No, not at all. I looked at it as a huge honor, and like I said, I just hope I'm worthy enough to wear it.

You guys have been through some games scoring late. Did that all feel like Notre Dame, just how close it was, and did you have a good view of Roy's catch?

DEMENS: I'm not sure at any game can compare to that feeling and excitement from Notre Dame, but I have confidence in Roy Roundtree. When that balls in the air, and he's the guy that they're throwing it too, there's no doubt in my mind that he's going to come down with it. But it was exciting, and he made a huge play for us. He picked the defense up, him and Devin Gardner, and the rest of the offense.

KOVACS: And that kind of is funny that you bring up Notre Dame, because I don't know if it's true, but wasn't it 31-28 last year, it was about 30 seconds left, deep in our own territory, I think that was the same scenario as last year, and I kind of came off the field saying ‘hey, we've done it before, you know, have faith. We'll have our shot, and we'll get out there, and will win this game. That's the approach that the offense took, the defense took, and the offense made plays and put us into position to go into overtime.

What was the conversation in the defensive huddle going into that final drive in overtime?

KOVACS: It was pretty simple. It was ‘let's get a stop, let's win this game, and let's go home', you know?

For either of you guys, in the middle of the game they kind of had their way with you. The consecutive touchdown drives, and then you remember back, and Craig Roh had a sack on third down to help with the field goal. How critical was that sack to keep them from scoring, and to kind of stem the tide a little bit for the offense?

DEMENS: It was big for us. Has that not happened, and if they had scored seven, they would have been up, and the outcome probably would've been different. That was a huge play for us, you know, Craig Roh stepped up for the defense.

I guess a carry-on to that last question, what was the morale, what was the feeling like on the sideline, especially the defensive side when they did complete three consecutive scores, two before the first half, and then coming out in the second half and getting the touchdown? What was it like on the sidelines defensively?

KOVACS: Like I said before, we just have faith. We have all the confidence in the world in this coaching staff and in this defense that we'll make those corrections. We'll make those corrections, and get back out there and stop them, and that's how we approached it. We never hung our heads and I think our senior leaders did a great job of saying ‘hey, forget the last drive. Let's go out and get the stop on the next one.

Jordan, it's obviously not ideal to have to come back in the last seconds of the game like you did today, but at this point of the season is the sense that a win is a win no matter how you get it?

KOVACS: I think Coach Hoke always emphasizes getting better each and every week, but I think that this was one of those games where while we didn't play all that well, I think we showed a lot of character in this game. We overcame a lot of adversity, both offensively and defensively, and I'm prouder than hell of these guys, and I really mean that.


Taylor Lewan/Fitzgerald Toussaint

Winning in overtime, it's not really for the faint of heart. What is that experience like, just going through those last couple minutes, and into the extra period?

LEWAN: Well you know, it's something we work on all the time. I mean, you have to play through the whistle, you have to finish. That's what this program's based on is finishing, and I think when we came out, offense was up first, we knew what we had to do. We had to score, and knew our D was going to come up with a stop, so I was real happy with them.

Taylor, you said you guys practice this. Do you guys practice those crazy scenarios like this, like those and Notre Dame?

LEWAN: I don't know if we ever practice an overtime scenario, but we always do the two-minute drill, the four-minute drill, the money stuff, and that's what you have to do, and that's how you can be successful, with those two-minute drills, especially what they did at the last part of the game, and all that stuff.

Do problems like that ever happen in practice, or do they ever complete some of those?

LEWAN: All the time.

TOUSSAINT: All the time.

The ball was in the air long enough. Did you get a good enough view of Roy's catch, and what would you say about Roy overall today? He really seemed to obviously step up for you guys.

TOUSSAINT: I mean, that's something that Roy works on all the time. I think he takes pride in what he does, and he's able to come out here on Saturdays and do what he has to do to be successful.

Fitz, do you feel like this is the best you've run all season?

TOUSSAINT: I believe so. I mean, I just never lose confidence in what I'm doing, and also my offensive linemen, so I just give credit to them as well.

Did you guys see a more comfortable Devin this week versus last week?

LEWAN: I don't think you can get Devin any more comfortable than he already is. I think he's done a great job. He keeps it light, and I think that's one of the good things he does as quarterback. Keeps the confidence in the huddle. I said that last week, and I'm proud of him and what he's done, but like I said before, you all haven't seen it, and we've been seeing it for the last two years now since he's been here, so it's nothing new to me or Fitz.

Along those lines, did Devin say anything going out on the field with 18 seconds left, when it looked a little bit hopeless?

TOUSSAINT: No, he just kept us composed. That's Devin for you.

Does Devin do anything different with his cadences that you guys took advantage of a bunch of off-sides today?

LEWAN: No, those are called, that's how it's supposed to be, and that's a situation that we've done over a lot a times, and do packages that we put in every once in a while for different teams to keep them on their toes.

How difficult or easy is it to tell, after an off-side penalty, if the flag was actually thrown or not?

LEWAN: I mean, we can usually tell by the cheers. If somebody's jumping off-sides when the ball's snapping. I don't really pay much attention to it. I mean, I have to work on my responsibilities, and Fitz is working on his responsibilities. That's how it is.

Taylor, I know you can't see every play, but talk about how hard Fitz ran today, given it's taken kind of a while to get a yardage performance like that.

LEWAN: I'm happy to see him run. I told him – I always tell him – ‘start running, and we'll start blocking'. I think today kind of started to work out that way, and I was happy with it. Always can fix more things though, and hopefully in the future we can be more successful.

Taylor, you said you knew what you had to do as an offense when you went up there for your last drive. How confident were you, as a group?

LEWAN: I never worried one time. I mean, since me and Fitz have been here, and we're in the same class, there's never been a situation – we've been in too many of those situations too have doubt in our minds. If you have any doubts, it's not going to work out. You have to keep working, and keep going.

Talk about how this win keeps your team's Big Ten title hopes alive.

LEWAN: It does.

Can you elaborate?

LEWAN: Yeah, it's a good situation for us, but people are always asking, you know, who won this time, or these people have to lose – it doesn't matter. We focus on Michigan. We're focused on Michigan, getting 1-0 each week, and that's our goal. It's always going to be our goal.

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