Claeys: "It was disappointing"

Defensive Coordinator Tracy Claeys tooks the reins for Coach Kill as head coach against Michigan with Coach Kill's absence this past Saturday. He talked after the game about the coaching situation, Mitch's play, the team's mindset and much more

Opening Statement

Coach Tracy Claeys- "When they are 10-13 and you do that, then it puts your offense in a tough situation. I thought we executed better on offense, but second half we were better on third down. Execution wise I thought they played better, but definitely disappointed with the loss and we got a bye week. We will work on fundamentally getting better and preparing for our next game."

What do you think is going through Coach Kill's mind after missing his first entire game?

Coach Claeys- "Anytime he misses a game, you know he would be extremely disappointed."

When were the players informed of the news and where at?

Coach Claeys- "They were informed out of this morning pregame. Not in the lockroom, but in the hotel. I wouldn't do that. I didn't find out until the walkthrough and then until later, so they knew when we came to the stadium."

Did Rebecca send you a text and could you paraphrase what it said?

Coach Claeys- "It basically just said that her and Jerry both... people don't understand about Rebecca is that she is a true fan of football too. She loves the game and is as much part of the team as anybody. She just text me and said her and Jerry miss here and being around us. Tell the kids to compete hard and do their best to bring the jug back to Minnesota."

Can you talk about what went in with Nelson and Leidner?

Coach Claeys- "The offense after last week's game, we evaluated and that decision was made earlier in the week. They decided to give Mitch his chance and anytime like you struggle like we did last week on offense, so it felt like Mitch deserved to get the start."

Phillip didn't have a set back in this game not starting?

Coach Claeys- "Nope, that decision was made earlier in the week that Mitch was going to get the opportunity."

How did you feel about Mitch's play?

Coach Claeys- "I really thought he made some big plays with his legs and executed pretty good. Things can be tough when you are young and playing quarterback. As everybody knows that is not a easy position. That interception he threw at the end is a big mistake and the other one was when he got the ball ripped out, but for the most part he stayed away from the mistakes. The fumble gave them the short field, but I thought he settled down until that last play at the end. He threw some good throws under pressure and both him and Phillip will continue to improve."

Any reason why you didn't use that two quarterback rotation?

Coach Claeys- "We just felt like Mitch was playing pretty good and was doing what he need to do. He made some throws, so when we visited with him at halftime we didn't feel any need to make a change."

As far as the offense, I know teams are forcing you to pass, but Mitch for having not thrown that much this year, but him and Maxx Williams got going.

Coach Claeys- "Like I said, he made some good plays and when you are young, you throw a couple that you shouldn't. I think he will tell you that. That is all part of growing up and he doesn't have the experience of throwing the ball as much as Phillip, but he will get there."

Funchess just a tough guy, tough tight end to handle that runs like that is like Maxx Williams.

Coach Claeys- "I guess, he made the plays and we didn't. It is that simple, so bad job on my part and have to figure out a better way on third down. That is really where we lost the game was basically on third down. Anytime they convert 10-13, I mean you are not giving yourself a chance to get off the field."

Not to be insensitive, but are the veterans on the coaching staff almost used to this where you slide in?

Coach Claeys- "We have been through a lot of battles together we are good friends. We are all trained very well from what our job is and what our responsibilities are. I thought the kids had a great attitude and fought hard, so we miss him as a friend not being here. As far as game operations, we are all pretty used to it and the kids are too."

Have you talked with Coach Kill today or yesterday?

Coach Claeys- "With gameday, he won't take any calls from us. We got a job to do and if I spend time of the phone with him or Rebecca, then he will say we not doing our job and getting the kids prepared. That is his whole thing is make sure the kids are prepared and our team is prepared to play."

As far as the team is concerned, does it effect the team in a situation like this?

Coach Claeys- "You will have to ask them, but I think they take it as business as usual. The final score got a little bit out of hand with the interception at the end and all that, but as long as we have been here and been competing as well as we have against Michigan. The last time we were in this stadium, the game was over in the first quarter quite frankly. More of it like I have said is just having him around and I don't think it has a lot to do with the execution of the game."

For most of the game, you were able to contain Devin Gardner on the ground. With so many dual-threat quaterbacks in the Big Ten is that encouraging for your defense?

Coach Claeys- "It is a two way street that is encouraging, but on third down. This game on defense is all about third down and they made the rules for offensively everybody wants to score points, but the one down the defense has in its favor in my opinion is third down. You have to execute on third down and we didn't and I obviously didn't prepare well enough for that down. That is why I am disappointed, but other points I think we got better at. I think we played the run defense better than what we did last week, so I think there is improvement there, but if you don't play well on third down, then it is a long day."

It looked like Ra'Shede Hageman was out of the game for a few plays, so what was the case?

Coach Claeys- "He was winded, so we tried to keep them rotating, but I think he is fine."

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