Head coach Jerry Kill
Q. What are the expectations for the quarterback position this year? How will you still meet them?
JK: "My expectation is to win. That's what quarterbacks do. You've got to win. You've got do win or move the chains. That's our expectation."
Q. Sounds like Mitch is available to the media today. Can you read into that that he's going to continue as your starter?
JK: " No, Mitch will meet with the media any time. He's not going to dodge any bullets... Nobody needs to know what we're doing with the quarterback from week to week. We don't need to tell anybody what we're going to do. Right now we all -- I mean, Mitch, the whole group together has made a mistake here, here, and here. It's not one person. But we'll see how all that -- see how all that works out. We've got a ton of things to work out right now."
Q. You definitely want to take the heat off of your players and all that. I'm just wondering from a coaching standpoint, like when we talked about how it looks like the team's lost confidence, did the coaches lose some confidence in that game? Because if you look at it as a whole, there weren't a lot of deep shots. There weren't a lot of no trick plays. You guys seemed pretty conservative in that game.
JK: "Just poor coaching. Poor coaching on my part...I did a good job of coaching last year for the most part. We won eight games and did some things we've never done here before, and all that good things. But this is a new year, and right now I'm doing a poor job coaching. A lot of people feel that way. Right now they're right...Me and Coach Limegrover were up until midnight on Sunday. We take it serious. We've got to do better. We've got to do a better job of coaching. We've got to do a better job of getting players the right ball. We've got to do a better job in practice. We've got to get them feeling good. We've got to get our confidence back -- all the things that you mentioned.... I need to get back to the way I'm used to coaching. That's don't hold nothing back and roll the dice a little bit. So that's all on me. I've been more motivated this week than I've been motivated all year because I'm not happy, you're not happy, the fans aren't happy. Everybody's got a right not to be happy. I get it."
Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys
Q. Still playing well on that side of the ball. I'm just wondering like how to get back more and get more out of them moving forward?
TC: We still got to play better on third down. I think we can get off the field a little bit more if we play better on third down. That will be our emphasis this week. We're giving up too many third downs right now. You give up two or three extra ones a game, and that leads to about 12 to 15 plays extra that we're having to play, and that's time it takes away from the offense. We've got to keep going and plug the next body in, but we've got to get -- we've got to play a little better on third down to be where we want to be."
Q. Tracy, how do you set with guys that have been injured? How is that looking?
TC: We don't have anybody back yet, I know that, and Craig got hurt. So we're down one more in the secondary. It is what it is."
Q. Think you're going into the game that way?
TC: As of today, that's the kids that are practicing. That's what I was told today. That's how it is. It makes substitution packages a little bit harder. We've just got to do a little bit more out of our base package and play more linebackers. Like I said, it is what it is."
Q. What about some of the other impact plays, like tackles for a loss and sacks? Obviously, you guys are playing good overall defense, but need some of those impact plays on longer -- third and longs, for instance?
TC: Sure. I'd take as many of those as I can get. It is what it is, you know what I'm saying? Somebody throws the ball quick, runs the ball, do those types of things -- those types of offenses don't get many negative yardage plays. So, yeah, we're trying. We're just not getting them right now. Got to get a little momentum. At the same time, you can't turn around and do things that are unsound and start giving up big plays. We're not giving up big plays. We're keeping the ball in front of us. We got to play a little bit better on third down. I think all of those that you mentioned."
Q. Talk about the third quarter, where they had the ball for 11-plus minutes, and there was 11-plus minutes in that third quarter. And then that drive that you guys gave up a couple big chunks of yardage, and then Coach called the time-out. How did you feel like -- were the guys gassed or --
TC: I don't think they were gassed. I think they were feeling sorry for themselves a little bit. When you're down 20 or 27 at that time in the fourth quarter, we just had to call a time-out and remind them that we don't play that way. You have to forget the scoreboard and play one down at a time one series at a time. We had a little thing in there feeling sorry for ourselves a little bit, the situation that we're in. It's a tough, frustrating deal there. But they snapped back, and we played okay after that."
Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover
Q. In your position, you have the O-line, and you have the coordinator job. When the O-line is scuffling, how do you handle where you've got kind of like multiple fires at once?
ML: Well, yeah, that's the challenge. This has been the biggest challenge of my career really with the idea of having both roles as long as I've been with Coach Kill. There's been times where one or -- usually, when the O-line isn't going well, the whole thing isn't going well. That's just how it works. Fortunately, we've had some good offensive lines along the way and been able to surround that with good skill position players. So maybe we weren't great on the offensive line, but the skill guys were able to pick it up. We've got those skill guys. We've just got to get that group up front working. So that's been a big challenge. Coach Kill's been great. He's been in there. He's been involved. He's trying to do his best to take some of that off me from the bigger picture so I can focus on getting that Oline squared away because it's amazing, once that gets worked out and gets back on track, then the other things will start to come again."
Q. Coach, what was the biggest difference for you guys offensively from the first two drives where you were able to run the ball and then once the running game kind of fell off. What changed in between those?
ML: I think -- I don't want to oversimplify it, but when Joe Bjorklund went down, I think it was play 24 or 25, that was kind of a key point because then things start getting shuffled around. We had to put Foster Bush in there, who was just a week in to working over there at left guard, trying to get him ready to go just in case. That was kind of worst case scenario, getting him going there. I'm not blaming it necessarily on Foster. That's a tough spot to put that kid in. He's actually done a nice job. I think that had a lot to do with it. So hopefully, getting Jon Christenson back and Joe feeling healthy towards the end of the week, he now can maybe, if you get 80 plays in a ball game, you're getting 40 and 40 with those guys and going from there. So I think that was a big part of it."
Q. Three points in the first quarter all season so far. I know you don't typically script players going into the game, is that right?
ML: Yeah, we do, trying to get a feel for what they're going to do. It's been a struggle. It's hard. We're trying to find different ways before that ball is even kicked off to try to get those guys going a little bit because it's like there's a tentativeness to it. Some of that has come out of the couple of those opponents not knowing what was going on. But now you get to the point where now you do have a better idea. So that's all part of the confidence thing of, hey, let's go out, and let's get on this thing quickly. We go through it. We script it out, and try and get those kids feeling good about things at times."
Q. What can Mitch do mechanically to get back on track here?
ML: You know what, I'm just going to tell you -- and the guys in my room know it -- it's not about Mitch. He's taken a beating. We've got to be better up front. We've got to help him because, when he's trying to throw, a lot of times there's things in his face. He's trying to make something happen. Mitch is hanging in there. Mitch is fighting his tail end off, but we've got to give him a chance to be successful. Right now up front, the guys know it, we're not giving him that chance. That's unfortunate because, as I say all the time, Mitch is the quarterback. So he's going to get a lot of that. But this isn't Mitch's fault in this case. There's got to be some accountability with the guys up front and the guy who's coaching them. We need to give Mitch a chance to do what he can do."