Q. What did it mean to have Jon Christenson back and how did he do? Looked like maybe as much or more availability going forward
JK: We'll keep it the same. We have two kids that have knee injuries and Joe Bjorklund and Jon, and there's no way they can play 50, 60 plays a game, and so we played them pretty much evenly in the game which helps both of them. We substitute them more than we ever have.
Of course we played the young freshman at center. We played at the right guard, we played Connor Mayes and Foster Bush; so to keep people fresh -- I've never done that in my coaching career. I don't think Coach -- and then we stayed with the two tackles because we are very thin in that position.
But we rotated in there a little bit and it helped us. We played very hard and I just think the rotation took some pressure off some kids and kept some kids fresh. And we played hard. I mean, you know, we played with enthusiasm and our receivers played their guts out, playing from catching balls, more so blocking, they were unbelievable.
I just think that trying to keep people healthy and keep them fresh, you play a kid 60, 70 plays a game; and either Joe or Jon can do that right now
Q. Speaking of Brooks, how did you get him?
JK: Same as Rodney Smith. Coach Anderson recruits Georgia, and just working down there. For whatever reason, he was under-recruited, got to know his dad, he's an athletic director, went to one of the schools. He was a late take. We've seen him live and watched him over a year, year and a half. So kind of kept a low profile on him, and was able to get him.
And then with Brooks, he's about 45 -- I don't know, 50 minutes from outside Atlanta from the mountains, and you know, again, you've got to see all (ph) the work, and Brian works at it hard. He was a 3-A 4-A Player of the Year. But for whatever, I don't know, I mean, but we knew. We knew he was fast. We watched him and seen him live, all those kind of things. Knew what kind of athlete he was.
I thought he had a chance coming in that he had a chance to play if he was intelligent and smart, and he's very mature. Very smart. Him and Rodney got instincts, football instincts beyond most people I've coached at that position at this early of an age.
Q. Any good news on the injury front?
JK: Damarius will be back, we hope. He'll practice today. Scott Epke, maybe. Gaelin Elmore we'll get back. We won't get either offensive lineman back. I mean, I can't count all of them. Craig James won't be back, broke his leg. It's a non-bearing bone, so he'll get back maybe in three weeks.
Charles Rogers won't be back. Briean Boddy I don't think will be back. I think he's a big question mark. We'll get maybe three back, two or three back.
Q. Purdue went down and scored right away. That's been a characteristic of a lot of teams against the gophers, even going back to prior years. So often you make adjustments and control people or even shut them down. Can you share about why you seem to be able to make adjustments as successfully as you do?
TC: Well, one, I'm not worth a damn at first drives, okay. I've been told that for awhile now.
You know, people practice all week to take advantage of what you're doing or what they think you're doing and it's hard on first drives. And so to the kids, after you see where they are going to go get you, I think the first two drives the first half, the first two drives of the second half, are the toughest to defend.
After that, you pretty much know, either a team, you know how they are going to attack you; and if it works, they will stay with it. If you get stopped, they are usually going to go back to what they have done in the past.
Yeah, I don't like it from the fact it gets us behind and we are playing from behind right away. Every time we've gone back, we've had chances to get out of it and haven't made plays on third down. But it's something that I need to get a lot better at as far as what we're doing on the first drive. It puts our offense in a bind from the very beginning when that happens.
Q. How do you feel about Shenault's growth?
TC: He's like a freshman. You know, some plays, you go, "what is that," and other plays, you say "great job." So we are trying to get rid of some of the "what is that."
But the kid plays hard. Loves to play a game of football. When you have injuries like in the D-Line last year, no different. Some of those young kids, you wondered what they were doing sometimes. But he plays hard and tries to do what he's asked to do. And all of us got to make the best of that situation. And so very pleased the way he's getting better, but he obviously has some things to improve on.
Q. After watching the film, what stood out to you about the secondary's performance on Saturday?
TC: Well, we made a lot of -- I mean, third down, really, when you just look at it, on third down we played really well in the secondary. There wasn't a lot of open throws there on third down. Therefore, the D-Line, we were able to get a little bit of pressure on them and that. So I think the biggest change in the whole game was just third downs. After the first drive, we played really well on third down.
Q. What was your impression of how Eric and Jaylen were able to shut down Yancy?
TC: You know, those two kids are pretty good when they are having a good day. So took away their best receivers. And again, I think third down says a lot about that. I think they got three or four third down conversions on the whole day. Any time you do that, your corners have to play well.
Q. How far has Stelter come since he first got to campus?
TC: Long ways. He was one of them last year that got thrown in the fire and had to play defensive tackle about 255 pounds, less than 260. Great competitor. He's added some weight and added some strength to him. Been very, very solid for us and for Scott to miss, Schuby (ph) made a few plays, also
Q. You guys have obviously been high on Brandon Lingen, and everyone else got to see that on Saturday. Coach Kill's talked about possibly using him more. How does he fit in?
ML: You know, Brandon is a kid that he's like a chameleon: Anything you ask of him, he's able to adapt and do. And that's a great tool to have in your toolbox, so to speak, as an offensive coach because of his versatility. And you'll see more of two tight end, two wide receiver sets, even if we want to spread things out because of the things he can do as a pass catcher.
One of the things, I think we caught Purdue off-balance a little bit with was we had Brandon in there in some of our spread sets as a wide receiver, and we were able to move him around and get him at the point of attack at times, and he was a big reason a couple of Shannon's big runs were sprung because we could bring him back in.
But then again, he gets out there and he's a legitimate pass catching threat. So it's great to have versatility like that. And you know, I don't want to compare the two, but there were things we were able to do with max that created mismatches that Brandon is working himself into that same category as far as what the defense looks at as far as what he is as a personnel player at tight end or what-have-you, but then what he can do.
So that's nice to see how quickly he's picked all that up and really there's no concerns with spreading him out, keeping him in tight, having him on the line and out on an edge. It's good to have that versatility with a guy like him.
Q. How much does it help the running game when you have wide receivers who can block so effectively?
ML: Well, that is -- there are a few factors that helped our offense on Saturday, and one of the biggest one, I'm glad you brought that up is the wide receivers.
And Coach Kill is always preaching to them, because you don't want to come to a school as a wide receiver and block. You just don't. I get it, they are kids. But what Coach has convinced them and what Brian Anderson has convinced them is with the way we do things, the better you block, the more you're going to get your opportunities to catch balls, because those things go hand in hand.
And those guys bought in. I mean, Eric Carter, KJ Maye, he was a grown man on a couple plays down there near the goal line. He's diving down in there at safety, throwing his body in there, and those guys will get rewarded, and they do get rewarded.
So it's a good situation to have when those guys buy into that part of it, because now our playaction game which is so important to us becomes that much more important. It's real similar to last year, Isaac Fruechte bought into the idea of going out blocking his tail end off in the run game. And towards the latter part of last year, we were able to hit him with some deep playactions and got him more involved in the pass game because of the threat of running. And how he had done a good job in that part of it, it opened up some other areas. So those guys understand that, and Drew Wolitarsky and KJ and Eric all do a great job with that