Mike Carter, USA TODAY

Notes from today's press conference with HC Tracy Claeys and OC Matt Limegrover

Here's what you need to know from today's Gopher Football press conference.

Tracy Claeys

Q. Given the emotion of last week, how do you guard against a letdown, obviously, playing No. 1 Ohio State, but how do you guard against?

TC:  We won't have a letdown. I believe that. You're not very competitive at this game if you can't get ready to play this game. No. 1 team in the country. Going into a great stadium. They haven't been beaten in a regular season game yet. So there's no, no matter what happens, if something goes wrong, talk about a letdown.

I tell you, they're a good football team. They have a very small margin for error. That's what our kids have to be prepared for. We have to make sure we play our brand of football and not make a lot of mistakes. If we do that, I think we showed a year ago that we'll have an opportunity in the fourth quarter.

But, yeah, the difference to them is you're dealing with a team that the skill they have all over the field and the front seven they have on defense and their secondary, they're just not very big margin for error. But any time you play a good team, you don't have a very big margin for error.

Q: What is the toughest part about coaching this team right now knowing that you're being looked at as a potential successor to Coach Kill?

TC: Doing all the media stuff, just timewise. I don't mean that to be funny. That is the one thing when Coach was still hanging around, he took some of that stuff off my plate, you know what I'm saying?

So, like I say, the football part is easy. I've been doing this a long time and love doing it. It's being able to do the other stuff. The other thing is as far as wanting to be -- I've said I want to be the next head football coach here. I think I can do it. But believe me, I'm not putting any pressure on my self as far as that goes. But that choice, I've learned to not worry about things I can't control, like I've said. I don't have control over that. All I can do is make sure the football team is prepared as well as I can, and I'll live with the results.

Q. Did you go back with Matt and sort of reevaluate the last sequence at the end of the game and is there something in the game that you analyzed?

TC: I talked about it, you know what I'm saying? That situation was taken care of between me and Coach in the past. I screwed up. I didn't designate -- as I said, I didn't designate a time management guy like what I did for Coach Kill. So that will be taken care of this week. We've still got the two opportunities that we thought we were going to get, and we've got to get the ball six inches. But there is no question.

If I had to do it all over again. We would have clocked the ball coming out of the play reversal, and we would have gotten one more opportunity. At the same time, we shouldn't have needed one more opportunity to get the ball six inches. So it is what it is. Moving on.

Q. Are you defensive coordinating or is Jay doing it?

TC: Jay's doing an awful lot of it. He really is. I'm there to help him with the adjustments. I met with him this morning. That's all I did last week too. I helped with the adjustments when they were hurting us, so I'm in there during the game planning part of it, and I'll help him out with adjustments and that.

But our defensive staff has worked together a long time. We all believe in the same things, so we'll continue to work together, but he's taken over an awful lot of it, and then that allows me -- because I need to spend time. That situation of the game also would not have happened if I was more familiar with the plays on offense. So I need to spend more time in with offense just learning what they're doing and not necessarily being a bother to them, but knowing what the plays are.

Q: Question about who the full-time staffer added was

TC: Well, Jay Nunez was our special teams quality control. So we did add him. So he's helping Coach Sawvel with the special teams part of it. So he was promoted to fill that spot. So he's taken Jay's work with him also. But he's taken a lot of the paperwork and time consuming things and meeting and that. And then the other thing is I'm sitting in on special teams meetings, which is the first time in years that I've done that. But that's part of the transition and knowing what's going on. I need to know all of that. 

Q. I know you can't speak about specific recruits, but just in general, what was your sense of how it went with those kids here this weekend?

TC: I think it went great. The hardest thing is the uncertainty part. But just ask them to hang in there as long as they could. Obviously there comes a point when I don't want some kid to end up with an option that they don't like. I think that's unfair to the kid. I just told them I hope they're open and honest with us. When that opportunity comes that they feel like they need to start looking at different options for them to be comfortable, then to just let us know and I understand.

I don't know what else to tell them. You know what I'm saying? But told them we would sure love to have them hanging there as long as possible. But it's a great university. There is no question, because of that we're able to hold some kids in. At the same time let's not fool anybody. The kids are going to school because of the people involved in the football program also and that weighs heavily on that trust. So all they can do is fight every day, and I'll fight every week on the phone to keep them in there as long as I can.

And, again, it's a situation from here I don't have any control over. I'll just do the best I can, and our staff will do a great job and do the best they can.

Tracy Claeys Press Conference Transcript

Matt Limegrover

Q. Another good day for Mitch for your highpassing yards. What was key for him and how healthy is he to be able to keep it on the read option?

ML: Well, I think a lot of it has to do with his health. He's probably as healthy as he's been since the beginning of the season. Still taking too many hits. We've got to keep working on that, but standing in there. I think one of the things is he's standing in, delivering the ball better than he has because I think he's feeling better and because of that he's more accurate and being able to put the ball where he needs to on a more consistent basis.

Q. Mitch Leidner, how much has he gone through? 

ML: I don't know. He's a tough dude. That's all I can say. You watch some of those hits and you cringe. I don't know what the exact science is of it, but it's like repeated car crashes, in my opinion, what happens to his body when he takes those shots. Because anytime you watch a quarterback when he does decide he's going to stand and deliver that football, he's exposed, and if somebody's breaking free late, they have a shot at him. He's a certified tough dude. I'd go to battle with him any day

Q. This time of the year I'd expect the other teams are keying in on KJ, but he's still finding a way to get open.

ML: KJ's a remarkable young man as far as that goes. For what he's gone through, and I talk about it all the time, there are just some kids that have it, and I can't fully describe it, but you kind of know it when you see it in a young man. And KJ's got it when it comes to finding ways to get open and making himself available.

There are kids with a lot more raw talent than KJ, necessarily. They can run faster or bigger. Probably have better hands or what have you. He's just the kind of kid you could tell growing up, he was the kid that always had some kind of basketball, football in his hand. He was always doing something. He was always around the ball and right in the middle of everything. I think that's continued on.

I know Mitch feels very comfortable. When in doubt, he's going to try to find KJ. And he knows if he gets it in the area, KJ's going to find a way to make a play.

Q. Can you take us to the second to last play, 19 seconds left, kind of what went into that and why that play call was something you wanted to do. Reflecting on it after that? 

ML: Yeah, the biggest thing about it was we knew they were going to give us man. We knew they were going to make it tough. We had tried early in the game out of the same formation to run off tackle, and they really had gotten some people through. Didn't feel like running it off tackle was going to be the way to go. Felt like we needed to throw. We had two options. We had that and a naked that we had. Based on what we have done traditionally and how they were playing it felt like they'd be ready to sniff out the naked and didn't want to lose any yards on it. So it was either going to be our-catch, no-catch type of deal.

Wanted to get a little confusion on their part. Get people moving around. The one thing is they brought in extra D-linemen, so we felt like when that happens then people are out of their comfort zone trying to get people spread out and covered.

In the emotion of thinking we won the football game, and I know Tracy keeps blaming himself, but I should have been the one to say, hey, we need to Spike it here, stop the clock, collect ourselves, and then do what we need to do from there. And he's been falling on that sort of a lot. But that needs to be -- there was a whole lot of emotion, and starting to reel it back, getting the kids reeled back. We knew that was going to take a little time, unfortunately not as much time as what ended up happening.

Felt really good about the call too. Give their kid credit. He had good eyes. Stayed locked on Brandon. Wasn't obviously the end result that we wanted. You know, Tracy said we're a half yard from this thing. We need to go. I wasn't going to argue with him. We didn't get it done. There is a group of guys that I coach that feel terrible about that. There is no more playing football that's going to be, hey, it's either you're going to do it or you're not and then a quarterback sneak. We couldn't get it done, so those guys are living with that now.

Q. When Mitch was talking after the game he said he was surprised to see the clock going on that. Anything as a staff that -- again, back to the emotion of that moment, you think you've just won the game

ML: I knew the clock was going to start. Wanted to get the play in. I think ultimately what happened, and Tracy alluded to it, it's not making excuses, but not having that voice that was kind of separated out as far as like -- and Tracy talked about it, he and Coach Kill during that time when that's happening, those are usually the guys as I'm getting ready for a call, I'm in the moment, getting ready to make a call, those guys would have had a better chance to talk with each other.

I think that was a tough part of the deal because I wasn't of a mind at that time to be able to talk with him about, okay, here's what's going on kind of big picture. My thought was, hey, how are we going to get this thing? It didn't work out the way we wanted. How are we going to get this back?

I think that's where I probably let him down a little bit. I knew the clock was going to run. But I felt like we had this. We were could come back. To be honest with you, I called the play with the full expectation we were going to score a touchdown. So when it didn't happen, then we had to go to Plan B.

Matt Limegrover Press Conference Transcript


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