Randy Walker - Teleconference 10/12

<b>NU </b>Head Coach <b>Randy Walker </b>on: Noah's Honor, the Bye Week, Getting Healthy, the Big 10 Winning the BCS, the focus of practice in a bye week, and how does this team at the half way point compare to last year's team...

Fresh off the Win over Indiana, Here's Randy Walker:
Its great to be here, and its obviously a great honor for Noah. He's continuing to improve, playing better and better all the time and the last couple of weeks has played really big for us.

Its Nice to have a week off -- of course there are no off weeks, coaches will tell you that, you just don't have to play this Saturday.

Its going to be good to get some kids back. We are really banged up right now and it started at the beginning of the season and it seems like each week we lose another guy or two. And I think fortunately we're going to get some guys back and get some guys healthier and feeling better and that will be a good thing.

We went into the Indiana game really hobbled up had a couple of kids knocked out of the game early and so it has been tough -- and that's the nature of college football. I'm not the only guy probably singing the blues.

It will be nice to get a break here and get some guys feeling better and make this final stretch run. We have 6 games to go and we feel like we've battle through some adversity and played our best football recently and we have a chance to be right in the middle of things right now and so hopefully we can continue to improve and get one week better this week as we continue to practice and improve our game and be ready for a real challenge in two weeks.

I'm really proud of our kids - the way they've battled and hung in there - again I think we have a chance to continue to play well and improve.

Observations on the Big 10 Title Hunt and can the Big 10 Win the BCS again?

I certainly do. I think one its - I listened to the end of Joe's [Paterno] conversation - top to bottom, this is the best league in the country, I still believe that, and there are a lot of quality football teams in this league.

Obviously for anybody to get in the title game you're probably going to have to run the table but who knows, it could be a year where a bunch of people get one loss, because college football is getting closer and closer. I think there are a lot of quality football teams in the Big 10, and those two teams are at the very top.

Was the Big 10 Not thought very highly of going into the season because off the young players this year?

Probably, we had some speculation in preseason, you know how that goes and you know that somewhere out there, there's a sophomore you never heard of and he's going to burst and - you know, have a tremendous impact and there'll be a lot of guys do that - that freshman tailback at Oklahoma - there's guys we haven't even heard of and all of a sudden Oklahoma's got a running game.

And you see things like that happening all over College Football. And there's still a lot of football left in this season.

We believe we have a chance to be in the thick of things - we only have one loss in the Big 10 and we can have a chance to have an effect on everything that happens to us the rest of the way. There are probably 6 or 7 teams with this opportunity.

Call me crazy, but we think we have a chance. There's a lot of good football teams in this league and its all who shows up Saturday.

Talk about Noah Herron:

He came in and spent time in a backup capacity. Of course he came in around a time when Damien Anderson was running the ball here. Damien was a pretty good football player and made a lot of yards here between 99 and 2001.

Then in 2002 we just kinda had a free for all at tail back. We actually took Jason Wright back from wide receiver where we put him so he could get some playing time 'cause like I said, nobody was beating Damien out for a while and then Noah kind of came along and of course Jeff Backes was playing in there so we just had a free for all and then in 2002, Jason Wright just kind of emerged.

Then again he became a very good back - he had two 1000 yard years rushing for us - he played very well. Then obviously, with Noah kinda sitting there on the flanks, and Noah really started coming along last year, as a second back in our offense - we do play 2 backs sometimes - he had over 700 yards rushing and really had some nice games and really started to come along as a player and so this emergence isn't really a surprise to any of us.

We knew Noah had the capability of being a good back and its just great to see him take these steps.

What's the focus of the practices this week?

We've had 6 really demanding games, 3 overtime games, so we've probably played 7 games, so we're going to take this week - we're not going to grind 'em up real hard - but we're going to practice. We're going to work on some things.

We're going to go back to a lot individual work. Really, what I mean by that is the Line stays over by itself for about a half an hour and really gets back to some fundamentals things so when you get in the game week and you get into the game planning, and all that stuff that goes on, you start giving up some individual work.

And we're really trying to go back individual work and I'm really going to try to accentuate a lot of our - a lkot of work for our second team guys. As you get into the season too, those are guys who really don't get a chance - they don't practice as much, and you're getting more work and more effort and structure to your 1's and your 2's - I'm not sure they're getting the same kind of practice reps and getting better - so we're going to try to take that....

Now , certainly we're going to look at some Wisconsin, but that's not going to be the focus. We're going to start Sunday and our regular game week routine and game planning and all that - we tried to talk to our football team starting in August you know I said, "if we can get one week better every week of the year, then we're a better football team in November than we are now then we're going to be pretty good."

And that's where we're at this week. We need to get one week better and that means every guy, and so that means we're going to work on fundamentals and try and get one week better.


Is this year like last year, starting slow, any parallels?

I guess you look at it, we're a lot like that, although I think we played better early this year. We had a couple bad games early last year - they were not pretty sights. And it was kind of a teetering point at 5 or 6 weeks which way were going to go as a football team because we really had some pretty ugly outings early last year.

But this year, even though we lost to TCU and we lost to Arizona State, we didn't look at those games and say, "That was just awful."

We went double overtime with TCU and we had some chances to win and didn't make some plays . Same thing against Arizona State there, they've proven to be a very good football team - we had the ball down in our end getting ready to score to take the lead late in the 4th quarter and they knock the ball loose and they come out a winner, but again we played them very well.

So, we think we played pretty well early. We knew even after a couple of losses, we're still a pretty good football team, so I think that's a little bit of the difference.

Last year we weren't sure we could be a good football team. I think this year we always knew we could be a good football team, we just had to start playing better, take some of the mistakes out of our game.

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