Is it an old injury like from high school?"It's something like when they look at it, it's like scar tissue. It wasn't like it was something that happened when we were out there on the practice field. It just kind of locked up. I don't know how old it is, but not while he's been here. He locked up in practice one day; then he locked up in the game. So I guess whatever it is continues to lock up unless we get it fixed. The doctors had felt that when the swelling went down, he would have a chance to get through the year, but we haven't really made any significant progress."
Did he have surgery on this knee before?"Not this one; I think it was something he got hurt and never had it fixed. Now I think it is time for me to fix it. What I don't want to do is put him in for a couple plays and then have him not be able to go, and lose the possible opportunity to gain another year out of the guy because he can apply for a medical year because he got hurt in the second game of the year. I don't think it would be very good foresight on my part to put somebody in there and then have him pull out, and all of a sudden because it's past game two, now in a 12-game season I think it's past game three, now you lose any opportunity to get that year back."
Can you talk about the impact of not having him the rest of the season?"We haven't had him since Penn State so there's no impact. You just move on. We play the next guy. It's never been viewed like that. In this system, you play the next guy, and that's what you do."
Is it your hope that he'll be ready for spring practice?"I think by having it now you have a chance of having him in the spring where if you waited until January to have it done, now you wouldn't have him until training camp. It's not a question if we have to go in and have it checked; the question is when. Because there hasn't been any significant progress since Penn State, even though the swelling went down and he started to run around a little bit better, you guys see him even in the brief time you guys are out there. You see him going through warm-ups and I'm looking at the same thing you're looking at."
Is it a ligament or a muscle?"I told you I have no idea what it is. When they go and fix it, I'll tell you what it was and the severity of what it was. Therefore, the time frame kind of goes with that."
Will Luke Schmidt move up to number two?"We'll see; we have some things dialed up."
When the knee locked up, was that during the Penn State week?"It was one of the first couple of weeks. It locked up once before it did in the Penn State game. There was no residual effect at that time. He was out for about three plays and then he was back."
How did he take the news?"Oh, we've talked about this. We've talked about it for a couple of weeks. So this wasn't something that was disheartening. It's a little different if it's game five and you lose a year of eligibility. You have to apply for it, but it's similar to Rhema last year, going down in the second game of the year with a legitimate injury that needs to be fixed. It's not game five that it is happening; it's game two that it happened. I think he was pretty upbeat but we have been talking about it for a few weeks."
So the surgery is scheduled for tomorrow?"Oh yes, the doctors there said dial it up; let's go."
Is the second game the cutoff?"Well, now with a 12-game schedule, we called up the NCAA and compliance. I think now with a 12-game schedule, it's like a 2.7 (20 percent), but now it's like 2.7 games they round up. So now it's like you can play into the third game, whereas last year it was like the second game. Now you can play into the third game according to what compliance told us."
Is it left or right knee?(Pause) "I'm forgetting. It's one of them (laughter). It's left or right knee (laughter). I really don't remember to tell the truth."
Can you give us other injury updates?"All those other guys have been practicing. The only guy that is iffy I would say is Travis Thomas. And that's not because he doesn't look great in practice. When you have sore ribs, running around is not the issue; getting hit is the issue. Ambrose (Wooden) looked decent running around out there today. Nothing's been wrong with (Bob) Morton all week. (Bobby) Renkes has been kicking it all week too. From what I have seen out there, the only guy that I would put in the questionable category from those people would be Travis and he looks better than all of them; but that's because of sore ribs. (David) Grimes, I was very encouraged with, to tell you the truth. As a matter of fact, I'll let you know tomorrow because I basically told him we are going to go in one of two directions and I think the direction after watching him will be a favorable one. I'm trying to get to the point where if something needs to be fixed, let's go get it fixed. But I think in David's case, I'm not 100 percent sure, but probably 95 percent sure, that after watching him practice today that he'll be playing this week."
Have you talked with Ashley McConnell about being a starter now?"No, it's just status quo; we go as is. I think Ashley has known what to do all year long. These guys never root for anyone to get hurt, mind you, but now they have an opportunity to play and I think they really look forward to it."
Was Travis involved in contact today?"He might have taken a little bit, but hopefully he wasn't doing those tackling drills. I wasn't watching at the time. So were you watching? Good, I'm glad he wasn't doing that. That's the only reason why I'm holding him. If he doesn't play this week, it will have nothing to do with anything other than it is precautionary because of soreness. He is getting antsy by the way. He wants to play."
If he doesn't have contact tomorrow, would you still play him if you thought he was good to go?"I would heed the doctor's advice because he is practicing. You have to understand, it's not that he isn't taking any reps; he's taking reps but he's just not hitting. He's out there practicing like everybody else, but he has been non-contact."
What have you seen from Luke Schmidt since fall camp and to this point?"He's been steadily on the rise the whole time. I think he is more ready to play fullback than he is to play halfback. For him to be the halfback, I would have to tailor the offense around what he does best. So when you have this 240-pound guy, it's different than when you have these 210-pound guys. You have to tailor what you do for what he does and right now until he's the featured guy, you aren't tailoring anything around him as the single back. Until he gets to be one of the lead dogs, he has fit in better as the fullback and he has made steady progress. It's just that I'm going to be slow with a lot of these guys just to throw them in there; just to throw them in there."
Have there been any adjustments for Ashley from the first game till now?"There might be a little adjustment in the volume of two-back sets you initially called not so much with him worrying what he is supposed to do. But I think we have gotten back to a normal flow as far as that stuff goes. Remember now, in a couple of those games we are talking about, we ended up with three wide-receiver sets with a tight end and a back for the majority of the game and he wasn't really involved much in what we were doing. Now last week and this week, he is more involved in the mix."
Will you use him the same as Asaph?"He's gotten some carries. I wouldn't be afraid to use him if that's what you're saying."
Where are you with (Ambrose) Wooden, (Darrin) Walls, (Terrail) Lambert, (Leo) Ferrine and that whole mix?"First of all, if Ambrose is ready to go, he will go. The reason Ambrose wasn't playing is because he was shaken up. If Ambrose is ready to go, he'll be in there. Then with the other guys, I will have to go with what I've seen in practice. Remember, when we get to the team part of practice, I'm calling the offensive plays. So I don't see the defensive play until I go upstairs."