What is the status of Robert Hughes?"He's back. He got back right before practice. He'll go to class and practice tomorrow and then I'm going to take him back tomorrow after practice to go spend some time with Robert and his family. We have worked it out through compliance, the NCAA, and our faculty board. We're going to take at least one bus, if not two buses, up there for the services on Friday morning. So we're going to split the staff, some of the staff will be going up then, and like I said, I'll be going up on Thursday – like I said, I'll be taking him home tomorrow after practice."
When you go to Chicago are you going to be staying there overnight?"No, I'll come back whenever I'm done. I'll stay there till whenever. They're not going to want me around forever. I'll then turn it over to Coach Haywood who is his position coach and Coach Ianello who recruited him and Coach Brown who is my Chicago representative. I'll kind of pass the torch and everybody wants to be a part of this, but I prefer in my case to spend some private time with them."
Is he going to try and play Saturday?"He's going to try because he thinks it will be the best distraction for him. I'm not encouraging him one way or the other. I'm leaving that with him. One of the reasons he came back was first of all he doesn't want to fall too far behind academically and secondly he thinks the best way to get things off his mind is to be here at school."
Your decision to drive him back, was that something you decided right away?"I just don't think a kid right now in an emotional state should be driving behind a car. We all have kids and all of a sudden they're going back at 90 mile an hour and not paying attention or things like that. I think there are a couple of things precautionary I think as any father/dad would be concerned with. I think that is just a precautionary measure; plus it gives me an opportunity to spend a little one-on-one time with the family."
Has there been a particular player that has taken Robert under his wing this year?"I think that running back group is pretty close. I had to break the news the other day. He's close with Armando (Allen) but Armando had left to go to class. So Travis (Thomas) and James (Aldridge) and Asaph (Schwapp) were all just finishing working out. That running back group is a pretty close group."
Did Pat Kuntz cut off his Mohawk?"Yeah, he did as a matter of fact."
What did you think?"I don't know why he had it to start off with (laughing). With Kuntz, I stopped thinking about what Kuntz's hairdo is quite a long time ago. I think he looks significantly better personally."
As Trevor Laws is projected at the next level, does he remind you of players at that position?"He's a very disruptive inside player. He's not overly short, but he's powerful and quick off the ball. The teams that we were coaching had a lot more of the two-gap players. He's more of a typical pro 4-3 inside defensive lineman. So it's more guys we went against than we actually had on our team. There's a whole bunch of them that he reminds me of; those pains in the butt that are in the backfield all day. When he's in a one-gap system, he's pretty tough."
Do you see him playing this position at the next level?"He has played both inside and outside, both left and right this year. So what he's really done is upped his worth by doing it that way. Now they can see him play at left defensive tackle, right defensive tackle, left end, and right end. So he's really helped himself rather than being pigeon-holed at one spot the whole time."
So the pro teams will be interested in his versatility?"Absolutely, the scouts always say to you, and I loved this as a coach, the scouts always say, ‘He's going to be this,' and you say, ‘Based on what,' because a coach always wants to see that. He's done enough this year, I think, to really help himself by being here this year."
Can you talk about Trevor's leadership on the defensive line this year?"Trevor has never been one of the guys who likes to do a lot of talking. He likes to do it by how he plays, and what has happened here this year after all those defensive linemen ended up leaving, he kind of has taken the group under his wing. Actually, he has had some help from Kuntz on the inside because he has provided some leadership as well. The void that was left when Victor (Abiamiri), Derek (Landri), and Chris (Frome) and all those guys left, I think he greatly picked up the slack."
How is Kerry Neal working against the option?"It's really not the perfect position for him because he's gotten into the position now where he feels most comfortable when his hand is on the ground than when he's standing up. So we'll just have to wait and see, but he's definitely in the mix. It's not a perfect position for a guy that is in that ‘tweener position that he is in."
How about Brian Smith, is he in the same position?"He's more of a linebacker type, Brian is. If you split that linebacker/end, you would put Kerry more on the end side than the linebacker; where you would put Brian more on the linebacker side than the end. They are both going to be playing similar positions, but Brian, when you're used to being in a two-point stance except for a sub-rushing situation, it puts him in a greater opportunity to make some plays."
Zibby (Tom Zbikowski) is the all-time leading tackler for a defensive back. Do you think this is because of longevity, or why do you think this is?"Well, one of the things has to do with playing one of your safeties closer to the line of scrimmage a whole bunch. Obviously, he's been playing here, it seems like, forever. That does come into play, but he did miss some significant time last year when he got banged up. So some of it has to do with longevity but some of it has to do with being able to come near the line of scrimmage and make some plays."
Did you see the clip of the team that had all of the laterals on the last play of the game?"The 14-lateral game? Actually my son showed it to be on-line. He told me about it and I had no idea what he was talking about. I guess you can actually punch up the play; that's a pretty crazy ending. It was reminiscent of Stanford/Cal."
Do you guys ever practice anything like that?"We have a play like that. It never works like that (laughing). I'd like to sit and say it works like that. There actually was, a couple of years ago, where we actually put in a play in New England called the Giant play. The Giants were playing the Eagles; it was in Philadelphia and it came down to the last play of the game. They throw a little dump-off to Tiki (Barber) and Dickson comes back and he laterals and he actually got knocked out on the one-yard line. And whoever wins the game, wins the division. You are not going to throw it 80 yards. There are very few guys who can throw it like a Hail Mary from that so you have to have something in your system to practice. For me, it has never worked but we practice it."
With Coach Oliver being familiar with the option, will he be making some of the defensive calls on game day?"They're in now. The things we are going to do, we have been practicing for two weeks. So what you do against this team is you don't put in too many things. So you do less and you practice it more. So there aren't a hundred calls going into this game. I think, going into it you just mix up those things, so who's got the dive, who's got the pitch, who's got the speed sweep, who's got the load option, who's got the wheel route, you'd better know and each of those defenses who's got who or you end up like last week you saw them run an inside run. The fullback goes 70 yards for a touchdown because everyone is worrying about running to the edge."
What is Will Yeatman's biggest value and his up-side?"He's a big, strong physical guy and he's a very, very good athlete. You look at him and Michael (Ragone), who are the two guys we have here now in the system, Michael is more the speed-down-the-field tight end whereas Will is the closest thing to John (Carlson) that we have right here. So it will be interesting to see how this whole thing evolves. The only problem is, you have lacrosse coming in the spring as well because he's a frontline lacrosse player and he's going to be playing. You're going to have him limited time in the springtime. We'll get him some, but because he's so good at it, let his primary sport in the springtime be lacrosse."
How is Jimmy Clausen's health?"He looks better; he's not perfect but he's better."