Audio file 1 (4:53) -
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"We were open this past week and I thought we utilized it. It probably came at a good time. I think there was a lot of pressure on us coming out of the blocks. A new staff with a new team. And somehow we found ways to win games one and two and played better in game three.
"We used the week to go recruiting, to hit the books and hopefully get healed up because obviously this will be a very tough test for us on Saturday."
On not getting a lot of respect despite being 3-0. Do you use that as motivation?
"We haven't really talked about that. I'm more concerned with how the players feel about themselves and how they perform as opposed to what anybody else is saying about them right now. That will come in time and hopefully it will — I know within the state we've gotten some people's attention. That was part of our goals. If you looked at our schedule from when it was first released, it was a goal to try and be 3-0 coming out of the non-conference with the buy week going into conference play. We accomplished that but we have so much work to do and we're still learning each other and trying to get a little deeper into our playbook.
"We've got so much business to take care of of our own, we really can't worry about what other people are thinking or saying right now."
Can you give your initial impression of what Brian Calhoun has done so far and just how much it appears that he means to their offense at this point in the season?
"I see him running in my sleep. He's really, if you forget that you have to play against him, really fun to watch because he plays the game the way it should be played. I hope our tailbacks emulate not only the success that he has, his ability to break tackles, run inside, run outside, but then you see him get up and hand the ball to the official. He seems to just be a first-class young man in every thing that he does. He's very, very impressive. I guarantee you he's gotten our attention. We'll do our best to compete against him on Saturday."
It's your first year in the Big Ten but based upon the preseason projections the standings almost look upside down. Do you have an explanation for that, beyond the fact that maybe everybody who predicts this conference is lousy at doing it?
"I just think that's the nature of, and if you really examine closely what's happened — I was asked by someone last week after the games on Saturday what surprises. And I don't know that there are a lot of surprises. I think from our perspective I think we feel like you've got to show up every week and win on the road, that's really a bonus for you.
"…. I don't want to say I'm in awe. But I'm very, very impressed with the quality of play in this league. I always have been as an outsider looking in and now seeing it and watching it closely, and studying it. The quality of coaching, the quality of play is truly special. I don't know. There can't be a more physical league in the nation than the Big Ten."
Audio file 2 (6:18) -
When you were in Chicago you mentioned having a copy of the book From Red Ink to Roses in your office and maybe using that as something of a blueprint or a model of what you are trying to build at Indiana. Can you expand on that a little. And what are some of the aspects of what Alvarez has built here that you think you can follow?
"Simply because I was living in a house temporarily. And I heard of the book but I'd never seen it. When we first moved here, the person whose house we were living had a lot of books. One day going through them and saw that book and I said, ‘Wow, how perfectly poignant for us right now. I hope its applicable. I hope we can accomplish even half of what Coach Alvarez and the Badgers have accomplished.
"But it's also encouraging because you read the book you see where they were. And it's, sometimes it's hard to remember that Wisconsin wasn't always a Big Ten power and didn't always have facility-wise what they have now.
"So we look at it. We say that it's something we aspire to. And (we) know that they did it. I do think that it's a blueprint that, generally speaking, that if you want to — if you are where we are and you want to get where they are, then… We need to try and follow what they did and try and accomplish part of it at least.
There's another connection there obviously with Joel Maturi who hires you at Miami of Ohio. Did you hear any of the things from him about what went on here in the early years with Alvarez? [Maturi, the current athletics director at the University of Minnesota, held that role at Miami (Ohio) from 1998-2002. He was an associate athletic director at Wisconsin from 1987-96.]
"He's in the book and I know I had heard about Barry Alvarez from Joel before I knew of Barry Alvarez. But Joel just talked about Barry in such glowing terms as far as a guy — he called him on a lot of things. I think before he hired me at Miami he called Barry to check to make sure it was a good hire. I appreciate it. Barry put a good word in for me at the time. I appreciate it. I know that they were very close and continue to be. I've admired Barry Alvarez from afar and now I get to see him up close."
Blake Powers, has he exceeded your expectations? It looks like he has made your offense go and I know that was a question mark before the season.
"A huge question mark. If you follow what I've said about Blake from day one, I thought that physically he looks the part. When he throws the football it's how it's supposed to look as a quarterback.
"But then there was that maturation process that had to take place, and then within the context of our offense. We threw a lot at him early, we had to back off in the spring. Then the challenge for him was to go to summer school, go to football summer school. And have a great summer. He got an A and came into camp in August a much improved player. Still had to be able to do it in a game.
"Didn't perform real well the beginning of game one. But by game three, and it would have been a game for him to be a little uptight and anxious about being from Kentucky but the confidence and poise that he showed made us all feel better. And then he backed it up with the performance.
"So I think someone said, ‘Who is most improved on the team?' Blake Powers may be one and two, from where he was in the spring to where he is now and hopefully he'll just keep improving as we get a little deeper into the playbook with him."
Does his running ability also maybe come as a little bit of a surprise?
"We went full go in the spring game to try and let him use that ability. To keep it in context… around here we don't hit our quarterback but we felt that could be something that he could use and we wanted to give him the confidence that he could use it. So in the spring game he was full go. We didn't do it through camp but we were hoping that that would be, by design, a part of our attack. A running quarterback, even if he does it a few times a game, gives the defense something else to think about for sure. And he can do that well. He's a big guy who does run pretty well."