Aug 27, 2013
DEKALB, Ill.- Northern Illinois head football coach Rod Carey spoke at NIU's weekly press conference at the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center to preview the season opener against Iowa. Joining Carey were defensive tackle Ken Bishop, cornerback Sean Evans and quarterback Jordan Lynch. Below are excerpts from the press conference.
NIU Head Coach Rod Carey
"We had a good fall camp, we got a lot of work done. There were ups and downs to it, but for the most part we were up. We're healthy coming out, which is a good thing. It's kind of an underlying theme you want. You want to get your work done, but you want to be healthy. Our guys are ready to hit somebody else, I can tell you that. Anytime you go through three weeks of padded practices where you're bumping heads with the same guys is tough, and you want to go and hit somebody else. With that, let's open it up for questions."
On what makes Kinnick Stadium a tough place to play
"Well, it's their fans first off. It's not just the building. It's the people in it. They have a great fan base. They do their homework on their opponents, and they're right on top of you. It's a small sideline, so they're right on top of you. Even the end zones are right on top of you. It's a great college football venue, I can tell you that."
On advice he has given the players about playing at Kinnick
On if there will be a lot of adjustments by each team this year
"The same thing I just said, you can make them aware. There's no advice like, `hey do this, hey do that.' You've got to play your own game and get yourself ready to go. So It's just making them aware of the surroundings they're going to be walking into.
"Oh I think so. No team is the same. You may have the same philosophy, like we have philosophy on offense and defense and so do they, but on both staffs there are new coaches with new ideas and new inputs, so there will be tweaks all along both sides. That's part of the fun of the first game. You have to get in there and see it and make adjustments as you go."
On if it is difficult preparing for a first-year starting quarterback
"Yeah, I think so. No doubt that it was the same for Iowa last year with Lynch. They had no idea about him. I think you have that in college football, where kids have never played before and all of a sudden they're starters and you have to play against them. There are some challenges with that because they have never played before and you don't have any film of them. But I think the good side to that is you rely on your basic rules and go ahead and play ball, which is really fundamentally what we're all about.
On confidence in the offense
"Oh yeah. A lot. Confidence, no doubt. Execution, I'll tell you about that after Saturday. Confidence wise, they're more confident. They've done it before. They've been there. Most of them are 14-game starters. But execution, we've still got to go out and do it."
On the status of Akeem Daniels
"He's not healthy. He's got a little toe thing that's keeping him from going yet. He's going to be back with us, it's just a matter of when. I'm no doctor. They just say that foot injuries heal slowly. It's something about blood flow or something down there. But he'll be back."
On his confidence in the running back depth
"I was pretty confident a month ago, but yeah, I like what I've seen. I like the way they've worked this past month."
On if the Huskies need to play a game to see where the team is at
"We have an idea who we are. We don't yet completely know who we are. The only way to figure that out is through trials and tribulations."
On a win giving the Mid-American Conference bragging rights over the Big Ten
"It would be great. We have a lot of those matches. Central plays Michigan. Western plays Michigan State. Buffalo plays Ohio State. We play Iowa and there might be another one I'm missing. UMass plays Wisconsin. It'd be great for us all as a conference to come out as winners on Saturday."
On the keys to victory Saturday
"I don't want to be a cliché but I'm going to be because it's true. You can't turn the ball over and the kicking game has to be good. More games are lost in the opening games of the year with special teams than any other part. You have to do those two things really well. So that will be a challenge for us down there. They got a new special team's guy and so we think a lot of their schemes are going to be the same but we don't know. So were preparing for all and we're going to take that seriously. Fortunately we've been good on special teams around here and we're going to continue that with coach Kane this year leading the way."
On if he is anxious to see both the offensive and defensive line
"I am. I tell you what I was talking to someone earlier today. I think those Iowa guys over there doing the game. I think one of the games is basically their entire D line comes back I think a couple of my guys lost to graduation and our offensive line comes back and so who did more work and who got bigger or stronger over the break. You're going to see it this Saturday because it's the same guys. You don't get that a lot in college football a lot. Usually there is one side that may return but the other doesn't. So I think that something I anxious and looking forward to seeing."
On Mycial Allen and Jamal Payton making the two-deep
"What did they do specifically? I think it was a bunch of things. I think they one, they really took serious that you got to study and get into your playbook, two they made the most of their opportunities when they got them early in camp and three they kept themselves on the field for the entire camp so I think those three things helped to separate and get themselves into the two deep right now."
On how getting more people involved has made Jordan Lynch is a better quarterback
"I think you're always doing that and if you're not doing that, you are falling behind. Our philosophy still remains the same and it's very very simple. I think you guys see me say this, and I say this in our staff room too, is that our best players get the ball in their hands and it doesn't matter what it looks like. It doesn't matter if we line up two tight ends and two backs. It doesn't matter if we line up with five wide receivers; just get them the ball in space and make plays. So we've made a bunch of different things. Maybe to the naked eye you may not see them as much but to us you're always moving forward and tweaking those things.
On speed and tempo being a factor
"With how good defenses are, I think tempo plays a critical part of the game. I know defensive coaches want you to get in the huddle, spend 25 seconds there, break the huddle come out and don't shift or break motions and snap the ball with about three seconds left in the play clock because their defense can really get their cleats screwed into the ground and attack you. Well, they're too good to let you do that. You can't let them do that. First off it's like they got an extra player, because you have a quarterback that might not run. In our case, we do [run our quarterback] a little bit. And second off, you line up and let them have it. They're big, strong and fast. I think tempo is always a key in what we do and what college football has become."
On Iowa's size advantage
"Yeah I think so. You know there is that adage that you gotta manage that well especially when it's going to be 90 degrees at 2:30 in the afternoon at Iowa. I think that has positives and negatives on both sides on how fast you go offensively."
On kicker Mathew Sims being an added offensive weapon
"You know that depends on game time elements. You got a stiff breeze, that's going to be a lot shorter. He may be in that 40-yard range. You got a breeze helping, he may be able to go out. In Western Michigan he made what at 54? So we can stretch him out about that far and he's probably gotten stronger after last year too. A lot of that will depend on the wind but we feel comfortable really anywhere depending on the conditions up to 50 yards."
On relying on the veterans who have played in big games already
"I think you get that in college football every year with every team. There is no one formula. No matter who you are, you go to an environment like Iowa and you bring some guys who have never been in that environment, you put them there you worry about that as a coach. That's what coaches do. You try to give them the tools to equip them to deal with it. It's always a challenge. You just want to let them know what they are walking into and make sure there isn't that shock factor. You do rely on seniors like Lynch but seniors have to get themselves ready to play. If I worry about him, I haven't worried about myself. You definitely have that leadership and that leadership happens. That's really more coaching on us getting the young kids ready."
On if the Orange Bowl prepared the Huskies better for this weekend
"Because you have so many faces you don't ever say, `been there don't that.' This is Iowa. I mean they have awesome fans and a great college environment. You got new faces so you have to take that seriously. Because we were in the Orange Bowl and because we've been around that type of environment before, does that help us from a staff and guys who have been there before, you bet it does. It sure doesn't make you take it any less serious and prepare your team any different."
On preparing for the crowd environment
"You get the speakers right behind the offense and turn them up as loud as you can so they can't even think. That's a lot what it's going to be like. So we've done that. They have handled that good and have adjusted pretty good. That's the best we can do but it's still going to be louder than that."
On any concern with the offense getting snaps off
"I think you always worry when you're on the road about the operation of your offense because of fan noise, but it's something you prepare for, you work at, get good at, and make sure you can operate that way. We had that same problem with the Orange Bowl too."
On Iowa's defense being its strength
"They're good, they're strong, and they keep getting better the older they get in that program. Coach Ferentz, and before him Coach Fry, do a great job of taking a player and developing him through his five years. Whether he plays right away, or he redshirts and then goes, those four or five years. Their players play better the older they get. So these guys we're playing on defense all played last year. They're better this year than they were last year. Just improvement in the fundamentals of the game."
Jordan Lynch, Quarterback
On getting back on the field and playing a game
" Yeah, we did a lot of media interviews in the summertime, and when we came to fall camp, it was all about football. That's what I'm here for, playing football. I'm really anxious to get back out on the field. The last game we played, we lost, and I know I'm speaking for our team, we have a bad taste in our mouth. We're excited to play Iowa."
On the difference between this year and last year
"I would say it's a night and day difference. I have 14 starts under my belt. I'm more comfortable. I feel like I'm starting to teach more people now the offense. I'm starting to line people up and the game is starting to slow down for me, so I would say it's a night and day difference."
On how much has been added to the offense
" I would say there's a lot more checking for QB's now. Like I said, I really hit the playbook this summer. The game started slowing down. There will be a few wrinkles here and there, but it's a quarterback driven offense, and there are a lot of checks now."
Sean Evans, Cornerback
On advice Coach Carey has given on playing at Kinnick Stadium
" Just being a Big Ten School, it's got a lot of tradition, and with that comes a ton of fans, and a ton of allegiance that they owe to Iowa. With our preparation throughout practice and fall camp, we tried to make the environment of the practice match as best as we could, with loud music and a crazy fast tempo from our offense. We're expecting a pretty loud, noisy game."
On the pink locker rooms
"Yeah, I've heard some stories from a couple people. I guess it's cute."
On the expected hot temperatures
"I've seen hotter forecasts in my day. We actually have a opportunity to mimic the conditions today and the rest of this week. Today, I think the high is 90, so it will be a good chance for us to prepare."
Ken Bishop, Defensive Tackle
On Iowa's offensive line
"Watching film, we see some of the same stuff from last year. They have the same offensive coach, a lot of the same zone, stretch running. So we've just been working on our fundamentals, and sticking to that for a successful game."
On facing a first-year starting quarterback
"I don't think it's tough, it's just for us to get into our groove. It's all about us right now, so we're not really worried about what quarterback is going to play, we just know that there's going to be a running back, so we expect them to run the ball and do stuff to get him in rhythm."
On the size similarities between Iowa's O-Line and NIU's D-Line
"Well, I know it's going to be a test for our D-Line, we've watched the film from last year to try to take the mistakes off of it, so it's just going to be how we got better with our fundamentals."