Sept. 24, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois University head football coach Rod Carey spoke at NIU's weekly press conference at the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center to look ahead to this weekend's game at Purdue. Joining Carey were tight end Luke Eakes and linebacker Boomer Mays. Below are excerpts from the press conference.
NIU Head Coach Rod Carey
"It's the same, they're [Eastern Illinois] really good. We're really happy we got the win. Their quarterback's the real deal. I'm glad we don't have to play them again. So nothing has changed from Saturday. I'm really happy with how we played at times in the game and doing what we had to do to get the win. You know, obviously I'm not happy with the starts we've had in the last couple weeks and we're going to do everything we can to change that along with changing the penalties.
"Looking forward to Purdue, it's a fine football team. It's a Big Ten team at their place on Homecoming. It's going to present every bit of a challenge that you want in a football game. We're going to have to come out and play well to give ourselves an opportunity in the fourth quarter and be where we want to be. We got a lot of work ahead of us, it starts today after kind of getting our minds wrapped around the game plan, at least initially. So with that, I'll open it up."
On what it would mean to beat two Big Ten teams in one season
"I don't know. I don't. I know we got Purdue this week and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to win another football game. So you guys are better at that than I am."
On the comparison of Purdue Head Coach Darrell Hazell with his time at Kent State
On the similarities between Purdue's Head Coach Darrell Hazell past team
"The staff changed. I know he has some guys he brought with him, but it's not like he picked the whole staff and so all the systems are the same. They're different, but there's some crossover that you can do and we've certainly done that, but not to an extensive degree by any stretch of the imagination."
"Oh yeah, a ton. I mean the way the team is put together is the biggest similarity. You can tell a coach has his imprint on it because it's; play sound football on offense and defense, and the kicking game and try and give yourselves an opportunity through all three phases to win a football game. And you look at it in all four of their games now, they've been right in it at the half. Until last week, they hadn't given up a point in the first quarter. So they're a really good football team. Those are similarities."
On Purdue's performance at home verses the road
"I guess I haven't thought of that because there are so many similarities but yeah. Both those road games, at halftime, were really close too. I think they're down by one score at Cincinnati, two scores at Wisconsin, and two home games they're up by one score each. So I guess I'm saying yes and no."
On Purdue's 1-3 record
"I don't believe in that with these guys. They could easily be 3-1 too or even 4-0. I mean they're right there. Things have kind of happened in the second half that kind of got away from them here and there, but no, they could flip that on it's ear."
On the high level of play from Jimmie Ward
"He catches the ball good with the cast doesn't he? Jimmie is a guy who said it after the Iowa game, the older you get the more it's about the details; well actually Da'Ron Brown said it. The older you get, the more it's about the details. Jimmie is in that context too. He's older and he's played a lot now and now that game has really slowed down for him. It's more about the little subtle things that he picks up that gives him an opportunity to make those plays because he's in the right position. So I'm really proud of how he has prepared each week and getting himself ready for the game."
On Jimmie Ward's statement "finishing the fight is great but we have to start the fight"
"Yeah, you know we've used that here but I loved that he brought it up there. If you go down to the weight room it says, "start and finish the fight." I love that he brought it up right their cause he recognizes it just like I did right after the game. So when you have your seniors recognizing the same things that the coaches did, you're on the right path to have seniors play like seniors and having your senior leadership where you want it."
On the penalty situation
"I wish I could generalize it. I mean when you have 14, you have every type of penalty. So it's a lot of things. We have to control what we can and the ones that are controllable in there we have to get those eliminated and out of our deal. So we're going to work harder to do that."
On how to improve the defense
"Boy, that's a big general question for a really complicated answer. You go to Iowa and hold them to 27 points, you weren't asking that question three weeks ago, right? I mean now all of a sudden it's broke and let's fix it. I don't know if it's necessarily broke. I think that what it is, first off we played a really good team last week and I don't care if they have an FCS label a 1-AA label whatever it is, that's a good football team and they're going to put up points on anybody they play. Idaho we had a different situation there. I don't know if it's necessarily broke, I think it's something we need to execute better. So it's not like a major fix or major scheme change has to happen. We have to get out to a faster start. We have to get our cleats under us, and we have to respond earlier."
On whether the last statement is defensive only or towards the whole team
"That's a whole for the team though too. You look at it offensively we haven't started quick one game this year. We have to fix that. We have to get out to a fast start. And it's a great challenge this week, going against a team that has only given up 14 points in the first quarter. It's a great challenge for us. It's more about us and how we're starting, than it is about anything else or something being broke."
On what the offense can do to get out to a faster start
"Are you ready for boring coach talk now? It's about the little things. It's about the small detailed little things you have to do. You have to concentrate on the snap count, you have to concentrate on the depth of your route, and you have to concentrate on your double team, ID-ing the front when you are on offense. Defense you have to communicate the call, you have to get yourself lined up. Linebackers have to get the front lined up; you have to get down in your stance quicker. So it's a bunch of little details that you do to try to get off to a faster start. I wish I had a magic potion that handled all of that but I don't."
On if the little things are practiced and stressed every week
"You emphasize it every week. So it's not like we haven't been but obviously when we've been doing hasn't been enough. So we have to emphasize it even more."
On Jordan Lynch's injury status after last week's game
"Yeah, he's fine. I mean he had bumps and bruises like everybody. So he'll be fine. I'm sure his bruise isn't completely away yet but he'll be fine."
On the frustration on penalties and slower starts to games
"I gave up on control along time ago. Coaches have this perception that `I'm going to control everything and I'm going to...' You know what happens, the harder you squeeze the more cracks you have in a dam. Yes, it's frustrating. Yes, I would love to be able to control it. I know absolutely I'm going to coach my rear end off to get those things corrected. But as far as control, it's like asking me if I can control my six year-old at school, I can't. You show them the path and you hope they walk down it. You give them every reason to walk down it. That's about all I can do."
On concerns with Purdue
"It's their whole team. They have great running backs. They have a great D-Line. Their defense is really good as a whole. Their offense is good as a whole. They have a fifth year senior quarterback who has a ton of experience. They're playing a lot of young guys. We're going to be at their environment. It's homecoming. I think they're expecting 50,000-55,000 people, so I'm sure the crowd noise is going to play into it too. They have a Ray Guy finalist at punter who kicks the ball out of the stadium. How long do you have? We can keep going about the concerns. But, we have to worry about us, and that is the major thing. You can't worry about someone else and correct yourself at the same time. You've got to worry about yourself."
On playing Northwestern next year
"I'm not going to say I was right there in the middle of that deal getting done, but Coach Fitzgerald and I have a relationship and there was certainly some communication back and forth, but it was mostly done on the AD level with Sean Frazier and Jim Phillips, and Fitz (Pat Fitzgerald) had a lot to with it too. I'm really excited, and glad they got all that worked out. We're excited about the game. I think it's going to be great for our fans, for their fans, for the Chicagoland area. I just think that it's a game that is a real positive all the way around for us."
On his relationship with Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald
"It's a good one. I really respect him. He's done a great job. They always let us up to their high school camps in the summer, so we've all been working with him. I got the chance to visit with him for 5-10 minutes, and then we traded things here and there. It's not like we're lifelong friends. I have a ton of respect for him, that's where the relationship is. He's done a whale of a job there, and I think everybody has a ton of respect for the guy."
On the frequency of playing Northwestern
"I think you've got to let that be up to the powers that be, and the situations that be as they come. I know next year's game is going to be a great game, and then going forward, we'll have to see how it all shakes out."
On the importance of playing in Chicago for the purpose of the NIU brand
"I don't think as it pertains to this game that it's going to make or break our imprint in Chicago. I think we already have a brand and imprint in Chicago. I think this is another way of doing it, but I don't think it's a make or break thing if that's what you're trying to say. I think it's always important, because we have 180,000 living alumni in the Chicagoland area, so we already have an imprint. This will be a good way for them to see us play, which is kind of rewarding for them."
On the thought of playing an Illinois school every year
"I don't know. I'd have to think about it. Now that you ask me, I'll go and think about it, and probably have an answer for you next week."
On being the favored team
"I don't know about underdogs, I don't know about point spreads, I don't know about any of that. All I know is what I see on the film. They're a really good football team, we're going to their place to play them. We're going to have to dot our i's, cross our t's, to have an opportunity in the fourth quarter to be where we want to be. I think sometimes you guys don't believe me. I don't read papers. I don't do those things. I don't have time. I've got a six and a nine year-old at home, and then I have to watch a bunch of film."
On converting third and shorts
"You know when you always talked about run the ball when you want to run the ball, and that's a sign of you being able to be a good running football team? I think that was a step in the right direction last week, because they're always going to have more hats than you have up there in those situations, and we got it done anyways. So, I was extremely happy about that step being taken."
On Stingily's rushing and the offensive line
"You can't have one without the other. We've got to get hats on the ones we can, and then Cam has to have the understanding that there may be a guy sitting in this hole that I've got to run over. It's the yin with the yang right there."
On getting Akeem Daniels back
"I'd love to. Can you go talk to his foot? It's a foot. I don't understand it all, but it can be temperamental during the healing process. It's day-to-day like it's been."
On any setbacks to Daniels' foot
"No, and I don't know that you'd classify anything that has gone on during this rehab as a setback, because it can be so temperamental, and that's probably the norm. You take a couple steps forward, a couple steps back. Normal injuries you just see progression, but this one is going to be like this, but no, he hasn't had any setbacks."
On the possibility for Daniels to redshirt
"Yeah, you obviously cross those bridges when it comes to them, but I wouldn't want to speak too far into the future."
On what he likes best about Cameron Stingily's running ability
"He's 240 pounds and runs people over. What I like best about Cam Stingily is the kid. He's a great kid. He's a guy that's played two or three different positions, been a special teams guy, didn't really know his role, and all of sudden here he is. He's kind of shocked by it all, but I kept telling him, `Cam, keep doing what you're doing,' and I don't think he believed me until we got playing games."
On Cameron Stingily rushing in high school
"He rushed for a bunch of yards in high school. He was a good running back in high school. Coach Kill recruited him, and I forget what coach off the staff recruited him, but they recruited him as a middle linebacker, and really wanted him as one. I think he probably would have been a fine middle linebacker, but then Coach Doeren came, and he wanted to move him to running back after a year or so. He moved him there and I liked him at running back."
On the transition of Cameron Stingily switching from defense to running back
"You either have those instincts or you don't. I really believe that and he has them."
Luke Eakes, Tight End
On potentially beating two Big Ten teams in the same season
"It would be great. It's something we've been wanting to do for awhile, and it's the next game so it's a must win for us, to keep the streak going."
On ending up at NIU with Boomer Mays after both growing up in Kansas
"They came down to Kansas, they recruited us, and it was a good opportunity, it's a good school. I liked it. Boomer and I actually drive back home a lot together so, he's right on my way, I drop him off and go back to where I'm from. It works out well."
On getting off to a fast start
"We need to take that first drive and score more often. We're having too many three and outs on the first possession, so we need to get that corrected and get momentum going from the start of the game."
On Cameron Stingily as a runner
"I'd say he runs like a linebacker. He wants to run through people. He's very physical and hard to stop once he gets his momentum going."
Boomer Mays, Linebacker
On potentially beating two Big Ten teams in the same season
"We always look forward to the dog bone victories, the bone yard games. To get two in one season, that's always what we shoot for."
On Purdue's offense
"They've got a big offensive line, like most Big Ten teams have. They like to run the ball a lot. They've got a fast back. They've got good wide receivers."
On getting off to a fast start
"That's one area we definitely need to improve in. It starts in practice really, making sure we're coming out focused, and then transferring practice into the game in the first quarter, and having our goals in mind for that first series."
On playing Northwestern next year
"I'm pretty excited about it. Playing schools in the state, and being around the Chicago area makes it that much bigger, and it's a big game we're looking forward to."