Oct. 13, 2009
DEKALB, Ill. -Northern Illinois head football coach Jerry Kill spoke at Tuesday's weekly press conference at the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center to preview Saturday's contest with Toledo. Joining Kill were quarterback Chandler Harnish (Bluffton, Ind./Norwell), wide receiver Nathan Palmer (Elkhart, Ind./Central) and safety Tracy Wilson (Harvey, Ill./St. Francis DeSales). Below are excerpts from the press conference.
NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill
On getting healthy during the bye week
"There are about eight to nine kids with bumps and bruises that we put in the weight room and they didn't do anything except conditioning and rehab with Coach Kline. We had a light practice on Tuesday and went pretty hard on Wednesday and Thursday, and gave them Friday and Saturday off, and went on Sunday. It was a pretty standard off week. We prepared as a coaching staff like we were going to play last Saturday, so we could get a jump on Toledo. We did some fundamental things in those Wednesday and Thursday practices."
On doing more fundamentals
"We tried to concentrate on the things that we didn't think we were doing very well. In the off week, you have a chance to do that. You spend a little bit more individual time than you do in a game-preparation week. I thought we did a good job of that and we also worked on Toledo."
What did the coaches do during the off week
"We took the game film from our game with Western Michigan and studied that heavily. Sometimes when you win like that, you don't play near as good as you think you did. We found out we that there were a lot of things we didn't do as good as we should have. Through film study, you look at your team and see what you need to get better at. The biggest concern was trying to get kids healthy. I don't think we did a whole lot different, except took a look at our recruiting and where we are with that."
On NIU having a tough time beating Toledo
"I haven't played at Toledo. I don't know much about it. I talked to Coach Novak a bit, and heard it's a tough place to play. The bigger deal you make out of all those things, it becomes a big deal. I just don't make a big deal about it. We have to line up and go play. All the fields are still 100 yards. You have to give Toledo credit. They've been pretty good over the years and they've beaten a lot of people at home. They have a good football team. It's tough to win on the road. You have to find a way to steal a couple on the road."
On preparing for two different quarterbacks
"The backup is from Tallahassee. I know a lot about him through the recruiting process. He can run and he can throw. It doesn't matter who you put in there, they're going to have a chance to be successful. We'll have to prepare for both styles of quarterbacks. I still think they are going to do what they do. They may run a little bit more with the kid from Tallahassee."
On WMU defeating Toledo
"I don't pay attention to the scores. Western Michigan is a pretty good team. When we played them, we got off to a quick start, things went our way and we got them out of their game plan. That's basically the same thing Western did to Toledo. I think our older kids understand that in the MAC you just don't know what's going to happen. You have to take them one week at a time. When we lost to Idaho, people said, `you weren't ready to play.' We were ready to play. We just ran into a good football team. We know Toledo is a good football team, and I think we understand that."
On the biggest concern for Saturday
"I think the biggest concern is Toledo getting out of the gate quick, getting on us quick and getting the sweat rolling since they're at home. Toledo is capable of doing that. They've showed that. They got up on Colorado and Colorado couldn't slow them down. You don't want them to get off to a start like that or it's going to be a long day. Getting out of the gate early is very crucial against them. If they get on a roll, they've shown that they're pretty darn good."
On back to back road games
"I would like to play them all at home. I think, on the road, we've had some good times, and we've had some tough times. I think any time you are on the road you do get to know each other better. That helps you grow your football team. It's tough to win on the road. There's a mindset there. We were fortunate to beat Purdue on the road. Hopefully that will help us."
On bye week stopping momentum
"I've had bye weeks when we've come off playing great, and we've had weeks when we haven't played very good. If you don't play good, you blame the bye week. If you play good, you're glad you had it. You can't control it so there's no use making excuses. You have to be sharp. I don't know if there's every a good time for a bye week. At the same time, if you're beat up, you beg for a bye week. Part of being successful is you have to be a little lucky. If we don't come out sharp, it's my fault."
Chandler Harnish, Quarterback
On timing of the bye week
"I think it will be easy for us because we came off a win and that always make the bye week easier for a team. We've had great practices over the past few weeks, and we're excited. We've been going one's verse ones and we're excited to play someone else. It's definitely good timing for us."
On the challenge of beating Toledo on the road
"Toledo has been good in the past, and they've had our number. I feel that this is a new team, new players. We're young. We don't look at that kind of stuff. We just go out there and play. Coach Kill doesn't allow us to look back at history like that."
On comparing scores of common opponents
"That's one thing that's difficult because we do have a young team and guys like to look at scores. You can't do that. They're [Toledo] going to be mad at their loss last week. They're going to be ready to play and we expect it to be a great game. They're going to be coming out firing from the start, and that's one of the goals to attack early and get our team off in the right direction."
Nate Palmer, Wide receiver
On timing of the bye week
"It's always important to keep momentum going. I think Coach Kill and the staff has done a great job of keeping us in the mindset that we've go to out and play hard every week. They focused on it not being an off-week, but a week to get better. A lot of times when you use that phrase `off-week' a lot of people take it off. He stayed away from using those words."
On getting off to a fast start against Toledo
"When we come out to practice it's been about Coach Kill being urgent and having a lot `juice,' so to speak. A lot of times when we've come out flat in games, he can tell in the pregame if we're ready to play or not. He's been focusing this last week making sure that we're ready, even during practice. If we come out to practice with a little intensity, on game day, it's going to be second nature to come out with intensity."
Tracy Wilson, Safety
On what the team got out of the bye week
"The main thing we got from the bye week was getting healthy and getting our legs back. It also gave us extra preparation verses Toledo."
On match-up problems with Toledo
"Big wide receivers are usually hard to guard because corners are usually smaller. The main thing is just don't let them get into our bodies. We have to get on them before they get on us. We can't let them get on our bodies, and stay over the top and don't let them throw jump balls."