Oct. 22, 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 talk about Saturday's upcoming game against Eastern Michigan University. Joining Carey were safety Dechane Durante, defensive end Perez Ford and offensive lineman Matt Krempel. Below are excerpts from the press conference.
"Obviously, you go on the road in this conference and get a win, that is a big thing and you don't ever take that lightly. That was a good Central Michigan team we played on their homecoming. They came out with a lot of emotion and played really fine football in the first half. We were lucky enough to be tied at halftime because we matched their emotion and obviously had a chance to maybe have a lead going into half but had a turnover there. So I'm not really happy with that but then was real happy with the way we came out in the second half. We stopped them, scored. Stopped them, scored and then I think it was a couple of stops and then we scored again. Then we stopped them and scored one more time. I think it was nice to see us be able to run the ball and stop the run the way we did. Obviously Jordan [Lynch] had a big day. I'm really proud of him, proud of our offense. Anytime you do something like that, break a record that's been around over 20 to 23 years, I think that that's something that when time passes, that will be even more special for Jordan and the guys who were on the field.
"I'm really happy with that part and really ecstatic with the defense. Anytime you hold Central Michigan to under a 100 yards rushing in a game, you're doing something right defensively. I really felt good about the way they were tackling the line of scrimmage. Obviously they have some things going in the pass but then once we got that kind of under control, we kind of got that solved as well.
"Special teams, minus the two kicks out of bounds, I was really happy with that. The way [Tyler] Wedel, in all three phases, was again punting doing kickoffs and the field goals. Obviously every kick he made gave us a shot. You saw his preparation pay off because he worked had at it this week. Now he has to understand that he has to prepare in all three phases so we don't get those kickoffs going out of bounds. Overall it was just a really good road victory.
"Talking about the team coming up now in Eastern Michigan. Obviously this is hard guys. I've never been through anything like that what Coach English is going through in my life. I don't have any point of reference. They have mine and our sympathy and our thoughts and prayers with what they are going through. That was an emotional deal for them last week and my hat's off to them for how they came out and played the game. I know the result wasn't what they wanted, but my gosh, to get that news on Friday and then go out and play a game on Saturday, my hat's off to them. So we're going to be getting a good team here with a reason to play and something to point to and things like that and those are all things they are probably going to use and I would if I was them too. They're a fine football team. Put all that aside, they're a fine football team. I know their record doesn't reflect it but they run the ball boy. They can run the ball on offense and if you can't stop that run, that's going to be a long day. So we have to stop that run and get them into obvious pass-down situations and see if we can't get after the quarterback a little bit.
"Defensively, Coach English is acting as their defensive coordinator and they're doing a real nice job on defense. There again, I think they've run into a situation where the numbers don't reflect how they're playing. Maybe they've given up some big plays that they don't want to give up at times and that probably skews the numbers, but over all it's a defense that's going to because you some problems. They're going to move around and not just line up in one place, so it's going to be a big time challenge for the offense. Then the kicking game, obviously I addressed Tyler. He needs to continue to improve in all three phases. Then their kicking game, they obviously took a return back to open up the game against Ohio for a touchdown and so they're explosive and they have some explosive players on their team.
"Overall it's going to be a good challenge. I can say this, I would expect another sellout and I'm not afraid to say that from out fans and from our community around here that it is a sellout. We have yet to play our best ball at home. It's only our third time in eight games to be at home and hopefully we have some familiarity now with home being the third time and we need to put our best foot forward in this game for ourselves, for this university, and also for our fans. I think we're all looking forward to that."
On if last week's game plan involved Jordan Lynch running the ball
"I think everybody plays us a little different so you have to kind of see what they are going to give you on that day. So we didn't know what they were going to try and takeaway or what they were going to let us do. It ended up that we found a way to run the quarterback because that's what they were going to challenge us to do and we did it."
On if the level of Cameron Stingily's play has helped run the read-option
"I think there is an element to that, I really do. I think there is an element that when you turn around and hand off the ball and still be successful running, that that makes your read-option or your quarterback run game better."
On if the defense is coming into its own
"Yeah, I think they've played well all year and I think I've been steadfast in saying that there have been situations that have arisen in certain games where the numbers don't look good but the play has been good. Now the numbers are kind of starting to match up with the play. Now we tend to talk about that a little more like they've grown into their own. They've improved every week, which is what we've asked them to do. They have to keep improving, because it's not a finished product. An old saying around here is, `success isn't owned, it's rented and the rent is due every day,' so you have to bring it every day. That's one thing we're going to continue to do on defense."
On where the progress is coming from
"All over. There are still some things in the pass defense that we need to clean up as far as where our eyes are from our defensive backs, double move situations, holes in our zone, communication sometimes. So some of those things need to get cleaned up but it's gotten better and all the things I just said have improved. I think our technique up front has improved to a point where we're playing with better leverage and we're playing square to the football than we did at the star of the year but it's not perfect yet. We need to keep moving those detailed small things forward."
On the adjustments made in the second half of last week's game
"I think it was a combination, I don't think it was just one adjustment that we made on defense. Obviously we made some adjustments on defense and got some different calls that were already in the game plan and we put those into play a little more. I think how the second half went, with the defense is coming out getting that first stop and us going down and scoring then our defense going back out there and getting another stop. I think anytime you keep your offense on the field and your defense rested, I think playing square defensive football when you're rested is a lot easier than when you're tired. I think it's a combination of that."
On the state of the teams red-zone defense
"We're playing good defense, we are. We never like to give up touchdowns. We always like to give up field goals if they do get down there and get a turnover if we can. They had a pass on fourth down completed and Dechane [Durante] comes up and makes a heck of a hit and forces the ball loose and we recover. To me, that's a big swing. That's could be like a 14-point swing."
On the team's 18th place BCS ranking
"Happy, I guess. I don't know what those mean. I know what they mean right after the season. You're going to be ranked there for your bowl and that could mean what type of bowl you get into. Right now, it doesn't mean anything other than we're 18, which is great. We've all see the BCS play out.
"Here is the big picture. I don't pay any attention to any of that stuff at anytime except in the offseason. So you go back and you look at it and you hear the experts talk about the BCS. You can still get in the BCS with an early loss, you can't get into the BCS with a late loss. The rankings, right now, I don't know what they mean other than we better go one game at a time. Before we were ranked number 18, we had better gone one game at a time. So it doesn't change us a whole lot, it's nice."
On if last year's BCS run has helped prepare the team for this season's ranking
"I don't know, maybe. I think on one side of things you can make that argument that it has. The other side, you can make the argument that no because when we lost that game against Iowa, that wasn't even a thought. I don't know if we had to deal with the same thing but to me you have to deal with the same thing each week no matter if you're number 18 in the BCS or if you don't have number 18 in the BCS because if you don't deal with small detailed little things each and ever day, you're not going to have a chance in the fourth quarter, which is all we ask for in games. To have a chance in the forth quarter with the ball. I don't know is the best way I can answer that."
On if the players have tuned out the BCS talk
"I sure hope so. With twitter and facebook out there all the time, they're getting hit with it no doubt. I think the thing about this team to this point right now is that when they walk in this building, the cell phone turns off and they do it on their own. They lock in and see what they need to do and they try their darndest to execute it each and every day at practice."
On if it's nice knowing the BCS future is in the team's hand
"No, I tend to look at history for than I look forward. Ten years ago at this time on this very week, NIU was ranked number 10 in the BCS. They ended up 10 and 2 and didn't go to a bowl game. Think about that. You won 10 football games and didn't go to a bowl game. That was a travesty. It was unbelievable.
"I tend to look at that and the lesson learned from that, not putting down that team anyway shape or form because that was a great team and we love those guys. We had them here last weekend, but they'll say it that it doesn't mean anything till you're done. So you better do it the way you got here. The way we've gotten in this position so far, is one little thing at a time."
On telling the team about NIU 2003 season to keep them focused
"We tell them all the time in every which way we can. They're probably sick of me telling it to them but I'm going to keep telling them because you have to with social media the way it is. I think we have their complete attention because of where we're at and they've seen that it's worked. It would be one thing if we were preaching this and it didn't work, but it's working, so I believe we have their full attention."
On if BCS rankings help recruiting
"I can't get too much into that. I can tell you this, NIU, when it comes to the recruiting side of things, we're in a good spot. I don't want to say a better spot then we've ever been because I haven't been here the whole time but I can say we're in a really good spot right now."
On the Chessick Center opening Saturday
"We could practice on it this week. Turner Construction has done a great job. It's unbelievable, my hats off to them. They have done a great job but you have their project managers and my boss and the president who say when a where and how high over me when it come to that. I just wait and take orders on that one."
On keeping players motivated playing teams with losing records
"I don't think it is when you turn on the film. I know this about me, I turn on the film I believe what I see on the film and I tell our guys don't believe anything but what you see on the film. This Eastern Michigan team is a good football team that runs the ball well and is physical and is playing with a ton of emotions right now. We're going to have to match that in every way shape or form."
On if he is surprised that other teams are not doing more to stop NIU's run game
"People have done that this year in particular and that's what I mean when I said earlier everyone's going to play us a little different. I don't think you can do all of it against us. I think you have to decide what you are going to do. That's the chess game of football. Once we see what they are going to do, that's when we have to counter and take what they are giving us.
"Am I surprised that they haven't tried to stop our run more? No, because I think they have tried to. I'm not saying that to be disrespectful. That's the chess part of it. We've put players in the right position but then really the biggest reason we have has success running the football is because of the people executing it. I can draw great X and Os on the grease board. I'm really good at it and a lot of coaches are. It's about the Jimmies and the Joes not the X and the Os."
On the availability of Sean Evans and Michael Santacaterina for Saturday
"Evans, probably not. Santa, we're going to give him a workout and see today and see what he can do. I'm really excited about that."
On Mat Sims' status for Saturday
"Today, I would say no. Tomorrow, maybe. It's a different way of saying day-to-day. Thursday I'd say probably."
On Santacaterina's injury
"It's his ankle or some type of ankle. It's a fancy world for ankle sprain."
On Akeem Daniels' status
"He's still day-to-day but that one's a little different. That ones a toe and there is a blood flow issue. I guess blood flow doesn't get to your toes real good so you need blood flow for healing. If you don't have a high blood flow it's going to take longer but some days it may jump and the next it may come back. I think he's completely day-to-day. More than me bringing him back it would be more he when he is ready to go, what are we going to do with him and how ready is he to go. He hasn't put on pads in a while so we'd have to see. I try not to get ahead of myself. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
On who has taken a big step on defense
"Ken Bishop has taken a big step in that. His preparation has gotten better each week about the details. At this time of year it's not about banging anymore, it's about film prep and technique and staying sharp with that. So I think the whole defensive line in general has done a good job of coming along.
"Linebacker-wise, I don't know who is playing better than Jamaal Bass right now as far as a linebacker. We asked a lot of that kid and he does it. Boomer [Mays] also has done it on the small little things about taking the right first step and Jamaal Payton and Cody Hazelett. The good thing about freshman playing in there is you can tell you have a good one, when you tell them something one time and they do it. They are doing it."
On Jamaal Bass' play this year
"We asked him to play to the field, we asked him to play to the Mike, we asked him to play in the box, and really I don't know that you ask a linebacker do to all three of those things. You might have a field backer or a boundary or a Mike backer, but to ask a guy to do all three and stay on the field every down, those are the things that I'm talking about. There are different skill sets that come with all three of those positions, and he, in my mind is playing all three as well as one person would. This is his third year starting now. When he was first pressed into duty it was by injury and we had to live with it. Last year, we were going to limit his role but he got so good at it we expanded it. This year we said he can handle it so let's do it."
Matt Krempel, Offensive Lineman
On the possibility of playing in another BCS bowl
"I think we're really happy that we're getting this opportunity so early in the season. We're just trying to do our thing, work just like we normally have. We're just trying to work the best we can against our competition that we're getting. We have to win out of course, like you said, and if we keep doing the things were suppose to do and the things we know we got to do, we can reach our goal again.
On if Carey has mention what happened to the 2003 NIU football team
"Yeah he's mentioned it. We're just trying to make sure we don't fall into the same path, into that kind of trap and just trying to make sure we keep our head on straight and keep going the way that we have been and keep working hard."
On if standards are higher for the program since last year's Orange Bowl
"We've always had really high standards. We've had the same goals last year really in that respect. We always try to keep our standards higher than everyone else's. If we meet our goals, then we just kind of surprise everyone else or it looks really good on us."
Dechane Durante, Safety
On remaining focused despite the BCS rankings
"We always can't control what's going on like the BCS and everything like that. We have got to do it one game at a time. Last year, everything worked out. We went to a BCS game, so we know if we can take care of our job, keep playing, the same thing will happen this year. We'll land where we land, so we're going to keep on one game at a time and keep trying to get better."
On why the defense is so successful in the second half of games
"They [Central Michigan] jumped out on us and scored a couple touchdowns in the first half. Going into halftime, we just wanted to make a couple corrections. We had seen everything that they wanted to do. We just played our keys and played good defense."
On what halftime corrections were made
"We saw that they were trying to play action pass and we would try to come around the ball. They didn't run the ball well that game, so we just wanted to make the big plays down the field. If we stop the big plays we'll keep them out of the end zone. That is what we did in the second half."
Perez Ford, Defensive End
On why the defense is so successful in the second half of games
"The first few games of the year, we let teams score too many points. It took us a while to kind of figure out. Like what coach was telling us, it's about defense and you just got to figure it out whose going to make the play."
On being ranked in the BCS standings
"For me personally, that's not even my main focus. I didn't even know we were ranked this high till this morning. My girlfriend told me, and she didn't even know. I guess it's a great opportunity but all I am really focused on is Eastern Michigan because yeah we can go to the BCS bowl game but as soon as we lose to Eastern Michigan everything's over."
On if playing last season instead of redshirting has helped him this year
"That really did help me out a lot because trying new experiences and just being out there on the field, it really helps a lot. People don't understand how much it helped. Being out there on the field does help you out."