Oct. 29, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois University head football coach Rod Carey spoke at NIU's weekly press conference at the Convocation Center to talk about Saturday's upcoming road game against UMass. Joining Carey were offensive lineman Aidan Conlon and linebacker Boomer Mays. Below are excerpts from the press conference.
"The win over Eastern Michigan was a good win. It was 60 minutes of football, which was what we wanted to see. Obviously I wasn't real happy with how they went ahead and went down and ran the ball down there on us and got that last score when we had our young guys in there. On the flip side, we had good teaching going on with that to get themselves better. So you put that aside, I'm pretty happy with the day. Like I said, and I'll continue to say, my hat's off to Coach English and his staff and getting the team prepared under adverse circumstances and going and playing the game the right way. I know it wasn't the outcome they were looking for but my hat's off to them.
"So, looking forward to UMass. Again, that team is 1-7. They went for two against Western Michigan, and they would be 2-2 in this league. They had a guy wide open in the back of the end zone. That quarterback wouldn't miss that throw 10 times if you gave it to him 10 times, that's how open he was. Certainly we have a lot of respect for Coach Molnar and the job he's doing to bring the school up from I-AA or whatever they call that now, FCS. That's a hard transition and I think he's doing a great job of it. They are playing good football, they are playing inspired football, and they are playing really good at home. They're used to that venue they have and they've played good at home, I'll tell you that. So it's going to be a challenge for us. We have a long flight out there with the travel and then we have an early kickoff, 11 am our time, noon their's. So there are going to be quite a few challenges to go along with this."
On if he is concerned about the team's focus
"What am I concerned about, a whole bunch of things. That would be in there, I suppose. I haven't thought about that until you said that. I will tell you this, if you're not focused on what you're doing right now, then you're not going to be successful. You're either moving forward or you're moving backwards, and you need to be pushing forwards."
On the feeling of playing in an NFL stadium environment
"We've played down at Soldier Field a few times and it's always been a great venue. Now we think that is our home away from home and so we're used to that. This will be our first time there with this season. So I don't know if I can answer that a whole ton, but I know the guys like it."
On what type of offense to expect from UMass
"They were really struggling offensively to score points and then last week they score 30 points, and really it should have been 32 and gotten the win. So confidence is an amazing thing for these 18-22 year olds. All of a sudden you get it and all of a sudden you start playing a lot better. You can talk to Aidan [Conlon]. Aidan trotted out there for his first party against Iowa, now he has enough confidence in him to come into a game, and he's played like that since. The same goes for Boomer Mays. So I don't know what to expect but I do know they are playing with more confidence."
On getting players to focus with all the BCS talk and rankings
"We talk about it. We talk about what everybody's talking about and everyone wants to talk about it. You can either choose to talk about it or not talk about it. There are ramifications for talking about it, being distracted and not paying attention to the small things. Or you can choose to not pay attention to it, block it out and focus on the things that have gotten us to this point. So I don't think there is a magic formula to it. If you don't address it in this day and age, I mean Twitter and Facebook, come on. So you have to talk about it."
On what differences UMass presents on film compared to last season
"Well they're a lot more athletic, I can tell you that. Defensively, they move around quite a bit more, they are changing directions better. The have a cornerback who also returns kicks for them, who I think is one of the best in this league hands down, and he's only a sophomore. So they have a lot of young talent as well. Even though they have some seniors playing in there but they have some young guys in there as well. Then offensively, they're a year more consistent. Anytime you have that comfort in the system you're in, you're going to play better and overall they're playing better."
On if he feels Cameron Stingily will be ready this week
"I do. Turf toe is a funny thing. I could say I expect him to play Saturday, he could go out Saturday and warm up and he could not play. That's something that I'll say he's day to day."
On the depth of the running backs
"Next guy up. That's why we all practice. There's never more than one person more important in the room than another."
On if he knew that depth at running back would be a strength this year
"Did I know it was going to be one of our strengths? No. We brought in on paper three freshmen running backs, and moved one to wideout, and then moved a corner in Draco [Smith] over to running back. So no, I had no idea, but they all practice and play now, and they've come along real well, so I like where we're at now."
On being pleased with the production of the freshmen running backs
"Oh, absolutely. But that's a credit to those guys and a credit to our senior leadership for pulling those guys along. Joel [Bouagnon] and Draco [Smith] in the backfield, last year at this Jordan [Lynch] was playing college ball and these guys were playing high school ball in Aurora and Mount Carmel, so that's a credit to those seniors, and guys like Jordan for pulling those guys along."
On the running game being helped by the offensive line
"One doesn't go without the other, I can tell you that. You can't be good at running the ball if you don't have a good O-line, you can't have a good O-line if you don't have guys that are capable of making people miss. Or in Cam's case, running people over every once in awhile. That's a chicken before the egg question. I don't know which comes first."
On if high schools running the spread offense has helped develop younger players
"High school football has changed. There's been good coaching in high school football going on for a long time, but high school right now and the coaching that's going on down there is unbelievable. You've got spread offenses, veer, I, and pro-style and they're doing it well. When you get a kid that's come in from a place like Aurora Christian, that are well-coached like that, it's a great plus."
On the status of Akeem Daniels
"I do know he's getting closer to getting back. Do I know when he will be back? No."
On removing the redshirt from Joel Bouagnon
"We decided last week when we heard about Cam [Stingily]. It was kind of early, mid-week. We decided to do that because there are only five games left, and when you pull a redshirt on someone, you don't want to get down to that one to two games left to pull a redshirt.
"With the injuries that can always happen, and have happened to our running backs, you want to go ahead and stay ahead of the curve. I saw some good things out of Joel. I can tell you this, and he'll tell you this too, he better learn how to lower his pads. He's used to running high school pad level. He did a good job and learned to lower his pads, and he'll get better."
On how often Joel Bouagnon will play
"We pulled the shirt, so he's playing. Now if Cam is back 100 percent, will that mean probably less plays? Yeah, because Cam is Cam. He's averaging 100 yards per game now, but he'll play."
On Draco Smith switching to running back
"Well there again, Coach Lenti is not a good football coach, he's a great one. He teaches them the right way, not only about life but about football. Draco is a smart football player because of where he's come from. He can pick that up, no problem."
Boomer Mays, Linebacker
On what they've seen on film about UMass
"I haven't gotten the chance to watch a ton of film yet, but as far as I've seen, they can move the ball, they get people lined up outside. They've got a very versatile offense, I would say."
On ignoring the rankings and not underestimating an opponent
"We know our rankings, but we have the mindset of every week, we're 0-0, and we have to face our next opponent, and we're looking forward to Saturday."
On the defense improving over the past few weeks
"Yeah, the last few weeks I feel like we're steadily progressing and building on each week. I think that's key in what we're doing to establish ourselves as a defense."
Aidan Conlon, Offensive Lineman
On playing at Gillette Stadium
"I think it will be a great experience, I've never been out to Foxboro before. Preparation stays the same, it'll be a little longer flight, but everything else is the same, but I'll be excited."
On the difference of playing in a larger stadium than used to
"When I'm playing, I'm pretty focused on the 11 guys across from us, outside of that I don't really put much into that. I just love playing football, and the atmosphere changes every week, but it's always 11 vs. 11."