Nov. 19, 2012
|HUSKIE ALL-ACCESS HIGHLIGHTS
Northern Illinois head football coach Dave Doeren
spoke at NIU's weekly press conference at the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center to preview this Friday's game with Eastern Michigan. Joining Doeren were linebacker Jamaal Bass
, guard Aidan Conlon
, tight end Luke Eakes
and cornerback Rashaan Melvin
. Below are excerpts from the press conference.
NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren
"We are really excited about the win that we just had over Toledo and what it has done for our program not just as far as going to Detroit but that win gets us to 10. Any time you get to the number 10 or higher, I think that is a mark of success that not many teams get to enjoy. I heard today, only two teams in college football that have won 10-plus three years in a row, us and Oregon. So obviously, that is a magic number and if we can continue obviously getting to 11, 12 and even the magic number of winning them all the rest to get to 13 would be a magical season for us.
"Just really proud of our coaching staff, the corrections, the adjustments that were made after a difficult first half. You know, we struggled to get into the end zone. Defensively, I thought we did some good things. They are a very good offense that has good players that play well in space. They are up-tempo, and their quarterback is dynamic. We did a lot of things to keep them from really getting away from us. With the turnovers, our defensive kids, I thought, contained him and kept him in the pocket. They hit him hard the first play of the game.
"Obviously, at halftime, we made some decisions to spread them out and try to do some things in space with Tommylee [Lewis] and Martel [Moore] with our screen game and Perez [Ashford], that paid huge dividends to open things back up for Jordan [Lynch] to run. So, really good adjustments by Coach Carry and the offense. I thought our special teams, even though not a lot was said, we didn't have the big returns but we did keep Reedy from doing anything. That's a big thing. I think he has been able to help them in some games, break things open.
"Some individual performances. Obviously, Jordan's game to run for over 150 yards and throw for over 400 is something that has never been done in college football, which says a lot. There have been a lot of great quarterbacks that have played this game and that have played since the invention of the spread. I think he has shown now that he is more than just a runner in multiple games and to do it against a good defense.
"We are very happy also for the crowd that they came out and supported us Wednesday night. That meant a lot to our seniors. I'm happy for them to go out on that note. I think any time you have a class as specials as out senior class to send them out the way we did. It was a fun locker room after the game to say the least.
"Unfortunately we did lose a player in Tyler Loos. I know a lot of people have asked and it was not a knee injury it just broke a bone the tibia in his lower leg but he will be back sooner than later but obviously not within the season here but Tyler had a great season for us. He played left tackle and played almost every snap. He did a phenomenal job. Ryan Brown will move over to left and pick up where he left off. Ryan has had a good season for us. I know he is excited about the opportunity to play the whole game as opposed to being a rotational player.
"With that we come home and get ready for Easter Michigan team that just had a huge win over Western Michigan. We get to play them in their Senior Day so we know we will get a spirited team. I've always had a lot of respect for Coach English. I've known him since we were both position coaches. Obviously he was the coach of the year in the MAC last year, so he is a guy that people respect. We know that his kids play hard. They lost a lot of good players on their defense to graduation last year and their young so you can see the improvement when you watch their football team. They do a lot of things offensively, they run a multi-quarterback system. One guy is a very good runner and he ran well last year. They were a big time of possession team a year ago. I thought they did a nice job against Western, keeping their offense off the field.
"Statistically you don't look at them and mark their statistics but when you watch their film they are lined up right and player hard and have good team speed. They are aggressive. You can see on special teams they try to block kicks and cover the field the right way. Their kickers and punters do a nice job and their quarterbacks make plays and their tight end is probably the best tight end that is not just a blocker or a runner. A lot like Luke Eakes he is a guy who does a lot of things really well in their offensive system. So it is going to be a great game and coming off of the emotional game we just had it's a game that our guys really have to step up because any time you have a huge emotional win knowing you are going to play a game a week later in Detroit it's a game that you could fall into that trap. We are not going to do that. Our guys have already addressed it and talked about it. We have had to great practices already. Today they are taking a day off for academics and then we will get right back into it tomorrow with a Wednesday practice on a Tuesday."
On comparing scores of Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois' common opponents
"I really don't. I just respect them. I mean last year they have us the best game we had. Ball State was probably a little better. Offensively speaking, we played really poorly against them last year and they obviously defended well. We know as an offense we got to put a better product on the field then we did last year against Eastern.
"I thought defensively we played pretty well against them last year and hopefully we can try and do the same thing. They do a lot of what we call pin pull but plays where they block down and pull line man and try to get a lot of blockers out front of the running back or quarterback whoever has the ball. Student body right, student body left type plays where you got to be able to really get off of blocks and off hats and see pullers as defenders and leverage. Those are things that who's the toughest guy on these type plays and I love that kind of football so I know our defense will have a great practice getting ready for that."
On Eastern's two-quarterback system
"Gillett plays quarterback some and when he is not a quarterback he is playing receiver. When he is a quarterback the other quarterback is lined up at receiver also so they are both in the game most of the time. I think Gillett was their guy when the season started and had some problems in the throwing game so Benz has kind of taken over from that stand point, but at the same time Gillett is a dynamic runner and you can see it using both of the quarterbacks' strengths within the game.
"Their tailback, Bronson Hill, is averaging seven yards a carry right now and he is a weapon for them as well. I just think the tight end Hoskins is a really good player, No. 85. A great blocker and is leading the team in receptions with 33 catches and has over 500 yards and 15 yard average. His catches are play action type, down the field, corner routes, post, or crossing routes. He is a good football player so we will have to be ready for him. Coach English does a nice job and is going to put together a great package together for what we do."
On the double pass possibility with the two-quarterback system
"You always have the ability to have double pass or reverse pass or bubble screen that becomes a double pass. Any time you play on Senior Day this is their home game and this is their last game of the year. We are going to see everything and we expect to see everything. When you are going to the MAC championship and you are ranked the teams you play are always going to get up for that kind of challenge as competitors."
What it means if the team finished in the Top 25
"There is a lot of things that you talk to the players about when it comes to leaving a legacy. I think that is important when you are a competitor you want to always try and do something that hasn't been done before you to set the bar even higher. It has not happened here and the 12- or 13-win season hasn't happened here either so those are both goals that we have as a program.
"Obviously to get either one of those we would have to win this week so to look ahead I think you lose out on something as far as leaving your legacy and that is something we are not going to do. We are going to make sure that all of our guys, our coaches are focused on Eastern Michigan and when that game ends Friday or what ever time it is Friday afternoon I guess it is whatever time it is, we will quickly shift out attention to the other game and we got a five hour bus ride to start watching that other team."
On 2012 being a special season
"It is very special. I felt that way going into the season. I had a really good feel about our club. I think our leadership, not just our senior leadership, but our team leadership is very good. Our leadership council we have is mature and they have taken ownership in what we do. There are guys that come to me a variety of times not just upperclassmen that have ideas or have suggestions or concerns not just about football you know just certain things.
"Thanksgiving is coming up. You know some of our young guys are getting a little home sick, different ways trying to help them because we are practicing this week. We don't have Thanksgiving break here with our schedule that we have. Just different ways to make these guys understand that we do care about them. It is about winning but at the same time it's about development and family and making sure our guys understand that. I think that is what makes this team special. A lot of teams are afraid to ask their coaches or talk to their coaches about things that they think might get them in trouble. I don't want to seem soft to you coach or something like that so I think we got a good bunch of guys that work hard it's a special team and I would love to see them go out with some bars that are pretty hard to get to."
On the way NIU finishes games
"Well, part of that is our mentality that we practice with. I've told you guys this before, but we finish every practice with fourth quarter. We talk about each quarter and we practice each quarter of the game every day and we finish every practice with fourth quarter in the red zone where you got to have three perfect plays on offense and you cant let them in on defense. I just think that the routine we have leads to the fact that you don't ever leave our practice field without finishing and we finish every practice with fourth quarter or red zone.
"We outscore our opponents in the fourth quarter 109-51 for the season. I know the second half is 220-93. I think that says a lot not just about how we finish but how we adjust at half time. I think that is a tribute to our coaches for understanding the adjustments that need to be made but a lot of times those corrections are not communicated the right way and the players you don't see the fix on the field. We have not had that issue here. You see something hurt us and that issue is erased. That's the biggest thing I tell our coaches. A sign of a good coach is a guy that can make corrections that show up on the film immediately. A sign of a good player is a player that will take that coaching and do it. I think we are doing that right now so we would like to continue that trend obviously this week."
On the value of having a dual-threat quarterback at the end of the game
"Well to be a no huddle offense and be a time of possession team that doesn't get a lot of minutes but being able to eat six minutes off the clock at then end of the game says a lot not just about the quarterback but our run game. The way we can get extra gaps with formations and motions and go hat for hat but also create movement and it wasn't just all Jordan you know there were other guys that did it and I think that says a lot. If you look at the youth of our offensive line and really our offense in general there are a lot of young kids that are playing.
"Aidan Colon is young. Andrew Ness is young. Desroy Maxwell is out there as a true freshman. Keith Harris was out there as a true freshman. Tommylee is a second year player. [Angelo] Sebastiano is a second year player. [Juwan] Brescacin is a second year player. There are a lot of guys getting valuable minutes in our offense right now. We can say the same thing on our special teams with Tyler Wedel as a second year player. He had a heck of a game. The way he kept the ball away and kick the football where we ask him to and he doesn't get enough credit for that so there is a lot of youth that played a part in that."
On managing the end of games
"There is a fine line. You want to be conservative with the clock. You want to use the clock but not with your calling of how you call you play. I don't want to turn into you run three play and you are out. If that happens it happens. When you get a lead, you still want to be aggressive with your formations, your shifts, your motions, your play calling, and you try to use their rules against them with all the things we do with our system but you want to do it while you are protecting the clock for our defense.
"We do the same thing with out special teams. Any special teams snap where we can steal seconds off the clock we will do that when we get a lead but it doesn't change what we want to do. If they are cover zero we are going to throw it over their head if we can even it is at then end of the game. We are going to take advantage like I always say, `Take what they give you,' because I think that is where you odds are best."
On Eastern's struggles against the run
"They are young. Last year they had the two best safeties in the league. Those guys were good and they would knock you down and you watch our game last year those guys made a ton of tackles on Chandler [Harnish] and Jasmin [Hopkins]. They were a junior college recruited football team that hit their age last year. Those guys are gone and now they are younger because he has high school players behind them. They are talented guys. I mean they can run. You turn on special teams and that is true sign of team speed, I think is watching them in open spaces. They can run they are just not where they want to be as far as their age. They are kind of like us last year on defense to be honest with you. You see the talent but they are just not consistently where they want to be. They are well coached and their schemes are sound and they are still getting experience and things like that."
Jamaal Bass, Linebacker
On the possibility of being ranked at the end of the year
"It would be big for us. To come in next year, if we keep doing what we're doing, to be ranked, that would be a big goal for us so we can finally get some national attention. We've been working hard and to finally be ranked, that's huge for us."
On how Eastern's two-quarterback system changes NIU's preparation
"It makes it a little difficult, but we already have our game plan in for both of them. One of them is primarily a runner and the other one is primarily a passer. We have different schemes for both of them."
Aidan Conlon, Guard
On Eastern Michigan's difficulties stopping the run
"Their front seven is physical. I've watched a couple games where they show their speed. They fly to the ball. They're definitely a challenge. We have to prepare just like we would any other team, take it week-by-week like coach says. They rotate their interior linemen quite a bit so that will be a challenge for me as a guard just to recognize that and block them."
On closing out games
"That's always an offensive goal to always finish the game with the ball. If you ask [Jordan] Lynch, he'd love to have the ball at the end of the game to finish it out. I think we played a really strong third quarter and that gave us an opportunity to be in that position in the fourth quarter. It's definitely a goal of ours to finish the game with the ball."
Luke Eakes, Tight End
On accomplishing something no other NIU team has done
"That's a great feeling, great opportunity for us. Everyone's happy where we are. Everyone's just got to keep working, win the next game. Eastern's next."
Rashaan Melvin, Cornerback
On being ranked
"It's a tremendous privilege to be ranked, but we still have to play our game. It tells us we're one of the best teams in the country. In order to continue to be ranked, we must keep winning."