Nov. 26, 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 2012 Marathon MAC Championship game with East Division winners Kent State. Joining Doeren were defensive tackle Ken Bishop
, linebacker Victor Jacques
, quarterback Jordan Lynch
, and wide receiver Martel Moore
. Below are excerpts from the press conference.
NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren
"It is exciting to be heading back to Ford Field and the destination of the championship game for the third straight year as a program and second as a head coach. I know our players are very excited. I think we have a great opponent in front of us. To have a championship game with two 11-1 teams, that rank first through third basically in every category statically in the conference, I think says a lot. Sometimes you don't get to see the best two teams play each other in the conference championship you know it just doesn't work out that way and for the MAC to have that on a national stage I think is outstanding for our conference and the players.
"I have a great amount of respect for Coach Hazell and the personnel of his team, the coaching staff he has assembled. The way they have improved since we played them last year, I think it is pretty remarkable. Two physical teams that run the football well, differently but well. Two defenses that play well and play a lot different from each other, but play well. They are more of a pressure defense and they have good skill. They play hard they know their schemes. They have good special teams. Their head coach has coached in a lot of big games and so have I.
"I know our players and their players are really excited about the implications if either team could win, what it would mean to their university from a BCS standpoint. There's always a lot riding on a championship game, but maybe more in this one than normal for our conference and that makes it even more fun as a coach preparing for this one. I know Jordan [Lynch] and the guys will be in here to talk about their perspective. We had a really good practice yesterday and looking forward to getting back in a little bit."
What it means if Kent State or NIU make it to a BCS bowl
"I think it says a lot. It's been an historic year just overall as a conference. The number of BCS wins that we have put together as a league. To crown it off with the best team from that league going to a big game I think would be right. We definitely earned national respect as a conference and it's not like one team had a great year. I mean there is a multitude of teams that have had big wins this year in our league over BCS teams. I think if you can win this league that says a lot about who you are. It's a very balanced league with a lot of good football teams in it and very good coaches. It would be deserving, in my opinion, for the best team to get that opportunity to play in whatever BCS game they put us in."
On if Kent State is the best team NIU will face this year
"I think 11-1 you have to say they are. I thought Toledo was really good. I thought Ball State was really good but when you look at their body of work and the number of times they have won, you have to say they are.
"They have the best player we have played against all year I will tell you that. Dri Archer is electric and versatile and they give him the ball. He touched it 19 times on offense out of 58 plays I think in the Bowling Green game, which is a lot for a guy that isn't the quarterback. We got to make sure we know where he is and we got to be able to tackle him and leverage him. They also have Trayion Durham, who I think is a very strong downhill extra yardage back that does a nice job. Their offensive line does not get enough credit for what they do.
"Defensively, I like they way they play. They are similar to us. You see the passion in their play. They play hard they shed blocks they use their hands. They are in the right lanes as pass rushers and they play with passion. I think that is what championship teams do, so I'm looking forward to seeing them on both sides of the ball competing against each other."
On the possibility of playing in a BCS game
"The dominos had to fall and they did. A bunch of the fell this weekend, so I think it was more of, `hey wouldn't that be cool if this happened.' Now it's a real conversation because nine teams loss that were ranked higher than us and so that really opened up some doors. None of them are worth their salt if we lose this weekend, so we got to win. We put ourselves into a position to make it a real argument and now we need to finish what we started here.
"It was wild. I didn't get to see much of it because we were game planning the whole day, but I recorded all the games. My son told me and he was calling me with updates. It was kind of fun. It was a crazy day in college football."
Advantage of being in Detroit three straight years
"I think the familiarity that the guys will have with the hotel. They have been on both floors as a visitor and a home team. They have been in both locker rooms. You know that part of it I think adds some value. It's not as big of a, `holy cow we are at Ford Field.' Not that they [Kent State] will have that because they have played in big venues. You do worry about it and our guys have been through the routine that takes place at Ford Field, except for our new players, so you do lean on that experience."
On if Jordan Lynch can get his name into the Heisman discussion with a big game
"I would like to see that. I think he has done everything that he was supposed to do. He did it in a big game on national television against Toledo. This is another opportunity for him to play, probably the best defense that he has to play against since Iowa, I would say collectively with what they do with their defensive front and the pressures they bring. It will be the biggest test he has had from that standpoint."
On where Kent State likes to bring pressure from
"They bring it from the field and the boundary. They will also bring it up the middle. There's quite a few players that are active and it's not like they are bringing seven or eight guys. It's a five- or six-man pressure and sometimes they are dropping a D-lineman out, but they use their players well. No. 43 is a good pass rusher as a linebacker and they will blitz him a lot and get him to the ball. Occasionally you will see a defensive back, corner, or safety added in."
On the importance of taking an early lead against Kent State
"I think Ohio was a really good defense last year. We just can't turn it over five times like we did last year. We made that a pretty tough game. That is probably the best thing Kent does on defense is take it away, so that will be a challenge. They have 22 interceptions and the way they rip at the football. It is a point of emphasis. It is key to victory for sure, is turnover margin in this game.
"I think any time you play in a game like this, you have got to protect the ball and be super opportunistic. You can't drop picks if you are our defense. You can't throw picks if you are on offense. You got to catch the ball if you are open. You got to throw it to the open guy and not miss him. You've got to make the right checks. If you have a sack on the quarterback, you can't fall off the guy and let him throw it. You got to get him down. I mean all the plays you need to make in a big game that's what you have to do to win those kinds of games. Both teams have been able to do that so it's going to be fun to see who is going to make more of them."
On Jordan Lynch's ability to take care of the football
"I've been pretty impressed. He has done a nice job. Coach Cole, our quarterback coach, really spends a lot of time with that part of his game. I think game management is a thing that does not get talked enough about probably when you are talking about a quarterback. Not screwing it up is a really big deal when you play that position. You see it a lot when you turn on the television. You see a guy throw the ball and what is he doing right there? He has just been a good game manager. He understands his football aptitude. His football IQ is pretty high. He understands how to protect the ball and that people are going to be coming after it. That is the best part about him I think. All the other athletic things he can do are very special, don't get me wrong, but he doesn't put our defense in harm's way a lot either. That is pretty important."
On if NIU can take it to another level this year
"I think we can. I still don't think we have capitalized in the red zone enough. I think we are eighth in the league in touchdown percentage in the red zone. We score a lot but there are a lot of times we get down there and settle for field goals. Not that points are bad, but you really like to be better in that area. That is one area we can get better at."
On Akeem Daniels
"Akeem is a warrior. He wanted this. He wanted to be the guy all year and he wanted it last year. He was a receiver just going back to what he was in high school. He was playing on one of those wing-T teams. He was one of the wings, so he never read anything. They just flipped him the ball and ran. His first year, he just did jet-sweeps and played him in the slot, so he never read anything. When we moved him to tailback last year it was all brand new.
"This year he was splitting time when we were role playing. To his credit, he hung in there and now you got an opportunity and he ran with it last week. I thought he was really patient. I thought he ran through contact. He didn't get in there and look for the big play. I mean, to me a four-yard run is a good run. You know it doesn't have to be the 50-yard touchdown. If you are patient like that, eventually that is what they become. That is what he was last week. Really proud of him because he is a great pass protector for us. He catches the ball well out of the backfield. He's versatile in our empty package, and now he is a good downhill tailback. I think that is the one thing we have been waiting on for him."
On NIU's team speed
"I think we got some pretty twitchy guys on the defensive line in particular. I think a lot of teams are fast in the skill positions. I think the MAC has good skill in general. We both have quick twitch guys that play on the defensive fronts and that's what helps as far as tackles for loss and sacks and screen reaction and things like that."
On keeping the team from getting distracted
"It's not a BCS talk if you lose. It's pretty simple. You lose this game, you don't talk about it next week. It's real easy to lock them into winning this one. The challenge to me was the week before and the week before Toledo. Those were the games that scared me more than these kinds of games. When you are playing your rival for a chance to go to the championship, then you are playing the championship for the chance to maybe play in the BCS. There is not a lot you need to say. Theses guys are going to be ready."
On the performance of the offensive line
"I thought they played great considering the field conditions were slippery. We had two different guys run for 100 yards. We had a receiver catch a ton of passes. Our screen game was as good as it has been. Those guys have a great chemistry. If you ever interview our offensive linemen, I think you will feel that they believe in each other and the injured guys are like coaches in there. I mean Logan is in there talking to those guys all the time. I know Tyler [Loos] and all those guys communicate still, so I was really proud of them. They are going to have their hands full this week. I know they are up for the challenge but this is a great defensive line we are going to play so I'm looking forward to that."
Martel Moore, Wide Receiver
On the excitement of a possible BCS bowl berth
"It's a great thing for the program. It's very big for our class and for the whole team, but we still have to take care of business this week. If we don't take care of business, it means nothing for our future."
On the receiving group getting into a rhythm with Jordan Lynch at QB
"We worked all summer through last spring. It was just something that had to click in front of everybody else's eyes. We always had confidence in him and I know he had confidence in us. It was game time, so it had to happen."
Jordan Lynch, Quarterback
On the impact of this game on the program
"I think it is one of the biggest games in MAC history for the MAC championship. All that BCS talk, that's great and everything. It would be great to send our seniors out with a BCS bowl. But, as Martel said earlier, if we don't take care of this game, none of that is possible."
On being surprised of BCS contention
"We knew we would be ranked in the top. We try not to focus on the bowl game three weeks ago and we're not even trying to focus on it now. We just trying to take care of business against Kent State. Like I said, if we don't beat Kent State, none of that is possible. It's a great opportunity and it would be great for the program."
On Kent State's defense
"We've seen them on film. They're physical. They're well coached, disciplined, fundamentally sound. They look like a group of guys who just like to get after it."
On preventing KSU from getting turnovers
"They pride themselves on turnovers. We pride ourselves on keeping the ball, too. It should be a great battle."
Victor Jacques, Linebacker
On the possibility of a major bowl game
"It's something that we would always want to go to. To get a shot at a BCS bowl would be great for the school and our senior class, but like all of us are saying, we need to take care of business this upcoming week in order to get there."
On this opportunity being too big to come true
"No, you don't want to get your head wrapped around things like that. You want to stay focused on the prize. You want to go out there with the mentality that you have the right to be there. You don't want to be shocked the whole time you're there that `Oh my God, I'm here.' You just want to put that in the back of your head and go out there and play football."
On Dri Archer
"He's quite shifty, but he's a very quick back. He's going to be the main emphasis this week. We're always going to know where he's at on the field to make sure he's kept in check. He's a great football player, but I feel confident with our defense."
On the challenge of locating Archer in the formation
"That is an emphasis we are having this week to point him out because their offense does really go through Number One. We are making that an emphasis to point him out and know where he's at."
Ken Bishop, Defensive Tackle
On talking about NIU's success this season
"It's been really exciting to be able to follow everybody talking about us, the publicity we've been getting. I just feel real appreciative of the opportunity to get here."