Sept. 14, 2013
Minnesota (3-0) 29, Western Illinois (2-1) 12
Sept. 14, 2013
Minnesota Defensive Coordinator Tracy Claeys
On his postgame message…
“I said to enjoy (the win). All the kids are aware of Coach Kill’s situation. They handled it great. They did not panic at halftime and played very well in the second half as far as team football goes. Defensively, this is the first time since I have been here that we have been able to pin teams deep and keep them there. I thought we played very well as a team in the second half and finished the game.”
On the coaching staff’s process once Kill leaves…
“We keep our normal routine. That is how we were trained. That is what (Jerry Kill) would want. The team knows what they have to do and nothing changes.”
On the team wearing Western Illinois down…
“That is what you should do. We have more scholarship players. Besides the play where they snuck the back down the field for the long play, I thought we were very sound in the second half. I was not that disappointed in the first half. Just like basketball, sometimes you are not shooting the ball well offensively. I am really pleased because I think we have made some progress defensively and some games you are going to have to win like that.”
On adjustments made in the secondary…
“I thought they went good. We have to play the long ball better, but because of the injuries we haven’t been able to consistently give repetitions to people in places. We put some kids in positions they are not accustom to, and I thought we performed pretty good.”
Minnesota Defensive Lineman Ra'shede Hageman
On today’s coaching situation…
"We knew we had to make sure Coach was okay, but keep playing hard. Coach Kill is a very tough person and he would want us to keep playing well."
On a strong defensive finish…
"The offense started a little slow today, but that doesn't give us any excuses. We knew we had to come out and play hard. We had to stop them and give the offense opportunities to score."
Minnesota Tight End Maxx Williams
On Mitch Leidner’s entry into the game…
"I think Mitch is a great quarterback and he was ready to go today. We practice with both Philip (Nelson) and Mitch. We were ready for him and used to playing with Mitch, so it was a smooth transition."
On the turning point for the offense…
"I think there was a turning point when Western Illinois took the lead after their second touchdown. We knew that we had to go out there and take it to the other team. It is our job to put points on the board and that's what we did."
Minnesota Quarterback Mitch Leidner
On extended playing time…
"It was a good feeling to get out on the field today. It really helped me to have these great running backs helping me out. It took a lot of pressure off me when I knew I could give it to the running backs. I had a good time out there and it was even better when the offense started to pick up."
Bob Nielson, Western Illinois Head Coach
“First of all, congratulations to Minnesota and their staff. They have a very good football team. Coach Kill and his staff have done a great job building a football team that is going to win a lot of games and they showed that today. Certainly, my thoughts are with him. Hopefully he’s okay—we found out at halftime that he had left the field, so we hope everything’s all right there. I’m very proud of our team. I thought our guys played exceptionally hard. We battled; we played very well defensively the whole game until down there at the end and certainly the field position changed there for us.
On how the field position changed the game…
“It’s amazing how we get a big play there with Kevin (Kintzel’s fumble recovery) on a weird series of events there, first of all. We had a chance to pick off a ball that could’ve been a long return and we don’t get that done and then we get that turnover that ends up getting us the ball at the one-yard line and we don’t punch a first down out. Quite frankly, it’s a little different environment right in front of their student section there and communication was difficult. We didn’t execute really well and we had to punt the ball very well into the wind and all of a sudden the field position changes and they score and they get momentum. They’re the kind of football team that’s really good in the end zone because of what they do. You get them down in there and they’re going to put points on the board against almost anybody they play.”
On how close the team is to breaking through…
“We’ve got a ways to go. I’ve told people from the beginning that we’ve got to continue to improve as a football team. I think we improved from Week 1 to Week 2. I think in a lot of respects we improved from Week 2 to Week 3 and now we’ve got to use this game to get better next week.”
Kevin Kintzel, Jr., LB
On the attitude of the team…
“Anything is possible with us. Ever since he’s (Neilson) gotten here, he knew it was going to be a battle, starting from the bottom—literally—in the conference. It’s just knowing that we always have a chance to win the game and that all of our coaches are going to put us in the right spots to make plays.
On returning his fumble recovery to the WIU one-yard line…
“I did not see the receiver on the right. I should’ve been more aware of the situation backed up to their student section on the one-yard line. I should’ve just taken a knee with it. That’s personally my fault. I thought I had an edge there and then at the last second, I totally forgot about the receiver outside.”
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Game 4: Minnesota at Penn State
Minnesota opens Big Ten play at Penn State on Saturday, Oct. 1. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network and can be heard on KFAN.
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Minnesota will host Iowa at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. The game will be on either ABC or ESPN2 and can be heard on KFAN.