likeI'll just take a couple minutes and recap last week's game against Troy State. I thought it was a good effort on our part. There were a number of things I liked. I liked more things than I didn't like. I thought our players played hard. We scored a lot of points on offense. The defense shut them out for three quarters and they were able to come up with some turnovers early in the game. We got some big plays out of our kicking game and were once again able to play a lot of players.
We had two turnovers on offense. I didn't like that. We dropped a couple of interceptions which we should have had. I didn't like that. We started the game with two penalties. I really didn't like that. I had to call a timeout one time because we had 12 men on the field defensively and I didn't like that. We gave up an 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter, which was disappointing. So I'm pleased with the effort, but it still gives us room for a lot of improvement.
This week we play Ohio University. The Bobcats from the Mid-American Conference. It seems like every year, not only me, but many coaches from around the country talk about the Mid-American Conference. Good football teams, well coached teams. I'm very familiar with their league because I coached in that league. It's overshadowed by the Big Ten. Always has been, probably always will be, but that doesn't mean that they don't have awfully good programs. Last time we played Ohio University, it seems like yesterday, but it was back in 2000, they beat us by six points. They had 363 yards rushing on us. Basically they just outplayed us and outcoached us in every aspect of the game - offense, defense and kicking.
The Bobcats are 1-1. They have a tough offense, a different offense than what we will see the rest of the year. They can make you do some things that you normally wouldn't do, don't want to do. They play a defense that we don't see very much, so there's a lot more preparation on our part. They've got a good kicking game. I'm most concerned with how they played Iowa State last week and offensively came up with some big plays of 68, 71 and 80 yards. If we give up those types of big plays, we'll have some problems.
It's always an exciting time when you take your first road trip. A lot of kids on this team have been on road trips, but some of them haven't, so the change in scenery is something that has to be dealt with.
On Ohio's Offense:
"It'll cause you a lot of problems. It's not one-dimensional, but on every down you have the treat of the option. And they know what they're doing. They take big line splits; they get good blocking angles on you. I've been a wishbone coach, but I've never run that version of what they do. So more than anything it's to get your players into the tempo of the game because it's hard to simulate in practice. We don't have anything that we do offensively that resembles it, so when you try to give your defense a look it's hard to do. It happens at a much quicker pace than you can do in practice."
On The Gophers' Running Backs:
"They're all different. First of all, I think they are all good backs. But even with three upperclassmen, you don't have to come out of a cookie cutter to play for us. (Marion) Barber is different than Terry (Jackson II), and Terry is different than Thomas (Tapeh). (Laurence) Maroney is his own guy. He might be kind of a combination of all three because he's got that burst like Barber has, and he has the strength like Tapeh has, and he's got the quick little moves like Jackson has. So he's got big-play potential. The first time he touched the ball, he went the distance for a touchdown that got called back for holding, but that really had nothing to do with the play. And he came out of nowhere on that kickoff return - now you see him, now you don't. He's a big guy; he's going to be a big back. If you ask me what Gopher running back he reminds me of the most, I'd have to say Marion Barber II. A big back."
On Laurence Maroney Availability:
"I don't know. We're getting him ready. I think when we get into Big Ten scheduling, you need everybody you can get. Memories are short. A year ago, there were two days we weren't even talking about Terry Jackson and he became the only soldier standing."
On The Ups-and-Downs Of Asad Abdul-Khaliq:
"What quarterback hasn't had ups-and-downs? That's the way it goes. It's the most obvious position that you can evaluate on a football team. The more times you touch the ball or the closer you come to the ball in football, the more critical it is. And he touches the ball every down. But I think he's had a great career here at the `U' to date. I still think the best part of him skill-wise is ahead of him. And I say that because of two things: one, he had to quarterback this team when he didn't have the greatest supporting cast. This is the first time that we've had a solid offensive line in front of him since the get-go. The supporting cast is better. If we do the things that we are supposed to do, we can take a lot of pressure off of that quarterback. Is there a lot of pressure on him when he has to drop back and throw? Sure. Is there a lot of pressure on him when we run the option? Sure. Is there a lot of pressure on him when he takes the snap from the center and hands it off to one of those running backs? No, there's not a lot of pressure there. He gets a plus-plus on the grade sheet real quickly. Two, he has played through injuries. And if there's one thing I like about Asad more than anything is you have to be a tough guy to play quarterback. People might describe him as injury-prone because he's had his share of injuries, but he's also played though a lot of those injuries. And I like that about him."
On The Ohio Game In 2000:
"I can tell you that I'm focused. I remember that game like yesterday. I don't like that. It's one thing to get beat and it's another thing to get beat soundly when you shouldn't get beat. And so I'm determined that we'll be well prepared this time."
On The Punting Situation:
"I don't know who our punter will be this week. We'll see how they do in practice. For (Mark) Rivers, it was his first time stepping on a collegiate field in a competitive situation. But I've been watching him in practice, and he's been getting better. I don't know if you watched him when we were warming up, but he was booming. But I told him I'd rather have a guy that hits it 300 yards off the first tee than 400 yards on the practice range."
On The First Two Games On Defense:
"I think we've been pretty dominant through two games. Part of it is the play of our defense and part of it is the opponent. I'm not going to stand in front if you and try to tell you we're not going to face tougher competition. We've got tougher test this week from a defensive standpoint. And it will get tougher as we go down the stretch. But I think we're fundamentally better. I think we're playing hard. I always try to figure out what the week links are and we've gotten though those weak links we've had in the past. There have been some lapses that I don't really like. If we have a big lapse Saturday against Ohio and they are able to drive the ball 80 yards a couple of times, we've got big problems."