As usual - I am typing in real time and these are not exact quotes. I’m paraphrasing as best I can to keep up with the press conference. If you need an exact quote, let me know in the comments and I’ll look in the transcripts.
Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander
On the difference he’s noticed this year:
Globally, across the team, not just offense, not just defense, not just special teams, is the desire to do things the right way. That starts at the top [veterans]. Those freshman are getting a bit of a baptism by fire because they don’t know any other way. They know those old guys do things right, those old guys demand they do things right and I think that is rubbing off on them.
Asked about the freshman and if they will play:
I can’t say if any of them will play for sure or redshirt, but I’ve been impressed with some of the freshman for sure. If one of them is good enough to play, rotationally or get in the starting lineup, I’m all for it. With those four games they can play, I definitely think we have to get them in, at least on special teams. But I’m not opposed to them getting reps and competing for a starting job.
Asked about Nick [Henrich]
He played as well as anyone through the spring. He’s continued this fall. Competition is tight in that room. You’ve got the top four, Nick, Luke, Snodgrass and Chris. Then you got some freshman pushing them from behind. Even if those guys separate, they can’t slack off because of that. He’s done a good job so far.
On the DL and OLB groups - is there another level of mixing and matching he can get to:
I like the opportunity to be ‘multiple’ - play some three man fronts, some four man fronts, and even some five man fronts and get creative with the pass rush. There’s opportunities for some of the inside guys to rush the edge and some of those edge guys can speed rush the middle. It gives you flexibility. They understand what we’re trying to do. They’re doing a good job making the plays they’re supposed to make right now.
We gotta get more pressure.
It’s both [pressure and winning one-on-one]. I looked at all the sacks in the Big Ten last year. It’s pretty even - maybe tilted a little toward pressure (sending five or more) but there are a lot of ways you can get pressure - however it happens, we have to find a way to affect the QB.
Is this fall different?
It has been really fun for me, there are freshman that still need the basics. But in the meetings, installs, we’re talking real football, situations, details, technique. We are talking global football knowledge, formations, plays and it has helped, the older guys especially, raise their game.
Within our group of guys - I think the DL guys did a really good job last year, I think the OLB room grew a lot last year. The young inside backers, there was a lot of growth - they lost Colin Miller and lost Will at the end. They’ve had to step up now because they’ve become the leaders. So, as good as the DBs are, as good as the front is, I’d say the ILB room has grown the most.
How promising are the young lineman in your group?
If you look at those two - it was Jailen’s [Weaver] birthday (he turned 18) and you look at him and Ru [Ru’Quan Buckley] and they don’t look like 18 year olds, they look like grown men. But you gotta remember they’re 18 year olds and they still have a ways to go. Just their sheer ability and size, it is very promising. I think Jailen is going to play both nose and d-tackle and we’ll go from there.
Javin Wright and Issac Gifford - do they have set positions or will they develop at multiple spots?
That nickel spot, JoJo is kind of his own entity. He was a safety. You’d like to have a DB in there for cover reasons. JoJo kind of grew out of DB, so we created that position for him. Issac and Javin are getting a lot of reps and teaching at safety and nickel so they can be in that mix in the future. In the future, you kind of want a corner to safety to slide into that spot. [So, it will be played differently in the future than how you do it now with JoJo?] We ask JoJo to do some ‘not ordinary’ things because of his size and strength and he still has the movement skills of a DB. In the future, we’ll have to change how we approach that position - tailor it to the skills of the person in that spot.
On Tyreke Johnson
Tyreke has done a nice job - coming into a new program, learning a new scheme. You can definitely see in one-on-ones, you can see elite movement skills. I think he will be a really valuable asset.
On differences in this camp (again)
I feel like we’re not in general math anymore. We’re in calculus, or whatever, now. We’re getting these formulas figured out rather than figuring out 2+2. It’s nice, you get to the install with the older guys now and they’re like, seriously? We have to do this? We have to do it for the rookies. But it doesn’t feel like Groundhog Day every day anymore. It feels like we got the groundwork laid and now we’re putting on the details, the shinges and that feels good.
ILB Chris Kolarevic
I got here in spring and got a feel for the playbook. Now, I’m just trying to get more comfortable with the defense and fly to the ball.
My experience has helped me learn it quickly. All the guys around me knew it so well, I could ask Nick, Luke, Snoz, JoJo any of those guys and they can tell me if I need help. They pushed me to be better. Everybody’s flying around. Everyone understands their job and expectations. It’s a veteran group.
We’re working on being quicker with our checks and assignments. We know what we’re doing. Just need to understand what is going on a little quicker, and keep adjusting quicker.
I think everybody is flying around and everyone is doing what they can to make plays. The speed of play is fast. Everyone understands their responsibility and finds the ball.
I think I did a lot of my learning in spring - I spent time learning the playbook before spring ball and spent a lot fo time with Coach Ruud. During spring, I watched a lot of film. In smmer, I watched film too, but that was more just getting small details.
Loudest guys? I think Garrett is the most vocal guy. He’s the ra-ra guy. He steps up when the energy is lacking. JoJo is awesome as a leader - he has stepped up and figured out that role - bringing young guys along. It’s alot of different guys.
The new guys have fit in really well. I know Samori and Markese - we got here in January together. We are friends with each other and gelled with the team.
The offense is playing fast. On defense we’re playing fast. I think the speed of play is awesome on both sides of the ball.
Anytime a QB is able to run and throw it gives you an extra dynamic - it’s like having another RB out there. It’s another thing you have to watch out there. Even when he drops back, you have to think ‘he could take off here’. It’s a headache to chase those three guys around, but it helps us develop good habits knowing they can run like they do.
There is a chip on my shoulder - I didn’t have any FBS scholarship offers out of high school. So, I’m always thinking I have to prove myself. I played at a small high school, was hurt my junior year, so I really only played my senior year.
My previous experience has helped me, there are differences of course, but some of the technique and concepts are there and I can use what I know.