November 13, 2001
Bloomington, Ind. -- Cam Cameron will address the media each Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. to discuss the previous week's game and the upcoming game for the Hoosiers.
"Looking at the Penn State tape, and if you saw the Illinois game, Penn State is playing as well as anybody in our league right now. Especially when (Zach) Mills is in there -- they're up 21-7 versus Illinois on the road. He gets hurt and a variety of things happen. Illinois' (Kurt) Kittner made some plays and they beat them in the last two minutes. We all know Illinois a very good team and Penn State goes on the road and could have very easily won that ballgame. They are three and one in their last four ballgames. Prior to their break, they played Michigan probably as well as any other team has played them. They give up two big plays, otherwise that game is within a touchdown or so. I look at them and see their kicking game is sound. They have two of the better returners in the league. Their defensive front seven is physically the most talented front seven in our league. Their secondary is young and is playing better and making plays. Offensively, I think they have more backs than anyone in our league. Their offensive line is solid and now their receivers are making plays. We are going to have to be ready to play. This should be a heck of a football game."
Do you see some similarities in both teams -- off to a slow start and now putting things together and playing well?
"Well, they started out playing Miami of Florida and we started out with North Carolina State. North Carolina State has beat Florida State. They have played some good teams. We know Iowa is a good team. We've played some good teams. They have some games where if they make a few more plays, they would have won. If you remember, I said we have a bad record but we don't have a bad team. Your record isn't always indicative of what kind of team you have. And some times it is and that is a bad feeling. Sometimes your record is indicative of how you really are. I never felt at any time that our record was indicative of the team we could be. We made some mistakes. When you make some mistakes against some good teams you get beat. Penn State did the same thing. They made some mistakes against some good teams and they got beat. Anybody that makes mistakes in our league, this year, will get beat. I don't think anybody can overcome mistakes and not get beat. People are too good."
I take it you're not surprised that Joe Paterno could turn things around this year?
"Not at all. Don't think I didn't watch that closely. You can't sit around and try to figure everything out yourself. You watch, and I've gotten to know Coach Paterno pretty well and have studied him for a long time. They are a different football team. You don't do everything different. All you have to do is find one or two little things that give your team a spark, especially when you have some talent. He has some talent, whether it was the Power-I formation or...I saw the interview where he said the Power-I kind of got their offense going. Whatever it is, it doesn't really matter. They got the team headed in the right frame of mind and that is more important than anything else. When you have talent and you've got your guys in the right frame of mind -- you're going to be tough to beat."
Looking at their Power-I and the talent they have against our linebackers -- with two of them being former defensive backs -- do you see any match-up problems?
"That would be assuming that we are going to go with those guys against their Power-I. The game is really a game between personnel match-ups. Some weeks it is and some weeks it isn't. This may be one of those weeks where you substitute when they substitute. Their coaches are paid too. They bring in a Power-I personnel group and they can still be in a one-back or two-back look. There is no guarantee that their personnel will dictate the formation they are in. It is similar to us -- come ready to defend the option. If you don't, you may see it every down. So, you have to be ready in case they decide to run it every single down."
With your running game, how much better is it to have a defense keying on three guys instead of just one, or even two?
"It is critical. However, I think it all starts with the offensive line and works from there. They have done a really nice job and this will be our greatest challenge this year. Penn State has a first-round draft pick, a three-technique, Jimmy Kennedy, who almost came here. It came down to Penn State and Indiana. He is a guy that you have to account for every down. It starts with your offensive line and it moves to the next guy, which is your fullback. When Jeremi (Johnson) plays well, we run the ball well. Then it goes to your quarterback and the decisions that he has to make. Levron (Williams) becomes the final spoke in that wheel. He has to continue playing hard and improve. The key for us is going to be the development of our receivers. At some point in time, people aren't going to just let you run the football. Our receivers have to grow up in a hurry over the next three weeks."
How well have your receivers helped the running game?
"Tremendous. If you look at all of the big runs, there were great blocks on the perimeter. We're giving ourselves a chance to spring a big play. You don't make 80-yard runs on the option without guys blocking on the perimeter. Our guys are doing some good things. And we ask a lot of our receivers and probably more than most people. That is what this offense is and what we'll continue to do."
Talk about their receivers a little bit -- Bryant Johnson, Tim Johnson and Eddie Drummond. Do they remind you of the receivers from Michigan State?
"They are a bit of a different style. They remind me of the guys that I have coached -- former running backs. They are quicker than they are fast, yet they are fast. They are guys that can take the ball and run with it after the catch. They are really running backs who are playing wide receiver. These aren't 6'4", 6'5" rangy receiver type of guys. They are athletes and can hurt you."
You mentioned Mills earlier...Can you talk about his play?
"Mills for a young guy (redshirt freshman) is very accurate. A lot of guys can throw the ball. This guy has an uncanny accuracy at an early age. He is sneaky quick, but he is fast. He may not be as quick as some guys, but he can run. I don't know how fast he is.
They say he is 4.5? Holy smokes! Don't tell our guys that. I believe it because he is fast. You are talking about a big guy who can throw and is fast."
What is the status of Antwaan (Randle El)?
"The status of Antwaan is we expect him to be ready to practice and ready to play."
Your team did a good job of handling the Northwestern win and immediately preparing for Michigan State. So far, have you seen the same ability to refocus and get ready for Penn State?
"At this point, yes. We'll get right out to practice and get after them. We're not going to sit around and wait for everybody to get self-motivated. My shoe size is the same as it has been the past two weeks. These guys are going to notice today that my shoe hasn't gotten any smaller than two weeks ago."
What size is that Cam?
Can you talk about the play of redshirt freshman linebacker Herana-Daze Jones?
"After the Northwestern game, we gave Herana-Daze a pat on the back. After the Michigan State game we gave him two pats on the back. And that is about all he needs at this point in his career. He needs to be ready to play in this game. If he plays well in this game, we'll give three pats on the back. With these young guys, that is the way it goes."
Can you talk about your success scoring on the road? Will it be an issue coming into Beaver Stadium?
"It is the defense that is the issue. It is really who you are preparing to play against. This is what I think is an excellent defense. Again, physically I think it is the most talented defense in our league. That is the issue in my mind, whether it is home or away."
Last year your team had 30 turnovers. To this point, you are leading the nation having only turned it over only 9 times. How critical is that to your success?
"I think it starts with the guy who coaches the guy with the ball. (Quarterbacks coach) Gerald Carr has made a great contribution to our quarterbacks' thinking process. It is a fine line. You can't talk about don't fumble or don't throw interceptions. You talk about ball security and being smart with football. We did get a little fancy on Saturday. For the most part, Gerald Carr has done a tremendous job of getting our quarterbacks to understand -- we're not going to turn the football over. When the ball is on the ground at the Indiana practice fields...I don't know what size Gerald Carr's shoe is but we're not going to overlook it. Secondly, it goes to Coach Thompson. He was one of the all-time greats at ball security. (Jokes) I'm sure (former IU running backs coach) Buck (Suhr, who was in attendance) had very little to do with that. I made this statement last week. When guys play well, there is a position coach getting the job done. Our coaches are getting some points across to these guys because they don't accept it...they don't accept the ball being on the ground. And our kids have responded. That was something we needed to solve from a year ago."
Anything new with true freshman kicker Bryan Robertson?
"In all likelihood, he'll be out the remainder of the season."
Do you have a back up?
"Yes. Neil Pallotta. It was Thursday, a last minute decision that we had made. Neil went with us to Michigan State. A walk-on from Massachusetts."
Both teams are in a similar situation with a winning season is on the line. Do you see a pretty determined effort by both teams this week?
"Boy, if there isn't. They aren't similar, they are exact."
NEW INTERVIEWEE - ANTWAAN RANDLE EL
How much better is the running game this year with three established threats -- Levron, Jeremi and yourself?
"It is a lot better this year. I think a lot of credit should go to our offensive line, too. They've been blocking like never before. This year they have gelled and that has opened up our running game. With Levron and Jeremi stepping up and playing the way they are, it is tough to handle three threats."
Coach Cameron talked about your receivers growing up in hurry over the next few weeks. Can you comment on that and their play thus far?
"In the next three or four weeks, our receivers know we will have to throw the ball more. Everybody will be sitting on the run and putting 8, 9 or even 10 people in the box. It kind of says to us, what else can you do? They have done a better job of blocking on the perimeter. Earlier in the season they were getting holding penalties and blocking below the waist with the safeties in. They have corrected that and have played a lot better. We may to have to throw the ball more than we have all season in these next three games."
Is the knee bothering you?
"The knee is fine. It is just a little sore. That is all."
Is it a bruise?
"It is just a bruise. Nothing torn or structural like that. When if first happened I thought it was just the knee. I got hit right below the knee. It is basically the shin. It had swelled up pretty bad. With treatment and everything, it is a lot better than it was on Saturday."
The team has responded well since the bye week. In your mind, where did that all start?
"Other than our backs against the wall? That is basically it. We've gotten to the point that we are aware of what it takes to win. Our defense has played very well. That is where a lot of it is. Our defense has been getting stops in key situations. They held Northwestern scoreless in the first half. They scored 21 in the second half and had a couple of chances to score again. They kept fighting and wouldn't let them score. The same thing happened at Michigan State. I made a boneheaded play in the red zone with the fumble. They got some stops and our defense is a very big part of our success."
What about the personnel changes on defense? Is that part of it as well?
"That is part of it. The guys who have always been out there are stepping up. The personnel changes have some impact. At the same time, the guys who were put down have stepped up and played well, too."
NEW INTERVIEWEE - LEVRON WILLIAMS
Why is this running game so successful? Why have you been able to do some of the things that you have done this year?
"I think a lot of it is because of our triple threat. Antwann can run it, I can run it, and Jeremi can run it. It is a big success and the offensive linemen have been doing their job. They open up holes and I just run through them and make plays."
After Antwaan moved back to quarterback, had there been any kind of adjustment to move back to the option at that point?
"Not really. We were prepared for whomever coaches had brought to the table. The coaches did that for a reason and we've had a lot of success. I still think we could have had it back there with Tommy, too."
Coach Cameron thinks very highly of Jimmy Kennedy and Penn State's defense. What have you seen on tape about Penn State's defense?
"During our bye week I had a chance to watch them play. They were very good. They played hard. There is not a team that is going to lie down. We have to come ready to play."
Do you feel the running game is better on turf?
"I don't know. It makes you a step faster. We like playing on turf, but don't mind grass. We have grass here now and there are a lot less turf burns and things like that."
Antwaan has talked about the option game feeding off you running between the tackles. Talk about your ability to run with power?
"The summer time was crucial. The coaches told me I needed to get better running inside. I just went out and worked hard at it. I'm getting better."
You had a nice kickoff return against Michigan State. You now lead the nation in all-purpose yards. Is that a point of pride being a total package guy?
"That is a plus for me, knowing I can do a lot of things for the team."
When the defense makes plays, doesn't that carry over into the confidence of the offense?
"We have been waiting on that. We knew as a team what we were capable of. They make a good play and we get jacked up. When we make a good play, they get jacked up. It is a great feeling to watch the defense make plays because we know they can play like that."