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September 23, 2008Coach Joe Tiller said Tuesday that talk of starting quarterback Curtis Painter nearly being pulled from the Central Michigan game Saturday is being, "blown out of proportion."
"It's really being hammered," Tiller said at his weekly press conference, referring to media reports, "... that Painter's in danger of being benched, Painter was threatened to be benched.
"It was a matter of us just stating a fact. If we weren't successful, we were going to give (backup Joey Elliott) a shot. That's part of the game itself."
On Sunday, Tiller said the following: "We thought Curtis was underperforming. We actually told him that. I don't like surprising guys, particularly if they're veteran players. We said, 'We're going with you one more series, then that's it. We need some productivity.'"
Whether it was related or not, Painter responded by hitting Aaron Valentin for a 57-yard catch-and-run, then Desmond Tardy for a short touchdown. He also completed a two-point conversion pass to Greg Orton following Kory Sheets' go-ahead touchdown run.
Prior to that point, Painter had completed the majority of his passes, but the offense as a whole was inconsistent. Tiller said he was "out of rhythm."
Tiller does have a history of pulling quarterbacks from games - as any QB not named Drew Brees can attest - simply in hopes of jump-starting a sluggish offense.
"I expect him to play well," Tiller said Tuesday of Painter. "I'm counting on him to play well. I'd like to see him play well from this point forward."
Tiller's been pleased with his receiving corps.
Against Central Michigan, four different receivers - though one of them was Sheets, a running back - tied for the team lead with five receptions, those being Tardy, Keith Smith and Brandon Whittington.
Valentin and Joe Whitest made their first catches of the season, as well, while Orton came up with the important two-point catch.
"I think they're getting better," Tiller said. "I made the comment to our coaches during training camp that after about a month, we'd have a chance to have a pretty good football team. This will be the fourth week. Those guys are getting better each week out. We're just planning on that continuing."
Looking for more Golding
Redshirt freshman linebacker/defensive end Nickcaro Golding played about a half dozen defensive snaps Saturday, Tiller said.
"This week we'd like to double it," Tiller said, "and have him play 12 or 15 or whatever and eventually see if we can get him on the field as a full-time starter."
Offensive guard Jared Zwilling will travel to Notre Dame this weekend, after dressing, but not playing, against Central Michigan.
Whether he'll play this week remains to be seen.
"Our thoughts are we'll wait to see how he practices this week," Tiller said.
As for tight end Kyle Adams, who's missed the past two games with a knee injury, he'll also travel to South Bend. Tiller said Sunday he'd have an "outside shot" to play this weekend.
"You study the history of the player (when determining when he might return)," Tiller said, "and Kyle Adams traditionally has been a quick healer over time."
Tiller on Sheets' blocking in the backfield: "The best change in Kory Sheets (this season) is not in his running. It's in his blocking."
Tiller on Sheets' knee-buckling move on his game-winning run: "I taught him that move Friday up in the ballroom at the Union."
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