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SI: How daunting is it to replace veterans Ricky Stanzi and Adrian Clayborn?
KF: A lot of times when you lose good players you lose your core leadership, too. But that's part of the college football thing. It's a work in progress, but [that's what] we typically are, regardless of the year.
SI: What's the main goal this season?
KF: Doing a better job in close games. Our widest margin of defeat in three seasons is seven points. In 2009 we won a lot of close games. Then last season we lost a lot of close games. That is really the difference between success and failure.
SI: HOW HELPFUL IS IT TO HAVE HAD A PEEK AT JAMES VANDENBERG AND MARCUS COKER IN BIG GAMES?
KF: REALLY HELPFUL. YOU CAN PROJECT AND HAVE A LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE, BUT UNTIL YOU SEE A PLAYER REACT IN GAME SITUATIONS, YOU'RE NEVER QUITE SURE.
SI: What challenges does the new-look Big Ten present?
KF: In our conference games we have got five new preparations. Nebraska, we have not played since 2000. We have not played Purdue since Coach [Joe] Tiller retired [in '08]. And you've got new staffs at Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana. It's like we're going into a new conference.