Dec. 30, 2002
An interview with Ohio State Buckeyes:
Shane Olivea, Jim Bollman, Maurice Clarett
Q Maurice Clarett, as you head into this game are you as healthy as you’ve been before the season started? With the game coming up Friday, is this as good as you’ve felt in a long time?
MAURICE CLARETT: I feel like I’m back to 100 percent.
Q Maurice, how tough was it trying to play week after week? You’ve never been hurt in your career. Talk about how tough it was?
MAURICE CLARETT: It was tough. You stick it out for the team if you can. I’m just glad we’re here in Tempe.
Q Coach, is there somebody that Maurice reminds you of? Is there guys of his running style that you have coached or been around?
JIM BOLLMAN: There is not very many guys gifted as he is in all phases of the game. Everybody always asks about Maurice throughout the year. Usually anybody who plays tailback for Ohio State is a pretty good ball carrier. He has pass receiving ability, picking up blitzes and pass blocks; all the different things, being able to function in all phases of the game real well.
Q Shane, talk a little bit about how things are since you’ve gotten here to Phoenix. Do you like the overall mood. People are saying maybe you guys are a little tight; how do you see things going?
SHANE OLIVEA: Nothing’s really changed. I think we’re all excited to finally be here. It’s been a long time since we played. We practiced in August and July and went through two a days. Nothing really changed as far as preparing us. We’re ready to play. That’s why we came here.
Q Shane, do you see the intensity of practice picking up?
SHANE OLIVEA: We have been hitting and guys’ attitudes have been really good since being out here and adjusting to the climate. I think we’re all over the distraction of the first day or two. I think we’re all focused and ready to play the game. We prepared well and we kept it straightforward.
Q Coach, I saw you had a little bit of reaction on Mike’s question. Do you feel your team is tight or loose?
JIM BOLLMAN: I haven’t even thought about it. No, if you’re going to perform well in a big game, it takes a lot of poise, and I think that we’ve grown up through the year, you know, and that was one thing that we talked about a lot going into the Michigan game, was being able to play to your ability or as close to your ability as you can. In some of those big games in the previous years before, we did not play near as well as we could have, and, I think we’ve improved along those lines. I think that’s something through everybody’s own psyche and mental approach to the game.
Q You don’t notice any change in the team to now?
JIM BOLLMAN: I mean, after what we have been through, why should we? You know, by just have been getting ready to play, preparing, put the bits and pieces together to make a first down, you know.
Q Shane, how much different is it when Maurice is in the huddle as opposed to when he’s not?
SHANE OLIVEA: That’s probably not the first time I have been asked that question. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a change. If there is nothing there, sometimes you’re going to try to make every inch and yard. It’s been evident throughout the year. It’s been a pleasure to block for him. If he goes down, we have other backs to help out. Like Coach Bollman, it’s been a pleasure to block for him. I would be lying if there wasn’t a difference. We can get it done if he goes down or anybody else goes down.
Q Maurice, were there pro players you looked up to as you came up through high school?
MAURICE CLARETT: I haven’t really looked up to anybody; just play my football and be competitive. I tried to emulate myself.
Q Coach, the game could very well turn on field position. How do you think your kicking team stacks up against Miami?
JIM BOLLMAN: Well, I would think that the number one thing in this game we always talk about is turnovers, and I think that field position then comes into second along the line for us. That’s always a big part of our game. Throughout the year we have played pretty good defense. We try to put our defense in the best situation we can. You talk about on offensive trying to end every series with a kick. Hopefully it’s an extra point for a field goal or a punt. If we’re ending every series with a kick, we’re not turning the ball over. As long as we do those kind of things and our defense is playing well, you get a chance to hang in there.
Q Maurice, was there a time or day or game when was the most fun you had playing football when you look back?
MAURICE CLARETT: Actually I wasn’t playing. I had more fun watching the Penn State game. The whole atmosphere of the game and see our teammates come back from being down early in the game and watching our team get it done collectively. It was more like a team game.
Q Did anything stand out on the field?
MAURICE CLARETT: No, I might remember when I see a highlight or something like that. Everything goes kind of fast.
Q Maurice, can you talk about what you’ve seen on the films from Miami and everyone talks about their team speed. Would you give us an overview of what you see in Miami?
MAURICE CLARETT: You don’t go “wow.” Everybody puts their pants on the same way. Anything can happen that day. I mean, we just have a game plan I hope we stick to our game plan and worry about ourselves.
Q Shane, same question for you. Can you talk about Miami’s speed a little bit and what you see from their team?
SHANE OLIVEA: I think like Maurice said, it’s been the whole year not with other teams but what we do. We make plays when we have to. Their defense is great. I think our defense line is pretty darn good and they’ve prepared throughout the Bowl week. Like the coach says, it’s what we do. If we don’t make the plays like we have to, then we’re not going to win.
Q Coach, do you have a certain number in mind of yardage you would like the running backs to have for you guys to be successful?
JIM BOLLMAN: In this particular game, that’s a hard question to attend. Every game is a different scenario. I think for me to sit and say we would like to I can say some outrageous things, but that’s I think that’s foolish by me. You got to see how a game develops, each game develops very differently. So, you have to do, I think, at the moment, what is best for the overall team, you know. I mean, these guys would like to get into a scoring match with anybody. So, you have to kind of see what we’ve got to do. We always it’s a full team deal. It’s never about the Ohio State offense. It’s about the Ohio State football team. And whatever in the moment in the game it takes to be successful we’re going to do. There is different things that happen throughout the game, so I think I would have a hard time answering that question.
Q For each of you individually: We got some spirited responses from your teammates on the thoughts of being underdogs. Shane, talk about your role, if that affects your motivation as you go through the week or how you look at that?
SHANE OLIVEA: No, for me, I don’t think so and I think the rest of our offensive gives us motivation. If you’re not motivated to play the game, underdog or not, you shouldn’t be here. Talk is cheap, and you got to play as good as you can. If you’re not motivated playing this game, you can’t get motivated at all.
JIM BOLLMAN: I agree with what Shane said. He’s heard me say a thousand times “talk is cheap.” You know, I wouldn’t prepare for this game any different if we were three touchdown favorites or five touchdown underdogs. How often do you get a chance to be in this game. I’m thankful for that.
MAURICE CLARETT: I kind of like being an underdog; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It gives you more incentive to fight more hard on every play.
Q Maurice, you said that injuries are part of the game. Is there something in your psyche that you would you say you’re 100 percent; how does that feel?
MAURICE CLARETT: I don’t have too many emotions with injuries; just that injuries are something that comes and goes. It’s all a part of football. When you get dressed and put your helmet and pants on every day, there is a chance we might get injured. It’s a part of the game to accept.
Q Has it made you a lot stronger dealing with those injuries?
MAURICE CLARETT: Once I had the Michigan game I came back and got a little confidence back in myself.
Q Coach, it seems like some teams have had success against Miami offensively this year, try to shorten the game and really run the ball; is that a good way to follow?
JIM BOLLMAN: I think teams that did that, you do that because of their offense. Like I said, it’s a full team game. Whatever is the best avenue for your team to win the football game, you know. Generally speaking, I mean, that’s always an avenue that we would like to take anyway. We like to run the ball when we can run the ball, but if you think that in today’s college football that’s all you’re going to be able to do or you can win every game doing that, no. If we didn’t have some people making plays in the passing game, we wouldn’t be here. I think you’ve got to take that into consideration. That’s for sure.
Q Coach, the philosophy of Ohio State in the past has been to physically overpower people. Is that still the same style now and how would you contrast your offensive line plays with Miami’s?
JIM BOLLMAN: I can’t answer that. I haven’t studied Miami’s offensive line at all. I think you always try to have players that can overpower people. You know, there is some things in this game that if you’re going to take people that are the most valuable people on an offense, you’ve got to have people who can carry the game and throw the ball and catch the ball. All right. The offensive line is kind of a servant to all those people to give them a chance to operate. So, whatever they have to do is give those people a chance to operate. That’s what we’ve got to do. You can talk all you want about I have been in situations where I have had great offensive lines to coach and the guy carrying the ball wasn’t very good nor the guy throwing the ball. It doesn’t work. You can always figure out a way to try to trip some people up. So, in trying to overpower people, I would like to think we try to do what’s most effective. It depends on who you’re playing against. To sit there and say in today’s college football you’re going to do this no matter what, there is going to come a day you’re not going to do that, you better be able to have step two.
Q Maurice, as magnificent as the fan’s are in Columbus, I heard you got a lot of hate mail; is it tough to deal with?
MAURICE CLARETT: I don’t pay a lot of attention to it. There is a lot more to my life than football. I don’t really watch sports that much at home.
Q Do you regret some of the stuff in the ESPN magazine?
MAURICE CLARETT: I don’t regret anything I’ve ever said.
Q How are things since you’ve gotten here, the bus trips up to the hotels? This is your first bowl game, it’s a national championship. Talk a little bit about the whole experience.
MAURICE CLARETT: It’s been a cool, fun experience. It’s my first time seeing palm trees, cactus and desert, stuff like that. I probably won’t get excited for the game until that day. I’m staying focused on the game and just enjoying the whole atmosphere.
Q Has the attention been more than what you see in Columbus or kind of the same?
MAURICE CLARETT: We’re kind of secluded. We’re in our own area. You see the teammates and we’re all in the game room playing games with each other. It’s been really cool. We have had a chance to be around each other.
Q What makes Craig a special player?
SHANE OLIVEA: His wherewithal when we’re in the huddle. He doesn’t get rattled. He’s really tough. This year he’s been able to show that he’s able to do what he’s been able to do. I’m happy for Craig. He’s taking full advantage of it. He’s someone you want to have in that huddle, fourth and one. There is no one else I want throwing that ball.
MAURICE CLARETT: I guess like Shane says, I would be in the huddle nervous and you look at Craig and he gives you more confidence. So he’s not worried about it, so why should I be. I hope he can keep his composure through January 3rd.
Q Shane, talk about being out on an island both in practice and the hotel. What does that do for the team? Is it a positive or negative to be out there on your own?
SHANE OLIVEA: I think it’s a positive, because you’re able to focus about the game. This is the first day or so that’s been really crazed with the media. We’re able to get away and just focus and bring light to what we’re here to do. We’re here for one goal. That’s to win. We didn’t come this far to lose. I think it’s a reminder that we’re here, we’re a team and a family and we’re going to do things together.
Q Coach, obviously Maurice is the one who everyone talks about. He’s not the only freshman who’s done things. Him being so young, how hard has it been to gel with the team?
JIM BOLLMAN: Most importantly is how fast they learn things if you’re going to play real early. It doesn’t matter how good an athlete you are. If you can’t do the things expected of you, you’re going to have to wait longer until you can get ready. So you’re right, this team has had a number of young guys who have helped out to say the least. I mean, on offense besides Maurice, Robbie Sims has probably played the most in the offensive lines as a freshman. And Nick also has played a lot. It’s great to have those guys be able to step in there, and you get in some of those situations where young guys, you don’t like to see them just play a little bit. You would rather they be able to play more. It’s been nice having those guys be major parts in the operation and gain a lot of experience and it will help us a lot more down the road. We would have been in some tough situations if those two guys in the front weren’t able to stay in and fill shoes in a couple games.
Q Maurice, how much did Coach Tressel have to do with you going to Ohio State? What was his impact on you going there?
MAURICE CLARETT: I’m from Youngstown. It was pretty much everything. I had a high school coach that was just like Coach Tressel. He was really disciplined, straight to the point, not going to lie to you.
An interview with Ohio State Buckeyes:
Craig Krenzel, Michael Jenkins
Q Craig, I just wondered, Michael mentioned that you decided to take the linemen and receivers out for a meal and picked up the check. Talk about that?
CRAIG KRENZEL: They did so much for me this season, protecting me going out and making plays, I just wanted to show them that I was thankful. More importantly provide an opportunity for us to go out as a team. I think there is about 10 or 11 of us just to go out and have a good time.
Q Was it a restaurant in Columbus? Was it a nice place; did it cost a lot?
CRAIG KRENZEL: You’ve got to ask Mike.
MICHAEL JENKINS: Yes, it was a nice restaurant.
Q I’m wondering about the tab?
CRAIG KRENZEL: It wasn’t too bad. I knew it was coming. I have been saving up.
Q Craig, Miami has been shown to give up some yardage. Is that something you look at that where your scrambling may make a difference?
CRAIG KRENZEL: You know, if they they like to play a lot of man to man defense with two safeties behind it. If they do that they have really no one on the quarterback. That’s where a lot of other team step ups have come into play. We’ve seen that on film. Whether or not they can play it against us that’s to be seen, and we’re going to have to adjust to that. If they do try to come out and play us, then there may be some step up plays. It’s kind of a reaction.
Q Craig, you have been successful on man to man coverage. Do you feel confident that you guys can successfully complete that pass break and, Michael, you can catch it?
MICHAEL JENKINS: Going against a lot of man to man coverage you have to get open. We will be able to do that against these guys. It will be exciting to see.
CRAIG KRENZEL: Same thing he just said: We faced some pretty good corners this year. Obviously Miami has two very good cover corners and a third guy off the bench when they go Nickey. The biggest thing is our receivers running good, being able to shake the man to man coverage so there is a gap to throw the ball.
Q A lot has been talked about Miami’s speed. Talk about, Craig, really what that presents in you as a player because in the media we like to talk about “fast Miami”?
CRAIG KRENZEL: They have a tremendous amount of team speed but the last time I checked Chris Gamble is not very slow. We have a bunch of guys recruited by the likes of Miami and Florida State that are known for their speed. I think the biggest gap of speed between the two teams is their linebackers to our linemen they’re a lot quicker than teams we’ve faced in the Big 10.
Q Craig, Ken Dorsey always says that he doesn’t care about how many times he throws, as long as they win. What’s your philosophy on that, especially in this game; would you kind of deep down like to throw a little more?
CRAIG KRENZEL: Like Ken says, whatever it takes to win. We played 13 games and I attempted 220 passes. I’m still sitting up here smiling because we’re 13 and 0.
Q Craig, can you talk about Dorsey and his streak and his incredible record.
CRAIG KRENZEL: It’s incredible for us as a team anybody in the country can say, “yeah, Miami won 34 games.” That’s a great accomplishment. For us sitting at 13 and 0, knowing how difficult it was physically emotionally and mentally and the type of hard work and work ethic you need to win that many games in a row, it’s really an awesome accomplishment for them.
Q Is this team ready to play right now? If kickoff were tonight, is there still some things preparation wise that you need to touch up on? Is this team anxious to play?
MICHAEL JENKINS: I think so. A lot of guys are anxious and ready to play. We have been out here already a few days now and we’re ready to get this game on. Guys have been preparing. We had a little break after the Michigan week. We have been getting ready to play. Coaches have been game planning for a while now. We’re ready. We’ve seen a lot of film on them. I think both sides are ready to play.
CRAIG KRENZEL: The same thing Mike said: We have been preparing for them as soon as we found out we would be playing Miami. Actually we probably prepared for them a little before they beat Virginia Tech on the assumption they did win to get a head start. We’re ready. We feel if we had to play tonight we would be ready to go. The game’s not until Friday. We’re fortunate enough to have a few more days to prepare.
Q Michael, you pretty much have had a stellar year of putting up good numbers. What do you think about the fact that your name isn’t out there as much as other receivers in the nation. Do you think this game can be a showcase game for you?
MICHAEL JENKINS: I’m going to continue to do the things I did all year to be successful and to help my team win. If it’s a showcase game, it is. Not being out there with all the main guys, they’re great receivers. There are teams that throw the ball 40 and 50 times a game. We don’t do that. Being able to do the things I’ve done here, I think that will speak for itself.
Q You haven’t come from way behind before. Are you at all concerned about Miami getting up two to three itself and coming back?
CRAIG KRENZEL: We don’t plan on it happening to have to worry about it. You know, at the same time if it does happen, I don’t think we will change our game plan. We will stick to what works, and we know that if you’re defense does give up a couple of quick scores that they’re going to change as well. If they come out and get 21 points on us real quick, we have the confidence to come back and get those points back during the course of the game. Obviously unless it’s in the fourth quarter. If we’re down in the second quarter, we understand there is a whole another half to play to score.
Q Maurice was saying he feels 100 percent. How much different is your preparation knowing you don’t have to worry about that?
CRAIG KRENZEL: Maurice brings a lot to the table. He’s a big strong physical back. The thing he does best is his patience and how well he sees the field. At the same time, with Maurice in the game, we are a little different offense, but not terribly different. It still rests on the execution of the other ten guys. You know, you can look at the Michigan game. Maurice played. He had a good game. We still only scored 14 points. There are games without him that we scored 27 points or whatnot. It comes down to all 11 guys doing their job.
MICHAEL JENKINS: Just like Craig said, it is the other 10 guys on the field also. He does bring a different presence when he’s in the game, but we have played without him and done a good job in the backfield there.
Q Craig, all the guys in here before were talking about your calmness, your composure. Maurice said the same thing and admitted at times he was nervous in the huddle and you were not. Were there times you looked at him and could tell the excitement was tough to control for him?
CRAIG KRENZEL: He’s a very emotional person. I think he’ll be the same way as a junior or sophomore. I think it’s the type of person and player he is. It’s great for us as a team. We can feed off that and the crowd can feed off that and the defense can feed off his emotion and the things he does on the field. There has been a couple times when I’ll tell him a joke or something to try to relax him, get his mind off football for a split second.
Q In addition to Maurice being a freshman, you have had other freshman on this team make a big contribution this season. How does that gel with the rest of the team where you get these guys who were playing high school ball last fall contributing to a team playing in the national championship? How have the freshman affected this team?
MICHAEL JENKINS: They have done a lot of great things; guys like Rob Sims, Nick, AJ on defense, those guys have filled in and done an excellent job for a freshman coming in playing a magnitude of this level. We appreciate that and see the hard work they put in. They’re going to be spectacular players down the road.
Q How would you guys classify the team’s attitude? Would you say the guys are uptight at all?
CRAIG KRENZEL: No, I think that’s one of the things we do best as a team. I think if you had to use one word right now, I would say confident. If I could use a few more words, anxious, excited. We want to start playing. We would play right now if we could. We’re that excited. We have that much confidence in ourselves that we can go out and beat a great team like Miami.
Q Craig, as quarterback, how do you deal with a situation, encouraging the team when you have a big gainer called back because of penalty? Is it difficult to deal with?
CRAIG KRENZEL: It’s really not. One of the things that we do great as an offense is we put all our focus on the next play, what do we have to do. If we get a 50 yard run that’s called back, we immediately think about the next play. I think we do a great job of that.
Q The fact that you guys have been able to come back and win those games, has that helped your composure in the pocket and huddle and do you think that will help you in this game?
CRAIG KRENZEL: I think as a team it will definitely help us. Having played in many close games, we know how to keep our composure and keep our focus on the game to go out to make the plays to win. Personally that’s just kind of the way I’ve always been. I’ve always been laid back and calm regardless of the situation.
Q Do you think you’ve grown though this year?
CRAIG KRENZEL: I think so, just from the sheer experience, the past attempts, all the opportunities to check plays at the line of scrimmage, I think I’ve grown a lot as a quarterback at this level. Emotionally and the way I handle myself, I have always been this way.
Q Do you get sick of people calling you a heady player or smart player? Is that getting a little old?
CRAIG KRENZEL: To be honest, I don’t really care. I don’t really pay attention to what other people have to say to me. I don’t watch the news or read the paper. I know I have the confidence in myself and I feel that my teammates have that confidence in me. At the same time, I like being known as a smart player, a person who makes good decisions. I’m sure Ken Dorsey will tell you that’s what you need to win in this position. You need a quarterback who is not going to make mistakes and turn the ball over.
Q Mike, being a Florida guy, what does this game mean to you as it gets closer? Does it mean more?
MICHAEL JENKINS: Like I said before, there is no really added incentive to it. It wasn’t like it was a toss up whether you go between Miami or Ohio State. It’s a championship game, and that makes it exciting.
Q Aside from football, what’s been the best part about being out here off the football field?
MICHAEL JENKINS: The weather away from the snow in Columbus. It’s a nice city. We have a beautiful, gorgeous hotel with a lot of hospitality. A lot of guys enjoy the game room there, sitting back and relaxing and getting to the mall. It’s a real nice city out here. We appreciate it.
CRAIG KRENZEL: The same thing Michael just said. The area is great. The scenery is beautiful. The people at the Fiesta Bowl and all the volunteers do an outstanding job. If we’re fortunate to do the same thing next year, it will be disappointing not to come back to Tempe because I don’t think you can beat this experience. They’ve done an excellent job taking care of us.