COACH TRESSEL: So is this where we’ll be every — is this it?
SHELLY POE: On Tuesday. Today is Wednesday sort of, Monday, but usually on Tuesday.
COACH TRESSEL: Right. This is Wednesday. Today’s Wednesday for us. But it’s good to see you all. I know when we all get together that means something exciting is just happening or going to happen and our guys are looking forward to teeing it up and I think they’ve been out there long enough practicing and it’s exciting over in our world.
Most of you know and have even shared that I’m kind of old-fashioned and conservative and so forth and like to stay focused on the task and our message or whatever, and with that in mind, I thought I’d real quickly give you a thought on what you’re getting all your emails about and what I’m getting all my emails about, and I’m so old-fashioned, I used to be able to respond to emails and texts and so forth, but in this day and age there’s so many emails and texts that that seems impossible.
We do try to focus on the moment. What’s most important to us right now are these 25 seniors and this 2010 Buckeye football team and the team itself, the group, where we fit in the whole picture is what’s important. That’s the way we feel. That’s the way we’ve always felt. And obviously you’ve gotten a zillion and we’ve gotten a zillion emails about what’s going to happen in the future from a conference standpoint and from a rivalry game standpoint and all those things, and I guess the way I always look at those things, I’ve sat in a lot of meetings with a lot of groups and what’s most important at the end of the day, just like when we sit with our staff, whatever we bang out, whatever we decide that we’re going to do, when we walk out of the room, we’ve got to make sure that that’s what we believe in and that’s what we teach and we gave it adequate discussion and so forth and sometimes they’re the things that you really thought were good ideas and sometimes they weren’t. Sometimes the ones that you thought weren’t great ideas went for touchdowns and sometimes you say, I knew we should have done this or that, and there have been a number of issues that have come along the pike in college football, some of which we agreed with, some of which we didn’t. I remember when the 12th game thing came up and the coaches voted 12-0 or 11-0 in our league that that probably wasn’t the greatest idea, but then when you started thinking about the big picture and the importance of sponsoring comprehensive programs and the income that that extra game would generate, et cetera, et cetera, all of a sudden you’re excited about 12 games.
We have changes coming here at Ohio State. We’re going from quarters to semesters. There’s debates back and forth as to what’s the best thing, we all have opinions and there’s always debates about the pluses and minuses of championship games and all that stuff. We had the debate within our league that where we have to move our final league weekend back to Thanksgiving weekend, I’m one of those old-fashioned guys, I kind of liked sending my players home for Thanksgiving, but the group felt that the best thing to do was what it was, so with all that being said, I guess my stance on all of this stuff is what I am going to be in favor of is what the group needs and what the group decides, but what I’m going to do is I’m going to focus on those 25 seniors and that 2010 football team and not allow myself to get distracted and so forth about all of the discussion. Not that it’s not important discussion and all that, but September the 2nd is here quickly and what’s been interesting in preparing ourselves for September 2nd is that you go through preseason camp and you try to cover the whole comprehensive realm of what you think you might face offensively and defensively and the special teams and so forth and then you get about a week and a half prior to your first game and then you start glueing in on your first opponent, then you start working on what they do.
Well, what’s been difficult about that for us is that obviously Marshall has a new coaching staff and I’ve known Doc Holliday for a long time, he’s been in the business and been at some very good programs for many, many years, and we don’t know exactly what they’re going to do. We had last year’s films to study from a personnel standpoint, but like happens sometimes when you’re looking at film from one year to the next, you say, gosh, I don’t see Number 19 in there, Number 19 is listed in the two-deep he’s going to be their starter and so forth, well, last year he was 35 or whatever. We have been able to study a little bit of personnel. We don’t really have a great handle on what they’re going to do offensively, defensively or in the special teams. We feel as if offensively they’re going to spread it out. That’s kind of what’s been talked about and they’re going to fling it all over, but I know Coach Holliday has been in programs that, making sure you have balance are very important, so I know that will certainly be a part of it.
Defensively they have a group of coaches who have come from a lot of different places, some have been believers in high pressure, blitz, man all that stuff, some have been zone, fire zones, zone pressures, whatever, so it was kind of an extension through preseason that we have to get ready for everything. Special teams-wise, their special teams coordinator is Zach Smith which all of you know is Earle Bruce’s grandson and he did a great deal of the special teams work when he was a graduate assistant down at the University of Florida and many of you remember the various things they did at the University of Florida, they had a very comprehensive package, not only offensively and defensively but special teams-wise. We have to make sure we’re ready for anything and expect the unexpected and the things I do know about Marshall, I’ve faced them a number of times, both at Youngstown State and here at Ohio State, I know this from a personnel standpoint, they are much better than they were in 2004.
One thing I’ve known about Mark Snyder who recruited all these kids is that he had a tremendous eye for talent and he knew what you needed to have. He was one of our best recruiters from a standpoint of selection and he knew what you needed to be to be a great football player. My best example of that is I don’t think anyone in the State of Florida collegiately offered Santonio Holmes, and Mark Snyder thought he was going to be pretty good, and he was better than that, so I know from a talent standpoint they’re going to be much more talented than the team we face, none of our players, of course, that we faced in 2004.
I also know, having played there, played them at home, so forth, is that football is very, very important to the culture of the young people that go to school there and the fans and there is Herd hysteria, they just love the game and it’s very important to them and that’s the way they play. I know the places that Doc has been, it’s been the same. So outside of knowing some generalities, we’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve got to focus on us. We’ve worked hard through the winter and spring and the spring practices and in the summertime and 20-some practices this fall and we’ve worked on a lot of things that we think fit our personnel. Now is the time to go out and see if that’s true and to see how we’ve developed. And then obviously the unknown is how are they going to deploy against us and there are certain things that are better against certain looks and concepts and so forth and it’s going to be a good learning opportunity for us to be able to adjust on the run. We may face a good deal of what we didn’t practice against and that’s the way openers are. I know this, our guys are excited. It’s been a very hot preseason and we’ve spent it all on the turf, and it’s been very, very hot and so I think our guys are right now in need of making sure they get their legs back, making sure they get their minds right and going out and competing against the Thundering Herd and we’re looking forward to it and with that, rather than rattle off every different position and this and that, I open it to questions.
REPORTER: This is your 25th year as head coach, 10th year here, does it seem like it’s been 25 years to you and can you reflect a little bit on what’s changed over that time?
COACH TRESSEL: Does it seem like it’s been 25 years? I was told long ago when I first got a head coaching job, that a head coaching year is like a dog’s year, it’s worth seven. So does it feel like it’s however many years, that is, a hundred and whatever — 175 years or whatever? No, it doesn’t feel quite that long, and honestly, it goes fast.
It’s kind of hard to believe that this will be my 36th year of college coaching. I don’t even feel as if I’m 36, but football’s changed in some ways, but in other ways it hasn’t. I think the kids are very similar to what I’ve known of them throughout time and that’s they want to know what you expect of them. Maybe today they want to know a little bit more why because they think they’re a little bit more educated, and they are. They’ve had football on TV. There’s a lot more magazines and special sections in newspapers that talk about this and that, so they are more educated, they know more about the game. So they want to know why we’re running this coverage or why we’re running this pass protection or whatever. But really they want to know what do you expect of me and they want an evaluation, and they want to know how they’re doing. Outside of that, the world’s changed, probably not as much as your world has changed, but it has changed.
REPORTER: Injury-wise, you guys were a little backed up, how about Orhian Johnson and Devon Torrence, how are they all coming back?
COACH TRESSEL: Orhian Johnson and Devon Torrence worked the whole time yesterday and they’ll be fine. Chimdi’s working part of the time and I think our evaluation will come today as to just if he’s a hundred percent ready, and Nate won’t go on Thursday.
REPORTER: Do you hope to get him back for Miami?
COACH TRESSEL: Oh, yeah. That’s what he says. Now, if Miami were on Thursday, he wouldn’t be ready.
REPORTER: You’ve talked in the past about how people learn from adversity. What do you think this group might have learned, say, from the Navy game last year in terms of do you ever feel like guys get caught looking ahead to that marquee game that might be a week after the opener?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, I think it’s human nature when you think, okay, I’ve got this situation under control, I’m going to think about the next situation. That’s human nature. This group, I think, and I’ve been saying since the spring, I think we’re a little older, there’s 25 seniors, 24 of which have been practicing, Garrett Hummel still is out but he’ll report after the first game so when you have that many seniors, I think about half of them are fifth year, I’m just guessing, 12 of them have graduated, seven or eight more are going to graduate in the autumn quarter, so they’re a little older and have more experiences, but I think it still comes down to each and every day you have to try to stay focused on that task and no matter what’s going on, good or bad, that’s the great challenge is to — you know, what do I need to be doing now, but I doubt if we can point back to Navy, because we’ve got a lot of thing we can point back to. We can point back to two practices ago we might have been better than last practice. So it’s a never ending battle for all of us to stay in the moment.
REPORTER: Does the night game kind of help in that respect because it will feel a little different?
COACH TRESSEL: We’ve had the chance to practice a couple times at night which has been fun and needed because of the heat. It may. There’s something about instinctually, they all came from high school and high school, that was the norm, but I think the mindset of how far along you are and your ability to stay in the now, I think we are where we are. Now, where’s that? I’m not sure.
REPORTER: On or I don’t know Johnson a little more, saw that Barnett was ahead of him in the depth chart, how much of that was or I don’t know during the time he missed during the preseason or was it just one guy, one spot or what sort of went into that decision?
COACH TRESSEL: I think it was a little bit of both. Just like anything else you get opportunities and you have a chance to get more reps and things like that and you impress. C. J. has been very impressive. That doesn’t mean Ohrian is not in the thick of a battle. But like anything else, if one guy is in there doing the work and he’s getting better and the other guy unfortunately missed, I don’t know how many practices he missed, but it was probably a dozen or more, I’m guessing, it makes it more difficult. But good competition will continue at that position.
REPORTER: You’re talking about the experience you have, some of the guys at offense said they’ll come out firing a little bit more than they have in the past because they’re used to playing with each other, do you feel right off the bat you have a more capable offense than you have in the past?
COACH TRESSEL: I think we have played together more and I think our guys that have played have also progressed since the last time we played and the other thing is, is that really in the spring practice and in preseason, we weren’t missing very many guys very often. I’m sure we — I think Dane missed a practice or two early. Gosh, I’m trying to think of — we didn’t have many guys out of practice reps. So that will be as important as anything. And that’s why they may feel that way is because not only did they play some together a year ago, they played a lot together in the spring and the preseason and they are used to one another and those communication things that are so critical, you know, if you’re not there with one another, it’s pretty hard to communicate, so I’m hoping that’s the case, we’ll see.
REPORTER: But do you sense there’s a momentum that’s carried over since the Rose Bowl, through spring and preseason camp with a more experienced offense that you can let loose a little more?
COACH TRESSEL: Let loose? I started off saying I’m conservative, you didn’t catch that, but, okay. I would say this. I don’t think our guys are sitting there saying, hey, we did pretty well in the Rose Bowl and that automatically is going to translate into doing even better the next time. They’ve gone to work to become that. So, yeah, do I sense that they’ve really prepared themselves to get better? Yeah, I really do. I really think this whole group has worked extremely hard.
REPORTER: But you as a coach, do you feel more confident about — you know what I mean? Maybe you sat here a year ago going into the opener, do you feel more confident you can do more things with your offense?
COACH TRESSEL: Oh, I think we’re further along, yeah, because so many guys have experience and we did — if you remember, coming out of preseason last year and through the first half of the year, we were never with the same group of guys on the field and, you know, it’s hard to get good. A dance line, you know, if they don’t have their dancers with them, they’re not going to look that good. So, yes, from that standpoint, I really do.
REPORTER: When we talked to you right after the jersey scrimmage you said you thought Terrelle had a good preseason. Could you just maybe expand on that a little bit? Were there any things that stood out to you? Was there anything you were looking to see from him in the preseason? What was your overall evaluation?
COACH TRESSEL: I think he’s going along in his learning curve at the speed that he’s going along in his chronological age. And some guys, they get older and they don’t get better. That can happen. But I think he has learned and put it to use and thoroughly understands that I mentioned on Herbie and Bruce’s radio show today is they asked what are the things you’ll notice about Terrelle and I said, I don’t know what everyone will notice, but I’ll tell you what’s true is he knows a lot more about what’s happening in and around simply because he’s experienced it now and he may have been able to play it back four times on a film and comprehend it, but now he can get under center and in those split seconds.
Now, it’s going to be a great challenge for him on Thursday because it’s not like you can go out there and say, okay, we think they’re going to do one of those three things and when we’re in this look they typically do that and when we go out they’re kind of blind, and so this is going to be how well can you adjust on the run and figure it out on the sideline and all that kind of thing. But, no, I think his progress has been really good.
REPORTER: It sounds like from your initial comments that all this Michigan/Ohio State stuff, you feel that may have been kind of a distraction?
COACH TRESSEL: No, but Mr. Smith made a good point, we were talking about it one day and he said that somewhere he read that Sam Walton said if you’re not listening to your customers, you’re not listening and that’s not the smartest thing to do. So, no, I don’t think it’s been a distraction. You talk to our 25 seniors, they don’t really have much opinion on it at all, they’ve got opinion on one thing and that’s what’s going on right now. I don’t think our under class men — but has it been a distraction, perhaps for — we’re busy preparing for Thursday. Most of the people that are talking about it aren’t busy preparing for Thursday and so, no, I don’t think it’s been a distraction at all.
REPORTER: You said you were an advocate of ending the regular season before Thanksgiving.
COACH TRESSEL: We’re talking about the Marshall —
REPORTER: One last quick question.
COACH TRESSEL: You sound like Tim now.
REPORTER: One last thing.
REPORTER: It’s not the last one, is it?
COACH TRESSEL: No, it’s not the last question. Is this the last question? Because Marla’s here and Lori’s here, we’ve got two last ones.
REPORTER: They moved your Michigan game after Thanksgiving, before you had two conference games. Now that you have that, do you think it would be smart to end it before Thanksgiving to give the teams that could potentially play in that game two weeks to get ready to play that game?
COACH TRESSEL: It probably wouldn’t be fair for me to voice my opinions outside of the group, as to what’s going to come ahead. I don’t mind voicing my opinions on maybe what went on in the past, but that’s one way you could look at it.
REPORTER: Were you surprised you’ve ended up having six captains on this year’s team?
COACH TRESSEL: Yes and no. I think this is a strong group of guys that our team had a lot of respect for, the way they play the game, the way they live their lives, the way they spend time in the film room and in the weight room and in the community. So oftentimes you get like landslide and it’s pretty obvious what you need to do. This was kind of a landslide six guys, which we haven’t done it since about ’82, but I’m not shocked by it because those are all pretty good guys now, you’re going to meet them here in a minute. I hate seeing those guys go.
REPORTER: I know you had a lot of things in preseason you worked on offensively, you talked about throwing everything out there in the jersey scrimmage. In general, what is your philosophy for opening games and how deep into the play book do you want to get?
COACH TRESSEL: It’s one of the most difficult things, especially when you don’t know what you’re going to get. And so I think what you do and what we talked about yesterday is you take the things that you think you did the best, this preseason, and then you add to it all the things you better have ready in case if they’re in this, you know, you need to do this and if they’re in this, you better have this ready.
So maybe it’s not as small of a play book you’re walking in there with as maybe you would like to in the first game, but that’s what the situation is and we have no idea what the heck they’re going to be doing. So we’ve probably got to have a little bit more ready, which thank goodness we’ve got some guys that have done more things and Terrelle comes up with at least two new passes a night and gets some texts. I’m going to give you guys — give him your phone numbers.
REPORTER: Coach, how anxious, excited, whatever the term is for Tyler Moeller do you feel coming up Thursday and finally getting back out there after what he went through a year ago?
COACH TRESSEL: I think my biggest excitement for him, because really what he loves is playing the game. He just loves playing, and what was the neatest thing was that moment where, okay, this is live. Let’s see how you do. And he did it and then our medical people are thorough. They went back in and did more scans and all that stuff just to make sure that we were okay and I think I was more excited for that moment than simply getting ready for the games. It’s hard to have singular focus on — I mean, I’m excited for all of our guys to play a game, but that was exciting to see that, hey, you know what, he is back.
Now, he hasn’t played for a year and he knows he’s got to get better every day and catch up, but he’s done a nice job. He’s starting in our star position, which we think will be in nickel a lot, if what we understand is that they’re going to be all spread out and doing that stuff. But who knows, they could come in with two tights and a wish bone for all we know.
REPORTER: Is Terrelle still a running quarterback first and then passing quarterback? I mean, how does that change the balance of plays that he can —
COACH TRESSEL: I think if you would have ever asked him, he wouldn’t have agreed with your hypothesis, but is he better as a throwing quarterback today than he was when he arrived? Absolutely. So your question, I guess, is how does that change —
REPORTER: You don’t have any qualms at all about having him throw?
COACH TRESSEL: No.
REPORTER: You haven’t for the last year or two?
COACH TRESSEL: No.
REPORTER: Do you have any qualms when he tucks the ball in and runs?
COACH TRESSEL: I don’t have any qualms as long as he gets up fine. Just being honest. But we’re not going to design 25 runs a game for him, we’ve got guys that we design things like that for. Will we design some things for him? Sure. We think that puts more pressure on the defense.
REPORTER: Who’s one name, one fellow above all who maybe just caught your eye in preseason camp, maybe you weren’t expecting or just really made progress that he’s got to play, et cetera? Who’s that one guy?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, I wouldn’t want to go on record as above all, because I will forget someone, I would say because I saw all those guys that are upperclassmen before and I saw them this spring, let me just go with guys that we saw them for the first time. I would say Jonathan Hankins was a guy that sometimes in the trenches it’s hard to come in and not be overwhelmed, and he’s shown, I think, that he’s going to be able to help us. Corey “Philly” Brown is a guy that played a lot of different positions in high school, so you didn’t really know for sure where he may end up. He’s going to play some at receiver. We had seen Drew Basil in the spring, so we knew he was going to be good, and he’ll play. Those guys jump out at me a little bit. J. T. Moore jumps out at me a little bit because Nate Williams has been out, some other Leos have gotten more reps, I’m not saying some other guys aren’t plenty good, but when you get in there and play more reps, you know, he’s shown he can help us.
REPORTER: Do you have any idea who will be back in the return game? Are there still a couple different guys you’re going to want to throw out there Thursday?
COACH TRESSEL: My suggestion to Coach Hazell was for the kickoff, Jordan Hall and Jamaal Berry after watching preseason and Jordan Hall, Philly Brown, Devon Torrence is back there a little bit, those would probably be the guys that you might see back.
REPORTER: Terrelle’s been under such a microscope really since he arrived into campus and this season he’s on every Heisman list and I know he has to be aware of it, has he being under the microscope from the beginning prepared him for what will come this year and what has already come?
COACH TRESSEL: I think it’s probably a little easier, just like reading coverages is a little bit easier. Because he’s been there, done that, knows that there probably isn’t a whole bunch that what’s said or expected a has to do with it, it’s just totally how he performs as to how well we’ll do.
The one thing about him, if you asked him to list the five most important things to him, the first one would be that we are successful and we win. And so his focus is so strong on that and I think that time under the microscope since he’s been here has probably served him well.
REPORTER: How’s he handled it from the beginning? It’s really remarkable for a kid as a true freshman to get the hype he got, I remember when we interviewed him, it was like a circus.
COACH TRESSEL: I think he’s handled it pretty well. Not without error, just like anyone else, but I think he’s always wanted to handle it well. He always respected the fact that people did want to know and that people had jobs to ask the most questions, I don’t think he ever resented any extra time media spent or any other thing, and I think he does want to be a guy that’s a good role model and those kind of things and he’s easier to be a role model if someone’s talking about you and I think he’s done a good job.
REPORTER: Along those lines, how do you feel about Heisman campaigns? Do you think it’s off to a good start, need a push?
COACH TRESSEL: Our benchmark in that world is Steve Snapp and Steve has always told us you don’t even start thinking about that until you’re three or four games in and if you don’t have any production that would point toward that, don’t bother. So we’ve always kind of followed that school of thought, we don’t come out the beginning of the year, as far as I know, saying, hey, this so and so is Heisman candidate and so and so is this candidate. We kind of wait and see how they do.
REPORTER: So if it gets to that point, you wouldn’t mind having flyers or whatever it is, magnets?
COACH TRESSEL: The thing I love about the major awards and I’ve said this often is that they’ve involved into more than a popularity contest. They’ve involved into who’s doing well on great teams, which is what it ought to be about, so if all of a sudden our guys are mentioned for some of those things, then we’re probably doing pretty well as a team.
REPORTER: Have you had any contact with Maurice Clarett, if he’s got a chance to —
COACH TRESSEL: Not relative to the workout, he was over working out every day with us and I saw him the day before he left, but, no, I haven’t. I assume — I think it was this past weekend because he left this last Saturday. I’m mixed up what day it was.
REPORTER: What do you think about him trying to make this comeback, trying to play football again? That’s what got him places in the first place, what’s your thought?
COACH TRESSEL: I think it’s probably something that he thought about and that he missed and that he knows it’s short-lived. The older you get, it’s even shorter-lived, and that people called us before he even brought it up to me he was always in working out just because he was in school and he wanted to be in a positive environment and all that. All of a sudden people started calling us and I would take him his phone messages. And I think he kind of felt good that there was some interest.
REPORTER: By people, you do you mean people from the NFL, UFL, just from all over?
COACH TRESSEL: UFL, because the NFL already had their thing going. Lori, we have two questions left. You won’t always be next to last, but when the hot shot shows up, we always bow down to the hot shots, so, Lori?
REPORTER: With the growth of Terrelle Pryor that you’ve talked about, does he have any additional responsibilities especially when it comes to presnap?
COACH TRESSEL: He’s a lot more involved in the discussions from a pass protection standpoint. Prepractice, in practice, presnap, he and Mike Brewster — and Jim Bollman’s theory is not changing, it’s the center still has the primary, but sometimes the quarterback can see something that the center can’t, and then he chimes in and so he has been able to grow in that area and I’ll tell you what, he’s wrong every once in a while because our defense does a lot. They throw a lot at you, but I’ve been impressed with how he has been on the mark when we’ve needed to make some changes and so forth. All right. Marla, how about a hand for Marla coming back. That wasn’t resounding. It wasn’t a standing ovation.
REPORTER: This is a little along Lori’s lines, but has there been something Terrelle has said in a meeting or done in a practice that showed you that he’s elevated to the next level as quarterback? Maybe since last season?
COACH TRESSEL: Has there been anything that he’s said or done? You know, I think I would say that most of what he’s said and what we’ve watched him do have demonstrated a greater understanding and both of those things are important because those guys in that huddle are listening to what that quarterback has to say. That young receiver is influenced by what that quarterback has to say. The whole team is influenced by any comments that the head coach might make or the quarterback might make. That’s just the nature of our jobs. And so I think he’s demonstrated throughout with what he has said and how he has prepared and then what he has demonstrated that there’s clearly progress.
It doesn’t mean there’s not going to be little blips in the radar because there always are, but I think the recovery from those blips and the understanding of, okay, why didn’t this go the way we planned it or whatever, will be much more rapid due to that dril