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Dec. 27, 2002

Head Coach Jim Tressel
On first practice since arriving on Phoenix
“Our guys were excited to practice – until they got tired. They got some Christmas out of them.”

On the Fiesta Bowl atmosphere
“We’re very excited to be here. And how could you not be, with the great welcome we got yesterday at the airport, the first class hotel and practice facilities. The Fiesta Bowl does a fantastic job with providing a lot of opportunities to really enjoy this experience. And our players should enjoy the honor they’ve earned. This will be a great opportunity for them to balance fun with work.”

On Miami and the Big East
“Miami has a great program. And what is important about them is that not only do they win, but they win with class. They represent college football very well. And just look at the league they come from – Boston College and Pittsburgh both played very well yesterday, which tells you something about the depth of that league.”

On being considered an underdog
“We don’t have time for that. We’ve got 12 game films to study for Miami, 12 game films to study for us, game plans and lots of other things to do to prepare. We know why we won some games this year, and we know what we didn’t do so well this year and need to work on to prepare for next Friday. So we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and next Friday, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

On upcoming practice sessions in Arizona
“We’ll get in pads once this weekend, and twice next week. We’ll thump with some speed, and bang a bit. The worst thing we could do is not prepare with some simulated game situations, but we also need to make sure we stay 100 percent healthy.”

On whether his team is intimidated by Miami
“I wouldn’t bet our guys are. They’re focused, and we’ve got a plan. We’re honored to be here, and now we just have to focus on ourselves in getting ready.” On OSU-Miami matchup
“Speed wins games, and the fastest team usually wins. We match well with them (Miami)”

Linebacker Matt Wilhelm
On the first practice in Arizona
“It was nice. The weather turned out to be nice. (Today) was more Arizona-like than what we felt last night. It was nice to get out here and get back into things. Today was not too big of a deal. We just went over a lot of the things we worked on in Columbus.

“Everyone is stepping up a little bit. Even though we didn’t go too hard, we are preparing for a very important game. The mental preparations and going through the motions is really important”

Quarterback Craig Krenzel
On being the underdog
“It doesn’t bother us a bit. We’re going into this game with all the confidence in the world that if we come out and play our game, play well and execute, we feel we have a good shot at coming out on top.”

On practice
“It’s football. It’s the same things we’ve been doing in Columbus. The weather is a bit nicer out here. We’re trying to get acclimated to the weather and the heat.”

Tailback Maurice Clarett
On the bowl experience
“I’m just happy to be out here. I’m real appreciative to be able to make the trip and play in this game. I’ve never seen all these mountains and cacti. I’m just soaking up the experience right now.

“I haven’t looked at too much film yet. They’re very disciplined and well schooled. I’m just worrying about our team and what we’re doing.”

Defensive back Will Allen
On his role
“Hopefully we can get them in a lot of third-down situations where they have to pass. If we stop the run I see myself playing a sufficient amount of time. I’m just going to prepare like I normally do.

“Obviously I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m humble and I’ve prepared myself. I’ve accepted everything that is going on so it’s not (like I am) I’m big-headed or anything. It is all overwhelming. I’m excited and I’m happy to be out here.”

Wide receiver and defensive back Chris Gamble
On playing both ways
“I just try to take every game one step at a time. I wanted to make a big impact this year and I think I’ve been able to do that. I’m just trying to stay focused and do what I do best.

“The coaches approached me first (about playing flanker and cornerback). They saw me in spring practice playing around with (defensive back) Michael Doss and the receivers. (Defensive backs) Coach Mel Tucker liked what he saw and gave me a chance.”

Defensive back Mike Doss
On Miami and being the underdog
“I don’t think we are intimidated by Miami. We definitely respect Miami and their talent and their accomplishments made over the past two or three years. We’re fresh to all of this. This is new to the Buckeyes being in the national championship. We’re going to take it one step at a time and embrace it all.

“They have a great image at Miami. They won 34-straight games so you definitely have to take notice. The whole country has to. Just to play them is a great opportunity for Ohio State.”