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Aug. 29, 2006

Troy Smith, senior quarterback
On the upcoming game versus Northern Illinois
“I believe that every game is an incremental step. Games after will come, but we must deal with Northern Illinois first. We have athletic talent that will be able to match up with anyone.”

On his personal reflection of growth
“It was a gradual increase. I’ve reached a point in time where I have said `okay, now it is my time’. I have been a leader all my life. It’s a big change – coming from an inner city school to a program like this – so I am glad I have an amazing supporting cast within my family.”

On being chosen as a team captain
“It is a dream come true. It is truly an honor and I have pride and passion for the guys who selected me. When they can look into my eyes and say that they have my confidence as a leader, that is tremendous. If you just do your job day in and day out, praise and goodness will come.”

Doug Datish, senior center
On being chosen as a team captain
“It is a tremendous honor to be a part of a long tradition. I looked at the list and saw the names I will be with, and out of all the names, I have heard of everyone on the list. This is the best way to end my last year and I am excited to get the season started.”

On the offensive line “We are a little younger this year, so that is different from last year. On the same note, we are not as experienced, but that will bring a different aspect to the game. We are also a little bigger and stronger, which might be hard to believe. But with the new guys, they are able to be molded and we can shape and change them a little bit.”

On his expectations of the young players
“Any time you line up a bunch of young guys, you don’t know how they are going to react. I am interested to see how they will play and I have confidence in them. I have seen what these guys can do.”

Quinn Pitcock, senior defensive lineman
On having every opponent want to play their best against Ohio State
“A win is a win. Everyone gives us their best shot and we have to overcome that every week by working hard and working through it.”

On the OSU offense
“I’m a fan of our offense. I love to sit back and watch them make plays.”

On the first game
“I’m very excited. I’m tired of going up against guys like Doug Datish, Tim Schafer and Steve Rehring every day. I’m looking forward to hitting someone else.”

On NIU running back Garrett Wolfe
“He is very fast. It is true that small running backs can get lost in the pile or behind their offensive line. You have to constantly look for them and run straight ahead. Their biggest scheme is to get him running straight ahead. When he gets to that point he’s tough to stop.”

David Patterson, senior defensive lineman
On the 2006 OSU defense
“We want to emphasize turnovers and try to increase our takeaways. We want to give our offense more chances with the ball.”

On the young OSU defense
“They’re all really good players so I’m looking forward to seeing them play. We want our guys to execute their assignments, take care of their responsibilities and stick to our basic philosophy.”

On seeing his former teammates in the NFL
“It’s great to see some of the guys you came in with and who you played with making it at the next level. It gives you hope.”

On NIU running back Garrett Wolfe
“He gets the ball and picks his spots and then hits the hole so fast. He’ll be a challenge to stop.”

Anthony Gonzalez, junior flanker
On the Northern Illinois defense
“There are different things to pick up on. They disguise their coverages pretty well and don’t declare their position right away. The schematics are pretty different to pick up on with a few of their coverages.”

On who will be the main receiver this season
“Last year, Santonio (Holmes) was really the go-to guy. It’s really about who will pick up the slack. I will do my part and the young guys will, too. We’ll see who makes the plays. The clich saying there is no substitute for experience is absolutely true. Things happen quicker, the game is faster and players are better on Saturday. Being there before mentally and physically definitely helps.”

On the Buckeye offense
“I’m hoping it can be better than last year. That is the big mystery. We will find out on Saturday. I feel confident and think that we have the talent. Sometimes, talent doesn’t mean anything until gameday.”

Antonio Pittman, junior tailback
On starting the season ranked first in the nation
“We have a target on our back. They (Northern Illinois) will come in and give it all they have. They have a good defense and they brought back a lot of guys this season. I don’t feel any pressure with No. 1, because we are going to perform like we aren’t ranked. We have to stay on our toes.” <

On the mindset of the team
“We want to set a tone from week one. Everyone respects our game this year and they are confident in our abilities. When everyone believes in us, we believe in ourselves more. I hope our offense comes out firing, because we don’t know what is going to come at us. We have something to prove because we are ranked No. 1 for a reason.”

On preparing his young teammates
“I told them to get ready. It is a lot different once you are at the game. It feels like everyone takes your breath away. The Northern Illinois defense has speed and they are tough. We have to take one game at a time and hold nothing back.”

Joel Penton, senior defensive tackle
On practice
“My goal is the same now as it has always been and that is to get better everyday. I want to be able to contribute. When I go in I don’t want there to be a drop off.”

On the 2006 season
“There are high expectations every year and you know that when you come to Ohio State. This year will be a great challenge because we are ranked No. 1.”

On the defense
“It is nice to be the underdog sometimes. It is hard to think of yourself as an underdog when you are the No. 1 team in the nation but everyone says the defense is rebuilding, so it is nice when you have something to prove.”

T.J. Downing, senior offensive lineman
On the season
“We are all really fired up, especially on the offensive line. We know that everything on the offense goes through us. If we don’t block Troy (Smith) is not going to make that 80-yard pass and Antonio (Pittman) won’t make that run.”

On the offense
“We should open things up in this first game. We want to keep everyone on their toes; we don’t want to be predicable. We want to keep defenses on their heels.”

On the first game vs. Northern Illinois
“We know we are going to get everyone’s best shot. This week, we know Northern Illinois wants be beat us and we know they are going give us everything they’ve got. I like having the target on our back.”

James Laurinaitis, sophomore linebacker
On switching to middle linebacker
“It is really not that big a move for me I played middle linebacker my whole life until I came to Ohio State. There are some things I’m readjusting to.”

On playing middle linebacker
“You really have to see the whole field, from sideline to sideline. You have to be the quarterback of the defense. I was a quarterback in middle school as well as a linebacker so I know what it is like on both sides of the ball.”

On the defense
“We as linebackers really have to be everywhere but that is really easy when you have guys like Quinn (Pitcock) and Jay (Richardson). They are always there to help everyone out.”