Oct. 23, 2004
TRESSEL: It was great to get a homecoming win when you have the likes of Jim Marshall here as honorary captain. I think we had close to 40 former captains here and obviously a stadium full of people back for homecoming. And the most important thing to us was to make sure that they went home happy.
Secondly, we’ve got to figure out how we can get better and keep working on it and keep studying it and keep trying to come up with the right fit for the right guys at the right times. I hope we made a little step towards that. We’ll find out as we evaluate the film.
REPORTER: Would you assess Troy’s play today? Would you say you played with more velocity?
TRESSEL: I think Troy played with a lot of confidence. I think he knew most of all of the time what was going on around him, what he needed to do. The best thing, you’ve heard us say for 100 years, doesn’t matter who the coach is, you can’t turn the ball over. We didn’t. You’ve got to come up with some plays, and he did. He got some good balance from his run game, so I thought he obviously played with the type of velocity we needed to win the game, and it was great to see.
REPORTER: Jim, could you talk a little about Antonio Pittman and then follow that up by talking about the defensive performance today, which was stifling Indiana the whole day.
TRESSEL: Antonio Pittman, we’ve been mentioning all along, we think is going to be a very good player. I think the guys in front of him, at least I hope it’s true, that the guys in front of him really created some opportunities for him and then he found the spots. I think the more Antonio plays the better he’s going to be. As far as the defense goes, I thought the defense did some excellent things, kept them in some long yardage situations a lot. I don’t know if they ever established a great ground game. I don’t know if they rushed for maybe 60 or 70 yards, I don’t know for sure, but they kept them in long situations. To Indiana’s credit, they made a couple conversions that kept drives going. I think their one scoring drive, we had a big 15-yard penalty, which you always talk about penalties are very, very costly. But I thought our defense did some good things. Again, it will be a great opportunity for us to study film, find out what we’re doing well and what we’ve got to do better and progress. REPORTER: What is it, Jim, that makes Antonio such a good runner? He seems to find holes and bounce off the would-be tacklers, he did that a couple times where guys looked at him and stopped and he was able to continue going.
TRESSEL: I think Antonio has good vision and he’s got excellent lateral movement. There are some guys that just — they see things, and I think you wouldn’t necessarily be able to sit there and draw up the defense look and that kind of thing, but he can feel the bodies and he can feel who’s coming from where, and I think the more he plays, the more he carries, the better Antonio will be.
REPORTER: Jim, can you explain your suspension of Lydell Ross and talk about how long it’s going to last and was it a distraction at the point in the week when you had to make the decision?
TRESSEL: Well, anytime anything doesn’t go as to plan, it’s a distraction, but you have to decide if you allow things to be distractions, and I didn’t notice anyone allow it to be a distraction. Simply at this point in time, he’s suspended. How long it will be, I really don’t know. And I guess as I begin to gather information, we were busy with other agendas when it came up and we’ll address that at the proper time when we have some time.
REPORTER: Jim, was he suspended because of a team rule situation or because of a possible NCAA thing? What was the reason for the suspension?
TRESSEL: I can’t really elaborate on what it was, other than it was not what we would hope that any one of our people would be involved in and go from there.
REPORTER: You started Maurice Hall, Antonio Pittman came in and stuff, will that be the way you kind of go now or does Pittman kind of move up the ladder now?
TRESSEL: Oh, it’s hard to tell. We know we’re going to have to play multiple backs, I think that’s real. Who starts sometimes depends upon what are we doing, but, gosh, I don’t know, I haven’t honestly given any thought to Penn State yet other than I know that’s who we play next.
REPORTER: Same question on quarterback; did Troy do enough today that he might be your starter against Penn State even if Justin is healthy or would you go back to your depth chart before the injury to Justin?
TRESSEL: Well, again, I haven’t given it much thought, and the thought would begin, I suppose, with two things happening; one, we see how medically Justin is coming along; and, two, obviously you study the film and study the practice that we’re getting ready to have starting tomorrow. But when you said might he? I guess it would be not fair to say absolutely he would not, but we haven’t given it much discussion or thought. I really don’t know the medical situation. I don’t think Justin could have gone today, and so I’ll have to see that day-by-day.
REPORTER: Jim, how important was the first touchdown? Because it could have conceivably been six the other way and you made a hell of a play on that. Could you talk about that?
TRESSEL: How important? It was probably 14 points important, because if it went seven that way and seven that way, that was a huge play. The corner played soft and Troy felt as if after seeing the first couple of plays that the corner was going to bale even softer, and the corner made a nice break on the ball. It was a little bit of a dangerous break because if the ball was maybe a foot or so slower, Teddy might have caught that and the guy would have gone flying by and he might have scored earlier. It was huge. That’s what players like Ted Ginn and Santonio Holmes do. That was electrifying. The ball was flying up in the air and caught by a couple of guys. But that’s what big-time guys do, and Teddy’s going to be, I think, one of those extraordinary players.
REPORTER: Jim, we’ve talked about it many times before, but Mike Nugent, three more field goals today, all of them perfect; can you talk about his performance?
TRESSEL: He’s amazing. When we lined up for that one from 52, I thought, boy, I can’t believe we’re putting him in this situation so far all the time, and what if he misses, we give them the ball on, I don’t know, the 35 or thereabouts. And, bang, it goes through. And I think, why would I ever doubt him? We were going to pooch the one kickoff late in the third quarter because he was going against the wind. He said, do you want me to drive it out of the end zone? I said, yeah. He said, then let’s not pooch it, I’ll drive it out of the end zone. And he did. I guess I’ve now learned, don’t doubt Nooge, but he’s special.
REPORTER: Jim, is there any reason at this point to — do you think this thing with Lydell was an isolated thing? Right now no one else is involved, as far as you know?
TRESSEL: As far as I know.
REPORTER: Back to the running game. Well, you’re right, Coach, I guess I don’t need this thing.
TRESSEL: That’s right.
REPORTER: A lot of execution today. How would you compare, say, Ross and Pittman? What was working today that was not working a couple of weeks ago or so?
TRESSEL: Well, you know, without watching it, what I would guess is that we were getting more movement than we were two weeks ago and you say, well, why? And I imagine that if that also has multiple answers, which is maybe we’re doing what we do better and two weeks ago the guys we were trying to move were doing better than the guys today were doing against us. But I think Antonio made some good decisions on where to go and that certainly helps things. But again, I’d really have to study it to know. But I would say if the inference is, did Antonio Pittman help that, absolutely, sure did.
REPORTER: Jim, you guys burned a couple more, like you mentioned earlier, a couple more, three, red shirts today. What was the thinking going into this week and was it just a feeling the time was right or you needed a little bit of a juice-up or whatever you call it?
TRESSEL: Well, the linebacker situation, Anthony Schlegel was a little bit banged up and D’Andrea is gone for the year and we thought realistically he’s going to have to play, and I think in his situation, because Stan White was out a little bit from a special teams standpoint, you lose a real linebacker, fullback-type guy from there, Branden Joe hasn’t responded health-wise to 100%, so Dionte Johnson needs to come in because Stan White is out and Brandon Schnittker is banged a little bit. I’m trying to think of who else, Steve Rehring, I just have felt that Steve Rehring is a guy that can add to what we’re doing and will help us get better. Is that the only one?
REPORTER: Today. You’ve had the last couple weeks —
TRESSEL: I keep reading where you guys say we’re going to five-year eligibility, so I’m going on your advice.
REPORTER: Jim, you lose a couple games with a quarterback, you put a different quarterback in and win. Just confidence-wise, momentum-wise, do you factor that in at all? Is it difficult to go back to the other guy?
TRESSEL: I think if you walked into practice tomorrow and said, hey, we’re going to go back and do this or that, yeah, I think that would be — we’re going to need Troy and Justin to become as good as we want to become. And Troy was sitting there at half-time with an ice bag on his jaw because he got thrashed a few times. The upside is we’ve got two guys that have played significant football under the center and I guess we don’t get too worried about who’s the starter and all that stuff. If we think there will be an impact if we did something one way or the other, then of course we wouldn’t want to do it.
REPORTER: Coach, can you talk about Tony Gonzalez a little bit? He seems to be getting more playing time every week, seems to be getting better and better. Can you talk about how he’s been getting on the field more?
TRESSEL: We’re really excited about Tony’s progress. Tony may be as fast a guy in the 40-yard dash as there is on our team and we’ve got a couple guys that can go. He’s got great explosion. He was hampered a little bit with a hamstring through spring and early preseason. I think he was worried that it might come back because hamstrings are tough especially on guys that run fast. And I think that his last two and a half, three weeks, have been excellent practice-wise and then all of a sudden when you have excellent practice, you say, hey, let’s get him in the game and all of a sudden game-wise, doing the types of things he did in practice. We’re real high on him. He’s down there right now not all excited because he dropped a ball. But I thought the one he jumped up and caught was a huge play in what was going on in the game.
REPORTER: I’m wondering on Bam Childress, is that a situation where guys like Gonzalez are stepping forward, and also E.J. Underwood didn’t play today, I wonder why.
TRESSEL: Right now, Ashton Youboty and Dustin are ahead of E.J. at the corner position. We felt, as I listened to the defensive staff, that the best nickel combination this week was one of those safeties in what you call the star position. Versus a lot of times we had put Ashton in there, but based upon what they did, we thought either Brandon Mitchell or Tyler Everett or one of those guys would be better suited for that. So it was just a matter of right now for this game, he was behind both Ashton and Dustin and there wasn’t really — I don’t know if he played the last series or two, but there wasn’t the opportunity to get him in.
REPORTER: And Bam?
TRESSEL: Tony Gonzalez, we think, has earned the opportunities he’s gotten and responded well to them.
REPORTER: Jay Richardson, we didn’t see him today. He wasn’t dressed, maybe what his situation is.
TRESSEL: Jay got a little bit of an injury that I think we should have him back pretty quickly. As you say, he wasn’t dressed, and we’re hoping he gets back quickly. Thank you.