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Nov. 8, 2003

TRESSEL: I think you could tell that our kids played extremely hard and played against a very good football team in Michigan State. They were extremely well prepared and they put a lot of pressure on you offensively, defensively and the special teams and our kids really came to play and fought hard. It was good to see improvement as the game went, which is key. And once they got a feel for what Michigan State was bringing to the table, it was good to see that we were creating a little bit more balance on the offensive side of things. And obviously the thing that concerns us, as much as anything, is you can’t let a kickoff return put the ball game back to where it did. But I’m so proud of these seniors. They’ve led well, and we’ve got a chance to have a good football team.

REPORTER: Did you see — how about the Everett interception, Coach, they were up 7-3 on your 18 yard line.

TRESSEL: That’s huge. Turnovers are the key to everything. If you win the turnover battle, which I think we did, I’m not sure. I don’t have the stats, but whenever there’s a 70-yard flop on a turnover like there was there, that’s huge. The momentum of the team and really emotionally it takes a lot out of the person that has that problem and obviously that was huge in the game. They had a little — they had a little rhythm and a little momentum and on that particular play, I think we began putting a lot more pressure on them, and that, I think, a lot of people were a part of that turnover.

REPORTER: You ran the ball for nearly 200 yards, what are your goals? Can you talk about that?

TRESSEL: We want to be balanced. We want to run for 200 and threw for 250. I’m not sure how it ended up. We want to score 40 points, but we were forced to kick four field goals which means we’ve got a lot of work to do. I think it was four. Thank goodness Nuge made them. We scored enough points to win, but it’s good to see us getting a little more balance. REPORTER: Craig, the way last weekend and the way this week kind of went, what’s your feelings right now coming out of this game? Three touchdown passes.

KRENZEL: I’m just happy that we, this time of year in the Big Ten, wins are a tough thing to come by and I’m just happy we walked away from this game with a win against a great team and we’ve got two more with two great football teams coming up next week starting with the Boilermakers coming to our house.

REPORTER: Going to your tight ends, Hartsock and Hamby, what they’ve brought to the table this year.

KRENZEL: They’ve done an outstanding job, both of those guys, especially Ben coming into his senior year. He wanted to get a lot better. He took a lot of time this summer learning the protections and trying to understand the scheme of things and what we’re trying to do, not just what route does he have to run, and it’s definitely paid off for him in terms of knowing where to be and when to be there. So Ben getting better like that, he’s been able to help Ryan out a lot and both of those guys have done an outstanding job of running routes and making plays for us.

REPORTER: Knowing what we know about Coach Tressel wanting to share time between you and Scott, did that help keeping you going knowing you might be replaced.

KRENZEL: I wasn’t motivated by being replaced, I was motivated by offensively we haven’t done as well as we should have all year long. And we know coming into the downstretch of this season that we’re going to need to put some points on the board to help our defense out and special teams out because we’re playing some great football teams.

REPORTER: Coach Tressel, was it more of an attitude adjustment or did the guys do anything specifically to get the running game going in the second half. You ran the ball better second half.

TRESSEL: Well, we came out in those first couple drives maybe throwing it a little bit more than normal balance but we just thought there were some things there that we wanted to go after. And I think once we settled in to our pattern, our pattern was a little more balanced and I thought our guys up front did a good job and they got a feel for what they needed to do to block Michigan State and Michigan State’s got good athletes on defense, they’re physical and they run to the ball. So we felt good about being able to move it a little bit.

REPORTER: You mentioned the kickoff return for a touchdown, can you just talk about how important it was to come back and answer that with a field goal?

TRESSEL: I can’t remember what that made the score, but, yes. For us to — if we would have gone out there and been three and out, that would have been a problem just from an emotional momentum standpoint. So for us to go down and kick a field goal, I don’t know what that made the score, but maybe it put us up by 10 again or something, I don’t know. But, yeah, that was important.

REPORTER: For Craig and the coach, you guys admit you did struggle a little bit early in the game and you improved as the game went on, but talk about the critical third down touchdown to Hartsock, it looked like if you don’t hit that play, you only get a field goal there instead of going ahead, maybe makes a little difference in the game. Talk about that play and hitting him on that crossing route there.

KRENZEL: That was a big play. They came out with a nickel look, three down linemen, they brought some sort of blitz. Line did a good job picking it up. I think I almost ran into Adrien, though, we were just running a series of crossing routes, hoping to catch them in some man blitz and Ben did a good job coming across and I think they lost him as I was stepping up. Sometimes man teams will catch them in the back field when they should be covering somebody. I don’t know if that happened or not. Ben did a great job. I just tried to get him the ball. It was a good play in the game because I think that put us up 10-7 and we took the lead. It was a big play, just to get the momentum on our side.

REPORTER: Question for Will Smith, negative two yards, for a good part of the game, it was minus two. How helpful is it to you guys knowing — SMITH: We knew coming into the game we had to get after Smoker and we knew they were going to try to establish the line. Anytime we can make a team one dimensional throwing the ball it’s in favor of the defense.

REPORTER: Couch, do you feel like it’s going to give you more respect knowing you got a convincing win, you come down to the win, both in polls —

TRESSEL: From who?

REPORTER: From anybody. In polls, anything.

TRESSEL: I don’t know. We’re going to concern ourselves with Purdue right now and ourselves, but I guess I don’t know the answer.

REPORTER: Any reaction to Miami losing today.

TRESSEL: Miami-Florida?

REPORTER: Losing.

TRESSEL: Who did they play, Tennessee? Good win. Busy this afternoon.

REPORTER: Jim, is this the best game you guys have played year? Offensively as well as defensively?

TRESSEL: I think maybe it was the best balanced we’d been offensively. I know defensively, I think we’ve had a number of games where we’ve shut the run down and made teams one dimensional. Certainly not the best game we played special units. You can’t give up a 100-yard touchdown or whatever it was. But I think there was some improvement in significant areas.

REPORTER: Jim, did Craig play well enough early to take you off of your thinking, if you had any thought of playing Scott earlier than you did, was Craig’s play early a factor in your decision?

TRESSEL: Well, really the flow of the game always dictates any substitution things, whether it’s going to another back, going to another lineman or another set of receivers, what have you been doing, that type of thing. I was considering maybe Scott getting in a little bit earlier there, because Craig, we made him carrying the ball about five or six times early just to make sure he was okay from last week and he was getting banged pretty good. So I kept asking him, are you okay? And he kept saying he was. And so we just wanted to determine the flow and what was the best thing for the team at the time.

REPORTER: Craig, did you need a game like this personally? You know, the personal stuff that was going on last week, questions you were getting?

KRENZEL: To be honest, you know, I like to go out every week and play well, no matter what happens in the week and coach saying that Scott needed some playing time, that didn’t really bother me at all. I can only control what — the things that I can control and when I’m on the field on Saturday and what plays I’m running and what can I do to put the team in the best position to score points and win football games.

REPORTER: Coach, it seems like you had Branden Joe more involved this week, was that a matter of planning to get him involved?

TRESSEL: Branden is healthier now. He would have been involved long ago if he was healthy and he missed the first, I don’t know five games or so. Totally, or seven games, six, then he got in and got about a dozen plays and was banged a little bit more, I think that was an important game for Branden because I don’t know how many he played, but let’s say 25 or 30 snaps of hard-hitting, we’re going to need him down the stretch.

REPORTER: Is he sort of your number two tailback now, he played a lot —

TRESSEL: Yeah, he did today, yeah.

REPORTER: Question for Tim and Will. It seemed like they protected Smoker pretty well early on. Was there a sense of just be patient, do what you do, it will come, as far as getting after it.

SMITH: We felt we weren’t really getting pressure on him at the beginning of the game and we felt that individually we had to step our game up and help out the secondary. He had too much time to throw the ball in the second half and the second quarter we got pressure on him, like I said.

REPORTER: Question for Craig or Michael. Is there a sense of urgency with the offense because it’s November and the season’s winding down and it’s coming down to crunch time.

KRENZEL: I think there’s a sense of urgency in everything we’re doing. November performance is whatever everyone remembers. We’re at a point in the season where we have two games left and after 10 games, we may as well not have played the first 10 because it’s going to come down to these last two ball games for us to be where we want to be at the end of the season. With that in mind, everything we do, offense, defense, special teams, conditioning, weight room, you know, film study, everything kind of steps it up a notch this time of year.

REPORTER: Michael, can you talk about controlling your own destiny and how big this win was to you? JENKINS: It was a very big win, especially in the Big Ten, there’s still a title race there with Michigan, Purdue having one loss. It was a big game for us. If we win out, pretty much we do control our destiny.

REPORTER: Can you assess your quarterback play week? What your plan may be after this week’s game?

TRESSEL: Well, I think that there’s no question who our starting quarterback is. I don’t think Scott McMullen did anything such that you say, gosh, all of a sudden I don’t think he deserves to have opportunities, you know, if it’s good for the team. So I’d say it’s no different than it was a week ago we’re fortunate that we have two veteran quarterbacks and I’ve said many times that November is a special time for seniors and every opportunity, just like we brought four extra seniors to the hotel last night. They didn’t get to play, but anything you can do for any of your seniors in the month of November, in my mind is what you do. So I guess it’s no different than it was a week ago.

REPORTER: Jim, could you talk a little bit about Jeff Smoker and about the defensive effort against him today?

TRESSEL: Jeff Smoker is a good player, a tough guy. These guys were hitting him, he was getting back up. He’s got a quick release. I’m a Jeff Smoker fan. You have adversity and you face it and you go forward and my hat’s off to him. He’s a great success story.

REPORTER: Tim, how important was Tyler’s interception? It seemed like they may have been on your heels a little bit at that point, he tipped the ball off, how did it change things?

ANDERSON: It was pretty early in the game. I think defensively we were just trying to get used to their tempo, what they were going to be doing and that type of thing. That was a good drive for us to do that and then not to give up any points. Not only that, but had a pretty big runback, set up our offense real nice. So it was huge. Like Coach Tres said earlier, it was a big turn around, emotionally, momentum wise, put it back in our hands.

REPORTER: Could you tell us what happened to that kid, number 72 that went down? He kind of collided.

ANDERSON: With me?

REPORTER: Yeah.

ANDERSON: I know what call we had on him, he was the quarterback —

REPORTER: Sneak.

ANDERSON: Yeah. Somebody on the sidelines said he hit the top of his head. I know neither of us knew what happened. I don’t know if he hit it on the ground or one of us or what exactly happened.

REPORTER: At the end of the game, did you all think you got Robbed of the fumble that turned into an incomplete pass, Smoker, remember that?

ANDERSON: I was kind of in the middle.

SMITH: Not necessarily. After I thought about it, his arm was kind of going forward, so he let go of the ball while he was getting hit, so it’s just a question of a judgment call and the ref called it.

TRESSEL: How is that kid, by the way, does anyone know?

REPORTER: We were told he had feeling in his extremities and everything.

TRESSEL: He does?

REPORTER: Yeah.

REPORTER: The touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes was a nice catch by him in traffic, can you talk about that play.

KRENZEL: Santonio made a great play on that. We were running skinny post. We were favoring Mike side a little bit, that’s what made us Rob Antonio’s side. We tried to put the ball in a place where only Santonio could get it. Santonio is a kid that can make big plays. He dealt with pass interference, made a great catch and did a great job getting the ball in the end zone.

REPORTER: Craig, how does it feel to hear Coach Tressel say there’s no question who the starting quarterback is.

KRENZEL: Thanks, Coach. You know, obviously I want to start and I want to play, that’s just the type of person I am. I also want whatever’s best for the team and I think Coach Tressel does a great job of deciding in any situation no matter what we’re talking about what’s best for the team and I’m just going to do whatever I can do all week long. On Saturday when I get my opportunity to go out and play as best I can.

REPORTER: Craig, did you all need a statement game? At this point in November, with the way things are going, did you all need some kind of game like this today?

KRENZEL: Yeah, I think any game that we can walk away with a victory, definitely, that’s what we want coming out on Saturday. We want to play the best we can. At the end of the day, as long as we add another number to the left-hand column this time of year is all that’s important to us.

REPORTER: How quickly you guys turn the page given the importance of these games in November? Do you immediately start thinking about —

KRENZEL: As soon as you guys are done asking us questions.

REPORTER: Can you talk about penalties today and how much they hurt Michigan State in comparison to you guys?

TRESSEL: That was something we talked about last week that we have to get better at, eliminating some of our penalties without eliminating the aggressive play style that we want to have. The good thing was, we didn’t have any of those — I don’t think we had where we jumped off sides, might have had one or something. But the ones that you can eliminate, we did, yet we still grade aggressively and they had some plays that hurt them. They hold these guys, these guys you have to hold and they got nailed for a couple of those and that certainly hurt them and helped us.

REPORTER: Craig, can you just talk about the running game? Obviously it was important today, successful today, how that will carry over now, the confidence that you guys have gained?

TRESSEL: Yeah, I think our guys up front are doing a much better job of blowing people off the ball and being physical. I think that’s the number one thing in our running game. And a healthy Lydell, he’s running hard, seeing the field well, east making the cuts. We’re also, for the most part, throwing the ball pretty well and making plays down the field to our receivers and whenever you can do both, it makes your offense a lot more potent.