Nov. 15, 2003
TRESSEL: Well, it was quite a football game, as you knew it would be. Two of the best defenses in the country matching up and just shrugging it out and you knew that special teams were going to be critical and I thought our ability to punt and establish field position was huge. Obviously when you get a 52-yard field goal, from a guy like Nuge, that’s huge in a game like this, and offensively, I think both teams ended up with about 350 yards or something and every one of them was hard earned and it was a battle. It was just a great Big Ten football game just like you knew it would be.
REPORTER: At what point are you guys just — because we’re all amazed. It’s like we’re having ulcers watching these games. Do you not ever get to the point where you stop and go how do we do this again and again and again, win in that unbelievable fashion?
TRESSEL: Our guys just keep playing. I think when you stop and start thinking, things don’t work out. They just keep playing and they have a lot of faith that if we play as hard as we can, good things will happen and we’ll have some good things happen. We lost a tough one earlier that was tight, but our guys just keep going.
REPORTER: Jim, there at the end of regulation, was it never a doubt you were going to play for the field goal or what was the thinking there?
TRESSEL: We felt like we were right there where we needed to be and we feel going into games like this that whoever wins the special teams and whoever wins the turnover margin is going to win the game so we certainly weren’t going to do anything to affect that turnover margin at that point in time and we felt like we could get the thing put where we needed to, which we did. We just didn’t get it done. Again, our guys said, okay, let’s go, it’s overtime. REPORTER: Mike’s long field goal earlier, did you give much consideration at all to letting him try 55 yards after they had the illegal sub in?
TRESSEL: Not really. It would have been 55 and also a miss would have given them the ball on the 38 or something like that, which I don’t think with their very good field goal kicker would have been a fair thing to do for our team. We felt good about our punt unit and thought we could put them down in and we have great confidence in our defense and so that was the decision we went with.
REPORTER: The one that was blocked, Jim, could you tell us what happened there? Was it low or they made a good play or what?
TRESSEL: Well, from where I was standing, it didn’t look like we had perfect mechanics, I may be wrong. I’d have to go back and look and when there aren’t perfect mechanics, you can maybe not get the ball up as much as you need to get it up. Their jumper got it. I think their jumper got a piece of the last one we made, because you could hear this little nick on the field. When B. J. came out, he said, you know, Coach, I think they got a piece of that. They do a great job with their jumper.
REPORTER: Talk about the defensive unit as a whole and the performance by the defensive today.
TRESSEL: Our defense is special, they keep playing and fighting. People come in with great plans against them and it’s the game of their life to have a chance to play against our defense and our guys just keep fighting and keep fighting and believing in each other. We have great leadership up there with Will and Darrion and Timmy and Robert Reynolds and all the guys up in the attack area and Will Allen in the back end. They’re an extraordinary bunch with some very good coaches, Mark Dantonio and the staff do a great job.
REPORTER: The play it looks like Will has the pressure from the outside and Tim straight up from the middle, each take a turn and tell us what happened on that play.
SMITH: We knew the crowd was getting louder and we knew the offensive line was a little nervous because I think he had a bad knee or something. We knew we needed a big play, we needed a turnover. It just so happened that they said I knocked the ball out, and I hit the ball, but I didn’t think I knocked it out. Kudla picked it up and scored the touchdown. We kind of celebrated, went back and got ready for the next series.
ANDERSON: I’m not sure what happened to be quite honest with you. I just bullrushed my guy. From what it looks like on the replay, Will happened to be where he needed to be and I bullrushed my guy. I don’t know who got the ball out but somebody did, we got it back.
REPORTER: Can you talk about not scoring an offensive touchdown?
KRENZEL: I was actually just talking with Coach Bollman. Offensively we did a lot of good things today. Coach Tressel talks about special teams and winning the turnover margin and I think that’s the number two things that our offense did a great job of today, is we helped move the field position, we made some big plays and some drive stall, taking some sacks or penalties and first zero turnover game of the year if I’m not mistaken, we couldn’t have picked a better time.
JENKINS: Just what Craig said. We had no turnovers, a few penalties here and there, set us back a little bit. Our defense did a great job. We didn’t score, put one in the end zone, just give Craig credit for that.
REPORTER: Just a question for all four of the players. This is your last game at Ohio Stadium. If things hadn’t worked out right, would that have ruined the entire day or is this just kind of typical of the way your guys’ careers have been here?
SMITH: I can go first. Anytime you lose, I guess it ruins your weekend, I don’t know about the day and the next week. We never felt we were going to lose that game. Even though it was real close, all the seniors, you could just look in their eyes and see confidence that we were going to win, somebody was going to make a play, whether it was me or Tim or Craig or if it was Mike and we just knew that it was up to us. It was our last game and we wanted to go 16-0 in the Shoe, so we just had to make plays and get it done.
REPORTER: Will and Tim, how lifting was it to have them back on the end zone after those four punts? Did it let you to be more aggressive, turn it up, that kind of thing?
ANDERSON: I think it helps, the fact that it made them go — a bunch of those were inside the 10. That makes them — in order for them to score a touchdown, they’ve got to go 90 plus yards. That’s a pretty difficult thing to do. So we were — it definitely helps. And then if we can get a three and out, they would punt from their own end zone, it gives us good field position.
SMITH: We always talk about the most important play in football is the punt and obviously it showed up today. B. J. had an outstanding day, he punted the ball and gave us good field position, so they didn’t have a short way to go down the field. I think it helped tremendously. And as you can see, when the fumble happened, all Kudla had to do was pick it up and take two steps and he was in the end zone.
REPORTER: Could you guys talk about Michigan winning today and the importance of the game next week, playing for the championship in Ann Arbor?
TRESSEL: Well, it’s a huge game. It’s the 100th Ohio State/Michigan game. I don’t know what happened in their game today.
TRESSEL: 41-10? Not that us winning or them winning makes it any bigger than it already is. Ohio State/Michigan is biggest game of the year. It’s the last game and it’s exciting. We have a chance to participate in it.
REPORTER: Is there any sense among any of you guys —
TRESSEL: Hold on a second. Go ahead.
KRENZEL: There’s no doubt, you come to a place like Ohio State or you go to a place like Michigan to play in that type of game, you come there because you want to win conference championships and a lot of times it comes down to that last game of the season and this year is one of those years where the winner of that game is going to become the conference champ, that’s why you come here, you come here to play in those games and you come here for that challenge.
TRESSEL: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you, Dave.
REPORTER: I’m just wondering if there’s any sense among any of the five of you up there, you’re going through this very business-like and you go through the games very business-like, is there any sense of amazement that you’ve done it again, that you’ve pulled yourself out of the fire with another victory, starting with you, Coach.
TRESSEL: We watched the film of Purdue all week long. We knew they were a great team and it was going to take every ounce of energy we had. We knew going into 2003 that every single team is going to play us better than they really are. Purdue did that. Purdue played a great game and we tip our caps to them. Are we amazed that it was a battle? No. But we have guys that keep playing.
REPORTER: But are you amazed at the way you’re continually able to pull out close games? It’s uncanny really when you look at the number of times you’ve done this.
TRESSEL: No comment. I don’t know. I don’t know.
REPORTER: Coach, you faced a pretty stout defense today and your offense really did move the ball, even though you didn’t score. Are you happy with the continued progress of your offense at this point?
TRESSEL: You know, I think we’ve made progress offensively. That was a tough defense we were going against and I think we rushed for more than they’re used to getting rushed against. I think they rushed for more against us than we’re used to. Total yards, I don’t know that they give up 350 a game, I don’t think, but what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to score more points and we understand that and that’s — we’ll go to work on it. I feel good about the way that our guys are working to get better, playing as hard as they can, they’re focused on what we’re asking of them and really the thing I like about them best is all they care is that we win.
REPORTER: Coach, is half a day or whole day enough to relish a victory like this? It seems like every time you win one of these, it’s six hours later you have to think about the next one.
TRESSEL: Yeah, if six. When you’re in the middle of the long battle like we are, really once this day is — this game is over, you can’t help but think about the next one, so I doubt if we’ll get to relish very long.
REPORTER: You sense, that when you guys have done this so many times that it becomes the advantage what the other teams might be thinking because they’ve been there so many times that you guys feel like you have an edge?
ANDERSON: I mean, an edge, I’m not sure.
REPORTER: Mental edge.
ANDERSON: We’re confident that we can do it obviously. We’re not — we don’t ever get in a position where we panic because it’s a close game, you know there’s not much time left. Today we went into overtime, it’s not a big deal to us because we’ve been there before so we don’t worry about it a whole lot.
SMITH: You’ve just got to show up and you’ve got to make plays. That’s what it comes down to, who fights the hardest. You know what I mean, we know we’ve got a lot of guys on our team, actually everybody on our team, we know that they’re going to fight for us. When it gets close, we know that we can rely on them. Like Tim said, I guess we’re used to it.
KRENZEL: I think definitely it helps us, as those guys said. It helps us keep poised and when we get into overtime games or games that are on the line late in the fourth quarter, we’ve been in a lot of them, we know how to react, we know how the emotions feel. As for tonight, I really don’t know how much of an impact it was because we played a very experienced veteran Purdue team and I’m sure they’ve been in a lot of close games. So it’s as much of an advantage it was tonight, I don’t really know.
JENKINS: Just like Craig said, those guys are pretty experienced themselves, they’ve had some tight ball games. We’re just confidence in ourselves, we know we have to go out and execute. We’ve been there before, so it’s just kind of go out and get the job done.
REPORTER: Sims sand Stepanovich went out of the game at one point, is there any update on either of them?
TRESSEL: No, I don’t know if they came back in.
KRENZEL: Alex did.
TRESSEL: Alex was back in. Did Robert play some more? I don’t know.
REPORTER: Freddie Pagac?
TRESSEL: Freddie came back in. I saw him holding his hand, then I saw him come back in.
SMITH: He banged his hand and then he played a couple series. He was in on the punt.
REPORTER: Coach, are you surprised, all the tight games you’ve been in that that’s the first game-winning field goal that Nuge has kicked?
TRESSEL: No, I think we’ve tried some other ones.
REPORTER: To win the game, I mean.
TRESSEL: I remember one at Penn State, but we’ve had some huge kicks by Mike Nugent and he came through again tonight.
REPORTER: Will and Tim, did Orton run more than you all thought? He had a little bit of running success this year, were they going with what they could do?
SMITH: Our secondary did a great job getting pressure on him and it just so happened that he found the opening and he ran. I don’t think those plays were set for him to run, I think they were just broken plays and he made the most of them and got some yards.
ANDERSON: I agree with Will. Roar.
REPORTER: It’s almost like a statue of liberty play, did it catch you off guard?
SMITH: I think it was a statue of liberty play. They out numbered us and they had a number on that play, I guess.
REPORTER: Are you guys lucky or good?
TRESSEL: I don’t know. After the year, I guess we’ll figure that out.
REPORTER: Will you consider Michigan now, the success and how good they are this year?
TRESSEL: We get to see team video of the whole league while we’re preparing for all the various teams and Michigan is very good. Shoot, they’re an outstanding football team, they’re a veteran football team. They have veterans at key positions and they’re one of the best teams in the country.
REPORTER: Being 2-0 against them, does that mean anything this year?
TRESSEL: No, not a thing.
REPORTER: How much pride does the defense take that you guys seem to, a lot of times it comes down to what you do? Clearly, as Coach said, you’d like the offense to score more points and the defense is keeping you in the game.
ANDERSON: Well, we still need to get better on defense, obviously. I don’t know how many yards we gave up tonight, but we gave up more rushing than we probably should have and we still gave up passing yards. So I guess until you hold a team to zero points with zero yards, you can always get better.
REPORTER: Could you talk about Mike Nugent, just for a comment about Mike Nugent.
TRESSEL: Mike Nugent is a special guy. We asked him to come through for us many times and he lined up there today and banged home a 52-yarder, which was huge. In a game like that, every point was going to be crucial, then at the end of the game, we put him in a game-winner situation and I’m not sure we had great mechanics, but Mike’s not going to say anything about anything. And then he lined up in the overtime and nailed it through and put the heat on Purdue. So Mike comes through for us.
REPORTER: What was the penalty for leading up to that 52-yarder and did you think about punting in that situation?
TRESSEL: Craig, you answer that question.
KRENZEL: I don’t know. No, it was just — we ran a run play and their DN, after I’d handed the ball off, I thought took kind of a cheap shot and I asked the official, and just tempers were flaring and a couple other guys were around, and apparently I said some stuff that I didn’t think I said, and if that was the case, I shouldn’t have.
REPORTER: Craig, thinking about what you guys accomplished was today more emotional than your last two years here?
KRENZEL: Not a whole lot because we had to get back up in the locker team and sing the fight song but there were a few of us that stayed down on the field more than usual and just kind of looked around and just kind of let it all soak in. It’s our last game in the Shoe. This senior class, most of the guys, for every game that they’ve started in the Shoe, haven’t lost. It’s just a great feeling. It’s kind of a sad day, and you knew it had to come to an end sometime and to have it end like this couldn’t be any better.
REPORTER: Any of you other guys have any thoughts as you walked off the field, thinking this is the last time here?
ANDERSON: Obviously, I think we all did. Me and Craig, we’ve been here five years, Will and Mike have been here four, but when you’ve been someplace for so long, it almost feels like a second home. Obviously I think we’re all a little bit sad that we’ll never walk into that stadium to play again and walking into that locker room, all those things. And like Craig said, we made the best of it. We’ve been undefeated in the Horseshoe for the last few years and we made a game to remember tonight.
SMITH: I just think it was a great experience, my four years of being here we went from being an average team to being a great team. We’ve been a lot of places and seen a lot of people and its just been a great experience for me personally and coming back to end on this note, undefeated in the Shoe the past two years is great and we’ve got — we got another opportunity ahead of us where we can play Michigan and go to the national championship again hopefully. So it’s been a great stay and I’m going to miss the Shoe. I’m going to miss you guys and I’m just going to miss Ohio State University.
REPORTER: Mike, can you talk about the field goal at the end of regulation.
NUGENT: Just one of the things I kind of got up there, it was almost, I’m not really sure what happened. I felt like I hit it really solid, like nothing like any other field goal. I’ve been talking to the guys afterwards, I was asking like what happened after that, I was asking people on the sides, did I hit a little of the ball or just penetrate, I couldn’t really tell what happened, I’ll have to watch some of the film, it felt like a solid ball.
REPORTER: Did they get a piece of the wing on the last field goal?
NUGENT: Actually, coach was saying that they did. It sounded like from a couple people that they did.
REPORTER: What were your thoughts before that one.
NUGENT: The one in overtime or regulation.
NUGENT: I kind of got up there, and was like, this is no different than kicking an 18-yarder, I went out there thinking, we just need to get this and put the pressure on them, they’re going to have to get three points out of it too. I actually think it’s a good thing we have the experience with it. It all started with Miami last year in the Fiesta Bowl. And I think people are really relaxed. I go out there, I don’t see anyone’s eyes open, it real scary. Everyone’s real confident. If we do what we know we can do, we should come out on top.
REPORTER: Mike, how tough would it be, as a kicker, you know what the situation is, how tough would it be to be in Ben Jones’ shoes right now.
NUGENT: Really, I think that’s just unbelievably tough. I wish I could say I’ve been in that situation. I’ve never been in a situation to tie it up. I’ve been in like tonight was my first time to win at the end, but never when you’re down by a field goal to tie it up. So if I could ever talk to him, I’d just tell him, don’t even worry about it. I think that was his fifth miss this season. He was having a great year, just try to not worry about it.
REPORTER: You said one of your goals was to get a game-winner, does this count?
NUGENT: Can’t count because I didn’t get it. Hopefully, I’d never have to attempt any, we’d be up by enough, but hopefully it will never happen.
REPORTER: B. J., was the last field goal tipped.
SANDER: Yeah, the last field goal was tipped, I think it was 59, he got a piece of it. But Nuge is a great kicker and he put it through.