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Aug. 30, 2003

TRESSEL: Well, obviously, we feel good about how hard our guys played tonight. I thought they’ve done a good job preparing. Really ever since we got back in January they’ve really put their nose to the grindstone and had a passion to become better. They focused hard through the spring practice and the summer. I thought they worked hard this preseason.

And, you know, we had a tough match-up for an opener. And I feel good about how hard we played and the leadership that these guys and their colleagues gave our team. And, you know, we’ve got a long way to go.

There’s a whole bunch of things that we’ll analyze that we’ve got to do better. But if you come out and play harder like our guys did, good things can happen.

REPORTER: Coach, either you or any of the players with the distractions in the off-season and all the talk of repeat, repeat, repeat. How nice was it to get back between (inaudible).

TRESSEL: Well, it was great to play football. That’s what we like to do. That’s one of the reasons these guys are at Ohio State. And, you know, it’s just great to play, it’s 105,000 people out there, the atmosphere was extraordinary, the competition was good, our guys’ effort was special, and I know speaking for myself and our staff it was great to get back at it.

REPORTER: Did Craig rise up?

TRESSEL: Tim, just wait.

KRENZEL: What was the question?

REPORTER: Nice to get back on the field?

KRENZEL: Yeah, it was — it was a lot of fun. You know, I think that’s the best thing about it, we’re just a bunch of kids out here playing a game. It was a lot of fun out there tonight. Like Coach said it’s one of the reasons we come to Ohio State is to get back out there. It’s kind of like being back at our home. The best thing about being there tonight is camp’s over.

TRESSEL: How does it feel to get back out there. Let Tim talk.

SMITH: It was great to get back out there, just to play, you know what I mean. Like coach said we got 105,000 out there, the fans were great, everybody was great. The team was prepared for this game. Just came out, we were excited from the first play to the last play.

ANDERSON: I think it was nice to finally attack somebody else for once. You know, we’ve been going against the same guys for, you know, three weeks or four weeks, however long we’ve been here. You know, it was nice to get out there and, you know, finally see some new faces and make some contact with somebody different.

KRENZEL: Allowed to hit the quarterback, too.

JENKINS: Just what these guys say, a long time since you’ve been on the field, nice to get back out there and play a football game.

TRESSEL: Tim?

REPORTER: What did you for touchdown runs do for this team.

TRESSEL: No doubt, we always talk about the fact the most important thing the quarterback does is make decisions. He goes back, and he looks to see if any of the routes are open, and if they’re not, he steps up and goes. And, you know, he did that 49 times last year for 7.9-yard average. Today he did it for I don’t know the exact average, but two of them were big touchdowns and that’s huge for us.

REPORTER: Can you —

REPORTER: Starting tonight and today like last year, you faced a quarterback like Kingsbury, like Jason Guest early in the year. You had Pickett tonight, you held them without a touchdown until late in the game. Could the two defensive players comment about the defense?

TRESSEL: I think our defense did a great job preparing for them. These guys put great pressure up front. They’re a good team. But these guys could speak a little bit more to why we were so successful.

SMITH: I think that prepares us for the course of the season, playing against great quarterbacks at the beginning of the season, like Cody Pickett and then, you know, he struggled out there, but he still performed and you could see he was a great quarterback, he was doing a lot of good checks and everything. So I think this is going to help us, the Ohio State defense out more than anything.

ANDERSON: I think the biggest thing was we were fighting around, we were making good open-field tackles, linebackers and DB’s, I don’t think we missed very many tackles and when there was a tackle, you know, there was four, five, six guys in there. I think that was the key, and I think that’s why we had such a good performance tonight.

REPORTER: You used a lot of defensive line tonight. Number 12 I would say. Is that something we’re going to see this season.

SMITH: Absolutely, we have a lot of great young guys and the coach wanted to get them some experience. I think Dave Patterson, he had a sack at the end of the game. He was pretty excited about that. Simon stepped up. Marcus Green, you know, I mean a lot of young guys that are the future of Ohio State when me and Tim leave.

ANDERSON: I think, you know, it’s definitely a bonus if they can step in and help out. Because, you know, I know, you know, if we’re in a tight game, and we’re in the fourth quarter, we’re still going to be fresh, we can roll guys through the whole time. You know, that’s something that not very many offenses do, they don’t rotate offensive linemen in there. If they can keep stepping up and keep making plays out there and make the rotation, that’s going to help later in the end.

REPORTER: Craig, can you talk a little bit about you came out tonight and you were on fire, you threw the ball a lot, making big plays the big pass completion, that set up the eventual touchdown, the first touchdown, talk about what it meant to you tonight to get off to is such a good start through the air and on the ground.

KRENZEL: It meant a lot because we were scoring touchdowns, that’s the bottom line of the offensive line, our goal is to go out and score touchdowns and take the pressure off our defense. We came out and knew in order to help our run game, we wanted to come out and throw down the field. We did make the plays and got them thinking a lot, which let us do some underneath things.

REPORTER: When you had those touchdowns, make you feel more like a quarterback or a tank?

KRENZEL: Still a quarterback.

REPORTER: To beat a ranked team on opening night, national television, defending national champs this is a wake-up call, this is a reminder, do you feel like you reminded the rest of the country, hey we’re the team to beat. Was that this type of performance? Craig, we can start with you. Was your thought, was this a message game?

KRENZEL: I think more than anything, it was a message to ourselves. We feel confident enough in the players we have and the coaches we have and the way we’re going to prepare week in and week out that we can go out and beat anybody in the country. We set more expectations on ourselves than anybody in the media, the fans in the Columbus area or around the country can do. With that in mind, we proved ourselves right, we felt we could come out here and play, it’s a good Washington football team, but we could beat them. It’s a challenge to go week in, week out and get better. That’s one of the great things our team did last year. If we don’t do that this season, we’re not going to be where we want to be in January.

REPORTER: Did you expect to be as cohesive defensively as you were? (inaudible)?

TRESSEL: Well, I know that our offense had to face our defense all spring in preseason. They sure looked pretty cohesive. They were hard to move against. There are some positions where we’re young, and we’re going to be tested. We understand that. But the nice thing is the guys up front are veterans and they set the tone and, you know, you have veterans like Dustin Fox and Chris Gamble out on the corners and Will Allen as the steadying influence there in the middle. Robert Reynolds and Fred Pagac have been around a long time. I think that mixture of new and veterans, it will keep working hard to get better. We’re going to have a good defense.

REPORTER: Could you comment on the play of your running backs, did Al and Maurice separate themselves?

TRESSEL: I think we’ve got to get a lot better running the football than we were today. Our running backs missed part of camp, which doesn’t just slow their progress, it slows the guys up front because you just don’t get to banging in there as much. I don’t know about, you know, one distancing themselves from the other. I thought they both played hard and most important thing you do as a running back is you hold on to the football and you get every yard that is available to you. I thought they played well. But we’ve, Rusty in answer to your question, we’re not anywhere where we need to be as a running football team. But, it’s game one. So I hope we get a lot better.

REPORTER: Can you discuss, along with the offensive side of the ball, the performance of the offensive line? They seemed to keep Washington from getting persistent pressure on the quarterbacks.

TRESSEL: You know, that’s the key, I think, to the passing game, is that if you have good protection, starting with good assignment protection. I don’t know that we had any blows. Usually when you watch a game film if there’s a sack or two, at least one of them is a protection blow. And I don’t think we had any — any blows from that standpoint. I thought our guys did a good job, Craig did a good job stepping up into the pocket, when they kept protecting and our receivers did a good job of finding the open areas. You know, we’re not anywhere there up front where we need to be yet. But we just were kind of anxious to find out today where we were. Because you go so long practicing against each other, spring, preseason, it was nice to find out and you know Washington’s a good team, we’re going to play some teams that are better. But, you know, it was good to play a good football team. And now find out where we have to get better.

REPORTER: Do you feel the offense was successful by spreading the ball out to other playmakers and not relying solely on one top performer?

TRESSEL: I think Craig could answer that.

KRENZEL: I’m sorry. I wasn’t listening.

REPORTER: Do you feel that the — do you feel that the —

TRESSEL: Four-point student.

KRENZEL: Sorry about that.

REPORTER: Do you feel that the offense was more successful to spread the ball out to other performers and try to get in scores aside from relying on one person to make all the plays for you?

KRENZEL: I don’t know that we ever just relied on one person. To answer your question, this year we have so many weapons offensively, receivers, running backs our tight ends are doing a great job. We have so many weapons offensively, that we’re only going to be as good as our ability to spread the ball around. If we start depending on the run too much or the passing too much, we’re not going to be successful. We need the balance and disburse the ball.

REPORTER: Any comments on Simon Fraser’s play?

TRESSEL: I thought Simon Fraser did a good job. These two guys brought his name up. He made some big hits early on some run plays. I don’t know if he beat his guy one-on-one and met Alexis there in the backfield or not. But he made some plays there and I’m sure he did a good job on some pass rush lanes. Simon Fraser is an important part of that front.

REPORTER: You picked up a score that was result of punting the ball on the 1-yard line.

TRESSEL: You could see two great examples of downing it on the 1. We downed one on the 1, and we ended up with some points they downed one on the 1, I don’t know if they ended up scoring a field goal. They were knocking at the door. When you ever down one on the 1-yard line, it’s a heck of a swing for your football team. And special teams are very important. And I think there are some areas in our special teams that we certainly have to get better at, thought it was a solid start, but not extraordinary.

REPORTER: Could you talk about the difference from last year to this year being a senior this year, going through what you went through last year, winning a national championship, and — and just maybe the difference between the way you felt a year ago to maybe now?

KRENZEL: I think just having played all those games in between, whether you win or lose every game is more experience, and the more experience you get the more the game slows down and the more confidence you get in yourselves and your teammates and your ability to go out and play well. As a unit offensively we had a lot of confidence we could come out and do some good things and move the ball, because we had a lot of returning experience and we have a lot of talent.

TRESSEL: Tim had a question, did we rest Gamble. We didn’t play him as much on offense, quite honestly, because of the challenge he had on defense, doing so much covering of Number 1. I think our defense put the whole second unit in virtually the whole fourth quarter, wasn’t it? So, you know, obviously E.J. and Ashton Youboty are two guys that are really going to be good, were playing those positions that Chris normally plays.

REPORTER: Jim, eventually you will have Gamble more at receiver, and have guys like Paul and Childress passing going to be more of a part of it.

TRESSEL: If you ask Craig, he would like it to be, if he’s listening. I think he’s tired. Craig’s usually in bed by now. You know, we’re going to do what we have to do. And if they load up the box, we’re going to have to throw it. I think we do have some good weapons, especially if you get Chris involved a little bit more as well. We need to be a good balanced team. I was hoping we would rush it for about 200 tonight and throw for 250, and I don’t think we did either. But, you know, that’s our goal.