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Oct. 15, 2005

TRESSEL: Well, as you could see, our kids played hard. They just play and they play and they understand that every second is important and, you know, we’re sitting there with a few seconds left in the half and appearing like we’re going to go down by — I don’t know how much it would have been, a couple touchdowns, and our kids just played to the final second and picked it up and ran it in there with no time and gave us a chance to really change the momentum and — and at that point in time, you know, when they asked for any thoughts, my thought was well, we’re only three points down and we probably don’t deserve it and so we’d better take advantage sometimes of your good fortune, and I thought our kids did that the second half. Our defense just kept coming after them and we sacked them like twelve times or something and the offense made big plays, which we felt we had to do with the way that they play, and the other guys stepped up and made those plays and yards after catch were huge by the receivers and we only had the ball 47 plays, or something like that, they said, but our average per play was probably better than normal: So everybody played hard and we’ve got to get better and we understand that.

REPORTER: Jim, twelve sacks is — is extraordinary. Could you talk a little bit about the work of the offense — or the defensive line and a little bit about the — controlling Stanton, especially toward the end of the game.

TRESSEL: You know, the thing that our guys always do is they keep coming after them. And we were coming after them good in the first half. I’m not sure we were rerouting receivers as well in the first half as we were in the second half. All of a sudden he was standing up there in the second half and his receivers were knocked off course, so at least from where I was standing, that looked like the difference. There was no difference in effort level and we were coming at them just as hard in the first half as we were in the second and good defenses wear on you, and as the game goes on, good defenses are harder to go against and we have a good defense.

REPORTER: Can we go for the players?.

TRESSEL: Absolutely.

REPORTER: For Troy and also for Santonio, you got them twice on the play where you faked the option and dropped back the pass, maybe both of you just talk about what the feeling is on that play and why it was there, and — start with Santonio, I guess, then on to Troy, I suppose.

HOLMES: The main thing I think our protection unit was great on both of those plays. I think the offensive line did a real good job. Troy did a great job getting the ball out there, you know, where it’s supposed to be and ran a good route and worked for the ball, and like coach said, you know, yard after catch is what’s important, what was big for us and we scored touchdowns.

SMITH: I think me first and foremost, I want to give every — you know, bit of, you know, respect, you know, and the whole way around to the offensive line. That key right there made the play, to me, without — without that protection, without the line holding its strength for that amount of time, you know, Santonio wouldn’t have been able to get open. But just being disciplined within the play. Week before, we tried to run that play, I didn’t get enough depth in my drop, you know, and we emphasized that throughout the week, depth on that, selling that play, and Santonio made a great play on the ball, offensive line blocked great.

REPORTER: Coach, with the — couple of the mental errors —

TRESSEL: Waive your hand, right here.

REPORTER: Yellow shirt.

TRESSEL: Okay. That’s why I didn’t see you.

REPORTER: The mental errors, couple fumbles in the first half, you talk about Ashton’s big play to block the field goal (inaudible) — maybe your halftime speech is a little different, but what did you say and when they came back to take the lead, what did you tell your guys because they were so resilient to stay in this game when it seemed like maybe they wouldn’t.

TRESSEL: Well, you know, I don’t have any idea what I would have said if they had would have that field goal because I don’t remember what the score would have been, but all we talked about was the fact that because of some great effort, you know, we were in the three-point game and maybe not just because of anything we did, despite what we did it was a three-point game and it was now our opportunity to go out and see if we could earn the win and we’re going to have to win by more than three in the second half and you know, we came right out and stopped them, if I’m not mistaken, three and out or maybe it was five, six and out, and then offense went down and scored. I think that was on Teddy’s long one. And it was — it was — they’re a good team, you know, and they’ll fight like crazy, too. They have a lot of pride in their green and white, just like we do in our scarlet and gray. It was a good football game.

REPORTER: Santonio, would you — would you discuss the problems fielding the punts and how you didn’t get down and breaking the tackle after the touchdown that put you guys ahead.

HOLMES: I had a lot of things on my mind before the game, got some very, you know, encouraging words from Ted, you know. He said to me that you put those guys in the situation, you know, now’s your opportunity, you know, to go help them get out of that situation, and I think that’s exactly what I did. I got my focus back from those words and I just went out there and played football like I know how to.

REPORTER: Jim, can you talk a little more about the play at the end of the half when they were coming out to try the field goal and they looked a little out of sorts. Watching that, did you think that maybe you guys had a chance to get a block there and make a good play?

TRESSEL: Without a wing? They didn’t have a wing. I’m sure they guys started salivating on that edge because, you know, I don’t care how fast the snap and the hold is, if there’s not a wing there — we’ve got pretty fast guys and, so, you know, when we saw that happening, I was just praying they could get the snap off in time. I was hoping it didn’t expire. I knew we were going to have a chance.

REPORTER: Jim, can you talk a little bit about A.J. Hawk, I’m not sure how many he finished with — I want to say pretty close to 20 tackles.

TRESSEL: He loves to play the game, he loves to compete. In fact, I think that last — next-to-last play of the game, I think he wanted that guy to catch the ball so he could hit him. I swear, he looked to me like he could just have knocked it down, but he kind of waited so he could get one more hit. He loves to hit people. He loves to lead out there and takes a lot of pride in — in what our defense accomplishes and — and, you know, asks for no glory, wants no glory. He’s the ultimate team guy.

REPORTER: Ted, is this a big boost for you? I know — I think you’ve been waiting for daylight for a couple games now and finally got it. Is this a big boost for you mentally? GINN, JR.: Yeah, you get a little confidence back but you just have to believe in your team, do all the plays that they call and just have fun.

REPORTER: Drew Stanton, really, I thought put on a show today as far as accuracy. When he didn’t get two of them, he found the receivers. What do you think makes him so tough or so effective?

TRESSEL: Oh, Drew Stanton’s one of those guys, you can tell he studies the game, has a good concept. What I like best about him is when he guys are covered, he does a great job keeping the play alive. You’re not sure if he’s going to run or find somebody to throw it to. It was a little different story later in the game when all of a sudden his receivers were knocked a little bit off course and there were some folks all over him, but he’s a good player, he can run the ball, he can throw it, he’s tough. I’m sure he’s sore and — but he’s a good one. Just like these guys up here are sore. That was a good Big Ten football game.

REPORTER: Coach, can you tell me what the status is of Kirk Barton, and then on top of that, talk about your offensive line being able to come back. You started a true freshman at right tackle and put on a pretty good performance.

TRESSEL: Yeah, Kirk Barton was questionable all week and, you know, we were hoping and waiting for that — sometimes you get a breakthrough after a few days, and we knew he wasn’t going to practice much early in the week but you never know about those things. We’ve had some guys with the same injury be able to be back in a week and just turned out that he wasn’t. I’m fairly certain that he’ll be back this weekend coming up. Alex Boone, you know, stepped in and, you know, we’ll have to look at the film to see exactly how he did, but, you know, I — I don’t know that we had any major problems. I’m sure he made a great effort and I’m sure he learned a lot of lessons, you know, as the game went along, and there was never really a time that, you know, that stuck out, you know, that, hey, there’s a true freshman out there and we’re struggling. I thought the things we tried to do both run and pass, you know, were fairly effective. We just needed to convert a little bit better on third down. You know the first one we’re third down, a yard and a half, and we don’t make it, and another one, you know, I thought we could have converted. Maybe we would have a lot more than 47 plays, but the O-line did a great job of adjusting.

REPORTER: Jim, it appears — I don’t know if it was a plan or it worked out that way but you got the ball in the hand of your playmakers today, Santonio and Ted. Was that the plan to go in, to make it happen or did it just happen?

TRESSEL: You know, it happened more than it has. We’ve always got plans to get our — our ball to the guys that really can make some great plays, but we like to get the balls to Antonio, too, and Anthony Gonzalez, but with the way Michigan State plays defense, we thought that the outside receivers, you know, were going to have some opportunities and they did and they did a good job of adjusting as the game went along. We changed a few things as they started changing, and actually Teddy’s touchdown was a little bit of an adjustment off an earlier play that — you know, so — but we always try to — try to get the ball to those guys to get in the end zone.

REPORTER: Santonio, in the second half, when you did field (inaudible) there was kind of a sarcastic cheer, did you — were you aware of that? Did you have any feelings about that?

HOLMES: I think I was aware of it, because the crowd, you know, kind of got loud, but I didn’t really feed into it, you know, I just got some words from the guys telling me, you know, keep playing, keep making plays because at any time we’re going to come to you, so I just kept my focus on the team playing.

REPORTER: Coach, we’re six games deep, but is there a chance you found something — another good quality about your team today? You didn’t win the time for possession or the turnover margin, the stats that you said were important.

TRESSEL: No, it wasn’t as decisive as I’d like.

REPORTER: At one point you’re getting booed from the top of the rafters —

TRESSEL: I was?

REPORTER: Not specifically, but maybe the collective group.

TRESSEL: Oh, I couldn’t hear it. Good thing I had headphones. Go ahead.

REPORTER: What did they find out there in the second half and turned it up?

TRESSEL: You know, Glenn Cobb talked to us this morning at our captain’s breakfast about a competition reveals character, and I’ve always known this group has character, but you know, maybe it was revealed again, with them being down and, you know, it not looking so wonderful. Maybe inciting boos, you know, but, you know, they have character and they keep playing, they believe in each other and — and so, you know, that was revealed. And — so if we found something, I don’t know that it’s something we didn’t know we had, you know, we knew we had guys that could score touchdowns and make sacks and all that and we also knew we had guys with character, and I guess they’re able to demonstrate it.