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Video: Highlights | Head Coach Jim Tressel | Ohio State Players
Audio: Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez
COACH TRESSEL: You’re interrupting Earle? Don’t do that. I made that mistake as a young coach once. This was an important day for us. Representing the 1942 team, that was a lot of responsibility because not only were they champions, but they were heroes. We’re all getting to do what we do right now because of them. And then to represent our seniors who — they’re just first-class. They do things the way you’re supposed to do them. They’re unselfish. They don’t care if they have the spotlight and all they want to do is help Ohio State. And so this was an important football game and I’m so proud of these guys.
We can talk about key plays or whatever, but our guys fought all day long and I thought that kickoff return after they had scored and, boom, all of a sudden it’s back to 10 points was a key factor, but our kids prepared very hard and played hard and they deserve everything they have coming to them.
REPORTER: You avoided the question early in the week, going nine out of 10 against Michigan. The kick return was big with Jordan answering their touchdown. I don’t know if there was a turning point, but nine out of 10 against Michigan while you’ve been here.
COACH TRESSEL: Well, if we were sitting here eight out of 10, we would have been unhappy, I promise you that. Yeah, it’s huge. This is the 2010 team. That’s what we talk about all the time in coaching is that every team is its own team, has its own signature and its own challenges and adversities and high points, and these kids were five or six and 0, and we dropped one and they came storming back, and we played hard in November, which if you play hard in November, usually good things will happen, and Mr. Smith assured me that some good things will happen. So right now our guys have got to finish up the academic quarter and do a great job on final exams and see what lies ahead.
REPORTER: Coach, did the officiating crew give you a more detailed reason why the penalties were called after the touchdowns? I know you probably can’t answer that question, but did you get an explanation why?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, you know, excessive celebration. No, it was not the dive. I can’t answer that.
COACH TRESSEL: That’s what they inferred.
COACH TRESSEL: What are you going to do?
REPORTER: Would you reflect on six consecutive Big Ten Championships for your staff and your kids? This senior class has four Big Ten Championships, but you as a staff have won six consecutive Big Ten Championships. Would you talk a little bit about what it means to you to have this group around you, what it means to Ohio State?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, we’ve got probably half the senior class that has five — will have five Big Ten rings and five pairs of gold pants, which that’s a big deal. It won’t do anything for us in a bowl game. It will do something for us in our dresser drawer or wherever you keep your stuff, but it’s just a feeling of accomplishment. What our guys enjoy and what our staff enjoys, and most of our staff’s been here for all of those, which the continuity has been very important, we enjoy the journey. It’s the thrill of the challenge. It’s hard to do.
And our guys work, now. Our players and coaches, they work. And they enjoy it and our guys will be back recruiting at — we have a 10:30 a.m. recruiting meeting tomorrow. That’s the way life is. And they’ll hit the road tomorrow night and be at it. But the process of chasing the championship, to me, is the fun.
REPORTER: Coach, let’s talk about the job of your defense. You held Michigan to, I believe, 30 points below their season average and about 150 yards below what they’ve done to everybody else in the league this year. Let’s talk about the job your defense did, and some of the adjustments after the first two possessions.
COACH TRESSEL: Well, you know, I don’t know anything about the adjustments, so we’ll get to that right off the bat. But our kids get a feel for things and they learn on the job very well and they can run and they hold a lot of people under their average when they’re playing. I thought our special teams contributed. That last punt by Ben Buchanan, I thought, was kind of just an exclamation point that, hey, you’re not going to get beyond our goal line anymore. Obviously the kickoff return. And offensively we didn’t have many turnovers. We had the one at the end of the half, which was irrelevant to the defense, but I don’t think — did we have any others? I can’t remember.
So I think the combination of those defensive guys learning and adapting and getting a feel and mounting pressure on both quarterbacks. You know, Forcier played — Denard threw it 18 times and Forcier 15, so they played almost equal, and our guys just keep coming and that’s why they’re a good defense.
REPORTER: Talk about nine out of 10, seven in a row, and six Big Ten titles. Does Ohio State and the Big Ten need for Michigan to return to being among the elite programs in the country again?
COACH TRESSEL: Michigan is among the elite programs and will be and their record will reflect that in the course of time but, you know, we all have our ups and downs in a period and so forth and it’s highly competitive. It’s going to become more competitive because we’re adding Nebraska. The world changed when we added Penn State. The world changes even more when we add Nebraska. The world changed when Dano (Dantonio) went over to Michigan State. There’s constantly changes, but Michigan will be back, we don’t have to worry about that.
REPORTER: Jim, obviously you talk all the time about you want to get better over the course of a year. To be 11-1, where do you feel like this team is in achieving this goal and just how good of a team do you think you are at 11-1 at the end of the season?
COACH TRESSEL: Not good enough to be the outright Big Ten champions and automatic bid to the Rose Bowl and all those things that you shoot for, but we’re pretty fair, and I believe we’re a top ten football team and probably going to get to play a top ten football team and see if we’re allowed to stay in the top ten is what I would guess, but I think it goes beyond that.
Sometimes the ball bounces funny and you end up undefeated or you end up losing however many, and our guys just kept working and whatever came their way, they handled it and pressed on and handled adversity and handled success as it came. They need a little break and they need to take a deep breath and then they need to think about playing against one of the top teams in the nation wherever we play, whoever it is. We’ve had — really we’ve had 13 games in 2010. We played a pretty good Oregon team on the first day of the year, so it’s been a lot of fun.
REPORTER: The big one called back for over 98 yards, that ties the longest run, can you talk about what it was for him and maybe the team in general, not just the celebration penalties, but personal penalties, it seemed like an odd game it seemed like.
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, I suppose. It was an emotional game for everyone. It was a strange game offensively where we kind of led with the pass in the first half and all of a sudden we got a couple turnovers and we are looking more at leading with the run the second half, and I don’t even know if we threw the ball the second half. It wasn’t like all of a sudden a snowstorm came in or something. It was just that’s not what we needed to do and we always talk about we do what the team needs, and first half we needed to throw it. They were jamming the box full of people and we felt like we could throw the ball. And our guys were protecting well. And TP was stepping up running and making good decisions and he probably threw a couple touchdowns today, I imagine, two, and put him tied with Troy? No, career. Check that.
COACH TRESSEL: He is? Go to the old veteran. Old stand by. All right, Clay, last one. You’re the best dressed, that’s why I’m going that route.
COACH TRESSEL: You know, I don’t know about turning point, but that was a critical point, because they worked very hard to go down and get their touchdown, and all of a sudden it took us 20 seconds to answer, and Jordan Hall is a great football player. I wish there were more opportunities for him to have the ball in his hands because, man, he can play, and we love him as a punt returner. And they tried to pooch that kickoff. I didn’t see their starting kickoff guy there because he’s their punter too, and so they obviously had to come up with a different plan.
Our guys couldn’t tell by the kicker’s approach where he was going with the ball and our front-line people did a wonderful job of adjusting, and Jordan, you know, took it to the house and that was critical. But Jordan Hall is a fantastic football player and I’m glad he’s a Buckeye.
COACH TRESSEL: You know, I never feel slighted. I intimated someplace nice? Every bowl I’ve been to has been nice. We always say you get as your works deserve, wherever you deserve to be will be, and we will be happy and we’ll have a tough opponent, so —
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, I think we’re a top ten team. You know what, I don’t even pay attention to all the different things and that stuff, but, yeah, I think — there’s 10 BCS teams, right? But who cares what I think. See ya.
REPORTER: Ross, could you and Brian talk about, you have five Big Ten rings and five pairs of gold pants. The other guys have four, you guys have five. Ross, could you start and, Brian, you talk about what that means to you to beat Michigan five times and win five Big Ten championships.
ROSS HOMAN: I think first and foremost, it’s important to never lose to Michigan as a Buckeye, which is unusual, and to end up with five rings from championships is another accolade. I’m so blessed with these guys, these seniors, these coaches, this whole team. It’s a dream come true.
BRYANT BROWNING: It’s definitely a blessing, we’re here, the coaches made it a goal for the team this year, this season, and coaching five great teams and having these goals to go out and try to coach every game and these seniors have been working all year fortunately for us.
REPORTER: For the defensive guys, Michigan had the ball most of the first quarter, I think 12 plays, 10 plays, the first two possessions. What did you guys change, do, anything that really kind of shut them down? You were 30 points over their average today.
BRIAN ROLLE: We didn’t really do anything, we didn’t do any hurry-up type stuff, we just went after them, they got tangled up in the ball a little bit.
ROSS HOMAN: Out there it’s kind of — it’s always — we just kept attacking, our D line.
CAMERON HEYWARD: Just to piggyback on that, we did a great job just handling adversity. There was a couple situations where they got some big yards and I think each time they did that, another guy just stepped up, we got the turnover, we got four and out a couple times, and it just says a lot about this defense.
REPORTER: Dane, was it explained to you guys what the penalty was they were calling? Was it about your glove, when you were making the sign to the crowd? What did the coaches tell you about what was going on there?
DANE SANZENBACHER: I think they said that was what it was. They didn’t want any hand gestures or anything like that and just celebrate with your teammates. So I think it’s safe to say we will never wear gloves with anything on them again.
REPORTER: Dane, do you blame Nike for this?
DANE SANZENBACHER: I do. You’re going to get us fired.
REPORTER: You guys started with two three and outs, what did you find there? You had that big catch early, what did you find offensively?
DANE SANZENBACHER: We weren’t really surprised by anything. It was just lack of execution. I mean, the plays were there. It was just one thing here or there that wasn’t opening up, but it was just one of those things where you’ve kind of got to get a feel for the game, how things were going, and the defense consistently did their job and made it easy on us.
REPORTER: Dane, being from Toledo, can you talk about what it’s like finishing as a senior with a perfect record against this team?
DANE SANZENBACHER: It’s incredible. It’s obviously a goal you have coming in and you never want to be on the other side or the losing side of this rivalry. Especially from Toledo, since we’re a town with a large amount of Ohio State and Michigan fans, it’s always been a huge game for me and I’m proud to say I’m leaving here never losing to them.