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Oct. 9, 2005

Recap |  Box Score |  Notes

Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel
Opening Statement
You talk about the things you need to do on the road against a good team, and one of them is to come up with some plays on special teams. I don’t know if we had any difference-making plays there. The other is you can’t turn [the ball] over, and we turned it over twice. I don’t think Penn State, to their credit, turned it over at all. You’ve also got to play good, hard, relentless defense and I thought our guys did that.

On Penn State’s defense
We got behind in the count and allowed them to pin their ears back and they did a good job with that. We had a couple penalties that cost us. When you’re behind the count against a veteran secondary and a veteran front, you give them a better chance.

In the second half, you seemed to gain some momentum. What happened?
We thought with the way our defense was playing, and the way their punting game had hurt them a couple times and had given us some field position [that we would be in good shape], but we just did not go down and cash in. There are a number of drives that I can recall where we had a first down or two, but then did something to move ourselves backward and had to punt. But I thought our defense did a great job.

How difficult is it to play here in Beaver Stadium?
This is a fun environment to play in. I think our guys were excited to play and enjoyed the great competition. Penn State is a good, tough, hard, clean football team, and the environment is awesome. That’s why so many guys pick to play in this league, because not many places in the country have an environment like this. Is it tough? Sure. We also like to think it’s tough to play in our environment.

Explain your decision to kick the 50 yard FG on 4th and 8
Fourth and eight is a little long to have a very good percentage of making [the first down] and if you don’t you didn’t even have a chance at any points. Whereas with a field goal, you have a chance at some points if you make it. If you don’t of course you’re going to be where you were if you didn’t make your offensive play. I don’t like putting a field goal kicker in a 50-yard situation, because those are hard, but we have a lot of confidence in him. We weren’t going to go for it, so it really came down to whether we were going to kick the field goal or punt.

Ohio State Player Quotes

Senior Linebacker AJ Hawk
How do you think the Ohio State defense played today?
We had goal-line stands on two plays and we let them score. We didn’t tackle well and we didn’t stop them from making big plays.

How do you pick up the pieces?
We’re not worried about that. It’s a tough loss, but any loss is tough. We have too much character on this team and too many guys have been around just to lay down.

How big was that interception by Penn State?
We tried to look at it as it put us in a bad spot, but it was an opportunity for the defense. If we could have had a goal-line stand, that would have been a huge momentum change for us. That’s our job to stop them, and we didn’t do it tonight.

Tailback Antonio Pittman
On what they needed to do in the second half to get in the game.
“We knew we had to get a short field and make some plays. We knew we had to get a touchdown or a key interception.”

On what the loss means to him.
“This loss hurts. But we’re not going to dwell on it. We have to hold our heads up and keep trying.”

On the Penn State Freshmen
“We knew we had to contain two (Williams), seven (King), and three (Butler), but we got off to a slow start and you can’t get off to a slow start on the road.”

Outside Linebacker Bobby Carpenter
Comments about the game.
“We didn’t get it done in the first half, we missed tackles on all levels D-Line, linebackers. I didn’t play well. It was just a poor first half.”

“I thought we played well, we just didn’t play well enough to win.”

How do you think the Ohio State defense played tonight?
We played well in the 2nd half, and we’re happy about that. But as a defense we didn’t get it done in the 1st half. We missed tackles on all levels – the d-line, linebackers and DBs. I didn’t play well, and we should have played a lot better in the first half. I think that’s why we got down.

Did you feel like you got a feel for Penn State’s offense?
We just started to play better and play Ohio State defense. At the beginning of the game we were playing sloppy and we just weren’t talking. If you look at the plays, we were in position every time, but we just weren’t making the tackles.

How do you salvage the season?
Salvage is a term I wouldn’t use. That sounds like you’re picking something off the scrap table. We’re a good team. We’ve lost two tough games to two good teams. We should’ve won both games. We were in them until the end, but we didn’t play well enough as a team to win. It’s going to be tough. Every team in the Big Ten has a loss now, except for Penn State I think. So, we’ve got to go into every game, hoping to play our best and figure out ways to play on the road.

Linebacker Chad Hoobler
On the Penn State Defense
“They have an excellent defense and excellent linebackers and they really took it to us.”

Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno
Q: Can you sum up your feelings about this game?
A: I have been trying to be as conservative as I can in evaluating this football team. I keep saying they are getting better and better. That was a heck of a football game tonight. You saw two awfully good defensive football teams.

Q: You been saying all along that you have a good football team and that it is getting better and better, how would you assess them after tonight?
A: I think they beat a good football team tonight. I am not going to get carried away with one win. I have tried to play down the fact that so many people wanted to make this ‘the’ big football game. We have another one next week. We have to go back to work. I think we are a good football team. I think we can be better and do some things better. We didn’t do a couple of things offensively that we would have liked to probably do. It was a heck of a football game and we won it. I thought the crowd was great. I thought the crowd helped tremendously. Overall, I am pleased but I realize that this isn’t the end of the road.

Q: In the first half did your team feed off the energy gained from the touchdown by Williams, the interception by Lowry, and the stadium being in pandemonium?
A: I thought we were doing really well offensively until that one series were we got the penalties against us. I thought we played solid. We didn’t turn the ball over. I was proud of the kids. They hung in there. The defense in the second half was absolutely superb. They were under a lot of pressure because they make one mistake and we are in a tie ball game. There was an awful lot of speed on that field.

Q: What was the key, with all of its playmakers, to not let Ohio State get a long play?
A: I think we were sound. We made them go a long way. We didn’t give up an easy one. I don’t think there is anyone playing better than Paul Posluszny. He is like Shane Conlan

Q: Could you talk about the play of your defense, specifically how confident you were leaving the game in its hands in the last two or three minutes?
A: I was scared to death the whole time. All it took was one play, with a kid like Ginn in there and Gonzalez and Pittman, who can break away, and we have known about Holmes. And their quarterback is dangerous. You just hope your kids stay in good position and do it.

Q: Can you talk about your special teams, particularly Kevin Kelly, and the work you did during the week to keep Ohio State’s return game in check?
A: I thought we did a good job there. Kapinos didn’t kick the ball for distance but he did put it up high and give us a chance to cover. We have been working hard on special teams. I think we have the potential to be good in those areas and, if you can tie that in with a good defense, then you have a shot. We have played better teams than most people realize. Northwestern won today and Minnesota beat Michigan. And no one believed me that South Florida was a good football team.

Q: The linebackers were in the spotlight on both sides, can you talk about how your linebackers faired in this game?
A: I think the Ohio State kids are outstanding football players and so are our kids. You can’t say if one group is better than the other. They all played really well against great people. They gave so darn many formations. I thought Tom Bradley and his guys did a great job. They lined up properly and nobody panicked. It was a tough game to coach. It is tough for me to say who played better. They played a tough football game and we played a tough football game.

Q: Can you discuss how Michael Robinson managed the game and how he played overall tonight?
A: I thought he played a great football game. He really didn’t make any major mistakes. Now he didn’t make as many plays as everyone maybe would like to see but he wasn’t playing against rinky dinks. Those guys were in great position. A couple of times we threw some hitches and, ordinarily, our kids can make some people miss, but we couldn’t make them miss. Those were two great defensive football teams. You guys don’t like defense but for a coach, it was a heck of a football game to be involved in.

Q: How did your offensive line play, especially with one new starter at a key position?
A: I think they did all right playing against good people. I think the pass protection was good.

Q: For so long, you were trying to build your team up, do you need to change your mindset now that they have confidence?
A: I don’t know. I really like this squad. They are a lot of fun to work with. They really are. I go out and horse around with the guys and have a little fun. And they work, they really work. They are hard workers. So, you go out there and look forward to practice and have a couple of laughs with them. But you kick them in the rear end every once in a while to get them moving a little bit. I think we have the make-up of a good football team. I don’t know how good yet.

Q: How much personal satisfaction do you derive from this win, especially how things have been the last couple of years?
A: I never felt that we were far away. I thought we had a good football team last year. We just couldn’t make a play here or a play there or we couldn’t kick a field goal or do this. We lost a couple of games to good football teams that we had a shot to beat if we had made a couple of plays. I didn’t feel we were that much out of it. I knew we had to go out and get a couple of kids that could make plays. We went out and worked hard and were fortunate to get four or five.

Q: How did the freshman respond on the national stage like this tonight?
A: They are unusual kids. They have an awful lot of poise. They are not hot shots. They like to play. They know their place. They have a little deference to the upperclassmen in a nice way. They are just really good kids and, obviously, handled all of the stuff. It is a really good group of freshman. I am not just talking about athletes; I am talking about people. I don’t know how they could handle it any better. You wouldn’t know they are freshman by watching them play. They don’t make a lot of mental mistakes.

Q: What do you think this means to the university and what it was like to have 109,000 people in the stadium?
A: The thing I have always wanted with Penn State football was that I wanted people to feel good not only about the winning but about the way we win. I have always tried to have a lot of hot dogging and allow us to be lousy sports. Some of this will have a lot to do with people being proud of the university and the things that we stand for. The students were absolutely unbelievable. In all the years I have been here, I have never seen more spontaneous enthusiasm and wanting to help.

Penn State Player Quotes

Freshman Wide Receiver Deon Butler
On the win over Ohio State:
“It gets us going on a on a light path. We just have to keep rolling. Everybody knows who Ohio State is. I like how Joe (Paterno) says that it’s just another game for us. We are trying to go undefeated. No game is really bigger than any other game, besides the fact that it was packed here tonight. They are just another team. They were a good team, but watch them on the field and they have weaknesses just like every other team does.”

On the defense:
“They were incredible. Our defense stepped up, played big, and put up a couple points. They set us up for a touchdown on an interception. The just played tremendous. Time after time, they step up to the call. All the other teams get the publicity about their defense, but our guys step up every time they need to.”

On the crowd:
“The crowd was great. Their offense was calling timeouts; they couldn’t hear things. Their defenders sometimes were trying to yell checks to each other and couldn’t hear them. The crowd definitely got us going. When they are on your side, it makes it that much easier because you know if you make a good catch here or there and you know they are going to be right behind you…It’s crazy becomes it almost goes from dead silence to pure pandemonium.”

Junior Tackle Levi Brown
On the defense:
“We’ve been playing well together the last couple of games. We just realized that it comes down to us. We have to make our blocks and do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Senior Safety Calvin Lowry
On his interception:
“I was just in the right place at the right time. The way their quarterback was playing, he was staring down his receivers. It was a good rebound; the defense put a lot of pressure on him.”

On the momentum behind his interception:
“I think it was a big changing point in the game. In the second half, the offense was moving the ball down the field, but we just couldn’t get it in. For us to get in on the two yard line and then put it in was a big momentum change for us.”

On the huddle with 3:05 left in the game:
“It was ‘keep everything in front of you’. Make them play deep. Tamba (Hali) came up with a huge play and I didn’t even see it coming because I was chasing (Ted) Ginn down. That was a clutch play.”

Senior Quarterback Michael Robinson
On the fans:
“It was so loud in there. It got so loud I had to tell them to quiet down a little bit because the offensive line couldn’t hear me talk. They were doing a great job for us.”

On tonight’s win:
“This is definitely one of the highlights of my life and my career. This football team definitely came out and wanted to show people some things, especially our defense. I think they stuck in there against a great offense.”

On the media’s expectations for tonight’s game:
“I never doubted it for a second. This team works hard. We’ve been through a couple of tough seasons and now we just have to keep working hard. We’re not done. We’ve got ourselves a tough Michigan game coming up next weekend. This win feels pretty good and we’ve got to enjoy it but next week it’s all about Michigan.”

On going to a bowl game:
“This team deserves this. We just have to keep working hard and keep our minds focused on our goals, and the goal is to be in Pasadena.”

Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley
On Ohio State’s defense:
“They have a great defense. I have a great defense and I thought the play that separated the whole thing was Calvin [Lowry’s] pick because in the past couple years [Ohio State] has gotten that play.”

On the last few minutes of the game:
“I thought we were in good shape. The one they completed, they ran a wheel route on Justin [King] and we hadn’t practiced that enough in that coverage. We weren’t expecting that situation. We were tired, also. We tried to get some fresh kids in there towards the end of the game. I think coach said you have to win this thing and they knew what they had to do and went out and played great.”

Freshman Wide Receiver Derrick Williams
On going into next week:
“Right now it’s about playing with heart. We’re going to focus on Michigan for next week and all we have to do is just play with heart.”

On the team’s attitude going into tonight’s game:
“We wanted to go out there and prove to the world that Penn State is back. We’ll go out there and practice every day. Everybody has worked hard for this and I think that the world knows that we’re back.”

On practice this past week:
“Our practices were the same really. Everybody else got really into it, especially the fans so that drove us a little bit more to come out and work hard for our fans. I went by [the tents] and I’ve never seen that before I came here.”

Junior Tailback Tony Hunt
What did the crowd do you for you tonight?
The crowd helped us out a lot when they do things like they did tonight. I liked the all white, and everybody was into it the whole game and that keeps us going. I think they forced a few time outs so that helped us out. They’re just one of the aspects of the game that you have to take advantage of when you’re playing at home.”

When you’re tired late in the game and the crowd rises up like that, do you feel an energy boost?
It definitely boots everybody, because we want to make things happen for them and for the team. It gives you a rush to see everybody standing up and getting so loud.

Tony, assess the play of their three linebackers. What was it like to line up against them?
I think that they had a good defense, and I think we had a pretty good first half. I think in the second half they came out and made a few adjustments and slowed us down. Overall, I think they had a really good defense.

Can you talk about going for that fourth down play? What it meant for the team and what it meant for the game.
We took a chance, and we got it. It was a game changing play. We went on to score a touchdown on that drive instead of punting it. Since the game came down to the wire, it was a very crucial play.

What is it like when the coaching staff listens to you guys, because I know you guys want to go for it.
That’s encouraging when you see that they have faith in you to go for it on fourth down. When you tell them that you want to go for it and they let you, it’s a big rush.

Senior Denfensive End Tamba Hali
How nice was it for the defense to finish off that game for you after how hard you worked?
It was huge, because coming in they talked a lot about their defense. We have been trying to prove to the country that we are a good defense. Just knowing that our offense put three more on the board so we can hold them felt good and holding them to no touchdowns in the second half.

How did you like chasing after Troy Smith all night?
I think it was fun. The guy likes scrambling and we like running trying to get to him. It makes you play harder. Some quarterbacks will sit back there for a long time, and it feels good when you have to chase the quarterback and you get to him knowing you can get to him every time.

Tamba, after being here for four years how does it feel to win a game like this in a big situation? It feels good, and we just got enough confidence going for us right now. We know we are a good team. It feels good to me personally and to our entire team.

Can you talk about the crowd?
That’s the reason I came to Penn State, for our fans. They support us every time they’re here. They have been here since Sunday, and when we get on the field, we can do nothing less except play all out.

Senior Conerback Alan Zemaitis
Is that a better set of wide receivers that you guys have had to cover this year?
They came in with a reputation, but our defense is the kind of defense where every player plays all out every time. Not one guy makes the play off, so any guy that we play against is going to seem like an average player.

How did you not let their speed beat you?
When they cam in here, we were not going to let them beat us at all, deep or short, it didn’t matter. I don’t even know how many yards they got, but they didn’t do too much of anything short or long. We went in there the same way; we didn’t do anything special. That’s what I think people are thinking, that we did something special, because they have #4 [Santonio Holmes] and #7 [Tend Ginn, Jr.]. We just went in there and played our game.

6-0, how does it feel?
It feels great, but it hasn’t sunk in yet.

What did you prove to the country tonight?
we love when people doubt us. Number one, our team plays for ourselves and our fans that we have here. We don’t play for anyone else. We don’t even need national exposure like we have. We will still go as hard.

Can you talk about how when that fumble occurred, and what you felt like?
It felt good. Even though the game wasn’t over and people were obviously thinking that the game was over, I was still thinking that we were going to go back out there. I am not satisfied to all the time runs out on the clock. I was back in coverage, and I saw Tamba hit him, but I didn’t even know there was a fumble. When I heard there was a fumble and that we recovered it, it was the type of feeling that I will never forget.

Senior Safety Chris Harrell
How did it feel having the game basically in your hands the last few minutes?
“It felt good. That was the first time in my five years that we were really feeling confident on the sidelines doing everything. Once we got a lead, once we knew we had momentum on offense, there was a lot of comfort over there (on the sidelines). There wasn’t a lot of anxiety, people weren’t nervous. We were really comfortable that people were going to make plays.

Really, was that the first time in five years you felt that way? You haven’t felt that way before?
No, this is the first time in five years that I’ve really felt comfortable back there. Going out and just doing our scheme. Knowing that the guy next to me is going to do the job he has to do and knowing the guys on offense are really going to do a good job.

About the night game and the atmosphere:
There were a lot of great emotions going on. A lot of guys were really excited about the night game. It was our first night game of the year. It was on a national stage. This was our big chance to prove that we belong on a national stage. Everyone took that personally.

Sophomore Linebacker Dan Connor
Dan, you were all over the field tonight. Can you talk a little bit about your performance and what brought it out. Was it Ohio State?
A game like this and the unbelievable crowd that Penn State has, that gets you going- no matter what. You’re ready to go and you want to fly around. I think the whole defense was flying around, flying to the ball. You’ve got 11 guys on the ball every play. The offense did a real good job, too, so that put points on the board and gave us a real good start, which I think was a little bit of a change from last year, but now both sides are working and it’s kind of coming together now.

You and Paul Posluszny seemed to really click out there tonight. Can you talk a little about his performance?
He’s a great player. Me and him, I’m always trying to out-do him, he’s always trying to out-do me. I think there’s a competition there. It’s a quite one, we never talk about it, but we push each other and Tim (Shaw’s) in there, too, and everybody’s pushing each other to be the best. That whole structure right there, that’s how you can get to the top.

Is there any feeling like a win like this is why you came here?
Oh, yeah. The funny part was, I went to the Nebraska game, I think it was two or three years ago, when it was a night game here. That was the reason I committed. I came. I said, ‘I want to play in front of this crowd, in this atmosphere, in a big game.’ This is it, This game was that and everyone’s got a sense of accomplishment, but in the back of our minds we’re thinking we gotta keep going, there’s no time to relax. We’re always trying to get better. We’re trying to push on and trying to go for the perfect season.

Freshman Wide Receiver Jordan Norwood
About how big the Ohio State win was for everybody…
Definitely big, It’s definitely a confidence builder. We definitely came in here expecting to win. We wanted to win, so this is just a big step in what we’re looking to accomplish with (our goals of) going to a Rose Bowl and winning every game this year. Up next, we’ve got Michigan, but this is a big win. That’s a great Ohio State team, too.

How important is it for you guys to maintain your focus?
It’s definitely important. We’ve got to celebrate this one tonight and Sunday, but Monday we’ll get right back into practice and watching film and everything. It’s definitely important to stay focused.

Did Ohio State throw anything out that surprised you at all?
They didn’t really throw anything at us that we didn’t expect. They did more of some things then we were expecting. We just had to adjust.

Freshman Cornerback/Wide Receiver Justin King
Your recruiting class wanted to go to a place that you could put your name on. Do you feel like that’s what you’re doing?
I feel like that’s what we’re doing right now, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’re six games into the season, and we’ve got a lot more to go. We’re trying to get better every week and we’ve got a great opponent next week in Michigan.

Can you talk about what it’s like to have the defense have the game in their hands? Did you guys want that situation? Did you guys feel calm and comfortable out there?
Yes, I think everybody did because that’s where most of our veteran players are is on defense. They have a real confidence and they boost me up when I’m out there, too. They make me feel like I’m just as good as them. They really help get me ready to play.

Some think a lot of highly touted recruits have taken a chance coming here to Penn State. Did you ever view it as taking a chance?
No. No. I never thought about it as taking a chance. Maybe other people have and were second-guessing what I was doing. Penn State, with going where we’re going, now I think people are going to see why Derrick (Williams) and I made the choice.