Aug. 26, 2003
Real Audio Press Luncheon
Windows Video Press Luncheon
PRESS LUNCHEON WITH COACH TRESSEL
AUGUST 26, 2003
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES vs. WASHINGTON HUSKIES
(Transcription by Professional Reporters, Inc.,)
WALLENBERG: If I could have your attention, we’re going to get started here with a couple speakers before Coach Tressel comes up.
First of all, we have Lori Walker of our women’s soccer program. Our women’s soccer head coach here with us today. She’ll be available afterwards.
Women’s soccer is celebrating their 10th anniversary here at Ohio State. They open up Friday at 7:30 against Indiana State.
Also, we have Ron Michalec from the Ohio State Police Department, kind of go over some of the alcohol policies that will be enforced here in — beginning with the Washington game; and then Beth Kelley, from Traffic and Parking, will go over some traffic patterns and other parking and traffic and parking issues.
First we’ll start with Ron Michalec.
MICHALEC: Thank you, everybody. And good afternoon.
What I’ve been asked to talk to you about is some of the changes that have been made in relationship to game-day operations as it pertains to alcohol consumption issues.
The first thing I’d like the say, right off the bat is that tailgating is not illegal at Ohio State University. Okay?
People have a tendency to assume that tailgating automatically means alcohol consumption. What we’re focusing on is behavior that surrounds issues pertaining to alcohol consumption. And this all comes from a request from the Athletic Department and the University administration as it pertains to what was occurring last year on Lane Avenue.
And if some of you had a chance after the Michigan game, and you were over there, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
Essentially, what we’ve done — and we’re trying to be pretty fair about this — is designate specific target zones, tied to specific behavior. And the target zones that we’re going to be focusing on, on our side of the street, south of Lane Avenue, would be the surface lots on the north side of St. John Arena, all the way up to Tuttle Park, and the Jesse Owens North facility, and the Tuttle parking ramp and Northwest parking ramps.
When we did an analysis of after-action reports from last year, these seemed to be the areas where we had the most amount of trouble.
Now, what we’re focusing on specifically are violations of Ohio Revised Code as it pertains to alcohol consumption, alcoholic beverages, and that would be open container, obviously, would be the first one; another one would be underage possession, anyone under the age of 21 in possession of an alcoholic beverage would be subject to scrutiny; disorderly conduct by reason of intoxication, and peripheral offenses like indecent exposure.
So those are the critical key ones, also furnishing alcoholic beverages, people that might have occasion to provide or pass alcohol off to somebody else, even if it’s not for sale is against Ohio Revised Code.
Those are the critical key violations that we’re looking at.
Our position is that we’re going to start out in the first three games with warnings. Those warnings will be for the nonflagrant-type violations. If we see something, though, that’s obvious — example I use, many, many years ago, some of you media folks may remember the guy that used to bring a fire truck that was converted to — had a couple of taps out the side with beer and so on and so forth, that’s an obvious flagrant violation. See, they remember. There’s some people saying, yes, I remember that guy. We’re going to act on those right away.
If we see an open bar, and they’re given a warning and they continue, then we’re going to act on those, and we’re going to take appropriate action accordingly.
Now, some people will say, what about the areas outside the target zones. Obviously, if we see there’s a problem, we’re going to go interdict accordingly. But we’re going to start out with those areas I just outlined first.
What the City is going to do is considerably different. When I say “considerably different,” it’s a little bit different, in the sense that they’re going to bring a crew in, and I don’t know how many folks are going to be involved in that. And they’re going to concentrate on Lane Avenue south of — excuse me — north of the street.
And from what I understand, they’re not going to issue warnings. So they’re going to be out there in force, and they’re going to be working on the same agenda, but they’re not going to issue the warnings, per se.
So that pretty much outlines what has changed this year.
After Game 3, we figure that everybody should pretty much have the routine down, and at that point then we’re going to go ahead and start issuing citations and/or summonses, or if applicable, arrest individuals for violations of Ohio Revised Code.
Inside the stadium, no changes at all. If we catch people intoxicated or smuggling in alcoholic beverages, we do the same routine, we have options available to us. Most of the time, if they’re not highly intoxicated we eject them from the stadium.
One other thing I’d like to mention is if we see flagrant violations and they’re continuous, even after a warning, if there’s a parking pass associated with that, a season parking pass, we’re going to request the Athletic Department to revoke that season parking pass.
And sometimes that has a greater effect than even appearance down at the Franklin County Municipal Court.
So those are some of the things that we’re doing differently; some of the things we’re doing the same, as far as inside the stadium routine’s concerned, that has not changed.
Anybody have any questions in relationship to what I just outlined?
REPORTER: If you could clarify, open container, that’s even people of age can’t have open containers?
MICHALEC: People of age, that is correct. If it’s an open container, it’s no different than anyplace else in the state of Ohio. If the beer can’s popped open, that’s open container subject to the rule of law, so to speak.
Contrary to that, if they just come from 7-11, and they’re walking all over the place with a six-pack of beer, and they haven’t opened it up, that is not an open container and that’s permissible. The violation occurs when they actually open it up and start to consume.
REPORTER: The parking pass, is that inside the stadium or outside?
MICHALEC: The parking pass, when we ask for revocation from the athletic department, will be if we see people in the lots that have a pass that have either not heeded the warnings and/or committed flagrant violations, that is when we will say, okay, we would like the Athletic Department to move on it.
And Mr. Geiger has indicated — Athletic Director Geiger has indicated he will assist us in that endeavor. In fact, in past years, we’ve done that, but not to the extent that we probably will this year, unless we don’t have any problems. Hopefully, we won’t; knock on wood.
It’s a change of culture, ladies and gentlemen, this is something new, been going on for years and years at Ohio State University, and so we’re going to try and ease it on as best we can versus hit it with a sledge hammer, per se.
MICHALEC: It is a mammoth undertaking, and that’s why we’re realistic enough to realize — the best analogy I use is a rock concert, whether it be at Polaris, or Blossom Music Center up in the Akron area, to think that you can absolutely irradicate substance abuse is unrealistic. What we’re looking for are flagrant violations of the law, and that behavior which is associated with it.
I think probably Ed Duval said it best, when he addressed it, and he’s head of the Ohio Liquor Commission, or the investigative arm of that, public safety, you would have to have a thousand to 1500 police officers out there to effectively impact it.
What we’re going to try and do is, like I said, work on target zones, where we’ve had most of the problems like the disorderly behavior.
And so, you know, to be realistic, I’m not going to be able to tell you we’re going to irradicate something; we’re going to try to control it. And that’s the chief mission, is to control it.
REPORTER: Can you tell us what the target zones will be?
MICHALEC: Target zones will be the surface lots on the south side of Lane Avenue, starting at St. John, and going up toward the Jesse Owens North facility. And also the parking ramps, that being Tuttle and Northwest.
And like I said, those specifically, because we had information last year that’s where we were having most of our problems.
As you all know, a lot of people come here, and they don’t go in the arena — or the stadium, excuse me. And so what you have are a lot of people that just continue on. And that seems to get worse. Coupled with what goes on on Lane Avenue, obviously, we’re going to try to impact it at least significantly enough to control it.
REPORTER: How will this be enforced consistently? What steps are being taken to keep some officers from taking it farther than what the University would like, too soon, what’s being done to coordinate this?
MICHALEC: Well, we sat down with the University officials, I know they also sat down with Columbus police, I can’t really address exactly, precisely what Columbus is or is not going to do.
And speaking as far as our particular folks are concerned, the individuals that we have contracted, whether it’s Franklin County or the Highway Patrol, our own University police officers, we’ve given them some guidelines.
An analogy I use is like speed control. Okay? Obviously, there’s going to be issues where you’re going to have discretionary capability as an officer to decide whether there’s a violation which ascends to the level of a summons or an arrest, or is it something you can take care of with a warning. And let’s face it, we don’t catch all the speeders on your street all the time. Nor will that ever happen.
But you try to control the behavior which is specifically dangerous and counterproductive and leads to some of the issues we’ve had as far as what the Celebratory Right Committee at the University has outlined.
So that’s what we’re trying to get them to think about. Does that mean I’m going to be able to tell on absolutely on every single circumstances this is exactly what you’re going to do? No, because that’s going to be situation. And doing this 31 years, police officers have to have discretion to be able to function appropriately.
REPORTER: (Inaudible) the situation escalated last year so they did try a few years ago (inaudible).
MICHALEC: 13 years I’ve been here, and in the 13 years I’ve been here, this has never been attempted. I know that there have been random sweeps periodically, but nothing that was organized or requested. Okay? So I’m not aware of a couple of years ago that anybody had effectively tried to do what we’re trying to undertake now.
And it is a radical departure in some ways. It’s going to be tough for people to understand what we’re trying to do. The key that we have to be careful about is that this is going to cover a wide range of demographics. And this isn’t just the student population who’s — who’s consuming possibly east of High Street that becomes the focus. This is everybody. And so everybody needs to be aware of it. We’re not going to — we talked about discretion, we’re not going to make distinctions that if it’s somebody who is older — an older adult, I just call all of us older adults, okay — that they’re exempt versus the younger — younger folk. This is, like I said, a radical departure. We’re going to basically try to get everybody to conform as best they can.
REPORTER: Is there any concern, though, people are going to (inaudible) are going to get hammered on the way to the parking lot?
MICHALEC: The question was is every — is anybody going to get hammered on the way to the parking lot? And what you mean is arrested, right, arrested, and detained and all of those kinds of things?
REPORTER: It’s almost encouraging drinking and driving before you get to the parking lot.
MICHALEC: No, I think our mission is to focus on behaviors as a result of alcohol consumption. It might lend itself to exactly what you’re talking about. And that is allowing somebody to consume to excess so they either become disorderly, their inhibitions are released sufficient enough that they misbehave or that they do get in the car and drive.
We all have a responsibility from the police department enforcement side to make sure that that doesn’t happen. Does that mean we catch them all? I mean, obviously, again, I’d be crazy if I told you we catch them all. We’re not going to catch everybody. Nor is that really the mission. Our mission is really to try to settle things down. And it is going to be a radical departure, and it is going to be difficult, and there’s going to be a lot of issues that are going to result from it. There’s going to be people that take the position they like it and a whole lot of people maybe that don’t.
So, you know, we’re getting prepared for that, too.
Oh, title is Ron Michalec — excuse me — Chief of Police, first name is Ron, last name’s Michalec, it’s M-i-c-h-a-l-e-c.
Is there a question back there?
REPORTER: Is there, with regard to a central Ohio sponsored tailgate, (inaudible) will drinking be permitted in that venue?
MICHALEC: In order to have an alcohol event, you have to file for an F-2, which is a temporary permit with the State of Ohio Liquor Commission.
REPORTER: Has Ohio State done that?
MICHALEC: That, I don’t know. I know that those go through Legal Affairs; although, when I see one that comes through, as does Legal Affairs, we sign off, but it doesn’t mean that we’re giving permission, nor do we have the authority to disapprove it. The commission approves them, and we’re only informed. Now, whether or not that’s happened, I’m not sure at this time. I haven’t seen anything to that effect.
Okay? There may be some coming up in the future, I don’t know. Steve might be able to address that, but I’m not aware of that at this point. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Okay, thank you.
WALLENBERG: Now we’ll bring Beth Kelley up.
KELLEY: Hi, I’m Beth Kelley. I guess I’m the person that parks all these people that gives Ron problems.
But we are down about 900 spaces this year from where we were last year for football season for parking. So that’s going to cause some obvious problems for us. We did take over the ABB property at 650 Ackerman Road this year, which gives us a thousand paved spaces. But they’re far from convenient. I’m sure people will not view them as central campus spaces nor attractive for football purposes. But they are there. We will be parking them. So those are available.
But 900 spaces are gone around campus, most around Cannon Drive area, where the grass fields were, those are the 315 ramps that are coming through. We lost several back by Cunz Hall, Campbell Hall, for one of our new parking garages, and the Larkins Hall expansion. The third area where we really got hit hard was the Lane Avenue widening project, which took about 300 spaces from our side, the south side of Lane Avenue. So that’s a big hurt to us, too, because that’s our disability area. So we’re going to have to take over some other areas for disability, be a little bit stricter with that.
Along those lines, and Ron can speaking to this as well, we will be utilizing the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, as well as our own OSU Police Department, to check disability placards as they enter the lot, to make sure that the person that that placard is assigned to is in the vehicle. You wouldn’t believe all the stories we heard last year. So if they are not with the placard, they get kicked out of the lot, and the placard is confiscated, and they get a pretty sizable ticket.
Applying to you basically, anyone with a media pass, anyone with any kind of passes, you need to be on campus and in your space 60 minutes prior to kickoff. Always before, we went with 15 minutes to 30 minutes, but we just can’t get you to your space, we can’t guarantee a space if you don’t come early. So 60 minutes prior to kickoff, we’ll honor your pass; after that, you’re on your own.
We also need you to make sure you have a pass before you try to enter a specified lot. We can’t have our attendants arguing with anyone on game day, it’s just too hectic, especially close to kickoff.
So please, make sure you have the appropriate pass to get in the lot you’re assigned to or that you wish to park in.
That’s about all that applies to you guys.
If you have any questions, I can take those.
Okay, thank you.
WALLENBERG: Coach Tressel will be here in about five minutes.
SNAPP: Welcome everyone. Nice to have lunch here instead of in the north parking lot at St. John Arena, although we enjoyed that.
A couple things about today’s format: Coach Tressel with make some opening remarks, followed by questions. We do have a court reporter with us today. We’re going to try this throughout the season, both here and the postgame interviews. But in order for her to hear your questions, you need to make sure you speak up, and then we’ll go with a microphone next week. But if you could speak up, we would appreciate that.
Following the question part of the session, the players will be available for some one-on-ones. We would like to be out of here between 1:15 and 1:30, so please keep that in mind.
Practice — the first 20 minutes of practice is open today for photographers, approximately 3:30, and then it’s closed the remaining time. Players will be available, then, after practice in meetings at about 6:00 on the indoor practice field, about 6:00 to 6:45.
The only other availability this week for coaches would be Thursday after practice, we’ll have the two experts available in the atrium, and that will be about 5:00.
Washington’s practice walk-through on Friday is closed to the media. If you have any specific interview request with Washington, please contact Jim Daves in their sports information office.
Reminder, this year that every vehicle in the parking lot must have a parking pass. That includes satellite trucks, company cars. If you don’t have a parking pass, you simply can’t get in this year because of the tightness of the parking situation.
With that, we’ll turn it over to Coach Tressel.
TRESSEL: Thank you, Steve.
Steve mentioned about the prepractice cameras and so forth. Our — our coaches get nervous about filming of walk-throughs, because some of those great tricks that we have, we walk through them first. So make sure, so Coach Bollman and Coach Dantonio don’t have a heart attack, that we don’t have the cameras on during that.
And then during the individual periods and so forth, feel free to have the cameras rolling.
I think if anyone looked at the 2003 schedule at any point in time, they’d have to be excited about the fact that you have someone like Washington coming in to open the season at Ohio State. Washington’s been one of those perennial great programs, tremendous tradition, great football players. The reason they’re good is they have great speed; they’ve had great coaching. They’re just an outstanding group. And so we’re excited for those very same reasons.
To open this great year with a team like the Huskies is going to be a tremendous challenge, and our guys have had that on their mind for quite some time through the winter and spring and summer and through what I thought was a pretty darn good preseason.
It’s especially exciting for those guys that are playing their last year. Anyone that’s been involved in athletics knows that your senior year, whether your senior year of high school or your senior year of college, is the only year, in your mind, that is very, very special.
And we’ve got 24 guys that have given great service to Ohio State, that are going to make a pact and a commitment to have their greatest years ever. And if we have 24 seniors who have career-best years, we’re going to have a chance to have a good football team. So we’re excited about that.
We have four of those guys with us today, Will Smith and Tim Anderson here on my left on the defensive side, and Michael Jenkins and Craig Krenzel on the offensive side, as you know, voted by their teammates as captain out of a senior group that I think is extraordinary, that had a lot of good candidates from a leadership standpoint.
These four and those other 20 guys I think have done a great job of leading through an off-season. Perhaps, as I’ve mentioned to them, perhaps one of the most difficult seasons that a senior class could ever have in that here, in the most exposed time in collegiate football history, they are the defending National Champions, with everyone setting their sights on knocking them off the mountaintop, and knowing that that challenge is great, and knowing that on the 30th of August they are going to open against a great, great football team in the Washington Huskies.
So they’ve done a great job doing that.
I think the preseason was a little bit different in that you didn’t have the normal two-a-days every day. I think it was an adjustment for everyone. It didn’t make it any easier, in my opinion, you can ask those guys, you know, how they felt about it as we talk a little bit more. I don’t know that it made it any easier. I think it did give us a little bit more chance to teach and spend time watching video with our players. It gave us a little bit more time in the weight room. And so perhaps our strength training during preseason was enhanced. But it will be interesting to see, in our performance on Saturday night, you know, just how well we handled the new situation.
The weather wasn’t quite as hot as we’ve been used to having in the preseason. Although beginning yesterday, we started getting a little bit of heat, and I think we’ll have some today, which is something that is necessary for us to have.
But all in all, I thought the effort was good, the concentration was good, the focus on our fundamentals needing to get better was very good. And, as we began working on our early opponents, most especially Washington, I thought that they paid attention very, very well. And I think were well on the way to putting together a plan that’s the best plan for us as we go into the opener.
If you want to dissect each group very briefly, and then we’ll open it up to questions.
You know, I think as you talk about our defense, you’re talking about the area that had more people graduate. When you lose your linebackers and your safeties and a couple of good front guys, there are some people that need to rise up and get prepared to go out and play on Saturday as opposed to simply playing in practice.
I thought our defense did a great job with that. Will and Tim and Darrion Scott did a good job leading that front. And I thought some young guys came along. Marcus Green, I think if you take note of how he’s changed his body, he went from what, 330 pounds to 285 pounds; his movement is excellent; his commitment is extraordinary. You’re going to see him in the ball game. And I think you’re going to see some young guys like the Joel Pantins and the Quinn Pitcocks and the Jay Richardsons who haven’t been in the game much, they’re going to help that front. Simon Fraser, of course, is a guy with some experience coming back, and he needs to raise his level. But I think that defensive front had good leadership and did a good job.
In the linebacker corps, you know, there really wasn’t a whole bunch of experience coming back, but I thought Rob Reynolds, and Fred Pagac and Jason Bond did a good job leading. Because we’ve got some good young guys. A.J. Hawk needs to step up; Mike D’Andrea needs to step up; Bobby Carpenter needs to step up. And I thought we progressed in that linebacker area.
When you go back to the secondary, while we had our corners returning in Chris Gamble and Dustin Fox, we need depth there, because I don’t know that Chris Gamble can play 128 plays a game, and I think we came up with that. E.J. Underwood, Ashton Youboty stepped up and played extremely well, and I think we’re going to have a little bit more depth in the corner area. And Will Allen did a nice job leading in the secondary. Will Allen’s played a lot of football here at Ohio State, mostly in the nickel and substitution defenses, although we probably played more nickel a year ago than we played base defense because of the nature of offenses we faced, he did a good job of leading a young group of safeties. Guys like Brandon Mitchell and Nate Salley, Tyler Everett, Donte Whitner, all are going to be new. And when the lights flip on on Saturday night, their eyeballs, I’m sure, are going to be big, but I think they’re prepared and, you know, ready to take the field with the scarlet jerseys.
Then, of course, if you move to the special teams, you lose an Andy Groom, who was an All-American. Andy was your holder. I think B.J. Sander has worked extremely hard to fill those roles, and we look forward to B.J. having an outstanding year as a senior, as a punter, as a holder.
Mike Nugent returns with a lot of game experience. Josh Huston returns as the backup for both. Kyle Andrews returns with long-snapping experience. Drew Norman stepped in and showed that we have solid backup there.
So from a special teams standpoint, the specialists I think have grown and stepped up. The guys that are playing the coverage positions, the protection positions, all the various things that make up special units, have made a great commitment to becoming good in that area. And that will be huge on Saturday against Washington.
Special teams are always huge. But when you play against a team with the kind of speed, the kind of special teams that they have shown — their specialists are new, but the rest of their people surrounding the special teams are very veteran. And so our special units have got a heck of a challenge.
Going over to our offensive side, I think you have to be pleased with the commitment of our guys up front. We had some guys that have worked tremendously hard in the weight room and gotten their bodies to the point where they feel like they’re moving better than they’ve moved in the last few years. Their strength level is good.
Alex Stepanovich leads that group up there, along with Shane Olivea and Adrien Clarke and Bryce Bishop, and those guys are — have played a lot of football, and I think right now are physically better than they’ve ever been.
Ben Hartsock, who we lost a little bit of time this preseason with a broken knuckle, as I listened this morning to the trainers, they said it looks like he’s going to be able to be padded up, and it’s just a matter of what type of pad, and he will be able to play on Saturday, which is a heck of a bonus for us there.
While he was out, Ryan Hamby and Stan White and Louis Irizarry did a nice job of filling in, and I think they’re going to be good at that position, and they’re going to have to double a little bit at the fullback position, because we were injured at fullback this preseason. Branden Joe was out with a muscle tear. Brandon Schnittker was out quite some time with a back and a quad injury. Jason Bond is the next Chris Gamble, he’s playing both fullback and linebacker, and he’s going to be playing some of the fullback position, as are those tight ends, they have to double as fullbacks as we run our particular offense.
Obviously, out wide we have great leadership with Michael Jenkins and Drew Carter. Got some young guys stepping up like Santonio Holmes and Roy Hall. Chris Gamble probably didn’t spend as much time with us out wide in the preseason as he will in the season. He’s certainly going to spend a significant amount of time with us on the offensive side during the season.
Bam Childress has been a guy that has continued to try to raise his game.
So I think we can be solid out there at the wide receiver position.
Obviously, at quarterback, Craig Krenzel, every snap he takes, he gets better and better and learns more and learns more. And Craig Krenzel will have a great year. He’ll have a career best year at the quarterback position.
Scott McMullen, in my mind, had an outstanding preseason. He completed about 82 percent of his passes in perimeter, which there’s no one rushing, which, you know, we should probably complete a lot. But he was up near 70 percent in team situations. And Scott McMullen knows our offense, he knows what we’re trying to accomplish. He’s watched Craig closely over the course of the last year in spring and so forth, and I think Scott McMullen has really stepped up and has a passion to have what we like to call a career best year.
I think those young quarterbacks came along. The next thing that they have to do, when things are going fine, and a route’s open, and protection’s good and so forth, they’re going to be good. Now, when things aren’t exactly right is where they have to improve, when the protection breaks down, or when the route’s not open, and that type of thing, that’s where a young person needs to understand that their best throw of the day might be the one they throw into the stands. And they know that’s something that those young guys have got to get better at. But I feel good about those young guys as well.
Obviously, we were thin at the tailback position. Mo Hall was a guy that was really only going one practice a day, because he had a little bit of irritation in his knee. It’s nothing that’s serious, but it’s something that our medical people felt you didn’t want to overuse it during a preseason. And we feel good about Mo Hall’s progress.
I thought Lydell Ross yesterday looked better than he has looked the entire preseason. And so we feel good about him.
A guy named Ira Guilford, with — who we recruited to be more of a safety, but in the back of our mind knew, if we were ever in a pinch in tailback, he was one of those 1800-yard guys in high school, and he came in and has joined the forces there at the tailback position. And a guy that wouldn’t shock me if he helped somewhat along with Roshawn Parker, he is a guy that can carry the football, and he’s gotten bigger and stronger and has a passion to carry the football in Ohio Stadium.
So with that group, obviously missing Maurice Clarett, is going to be something that we’ll miss, but that’s where we are right now, and those four guys are going to have to step up and take care of that.
So I think as we come through preseason — and I hope I didn’t forget a position, because I’ll get a call from someone’s mom — but, you know, I think we have some guys that have really had a passion to get better, have taken preseason with its differences than normal, and have embraced what they’re trying to do and become as smart a football team and as well-conditioned a team and as tough a football team as we can, I think they’ve done that. But now we get to go find out on Saturday night just how far along we are.
With that, I’d like to open up for questions.
Will and Tim can answer the defensive questions. Michael and Craig can answer the offensive questions. I’ll be happy to answer any questions. And obviously, don’t forget about the special teams.
REPORTER: Darrion Scott was the guy we didn’t see much of practicing live during preseason. And you’ve got him down here as a starter going against Pickett. Is it a concern how much he might be able to play on Saturday, or what do you think of that situation?
TRESSEL: Well, Darrion Scott was coming off an off-season surgery, and, you know, a little bit like Mo Hall’s case, we didn’t think that volume was something we — we — I should say medical people didn’t think volume was something that he should do at this point in time. But Darrion Scott, you know, he’s a veteran, he knows our scheme, he’s a force. Will he play 70 plays Saturday? No, probably not. Because, still, I think volume’s still an issue. But — but Darrion’s ready to go.
REPORTER: Coach, for you and all four players, what were the biggest challenges in the off-season? Was it the mantle — was it having to carry the mantle of defending National Champions, was it the New York Times article, the Maurice conflict, Maurice saga?
Let’s just go right down the line starting with Michael and talk about today’s challenges.
JENKINS: I’m going to say it was a real tough challenge, you know — you know, we all worked hard right after the — after the championship game was over, going into winter conditioning, and we were focusing on one thing at a time to spring practice on to summer conditioning and working again harder and a lot of work in the weight room, getting stronger and getting faster and things like that, preparing for — to open the season following — on to fall camp. So it was just a focus for us to stay focused within whichever we were doing at the time in preparing for the season.
JENKINS: To kind of echo what Mike just said, you know, I think the biggest challenge for us as a team was to just go out and it was a challenge that we put upon ourselves. It wasn’t anything outside the program, it was within the guys and the team, the 115 guys that were there all year-round.
And we know that coming into this season, and coming out Saturday night, that if we’re not a better team than we were at this time last year, we’re not going to have the success we would like to have.
And with that in mind, it was kind of a goal that we put upon ourselves to go out and make sure that we are a better football team.
TRESSEL: Do you want me to go?
We have a lot of busy people in our group, so I think time is the biggest problem. Michael Jenkins runs track indoor, he runs track outdoor, he’s a good student, he studies the game of football, he lifts the weights hard. You know, time is always the battle.
Craig Krenzel, the academic load he carries.
The willingness for our guys to be out in the community, outreach, and so forth.
The only battle I’ve ever seen in any off-season is you never have enough time to take care of everything you would like the take care of. And bring up distractions, and, of course, the only thing that distractions do is they pull from your time. But time is still the battle, whether you have distractions or not.
ANDERSON: I’d agree with all three of, you know, putting — you know, time is always the issue whether, you know, you’re in season or out of season.
But, you know, I don’t think we had any serious challenges. You know, guys were pretty focused this season as we got back. You know, it was no secret what we wanted to do for this season, and I think every guy on the team realized what we needed to do, and what was it was going to take to do that. So, you know, there wasn’t too much that we had to worry about.
SMITH: You four guys pretty much summed it up. I really don’t know what to say.
But it was — it was like Coach said, time is a big part of it, you’ve got to go to class, you’ve got to go to football practice, you’ve got to work out, you’ve got spring football, so pretty much managing your time is the toughest goal of the off-season.
REPORTER: You referred earlier to the senior’s off-season (inaudible) that’s out there defending a National Championship. Do you acknowledge that all of the other stuff (inaudible) happened recently, any of that increased the difficulties of you guys preparing for the season?
TRESSEL: I think any demand on your time increases the difficulty, you know, of anything. And even good things, you know — championships, you know, with them bring an increased demand on your time and an increase over your challenge, you know, as do adversities, they bring a demand on your time. And so I think whether or not we had had any adversities, this still would have been the greatest challenge that a senior class has ever had at Ohio State. But with them, you know, you can’t deny that it would magnify the challenge, because more is asked of you from a time standpoint.
REPORTER: Last week one of your offensive players said last year is the past, this is a new year, new team; but also this offense is developing a new identity. What you would say of this offense’s identity?
TRESSEL: I think the identity that the offense is in the midst of developing and can develop, is the fact that it has so much experience, and they’ve seen a lot come at them. You know, there’s not too many new blitzes, not too many new coverage looks, they’ve seen them before. And you can say to a group as Jim Bollman sitting on the sideline with them in between series, you know, this is that blitz that so-and-so brought, remember how we picked it up, and here is the route we called, so on and so forth. I think the maturity and the experience that you have will hopefully take us toward our goal.
You know, we’ve said since we’ve been here, we would like to be a team that rushes the ball for 200 yards a game, that passes it for 250 and scores 40 points, while not turning it over. And that’s the standard that we set for ourselves. I would hope that our experience could take us closer to our goal.
REPORTER: Jim, with regards to the tailbacks —
REPORTER: The game on Saturday, do you favor, for the focus of the team at some point, putting a specific number on multiple games, once the give-and-take is done between you guys and the NCAA, do you prefer, for focus reasons of your team, to have a finite number publicly stated by Ohio State, or would you just rather it hang out there (inaudible).
TRESSEL: Maurice won’t dress. The only people that will dress for the game are the ones that will be eligible to play in it. And that doesn’t mean that we would put all the guys in it that dress, there are some guys you consider red-shirting and so forth.
And secondly, without question, you know, as soon as it is definite, I think the facts and the truth is always good to know. But I don’t know that that should or will or could change the focus of anyone, because I sure hope everyone’s focus right this minute is on the Washington Huskies and not, you know, X number of weeks out from there.
REPORTER: Last year when Maurice was out, your pass/rush ratio was pretty much the same. Does that speak to your philosophy that’s consistent regardless of who’s in and out or what does that say?
TRESSEL: Well, you know, I’m not sure what that speaks to exactly. Our goal as an offensive staff and team is to first find out what we’re good at. Maybe even perhaps prior to that is — is try to get good at everything. We work on the pass game and the run game equally hard. Find out what you’re good at, find out what the team needs at the moment that a decision needs to be made, and then go do that. And not just go do something because it sounds good that we ought to go do this. Let’s make sure we’re good at it. And I think we’re getting better at some things.
REPORTER: How do you envision your tailback rotation for Saturday? I mean, do you — have you figured out who’s going to start? At this point in the week how do you envision that?
TRESSEL: If the game were today, I would say that both Lydell and Mo Hall would see significant playing time, fairly equal. Who would start? I really haven’t had that type of discussion. But going into the game, I would think that would be the case.
REPORTER: Jim, you told us on Friday that you would be involved in this whole Maurice deal as a submission of the recommended number of games from the NCAA, can you tell us if that’s happened yet, have you guys reached a number, reached some sort of agreement on what you’re going to submit to the NCAA in terms of punishment?
TRESSEL: You know, I haven’t been involved in any of those discussions. I think they will be forthcoming. But, again, I think our people, you know, are sensitive to the issue that on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, we work, you know, 16 or 17 hours a day on what needs to be worked on right now. And, you know, I’m assuming that there’ll be that moment, you know, that we’ll sit down and talk about that. But I don’t know that I’m going to, you know, be a big part of lots of discussions, because there’s different tasks for me right now.
REPORTER: Coach, you had a true freshman show up as left tackle. What is it that he showed (inaudible).
TRESSEL: You know, I think Kirk Barton is a guy that’s going to be a good football player. He shows up in the two-deep at left tackle. But I can’t tell you that if Robby Sims isn’t playing left tackle that Kirk Barton will. We’ll play our best seven or eight guys. I don’t know that Kirk Barton is in there yet. But, you know, they ask us to fill out 10 names, and that’s not to belittle what Kirk’s done, he’s done a good job, he’s in the first ten names.
But if we were going into a ball game and Robby Sims took a series where he wasn’t in, Adrien Clarke perhaps could be out there, Alex Stepanovich has worked a little outside, Mike Kne has really spent more time working inside now than — he was working outside more, he’s spending more time at the guard positions. Kirk Barton would probably be the 9th or 10th guy there.
Tim Schafer, who moved over from defense, we think is going to be good, but it’s a whole new world for him over there at offensive tackle. I don’t know if he knows just how good he can be. Because all of a sudden you line up against Will Smith, and he twists, and all of a sudden here comes Tim Anderson flying around you, and, you know, you’re lost. But Tim Anderson — Tim Schafer, excuse me, is going to be a guy that’s going to be in a group as well. But Kirk Barton we’re happy with.
TRESSEL: Oh, Louis Irizarry is going to be a very good football player. He got more repetitions a little bit unnaturally this summer because Ben Hartsock was out. And, you know, that was a real bonus for him, a real bonus for Ryan Hamby and Stan White.
And the other thing that allowed those tight ends to play a lot more is the fullbacks were all out. So we had tight ends in the game a good bit of the time when we were working those types of personnel groupings. And Louis Irizarry, I think, showed everyone that he’s got some abilities. Now, there’s some things he’s, you know, got to experience. And when he goes out there in front of 105,000, it’s going to be an exciting time for a moment, and, you know, when he — when he has his first collision, he’ll think he’s back, you know, at any other game.
But we’re excited about what Louis can do.
You know, maybe Craig and Mike can speak to that, because they see him out there running routes. Or maybe not, I don’t know.
JENKINS: Just to echo what Coach said, Louis Irizarry is going to be a great football player for us. It’s going to take a little time, as anyone knows, when you come in as a freshman, it’s a totally different football game, the speed’s different, the complexity of defenses is different, our offense is obviously going to be more complex than what he ran in high school. Given the right amount of time and enough patience, and, you know, he’s got a great work ethic, and it’s going to be exciting to watch a player like him develop.
REPORTER: Jim, could you talk a little bit about what you’re concerned most about Washington.
TRESSEL: Washington has great team speed. They have outstanding athletes. Everyone likes to start by talking about their offensive side, because you have the marquis guys in the quarterback and the great receiver and the running back is a solid guy. Number 24, you know, has done a great job. I think he had maybe 1100 yards or something along there. And they have felt he has had a great preseason. I think they returned three or four of their offensive linemen. They like to utilize the tight end.
What’s going to be interesting over on offense is that we know they’re going to pitch and catch, we know that they’re going to run Alexis. We don’t know really, though, what will be the difference between the coaching staff’s approach under Coach Neuheisel and the coaching staff’s approach on offense under Coach Gilby.
Gilby, I think, has been more of a one-back guy in his career as a head coach, and when he was the offensive coordinator for Don James, they were evolving to a little more two-back recently. So it will be interesting for our defense to handle the challenge of what they don’t know.
But they have great, great talent over on offense.
Defensively, they have a number of guys coming back, who have had a lot of experiences. They’ve played against run teams. They’ve played against spread teams. You watch their film from start to finish through the 13 games, they’ve faced everything, and they have a lot of veterans. They have a couple guys up front. Number 99 is as good as I’ve seen as a three-technique kind of guy, he makes it very, very difficult for the guard that he lines up over him. 56 is a guy out on the edge that is outstanding. 88’s a great inside linebacker with great range. They moved 34, who has been the starting safety for two years, up to a SAM linebacker, a little bit like we did with Cie Grant, which gives you explosion and speed in the blitz packages and so forth.
Their corners, 3 and 21 are back. And they’ve have probably five other DBs who have played a lot, because they had so many injuries last year. Guys had to play various games and so forth.
So their experience on defense, the fact that they run so well, and have excellent open-field tacklers, concerns us, obviously.
Their speed on special teams. There’s a little bit of an unknown as to their punter and kicker. And we don’t know how they’re going to tailor their game based on that.
Their return men return, Number 10, Alexander Kidd — it’s not Alexander. What’s the receiver’s last name? Anyway, Number 10 is a heck of a return man. And so their special teams bring great speed.
And, you know, sometimes when you face a team who had a tough year the year before, you know, they have good kids, they had a tough year, you know they want to make that right, you know, they’ve had a tough off-season, I’m sure emotionally, and I’m sure they can’t wait to get out into a football game. Not unlike our guys. And so I think it’s going to be a heck of a — heck of a fun night.
REPORTER: Can you imagine, though, or speak to the fact that the coaching change that’s happened so late, how tough is it? He’s been a coach for a long time. Nonetheless, it’s been a coaching change, and that takes its own time to develop with the players and make things kind of normal, I guess.
TRESSEL: I don’t know how much change it will be. That’s what you just don’t know. Because they have nine assistant coaches and a head coach. So now they have the same nine guys. One of them happens to be the head coach, and I guess they probably hired a new assistant coach.
How much change will there be? I don’t know. And so that will be something that, you know, we’ll have to deal with, they’ll have to deal with.
I wouldn’t expect a whole bunch of change.
REPORTER: How about the specialness of a night game? I mean, the sixth ever here?
TRESSEL: Well, you know, playing at night, on national television, you know, it’s — it’s an extraordinary feeling. Most of our guys played their high school football at night. And, you know, so they — they remember those days fondly. And, you know, the fact that the whole nation will have a chance to — to see if the 2003 Buckeyes are a great football team or not, at least at this stage, you know, that is special.
REPORTER: You said earlier this week that a night game, it might be a little (inaudible) since it is a night game (inaudible)?
TRESSEL: You know, I’ve learned not to question what Chris Gamble says he can do. He told someone in this group that his goal was to play every play of the entire season. And I don’t know how many — I don’t know how many plays there are in the entire season. But far be it for me to say that he can’t.
But I don’t know how cool it will be. You know, I’ve said to you folks many times, one of our, I think, real challenges and decisions we have to make is how much do you play Chris Gamble, because you know you want your team to be on the upswing, and you want each player to be on the upswing. And part of that’s physically, as well. So — but, again, I’m not going to make a prediction, because I don’t know what’s going to unfold.
REPORTER: What are the attributes and talents that you see on (inaudible) Reggie Williams (inaudible)?
TRESSEL: You know, Reggie Williams is a guy that they put in a lot of different places. You know, he’s backside, and if you need to put more than one person on him, then you’re really allowing the other side, you know, to be a little bit weakened. They change where they have him, so you can’t get a beat on him. He has great size, speed. When the ball’s up in the air, you know, he’s one of those Cris Carter type guys that goes up and gets it.
Cody Pickett knows exactly what you’re doing. You know, when he’s — when you wash Cody Pickett and Craig Krenzel on Saturday night, you’re going to see two guys that, really, if — if us coaching staffs were smart, we would just let them go out and make the decisions, because they have the ball, they know exactly what’s going on, they see it from a perspective that — that we don’t. Sometimes we’re just guessing. He’s just a bright guy, throws it on the money. He’s had — I don’t know how many times they threw the ball last year, but it was a lot. And they were third in the country in passing. And he just brings great experience. When he does run the ball, he runs it well. They run a little bit of option. He’s just — he’s an outstanding player, and they’re a great combination.
REPORTER: Can you talk about on the defense one of the battles you have with Mitchell and Salley, where there’s (inaudible) kind of shaken up, the challenge they’re going to face, the passing attack?
TRESSEL: You know, as we’ve gone into the week, Brandon Mitchell and Nate Salley are what we call bracketed, which means they’re both going to be playing. I wouldn’t even venture a guess who’s starting. And I don’t even know what personnel grouping we’re going to be starting in, because that changes. If they come out and empty with five receivers, probably Brandon Mitchell and Salley, you know, and Michael Doss might be starting, we might need them all. But — so it’s just a matter of seeing what they come out in. But those two are going to be good. Tyler Everett’s going to be good. They’re young. They’re going to see some balls thrown their way.
It’s going to be a great challenge for them, but they’re going to be good players.
REPORTER: Craig, do you anticipate the passing game to be a little more vertical this year with the development of receivers and depth there?
JENKINS: You know, it’s definitely something that we would like to work on. As to whether or not I anticipate it or not, I don’t know, you’ll have to ask Coach. You know, they call the plays.
It’s definitely a goal of ours with the weapons we have on the outside, with the respect that we always get with our running game, we need to be able to take advantage of some of the one-on-one coverage, we would like to throw the ball down the field a little more. But at the same time, we’d like to — we’d like to do everything a little more, we’d like to throw intermediate, throw short, run long. We would like to throw the ball down the field a few more times a game, and just do it as efficiently and consistently and a little more consistently than we did last year.
TRESSEL: Let’s clarify that — not that I’d ever disagree with Craig — but we call them, he changes them. So let’s make sure that that’s known.
But, you know, we would like to be able to attack everybody, absolutely. You know, some — Coach Bruce used to always tell us that the longest pass play in the history of Ohio State University was a little dump-off to the tailback as an outlet, as a reminder to our quarterbacks that it doesn’t matter where you go, go to right guy, and don’t feel as if you need to force it somewhere else.
But we would like to attack deep. If you don’t attack deep, they’re going to sit on you. If all you do is attack deep, your percentages probably aren’t going to be as high as you’d like them to keep the football, and those types of things.
But I think we have to mix it all in, I think we have to mix in a lot of different sets. We’ve been working extremely hard at a lot of different things, so that our offense is versatile and so that our defense is based. It’s both things.
So I’m as excited as you are to find out.
You know, I don’t really understand what are we going to throw it more vertical means. If there’s a guy open vertical, we will. But, you know, if there’s not, we’re going to throw it horizontal, I guess. But, you know, I hope we throw to the open guy.
REPORTER: You have Clarke and Youboty on your two-deep. Any true freshman that you know sitting here today barring any situations are going to play in the game?
TRESSEL: I would think Louis Irizarry will get in the game. I would think that Ashton Youboty would probably be in the game. I would think that Donte Whitner needs to be feeling as if he’s going to be in the game. David Patterson probably feels as if — needs to feel as if he’s going to be in the game. Kirk Barton better be ready to be in the game.
I’m trying to think who else is freshman? Any — any other guys there that — been in the two-deep? Anyone else in the two-deep that we gave you?
REPORTER: Anthony Gonzelez, perhaps?
TRESSEL: You know, I don’t think so. Dareus Hiley’s been out from an injury standpoint. So I would say it’s very doubtful that he’d be in the game.
Tony Gonzelez, I think he’s — he spent the first little while on defense, and then moved over to offense. I think he’s come along. And I think that will be one of those, you know, we’ll have to wait and see. But we’re — you know, we’re pleased with both of them.
REPORTER: Ira Guilford?
TRESSEL: Ira Guilford may have get in the game. He better be ready to. Yep, there’s one that —
REPORTER: Brandon Maupin?
TRESSEL: I’m sorry?
REPORTER: Brandon Maupin?
TRESSEL: Brandon Maupin, probably at this point we’ve got enough depth, we think, with Tim and Will and Darrion and Marcus Green and Quinn Pitcock, and those guys, that I wouldn’t expect Brandon, you know, necessarily to get in the game.
REPORTER: Freddy was kind of dinged earlier, I think a hamstring, how much separation (inaudible).
TRESSEL: You know, Fred Pagac missed some time with a hamstring. But the good thing about Fred is that he watches what’s going on, and so he’s a guy that can learn when he’s not in there. I think he’s probably pretty close to 100 percent. I think we won’t know that until he really has to burst and go track someone down, you know, and full speed ahead.
Our mic’d linebacker position, I think is kind of interesting. You’re going to see a lot of guys play it. You’re going to see Rob Reynolds playing some mic. You’re going to see Fred Pagac play some mic. Mike D’Andrea will play some mic. A.J. Hawk played about 14 plays in the scrimmage at mic. And I think that’s kind of interesting in that our linemen will tell you on offense that a lot of times you set your pass protection and your run blocking and so forth based on where’s the mic. And I don’t know that you’re going to have a great bead on where the mic is. There are times when it looks like Will Smith is the mic in some of our nickel-and-dime-type looks.
So it — that’s going to be an interesting evolution.
But, hopefully, Freddy’s ready to go, because Freddy’s important on our special teams as well.
TRESSEL: Sian will have his first day in pads today, I believe. So I think he’s had two helmets days and two what we call shells, which is shoulder pads and helmets. And I think he’s allowed to be in full pads today. Our guys said they were kind of impressed with him yesterday in drills. I don’t know, you guys could maybe speak to Sian, if you saw him in individual period. But I thought he did a good job in practices. I listened to the coaches.
TRESSEL: Maurice was in a helmet and shorts. So, you know, he went through the drills that you can do that. I think he tried to get in the scout team against the guys with shoulder pads on, but, of course, they wouldn’t let him. But, you know, I think he was just happy to be with his team — with his teammates.
TRESSEL: Absolutely. He was wearing Number 24 yesterday.
REPORTER: Exclusively as a scout team tailback, or do you work him at the other end?
TRESSEL: No. No. We’re playing Washington. We’re only going to work the people that might play against Washington on offense so — exclusively.
REPORTER: How does not having Maurice change your preparation? Are there certain packages that you don’t have available when he’s not in, or certain plays you feel more comfortable with him versus —
TRESSEL: I don’t think so. You know, our tailback position has to be able to do it all. And the thing that you have to understand is the quarterback’s not going to check behind him to see who’s in the game at tailback and not check to this play or that play. It’s all built into your game plan. So, you know, whoever’s at tailback’s got to be able to do it all.
REPORTER: How were (inaudible) National Champion team and be top as a Heisman (inaudible)
TRESSEL: You know, it’s not nearly as big a drop as not being out there with your teammates. So it’s probably a promotion.
REPORTER: Jim, with all the experience you have on offense, explain your thoughts this season from where you were a year ago (inaudible) starting at tailback, explain what that’s done for you (inaudible).
TRESSEL: Well, you know, as we went into last fall, I thought we knew a little bit more about the people that made up the team and the staff and so forth. I think we know even more now than we did a year ago. We had different strengths in different places. You had Michael Doss and Donnie Nickey who had played forever there in the middle. If they would make the normal progression of improvement that you would hope a guy could make, you’re going to feel real good, and they did. Now you’ve got young guys in there at that position, so you have little different feelings.
And my only advice, if you will, to our defensive staff is real simple: One, get the call in fast. Because if the call’s in, our guys will play it. And, two, continue to learn what our guys are best at and do those things.
And beyond that, I don’t know anything about defense.
But — so hopefully that’s what we’ll do.
REPORTER: I was talking about your offense. I mean, offense is where —
TRESSEL: Get the call in early — okay?
REPORTER: I was talking about, you know, now knowing as much as you know about this offense personnel compared to a year ago, are you going in with a thicker playbook Saturday night as compared to this time of year last year?
TRESSEL: I don’t know. You know, I think that’s what you have to be a little careful of, when you have a veteran team, is that you can say, well, they know how to do this, and they now how to do that, and they know how to do this, and then the two young guys that are in there don’t know how to do that. And then if you don’t have the 11 doing it, so I think you have to be careful. And that’s one of those — that’s one of those decisions you have to make as a staff.
And that’s why we like to give as many of the decisions to the guys on the field as we can. Because we know when Craig calls the play, he knows why he’s calling it, because he has seen the defense line up. When we call the play, we’re guessing what they might line up in. And so I don’t know if the playbook will be thicker. But I feel good about the group going in.
SNAPP: We have time for Martha Ridenour’s closing question.
REPORTER: How does the linebacker corps different from last year (inaudible)?
TRESSEL: Well, no one has the experience that Matt Wilhelm had. You know, Matt Wilhelm was the guy that he could help people get adjusted. You know, there were times, I’m sure, where he tapped Tim Anderson on the side of the hip, and said, you know, move 6 inches; or Will Smith, this or that. Now these guys have to kind of help the guys behind them a little bit maybe. Because we don’t have the experiences there.
Rob Reynolds does bring a lot more experience than you think, because he’s played a lot. Fred Pagac brings a lot of wisdom, and now it’s a matter of getting to play a little bit more.
And then the rest of the guys, they just bring a lot of ability, and they study film. You know, I didn’t see the linebacker coach in the office all day Saturday, but I saw two or three of the linebackers there on a day off, that’s the way they study the game. So it’s a little different.
Cie Grant was a guy that had experiences all over the field. He could relate to what the corner was doing, what the safeties were doing, and still play his position. You know, we’re not that far along. But we’re going to have to get there fast against a team like Washington.
REPORTER: (Inaudible) physically at all?
TRESSEL: Physically, you know, Mike D’Andrea probably is a little more powerful than — than we’ve had; whereas, perhaps Cie Grant and Matt Wilhelm were a little more experienced in the open field. A.J. Hawk, I think, brings with him all the tools, but he doesn’t have those experiences, which change how you play the game.
Rob Reynolds I think can do it all. Fred Pagac, I think, starts heading to where he’s supposed to go sooner, because he’s so smart.
Bobby Carpenter brings a lot to the game. You know, he practiced all 22 practices or whatever. And, boy, does that help you. He missed about, I don’t know, seven or eight of them in the spring, which concerned us. But the fact that he made all 22 gave him a lot of experience.
So I think it’s a good group. But it’s young, and they’re going to have their moments, and how they handle their moments, you know, will