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Ohio State Football Press Luncheon Video

Aug. 30, 2005

SIMONSON: Good afternoon. I’m going to address you on a couple of issues that are important for this coming Saturday and for the games beyond. First of all, we’re trying to make a special point that football game days are not only about the football game, but we’re trying to provide a safe, a secure and a very fan-friendly environment, so those are the key points of what we’re trying to do on the event and game management side of the house. We don’t have a lot of changes as it relates to homeland security. We’re going to continue doing what we’ve been doing since 9/11. For those of you that need some reinforcement, what that is, we’ll be checking all bags, all containers, and all purses as they come into the stadium. That’s a message we want to get out to our fans. Nothing’s changed, but they need to be prepared when they get to the stadium, they’ll have to have those things checked. The advantage for them will be to travel lightly. Bring only what’s on your body and don’t try to bring a lot of extra things into the stadium. We do have many prohibited items. Those include concealed weapons, TVs, radios with headsets, backpacks, signs, banners, food and beverages. These are listed on our game day website. This is something we want to reinforce to our fans coming to the stadium.

One special issue I wanted to address was chairback seats. That’s a prohibited item in Ohio Stadium unless you have a health concern. If you need it because the doctor says you need it, we will allow it into the stadium at the following gates, Gate 9, Gate 14 and Gate 25. Those are what we call our exception gates for people who have specific health issues and need to have a chairback seat or in some cases need to carry medicine into the stadium, 9, 14 and 25. Many of you may have heard that we are in the second year of a two-year program where all discounted seats in Ohio Stadium — a discounted seat would be anything sold to a student, a faculty member or a staff member — all of those tickets for this upcoming football season will require an OSU I. D. So any discounted ticket will require an OSU I. D. I spent about 45 minutes this morning explaining that to some other media types, so a message that needs to get out, we don’t want people to get taken advantage of. The tickets are very clearly marked if they have to have a corresponding OSU I. D.

We do have a game day website that I’d like to get out into the media. It’s athletics.osu.edu/gameday. That has all of our policies listed. It is a dynamic, changing website. We’ll update it game by game to make sure that the information is pertinent for the upcoming weekend. If we have something breaking, whether it be ticket availability or a traffic pattern that’s going to change, that would be a site that our fans could actually get that information from.

There’s not much happening with the parking and traffic situation this year, which is the good news. We do a lot of construction here on campus and over the past several years, we’ve actually had to talk to you about lot closures and rows that wouldn’t be available. This year, we actually will be adding parking spaces. We have a 2000-space garage on Neil Avenue as part of the south campus gateway project. That will be open and available for folks that are coming to the football games. In addition to that, the north riverbank lot on the south side of Lane Avenue and east of Olentangy, that lot will be available again this year as a permit lot.

Alcohol enforcement. No changes from last year. There will continue to be uniformed officers, alcohol agents, a variety of folks whose sole purpose on game day is to be out and about in the parking lots interacting with people, monitoring the activity that goes on around the stadium. They will not be undercover. They will all have badges. They’re suppose to be. They’re not trying to entice people to get arrested. They’re just trying to make sure that we have a fan-friendly environment. So folks just need to be aware it’s going on. It’s not going to stop. It is illegal to have alcohol on the campus at Ohio State University, so they’re simply enforcing the law.

My last comment is, we’re going to focus on sportsmanship this year. I think we’ve always had it as a pillar of what we do, but sportsmanship is something we want to try to take to a new level here at Ohio State University. We’re relying on our fans. We’re relying on all of you. We’re relying on all of our part-time staff, all of our full-time staff to communicate the messages that are important to us and that is that we want to have the best game environment in the entire country, but we want to do it in an appropriate manner. So things like vulgarity, either in verbal or written form, people who may have too much to drink in the stadium or outside the stadium, taunting of the players, taunting of the coaches, throwing things at the visiting team band, all of those things are considered unsportsman-like conduct. I’m sure that’s no surprise to you. We’re going to do everything we can to interact with our fans and make sure that none of those are occurring on our campus and giving us a bad reputation throughout the country.

So those are my comments. I’m willing to take questions, if anyone has any.

REPORTER: I’ve got a question. Tickets, are they scanned when people come in? Because one question came up, if a ticket’s scanned and then passed outside for resale, how are they — are they torn or are they scanned?

SIMONSON: That’s actually a good question. Let me just walk you through what we’re doing on the outside gates. Our security detail will be on the outside of the stadium. They have two purposes. Number one, they’re the ones that are going to be checking the bags and making sure that people are not bringing in prohibited items. Secondly, their job is to make sure that any ticket that requires an I. D. is checked on the outside. And once people get past that point, they would actually then go to the scanner at the gate, and once the ticket is scanned in, that’s the only — that’s the only valid ticket that we have. So assuming that they would somehow pass it outside the gate, assuming they counterfeited it and made 200 of the same bar code, only one’s getting in, so it doesn’t matter if they pass it outside the gate.

REPORTER: Well, it does to people who buy it then. The buyer needs to beware, right?

SIMONSON: You’re absolutely right. That’s part of the buyer beware that we’re interested in trying to promote. So that’s a very valid point and I appreciate you bringing that up. That’s part of what we’ve tried to communicate in our literature we’ve sent out. Part of the reason why we even brought it up with you guys today is that it’s one thing to communicate to our students, our faculty, staff, our on-campus constituencies, but there’s a whole other level of people who may be caught unaware. The only thing they’re trying to do is get into the game. You can help us by making sure people are very cautious of what they’re doing in terms of where they buy their ticket.

REPORTER: At this time, I guess this year for the first time, the faculty have the option of buying their tickets at full price so they can resell them and not be subject to having to show their I. D. to get in. What percentage of the faculty are paying full price, meaning they probably want to resell some of their tickets?

SIMONSON: I’m going to answer that in two ways. First, our faculty and staff represent about 15% of the tickets in the stadium. Our students represent about 22% for the 2005 season. We did allow our faculty and staff to upgrade their tickets to the public price, and 62% of them had done that the last time I checked. I would fully expect that that number will be increasing as we get closer to the start of the season and into the Big Ten season.

REPORTER: Can they do that game by game or do they have to do it for the whole year at once?

SIMONSON: The majority of them did it for the entire season. They have the option of doing it game by game. They need to do it no later than the Friday before the football game. It is not an option on game day.

REPORTER: What do they get, like a little sticker that goes on the ticket?

SIMONSON: No, we actually reprint their ticket and take the discounted one back.

REPORTER: Students have that same option?

SIMONSON: Students will have the same option for their season tickets which will start with the Iowa game.

TRESSEL: A couple folks asked as we were coming in if we heard anything from Nader Abdallah and his family. He has talked with everyone down there and everyone seems to be doing fine. He’s got one brother that he’s not connected with yet, but there’s not much phone service. Bernardo Amerson’s family is in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and obviously that area was hit pretty hard as well. He said the big tree by his house fell the other direction, which is a good thing, and I don’t know if he’s talked to his folks today, but he was able to, I think, talk to them a little bit as the storm came ashore or whatever right before that, but I think everyone’s in good shape there.

I think Richelle handled all the game day stuff, and Steve told you what’s going on today after practice. We’ve got the guys set up ready to go. It’s game time for us. We’re excited. About five or six days ago, I heard some of our older guys saying, hey, let’s go. We’ve banged each other enough. We’ve gone against one another. Sometimes late in preseason, you get a little tempted to stop what each other’s doing or go against each other, and you’ve been seeing yourselves for 30 practices or better and you have to get back and look at the film of the people you’re going to play and start working on it, which we did last week with Miami of Ohio. And I think everyone in this room knows the great tradition of Miami of Ohio and the fact that they’ve been the team that’s gone into so many stadiums and come up with so many big victories, and I think our guys that have grown up in Ohio and all of them — all of them college football fans, know that Miami of Ohio is a tremendous football team. It’s a tremendous challenge for us as we begin the season. We’re optimistic that this can be a good football team. We’re also realistic that we’re playing against a number of good football teams, starting with Miami of Ohio. We had a good camp. Our guys came in great shape. They trained hard. The weather was great. It was hot. It was nasty out there. And then we had a little break in the weather. We were able to do a good job of getting as many repetitions and so forth. We stayed relatively healthy.

Mike D’Andrea hasn’t had much work still. He’s not a hundred percent, but that’s the bad news. The good news is we heard today he’d been granted an appeal on his red shirt opportunity. So we would like to think that he’ll have a good year and a half anyway of great football ahead of him. We’re hoping that he is ready to go by the end of the month of September and help this football team out. Rory Nicol and Jimmy Cordle both were injured in preseason. We think they’ll be back by the end of the month. There have been some guys miss on and off for a day or two or this or that, but for the most part, pretty healthy. We’re fortunate for as hard as our guys worked and banged against each other and so forth, I think they’re in pretty good health, and like every opening game, you’re just so anxious to play. We’ve been talking about how can we get better. We’ve been studying ourselves, we’ve been playing against each other, we’ve been in the weight room, running, doing all these things it seems like forever, now it’s the time to go and just see how we match up, see how good we can be on September the 3rd, and we’ve got a great challenge with Miami of Ohio. I like their team’s speed. A lot of the guys on the roster we know, we’ve seen. The Hunter kid is a blazer, Robinson kid is a blazer. They have excellent speed in their entire secondary and their linebacker corps, the receiver corps, the McVay kid from down in Georgia went to high school with a couple of our guys and a grad assistant coach down there, so we’re very aware of how much speed they have on the field and the excellent discipline that they have across the board.

Special teams discipline is excellent. Their offensive and defensive discipline is excellent. Their quarterback threw for 3000 yards, and you can go all the way along the list. That’s why Miami of Ohio has been an outstanding football team, and we’ve known Coach Montgomery for some time. In fact, I’m so old I had Shane in youth camp. I was his quarterback coach a hundred years ago here at Ohio State in youth camp. He’s done an outstanding job and he’ll do a great job for their program and we’re just anxious to match up with them.

Questions? I do have four guys here who would rather take the bulk of the time, so if you want to go short with me, Rob Sims there looking sharp. Do you want to wave there? Probably don’t recognize you with all that weight you lost. Lost eight pounds over the summer, hardly recognizable. Nate Salley, A.J. Hawk and Nick Mangold, elected captains, will spend time with you when we break. Questions?

REPORTER: How’s Justin Zwick doing?

TRESSEL: He’s doing well. He missed probably five or six days of the two-a-day time, but not all of those days were two-a-days, with the new rules and so forth. He’s ready to go and running around and anxious to lead the football team.

REPORTER: A hundred percent, would you say?

TRESSEL: Let’s say 97. I don’t know. He’s pretty good.

REPORTER: Will Boeckman play in the first game? Do you plan to play him?

TRESSEL: That’s our plans. It’s just Tuesday, so I couldn’t go much beyond that, but our plans are to — we’d like to play, especially early in the year, more than one guy. We like to do that in a lot of positions.

REPORTER: How much does Justin’s playing time down the road depend on how he does Saturday? I mean, how dependent is that?

TRESSEL: Well, I would think that if I’m a guy going out and playing on Saturday that I’m assuming my future playing depends largely on what I do Saturday because we’ve got a lot of good guys, and if I don’t do well, I know they’re going to give this guy a chance. So I would say it depends largely. But it does for Rob and it does for everybody.

REPORTER: You mentioned Shane, he said he was in senior camp here, I guess, and finished in ’84, played in the Shoe for Newark Catholic and you were the quarterback coach here. He didn’t end up here. He still had a question about that.

TRESSEL: That concerns me a little bit.

REPORTER: He said, I just didn’t end up there.

TRESSEL: Right, I left for Youngstown. I don’t know what happened. I’m not sure. All I know is, you know how most things work out, he went on and had a great career over at N.C. State and got into the coaching profession, and here he is the head coach at Miami at age, I don’t know what, 30 something, and so it worked out.

REPORTER: There’s been so much talk nationally and locally about game two, the Texas game. How comfortable are you with this group of guys and veterans that you have that that’s not on their mind before the game against Miami?

TRESSEL: Well, I haven’t heard them talk about it. I haven’t walked through the locker room and heard anyone talking about game two, not talking about today’s practice or game one. I’m confident that this group knows how fast it’s going. You know, you have four captains sitting up there. All four of them are true seniors, and it went fast. It just seems like yesterday they were here and you were interviewing them and how was it going to be and now all of a sudden they’ve got 11 chances left for sure to play at Ohio State, so I’m pretty certain with our leadership, understanding how sacred every opportunity is, that usually from your leadership, it trickles down, so I’m very confident that they’re going to embrace September 3rd.

REPORTER: How many runningbacks would you use? Would you anticipate that everybody gets a shot at it on Saturday?

TRESSEL: I would anticipate that Antonio Pittman and Brandon Schnittker would get the first run at it, Maurice Wells will get some opportunities. And both Shaun Lane and Erik Haw have shown us that they’ve got some ability as well. So how many will we play, I couldn’t promise you. I would say three or more.

REPORTER: What do you have to say about the left tackle?

TRESSEL: A left tackle? You know what, Rob and Nick might answer that better than I. What are we doing there? Rob, I guess right now they’re both capable of the job. They’ll both play. Who will play the first play and all that stuff, I don’t know.

REPORTER: What’s your philosophy on early season games, how much do you show these nonconference opponents? Can you afford to think that way or how do you go into that?

TRESSEL: The thing with early season games, I think you have to be a little careful because you had 15 practices in the spring to evolve, then you had 29 in the preseason to evolve and you wanted to show the defense this and we wanted to practice that and we wanted to get this in the repertoire. Now, I think you have to go back to game one and say, what are we doing well, number one, and what is the best stuff against them, number two. So I think sometimes you can err on trying to do too little, saying, hey, okay, we’re not good enough at anything yet, so we go too little. And sometimes we err on, hey, we tried this and looked good, and the jelly bean effect was try this color. You try to come up with that right combination. And then there’s an evolution a little bit. You put this in and you hope then it leads to that, you know, and so forth. So that’s the trick of a first game, I think.

REPORTER: Is there any element of trying to not show everything you have so that, say, Texas or the next big opponent doesn’t see all that?

TRESSEL: You know, I don’t know that you would ever do that at the expense of doing well at the moment. You’re going to do what you have to do today. We’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

REPORTER: There were fans last year that wanted to see you put it in Ted Ginn’s hands more often and you said that you really wanted to exploit that if you at all could, as much as possible. Most of the offensive players have said they don’t really see any change, though, in the offensive approach. Will you give him the ball more often on offense?

TRESSEL: I don’t know that it will be much more than he did — I don’t know how many touches he had in the last game. So it probably won’t be more than that.

REPORTER: Could you elaborate, though? Add a little bit maybe. Is this something that’s been a goal of yours, to try to get him the ball more often?

TRESSEL: We like to get it to those fast guys. We’ve got lots of fast guys, though. Would you like me to give you the game plan, because it’s right in there on the board. We could bring that in.

REPORTER: You talked about Miami’s defense. Would you talk a little bit about what they like to do and kind of the match-ups we might see on Saturday.

TRESSEL: Miami is going to make sure that you have to pass it. They’re going to put nine guys in the box if they can, eight guys for sure. They’re going to lock up on your receivers and make you earn every yard that you get. They’re not a high blitz team, but they blitz enough that you better be good at the stuff you do against the blitz. Good speed. Whenever you look at the defense and say, can they run, they’ve got a chance. And they’ve got some new guys on the front that we haven’t seen as much of. Their linebackers are back. The one excellent corner graduated and the other great corner is back. The safety, the kid that started, I think, three or four games at safety, I understand may be playing corner, so you have to get out and spar a little bit. They’re going to play a four-three defense and they’re going to come at you, as far as we know. It’s a new staff. That’s what we know.

REPORTER: You alluded to Robinson, could that be one of the great match-ups in the game, Ginn against Robinson in the punt return game?

TRESSEL: Robinson, we’ve watched him, I don’t know if he had five returns plus two or three called back. He had one called back against Michigan. He had another one down to the five yard line against Michigan. He’s a great punt returner and we better do it. To me, this is like facing Teddy Ginn or Steve Breston, or any of those guys like that. He’s good.

REPORTER: A couple of the surprise names reading the two deep, talk about what happened to him, Brandon Smith at tight end and John Kerr, linebacker, what they did to move up the ladder a little bit this fall.

TRESSEL: John Kerr, we think, has been showing us for a couple years that he’s a football player. He’s worked his way into that two deep and he just enjoys it. He’s competitive. He loves the game. He loves to hit people and I’m excited for him that he’s getting to get out there. Brandon Smith is a guy that — there were some injuries there at tight end and he was playing linebacker in an area where we felt we had enough depth, moved him over to tight end, and I think he’s been outstanding. I think he’s done a great job. We’ve also got that surprise tight end in Bobby Carpenter that you know about too, so we can sneak Bobby in there, too.

REPORTER: Is that a serious move? Will people see him at tight end this year?

TRESSEL: Bobby Carpenter? Yeah. Good tight end.

REPORTER: What stands out about the way he’s played then?

TRESSEL: Well, he’s quick, he’s physical. He knows how to block. He’s smart. You could — I heard someone say yesterday in a staff meeting that if he wanted to, he would know the play book in a half hour. That’s just the kind of football player he is.

REPORTER: I guess going back against Purdue, you ran some options, will you run the same offense with Justin or are there some things you’ll have to hold back?

TRESSEL: Option is part of who we are, so we’ll run option.

REPORTER: How about overall scheme, anything?

TRESSEL: No, not much different. In fact, I was just on the Big Ten conference call and that was the question, how much will it be different. And we really like to think that we’re in an evolution stage on all phases of the game, offense, defense, special teams, but offensively, we’re trying to figure out what we do best and who we can get the ball to, and you mentioned getting it to Teddy and Santonio and Pittman and on and on, getting it to Gonzalez and Pittman. It’s about the offense. It’s not about one guy.

REPORTER: In terms of how you prepare your team mentally, what’s the effect on this team’s record with their competition since 1921?

TRESSEL: What’s the effect?

REPORTER: In terms of how you prepare your guys mentally, going against this competition —

TRESSEL: I’m not sure any of our guys know that statistic, but they do know that we’re playing an in-state team in 2005 here, and if you want to be extraordinary, you better be state champs first, I guess, but we haven’t really talked about that.

REPORTER: Did Jamario and Jenkins exceed expectations?

TRESSEL: I think Malcolm Jenkins and Nate can answer this better, kind of turned heads early as we were out there. Even in the summertime, I heard one of the kids say he was out there playing seven on seven with them, Donte told me that he really impressed them that night and Jamario was an excellent athlete and started at corner a little bit I think for a few days and moved to safety and played some nickel for us and both of those guys have done a nice job. We’re really happy with all five of those guys, Andre Amos, I think, is going to be a good young guy. Anderson Russell, I love the way he competes. Donald Washington, I think, is going to be a good player, but probably the two that will play, I would say for certain Saturday, unless something comes up as we prepare this week, would be those two. And maybe Andre Amos might be the next one that’s on the bubble as to whether he plays or not this week.

REPORTER: Do you have a handle on how many of your incoming freshmen besides those two that we’ll probably see on the field on Saturday?

TRESSEL: Well, I guess you could start on the D line. Lawrence Wilson for sure will. Todd Denlinger and Doug Worthington are probably on the bubble as to whether they will or won’t. Linebacker-wise, I’d say it will be close there with Laurinaitis and Spitler, not sure if they will or won’t. Today we’re into the bulk of the work. You mentioned secondary. Receiver-wise, Robiskie has been very good in our eyes and so has Hartline. Whether they play or not, I think running back-wise will — Alex Boone, I think is in that two deep for sure. I don’t know. Again, Rob and Nick can talk a little bit more about that. He’s close. He may have an opportunity. Did I miss anybody there? So, I don’t know, about half of them, I guess, may get into the game.

REPORTER: It took you about seven or eight games last year before you figured out what you could do best. How much more comfortable are you now than you were maybe a year ago at this time?

TRESSEL: A year ago at this time we hadn’t had many opportunities to look at guys in games that were going to be on the field, most especially the quarterbacks, they hadn’t been there at all. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to see a lot of these guys in games. In fact, I don’t know that there’s anybody outside of maybe freshmen that haven’t been in the game playing offense for us. So I feel a lot more comfortable feeling like we’re knowing where we can go.

REPORTER: You mentioned Haw fourth in your progression of tailbacks, is that just because he’s stuck behind those guys or —

TRESSEL: No, I was talking about strictly football performance.

REPORTER: So he doesn’t have a suspension hanging over him?

TRESSEL: Not at this point.

REPORTER: Will people notice much this Saturday compared to last year or will it look similar to a year ago?

TRESSEL: I think it will look similar to a year ago.

REPORTER: With everything Justin’s gone through, all the ups and downs, what changes or growth have you seen in him over the years?

TRESSEL: I think Justin has got an air of, hey, I know I can get this done. I’ve had opportunities. I’ve learned from my opportunities, and I was out for a while and then I had another opportunity, and so I think there is just a little bit more deep-down confidence. You know, which you need in life. You have to experience things before you really know that you can handle it. A lot of times we walk into things saying, oh, yeah, I can do that. Then you experience it and it’s a little different than you thought and you learn from it. So I think he’s just further along.

REPORTER: What has he shown you on the field this year that makes him a good quarterback?

TRESSEL: I thought Justin was having a lot of really good practices right before he turned the ankle. And that’s a shame. You just hate for guys to miss practice. Because in the course of a preseason, you can see guys improve by the day. He knows what we’re doing. He’s smart as can be. I thought he was really getting comfortable throwing the football around and doing what we were doing. Then you have a little detour with an injury and you rehab and go through it and try to stay in it mentally, which he did, and now he’s back at it.

REPORTER: Is he too laid back?

TRESSEL: Is he too laid back?

REPORTER: He seems like he’s really easy going, especially for that position.

TRESSEL: I’ve seen all kinds. Scotty McMullen was pretty laid back. Some guys are fiery. Some guys, I don’t know that you ask them to be a certain way.

REPORTER: Coach Tressel, can you talk about Pitcock and some of the problems he gives an offensive line. Is he low to the ground set up when he comes off the ball?

TRESSEL: Yeah, Quinn Pitcock has great explosion. He’s a physical guy. He’s smart. The play that still I sit and shake my head about is the fake field goal against Oklahoma State that we had practiced once, the fact that he was from inside, he had to loop out and cover the fake on a field goal and he ran the thing down about 40 yards to the side at 300 pounds, you know. But he’s disciplined. That’s him. You tell him once, he does it. And he’s physical to boot and he’s just an outstanding player.

REPORTER: We were talking to Gary Danielson after that ESPN deal and he described what’s coming up in this quarterback situation could be a complicated deal because you’ve got two guys that started last year, a guy coming off of suspension going into the Texas game. How would you describe it from where you all are sitting, coaches, about what’s coming, because clearly there’s a decision probably coming or how would you describe it?

TRESSEL: Well, it’s the farthest thing from complicated right now because Troy’s not playing this week and we’re playing Miami, so it’s uncomplicated. Referring to what goes after that, just like anything, you deal with what goes after that at that time. Have I given much thought to that, no, because Miami of Ohio is who deserves my thought, and so forth. I don’t know exactly what complicated means, from his reference point, but there’s no complication now in my mind.

REPORTER: For example, in history, you pretty much have been a one-quarterback guy.

TRESSEL: In history?

REPORTER: Yeah, with a few exceptions.

TRESSEL: Okay.

REPORTER: Do you still want to be a one-quarterback guy six games into the season, I guess?

TRESSEL: You know, A.J. Hawk taught me something a long time ago, he said, if it ain’t broke, break it. Even if you’ve been doing something, just because you’ve been doing it, don’t do it for that reason, so I’m not so sure that history will repeat itself but, again, we’ll have to see.

REPORTER: (Inaudible question.)

TRESSEL: It was a great experience, I learned a lot. It was only the second place I’ve ever been. I think you learn a lot the second place you’ve been because the first place you think that’s the only way that it’s ever done. All of a sudden, you get somewhere and it’s different. I still remain in very close contact with Coach Reid. In fact, he’s not in the coaching world now, he’s in the business world. He comes up and works our youth camp and has gotten to know some of our guys and is just a wonderful guy. Two great learning years.

REPORTER: Would you talk about two key positions you haven’t addressed and that’s place kicking and punter. You’re confident going into this that those are big shoes to fill, obviously, what do you think about how Josh’s August has been?

TRESSEL: I think Josh Huston’s August has been solid. I think Ryan Pretorius’s August has been solid. I wouldn’t say either has been extraordinary, we’ve been kind of spoiled with extraordinary around here when it comes to the place kicking, but I feel good about those guys. A. J. Trapasso, I think his August has been very good. I’m not so sure that we’re as solid at the number two spot there as we are at kicker, and I think Ryan Pretorius at a two is plenty solid. I think John Thoma and Tyson Gentry still have a long way to go as a two punter, and I don’t think you can have this discussion without mentioning Kyle Andrews. Drew Norman has done a good job and, again, I think in that second spot, I think we need to get more consistent, Matt Drummelsmith and Dimitrios Makridis are working hard and I think they’re getting better, but those three positions, kicker, punter, long snapper, we need to get out and get some games and learn some lessons.

REPORTER: Coach, Ryan said you wanted him to wear number 85 and he’s kind of had an interesting story of getting on an airplane and traveling around the world. Can you talk a little bit about him? When you hear the accent, you know right away he’s not a normal Buckeye.

TRESSEL: Ryan is a great young man and he’s 25, 26 years old and walked into the Woody Hayes one day and wanted to come to Ohio State and said he could kick the ball and wanted to walk on, and the rest is kind of history. He’s worked his way through. He’s starting to gain confidence. What I appreciate about him is he roots as hard for Josh Huston as he does for Ryan Pretorius. If you have teammates like that, I think you have a good chance. I think Ryan Pretorius is going to be a good kicker some day.

REPORTER: Coach, the MAC, they pull the upset every year and now they’ve earned this respect. Are you — the scares that Ohio State has had the last several years, would that help maybe in keeping the focus on these in-state, what people refer to as walk-over games, earn this respect for the giant killers?

TRESSEL: I think college football has evolved. You went from unlimited scholarships to 105 to 95 and then to 85 ten years ago. I think it’s real. There’s just lots of good football players on lots of teams in lots of different leagues. And with the advent of the way you can teach and learn the game, every football team knows how to play the game and you better understand that you better do the things in the game that it takes to win, whether it’s an in-state person or a person from this league, or that league or your rival is going to beat you if you don’t do the things you need to do to win. And that’s what we try to focus on is what do we need to do to win the football game against Miami of Ohio, against Michigan, from one end to the other. And so I think our guys focus on that and have respect for everyone they play.

REPORTER: What do you think of the alliance the Big Ten basically announced a month ago about wanting to schedule MAC, what’s your feeling on that?

TRESSEL: It’s a good partnership for a lot of reasons, proximity, interest, the fact that it’s not a secret to anyone that a lot of this was done from financial reasons, teams needing more home games like we do, because we sponsor 36 sports, teams from conferences needing to get some guarantee games because they might sponsor 21 sports and their income isn’t quite good enough to do so. I think there’s even some two-for-ones going on and so forth between the Big Ten and some of the Mid America teams, so it’s a good partnership and it’s been a pretty good partnership for years because philosophically, academically, we’re on the same wavelength and we’re in the same regional area.

REPORTER: Would you ever consider playing these schools at their site as a head coach?

TRESSEL: Well, I would think the discussion wouldn’t come up because of the finances, what we’re able to make in a home game here, I don’t know that they’d be able to pay in a guarantee. So I just think it wouldn’t financially even be discussed.

REPORTER: Gene Smith said about a week ago that he’s pretty close to announcing three teams, your 12th opponent for the next three years.

TRESSEL: It should be any day now. We’re waiting for the contracts to come back, but they’ve been mailed. We’re going to make a joint announcement between ourselves and three or four other schools and we should be in pretty good shape for ’06, 7, and 8.

REPORTER: Those are all in-state teams, correct? Youngstown State is on board?

TRESSEL: Might be.

REPORTER: Do you want to mention the others?

TRESSEL: I didn’t mention the first one.

REPORTER: Can you keep a same conservative approach with Josh as you did with Mike?

TRESSEL: That will never change. I don’t call that a conservative approach, telling the quarterback, we’re down inside the 35, don’t make a mistake. I mean, that’s — from an emotional standpoint on a football team, there’s no — other than maybe a punt return or something, there’s not much more that can swing the flow of a game than if you’re going down in and they on defense come up with a turnover. That’s a huge turnaround and sometimes it’s a 10-point swing. It could be a 14-point swing. So we’ll never change that thinking.

REPORTER: How comfortable can you be in Josh, knowing that he needs to prove himself like Mike?

TRESSEL: He can make distance an issue. We won’t change our philosophy from that standpoint.

REPORTER: Back to Justin real quick. How much — it’s not often that you get a second chance, you rarely get a third. You mentioned earlier that performance is indicative of future playing time. With that in mind, how much pressure is on him to perform well to stay in the mix?

TRESSEL: I don’t know that at this stage in Justin’s career at his maturity level, going into his fourth season and that type of thing, if those kinds of thoughts run through his head, maybe like they do when you’re a second-year guy, because sometimes when you’re a second-year guy, you think, if I don’t do it right now, it may never happen again in my life. You know when you’re a fourth-year guy, you’ve seen umpteen situations of guys at every position that have been doing very, very well, and then didn’t or never you heard from again or maybe had some problems or you thought you might not hear from them again and here they are playing great football. So I think you put all that aside when you’re a little more mature, which I think he is.

REPORTER: Can the linebacking corps be the heart of the team?

TRESSEL: The neat thing about position groups is if you have extraordinary productivity, you can certainly make an impact on your team and get team confidence. And by the way — especially out there by the way they hit people and so forth, I think they can be a great catalyst. The heart of the team? A great team doesn’t have a V heart. A great team has got extraordinary numbers of hearts doing great things. Our linebackers have, over the course of time, and I am confident will provide a tremendous spark and be a great catalyst at times. There’s going to be a time when Nate Salley has got to jump up and intercept it. There’s going to be a time when Teddy Ginn has got to score. Our linebackers will do a great job. Is that Marla’s final question? Lori Walker, do you have a question?

REPORTER: I don’t have a question, Coach.

TRESSEL: Any questions for Lori?

REPORTER: What’s the likelihood of —

TRESSEL: He’s ignoring Marla’s last question. I don’t want my guys to miss — one last question, Doug, you can be the new Marla.

REPORTER: I wondered the likelihood of Ted playing defense on Saturday.

TRESSEL: The likelihood of Ted Ginn playing defense on Saturday? Slim.