Oct. 11, 2005
TRESSEL: Well, we’ve outlined a number of times what it takes to go on the road and win big games and we always lead with that thought of we need something big to happen in our special teams, something special to happen in our special teams, and outside of our punt unit, which was very good –A.J. Trapasso, in fact, was the special units player of the week and he averaged over 43 yards a punt and we were 42.9 net. Outside of our punt unit, we really did not make anything happen from the special team standpoint, and you can kind of look at the special team as a draw at best and we — we don’t feel as if that’s a good beginning to what it takes to — to win on the road.
We always talk about you need to play relentless defense and do a great job and not give your opponents, when they’re playing at home, great reason for raising the electricity level and everything else that’s already naturally in place, and I thought our defense did an excellent job, playing relentless and played hard. Quite honestly, I thought we could hold them to two touchdowns or less going into the game and, really, had we not handed them the ball on the one and a half yard line, I think that would have been true.
As I listened to the defensive coaches and the defensive players talk a little bit, they feel as if we could have tackled a little bit better, you know, not that we’re sitting here saying we have poor tackling, but our guys set a high standard for themselves, and the other thing that’s very obvious is if you go on the road, if you want to have a chance to win, you’ve got to win the turnover margin and that takes two sides of the ball and we didn’t come up with that turnover, that one or two turnovers that perhaps could have given us the chance with the short field.
And, of course, you always have to finish your formula with the fact that you need to be mistake free on offense and, again, throwing an interception that allows them to go all the way to the one and a half yard line, you know, can — can be deadly for you and — and we ended up with two turnovers, which we were not mistake free, we were not mistake free all the time on protection, all the time on decision making, all the time, I’m sure, on play calling, all the time on any of the things we felt like we needed to do, you know, from an offensive football team and the other thing is you have to be opportunistic and take advantage of every good field position. The first good field position we got and we did take advantage, I think we got it on our own 40 or thereabouts, our own 38, and went down and got three points. And the next scoring drive in the second quarter was a longer drive, but we had some opportunities in between our own 30 and own 40, you know, only starting 60 plus yards away and did not take advantage of those opportunities to move into scoring range and, you know, therefore, we come up on the short end of the 17-10 football game. Penn State’s a good team. You know, we knew it going in. We knew we had to play an outstanding football game to make sure that we’d come up with a win there and we did not do that in all cases. We didn’t have quite as many guys grade consistently. We didn’t have, as I mentioned, those special units which had we won would have been awarded with those unit awards we give from a Buckeye leaf standpoint and we just simply didn’t do what it takes to win a good football game against an excellent team and, you know, that’s — that’s the reality and that’s the facts of it and, you know, the obvious question is, well, what do you do now and that’s the obvious question that you ask every day, whether it has anything to do with the football or life or whatever, and — and I think the solution to that is, you know, we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get better with what we’re asking our people to do, we’ve got to get better with how well we’re doing it. Perhaps, you know, the question a number of times just now on the Big Ten conference call is are we featuring well enough what our guys can possibly do and you have to evaluate those things and — and answer that question and answer the whys and the wherefores, and in a lot of ways, that’s the fun of doing what you do is trying to figure out a way to get better, and we have to — or we get to do it against an excellent football team in Michigan State.
Michigan State does a great job in a lot of phases. You know, I think the heartbeat, in some ways, of our group is that quarterback Stanton that does a great job throwing the ball and an excellent job running the football. He has a great grasp of what they’re trying to accomplish. They’re very diverse on the offensive side. They’ve got two or three runningbacks that play significantly and contribute a great deal. They have four or five receivers and I don’t think they have anyone that’s going to end up an 80- or 90-catch guy, but they have a bunch of them that are going to end up 50-catch people, and their offensive line is very solid at what they do. Defensively, very skillful, very big, very physical. I think they run well. They’re going to make you both run and pass, because they’re going to make sure they have enough folks up that are going to make it hard for you to have enough blockers in your running game and they’re going to put a lot of pressure on you in your pass game and try to do a good job of matching up and doubling who needs to be doubled and playing inside, outside, who needs to be handled according to what you’re doing. And then in their special teams, a little unorthodox with their punt game, you remember a year ago they did that rugby punt when they were on the run and they tried to dribble it down the side line and then their other punter would come in and he would try to hit it deep and so forth. They’re kind of somewhere in between right now. They’re only going with one punter, Fields, and he’s doing kind of a combination of both those things. He does not want to hit the ball up in the air to you. He doesn’t want you to be able to field the ball cleanly, he wants the ball rolling down the field. The up side to that for the punt cover team is sometimes it’s hard to get the handle on the ball. The down side is if you happen to get a great hop, then all of a sudden there is no hang time, so it’s a little unorthodox and a little bit different from that standpoint.
They struggled a little bit from a kicking standpoint, with some missed field goals but I’m sure, you know, they’ll be working on that just like anyone works on the things that they need to get better at and their return units, Kyle Brown is very dangerous, one of their great receivers. One of their corners, Number 9, does a good job on their kickoff returns, so we’re facing a very good Big Ten football team, which we need to do the things better than we’ve done them in the last week, better than we’ve done them in two of our five games in order to be successful against the good Michigan State team, and I think our guys will go to work on that and do a good job from a mentality, attitude standpoint, because I think they want to be a good football team. I know our coaches want to be a good football staff and, you know, that’s the fun of finding out just how good you can be. Questions?
REPORTER: Jim Bollman’s taking some hits this week from people who have done — for a variety of reasons, can you just kind of define for us because I don’t think any of us are really clear on what his role is other than the title of offensive coordinator, what his role is, what your role is in terms of personnel and play calling, can you just kind of elaborate on that.
TRESSEL: Yeah, what we do offensively I think is probably similar to what we do defensively and that’s, you know, we have X number of people in the staff room and people work with positions individually. Staffs work collectively — for instance, Joe Daniels and Darrell Hazell work very well together on how do people attack us secondary-wise. Jim Bollman, John Peterson, and Dick Tressel work hard on how are we going to protect when it comes to the run game, everyone’s involved, because the quarterback has to decide what run we need to get out of if we’ve made a poor selection from the sideline, and the linemen have to handle the fronts. And really a lot of our decisions on the line of scrimmage are made at the center position. Most of our decisions are made from a what are we going to attack with, from the week’s preparation and then you say, okay, as we get into the game, what are they doing differently. What are they showing us that we haven’t seen. Take Penn State, for instance, or, really, Iowa, too, in the last two weeks, we’ve basically gotten what we expected. We — we’ve got the fronts and the coverages and got blitzed when we thought we’d get blitzed, so you go in and design what you think is the best thing against those situations and then, you know, you have your sheets made such that according to what’s going on in the game down distance, field position, you know, all the rest, as to what needs to be called and all of us are on the phone together, you know, and the guys that have the best vantage point are the guys that get to sit there and kind of look from above and then the guys that are responsible for the communication are the ones from down below, whether it’s signal communication, verbal communication, whatever it happens to be and that’s the way you attack it.
REPORTER: You talked about your role, I know you’re involved in offense, do you have veto power on play calls?
TRESSEL: Oh, sure. I have veto power on whether we’re going to go block the punt or whether we’re gonna — you know, the only thing I don’t get real involved with is if the defense is talking amongst themselves and are we going to blitz this down or are we not, you know, I don’t feel as if I’ve spent enough time in their shoes and in their meeting room, but I have in the special units and I have in the offense, and — absolutely.
REPORTER: One last question on the same lines, there are some coaches who have intimate knowledge and are involved in the offense. Some in the defense and some are like overseers who don’t really involve themselves in one side or the other. Would there ever be a point where you think maybe you might need to be more objective to stand back a little bit or is this something —
TRESSEL: So you’re questioning my intimate knowledge, is that the way I heard the question?
REPORTER: Just wondering about your motivation, wondering whether there might ever be a time you might be an overseeing more so than being intimately involved in one side of the ball.
TRESSEL: I think that’s a discussion you have at times, and — but, you know, I’m not sure that that would interest me. Now, you know, we’ll see, but I like being involved.
REPORTER: The expectation for your offense was it would be a high scoring, somewhat explosive offense. You’re last in the league in total offense right now. I wonder, do you have a short answer to that? Does it start with blocking? Have you been as dominant to the degree you need to be up front to be successful offensively, whether you’re running a spread or the I or whatever, problems on offense, I guess, start with the performance up front?
TRESSEL: I would say — I think I heard the question, is there a short answer to it? You know, I don’t believe. If there were, I hope I could, along with the rest of the coaches, see what that short answer is and — and solve that particular answer. You know, I think offensive football, especially when you’re playing against good defensive teams, you know, inevitably, that ability to have 11 guys getting things done, you know, perfectly is more difficult. Going into the game against Penn State, did I foresee that we would score 42 points or going into the season, you know — the expectations of whatever you brought up were, I don’t remember espousing those that against Penn State we’ll probably be able to score 42 points, that kind of thing. The thing that we talk a lot about on all of our units is doing what we can do to help the team win. And I’m not sure that, you know, we were going to score 42 points. Am I disappointed we scored 10? Absolutely. You know, I really felt like we could score 21, 24 points and I really thought that our defense would do a great job of holding them to what their goal is. You know, our goal is to score 24 points or more. And whenever we talk about goals, we talk about against the best competition. You know, not — you know, piling all the statistics from, you know, 20 years together or whatever, but against the best competition, you know, we’ve found that if we can score 24 points and our defense can reach their goal is let 14 points or less, we have a good chance to win. And ultimately, that’s our goal. Our goal isn’t to be, I guess, knighted as a prolific — or I don’t know what the superlatives that you’re using, you have to talk so much more now that you’ve been reading the dictionary, you know, but I don’t know that we’ve ever sought that, we just want to do our part to help the team win.
REPORTER: Are you contemplating a change in quarterback this week?
TRESSEL: No. There’s a short answer.
REPORTER: Why wouldn’t your goal to be to score as many points as possible?
TRESSEL: It is. 24 or more. Not 24. I’m sorry if I mislead you. We enjoyed scoring 31 in our first Big Ten game and wish it would have been 38, that would have been wonderful, but we met our goal. I think if you look in the last — I know our people study this, but I think in the last 15 years at Ohio State, if you score 24 points or more, you win like 96 percent of your games. And I know that’s not our goal, our goal is to win 1 hundred percent of them, but I think it’s a realistic thank you say 24 or more.
REPORTER: Coach, there has been talk about Ted Ginn looking at tentative, one, is there any validity to that and, two, if there is — if there isn’t, how much does it bother you to hear that criticism from your star players?
TRESSEL: I don’t see hesitance, I see a guy who wants to help whatever he can do to help his team win. So does it bother you that there’s that criticism? Sure. But it bothers me that, you know, before we play a game, someone says either we’re going to be something or an individual player’s going to be something, you’re not something until we do that, you know, and so, yeah, it bothers you that, you know, he might be criticized and does that mean I think he’s been perfect? No. No. But I think, you know, Ted Ginn has done an excellent job for us, he competes, he’s a great team mate, he works hard in practice, and I feel great about Ted Ginn.
REPORTER: Do you see a difference in his performance this year as compared to last year?
TRESSEL: Yeah, he’s playing a lot more. You know, instead of playing 20 plays a game, he’s playing 60. He hasn’t got four punt returns for touchdowns and three reverses for big yards, you know, various things, but, you know, I’d like to think he will.
REPORTER: Troy was fairly self-critical after the game, talking about his reads and some of the things he didn’t do. Penn State’s players also mentioned that he might have been locking in on the receivers. What areas does he need to show the most improvement in?
TRESSEL: I think consistency, and that’s the most difficult thing, when you play that position, because I sit in my office or I sit with the offensive staff or with Darrell Hazell and Joe and you watch films and click it back and back and back and, gosh, he should have done this. And that picture was taken from the top of Ohio Stadium or Beaver Stadium and I got to play it back four times and in 3.1 seconds, you know, making that decision and so forth, we’ve got to get better at that. And I think — I think that’s a compliment, what you said, was that he’s self-critical, I think that’s a compliment to him, because he wants to be, you know, what this team needs him to be, and he really believes that there will be some days where we are prolific or, whatever, and then there are other days where we do just what we have to do to win and feel good about that. And there’s going to be days where, you know what, we didn’t do our part, and I know that’s the way we as coaches feel, you know what, we didn’t do our part. I know that’s the way Troy feels. I know as you ask A.J. Hawk, he’ll tell you, you know what, I didn’t tackle as well as I needed to do for us to win that game and if you have those kind of people, have you a chance. If you have the kind of people that say, hey, we should have done this or that guy should have done that, you know, then I think you — you know, are in trouble and, again, just like I said, I feel good about Ted Ginn, I feel good about all of our guys.
REPORTER: Did he play like a guy who had only started eight games, though? Is Troy — is he still a growing quarterback?
TRESSEL: Yeah, without a doubt. You know, I think if you analyze his performance, and he probably graded a touch less than — than maybe he has recently, I think you’d have to start making the list of the factors, you know, one of them might be Penn State. One of them might be maybe what we didn’t design properly for them, wasn’t the right thing, or maybe we didn’t rep something enough, or maybe he allowed himself to be distracted and look at something else or maybe the protection or — you know, you can usually list a healthy list of things when things don’t go right and, you know, then you go to work on them, and that’s — that’s what this is about.
REPORTER: Regarding Troy, I think after the San Diego State game, you mentioned that — didn’t go through his progression as well as you wanted to, if I’m right on that, I wonder if you could rate him in that area Saturday night. Did he go through his progressions to your satisfaction or did he — did he not?
TRESSEL: You know, I think — not as well as we needed, you know, and I don’t mean to — I’m not throwing him under the bus — it was brought out he was self-critical, and — just like I don’t know that we as an offensive staff planned exactly as we needed. You bring up San Diego State. I thought San Diego State came and flew around and put pressure from crazy angles and so forth, and allowed us to get distracted a little bit. In the Iowa game, as you recall, that was a pretty base look, protection was outstanding, the things that we planned were there and, you know, the progression was good and the decisions were pretty solid for the most part. You know, Penn State brings pressure. Penn State’s a good defense. It’s going to be harder in that scenario to be as good as the decision-maker as it is maybe in the scenario two weeks earlier, but we’ve got — if you want to be the champion, which is our goal, you have to be good in all scenarios and that’s where we need to get.
REPORTER: Coach, is it hard to —
TRESSEL: My neck’s getting sore, these guys never ask questions — well, yes, 12. I was just getting worked out of that first 12-question barrage.
REPORTER: When designing an offensive plan, is it difficult to design a plan where you want to maybe be a good play offense and go for big plays and also be an offense that can move the chains down the field consistently. Is that where the things are getting loss, the one ball that was over thrown to Santonio, are you designing things around trying to consistently moving the chains for first downs or more about hitting big plays.
TRESSEL: The magic is trying to be able to do all those things. I have not seen USC for instance, this year, but in having watched them a little bit last year but what I thought they had the ability to do, they had the ability to have a power run game, they had the ability to have the quick hitting run game, they had the ability to throw the quick pass or the home run pass and had really good balance, and you’re going to have a better chance to hit some of those home runs if you’re so good running the ball they’ve got to drop two safeties into the box and all of a sudden you’re manned up. But that’s what you’re shooting for, you know, is to be a balanced group and, you know, we talk about two weekends ago we showed good balance, we ran well, all of a sudden we passed well, and so forth and we didn’t get that done. Is it because we weren’t imaginative enough, I don’t know, was it because we were too imaginative? I don’t know. That’s what you have to try to analyze and we would like to be — I think Antonio Pittman, who was our offensive player of the week, I think every day he’s getting better and I really think he’s going to become, you know, something, and — so we’ve — you know, I think we have the makings of being that balanced team that we want to be. I’d rather be stronger at the second runningback position, you know, than we are right now, more productive, more complete. Where I think Antonio Pittman’s coming along, excellent receiver, good pass pro guy, got a holding call, but it was at the right spot, doing the right thing and guy made a nice move and he happened to care enough about it that he grabbed on to him, he didn’t want him to hit his quarterback, it wasn’t the thing we needed but we need to get there with the second back, but we have a chance, I think, to — to become that group that can do all those things that you talked about.
REPORTER: Will you change up that second runningback? Will there be some personnel changes to have maybe more consistent running game or a running game in general?
TRESSEL: I don’t know that there will be a change up right now beyond we think Brandon Schnittker and Mo Wells give us the best combination as the second back at this moment, if that’s what you meant by change.
REPORTER: Yeah, that’s what I meant.
TRESSEL: This isn’t the last question is it.
REPORTER: No. Going back to Ginn, seeing him running sideways, would you call that (inaudible).
TRESSEL: I guess I read the question of hesitancy in reference to wide receiver play. Am I —
TRESSEL: Are you talking about as a return man?
REPORTER: No, just overall.
TRESSEL: I think Ted is the guy who believes he can find a way to hit the home run and he did, you know, he hit the home run many times. He didn’t Saturday, but I think sometimes that that’s the risk you take a little bit, you know, to hit home runs is cut back and, you know, that type of thing and — so I don’t know if I call that hesitancy. For him, it’s almost like he’s trying to make a big play. To me, hesitancy is you go up and you stop. You know, he doesn’t stop. Now, he tries to sidestep and all that and I think we’ve all seen that work. I think there’s a little evidence that — and we’ve seen it not work, but that’s a little bit the result of how good was the coverage.
REPORTER: Do you think, though, he’s lost any confidence?
TRESSEL: You know, that’s a hard thing to tell about an individual’s confidence. He doesn’t practice like it, like he’s lost any. Doesn’t talk like it. You know, he — all he cares about is Ohio State doing well, and that’s what I love about him. I mean, to me, if I had to pick one thing about Ted Ginn, is he cares about Ohio State. And that to me is a great start.
REPORTER: After the game you mentioned you were behind the count, in terms of down and distance quite a bit —
TRESSEL: We had a couple penalties and we had a couple, you know — I think our first down consistency was — I want to say 40 percent, and we think against good teams, you know, where it’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out, if you can be 54 percent consistent, getting four yards or more on first down, I think we were 40, 42 in that area and then you tack on a couple penalties, but, you know, that makes it more difficult against a good team.
REPORTER: Go back to Iowa, I think you only threw one pass on the first down and obviously you had the game in hand so you didn’t really need to but a trend was established. I don’t think you broke that trend too terribly much against Penn State, late in the game you threw a couple passes on first down, maybe 20 percent of the time you threw on first down, do you feel maybe if you got behind the count because you were too predictable on what you were doing on the first down.
TRESSEL: Maybe. You know, we constantly keep an eye on where we are. The last thing I can remember, I want to say we were 8-4 run pass the last time I can remember asking that question throughout the course of a game, but I can’t swear to that. You know, if we would have gained 7 on that first down run, you know, perhaps like we did two weeks ago. The thing that I like to evaluate is whether we throw six times on first and run nine times, which of those six throws got what we needed and which of those nine runs, and then evaluate what you’re doing and — and you try to do that in the course of the game. You have people, you know, keeping track of those statistics and that type of thing. But, you know, I hope there hasn’t been an inference that we called exactly what should have been called and people were hesitant or people were indecisive, because that’s not the case.
REPORTER: Coach, this group of seniors and a lot of people talked in the summer about, you know, going for a National Championship. I don’t know if the guys that were in this class, the big names we’ve all talked about, how do you perceive their — you know, their mood right now, the fact that they have two losses, the national championship probably obviously not in the cards, but as they kind of — that moxie that they had in the early part of the season and what guys have to step up or do you know will step up to seep keep the focus on winning every Saturday.
TRESSEL: I think the obvious guys, whether it be Hawk, Schlegel, Salley, you know, Everett, that kind of thing, on defense, and Mangold, Simms, Holmes, that kind of thing on the offense, I think need to and will. They want to be as good as they can possibly be. They felt because they were asked many times, hey, do you think you’re capable of being champions? You know, I would have been horrified if they said no. You know, that would have been a terrible start to a race. But, you know, they want to be as good as they can be. They want to be as good as they can be on Saturday. And I have great confidence in them. You know, think about the guys that are in our senior group. They’re — you know, they play a lot of football, they’ve had a lot of ups and downs and I think they’ve handled them, you know, pretty well and I think they’ll handle, you know, this situation well.
REPORTER: Some of your break downs could be contributed to maybe a lack of depth? We saw guys in the spring who were out there on the field making different place and we haven’t seen them at all, Steve Rehring and Kirk Bart ton grow down and kind of disarray on the defensive line. Has your depth kind of betrayed you a little bit. That there are break downs because these guys are having to play 60, 70 plays and you haven’t utilized your depth potentially.
TRESSEL: Well, of course in the spring you’re going to see depth because we’re playing each other, so everybody plays. I think our depth of receiver, you brought up Albert Dukes. I think our depth of receivers with Santonio and Teddy and Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall, I think those four guys, you know, that’s — have been very solid. Offensive line wise, sure we would lover to have — you know, I was looking at last year’s films, Steve Rehring started the Michigan State game. Jimmy Cordle ended the spring, you know, as one of our top eight linemen. Kirk Barton may be one of our best three linemen type of thing, but, you know, we can’t dwell on that. You know, we made two adjustments as we talked about after the game. When Kirk went out, we made the adjustment to move Robby over to tackle and put John Conroy in at guard and the other adjustment was boon at tackle and Robby back at guard, which is probably the way we’ll start but that’s what — going across the land, you know, someone’s missing their left tackle, someone’s missing their strong safety, someone’s missing this or that and, you know, you’ve gotta go. And — but as far as the guys playing in the spring and that, I don’t know that — I — I think that’s a little strong to say that our depth has betrayed us. I don’t know that I’d go it there personally.
REPORTER: What’s Barton’s status at this point?
REPORTER: So you’ve got Boone at right?
REPORTER: When you look at the film, though, how much did that affect you guys Saturday night, Jim, because you all had things going a little bit there in the first —
TRESSEL: Yeah, I think like in most things, you got affected a little bit by this and a little bit by the noise and a little bit by a poor decision, a little bit by maybe a poor design, a little bit by this or that and you didn’t do what you needed to do to win. But I don’t think you ever want to hang your hat on, well, this is the — you know, well, here’s why we lost. As soon as you do that, all of a sudden you haven’t looked in the mirror and said, you know, here’s what we’ve got to do. But, yeah, it’s got a little effect.
REPORTER: How much has Boone — obviously here’s a freshman that’s probably going to start from you. Explain how he’s come along.
TRESSEL: I think Alex Boone is going to be very good. Very natural. He’s picked up things well. It’ll be a challenge for him going against this group because Michigan State’s defensive ends are — one of them’s 300 pounds and, you know, the other one who’s typically to the split end side, you know, isn’t quite 300 pounds but is a — is a heck of an athlete, so it’ll be a great challenge for them, but I think Alex Boone has really come along and he’s met our expectations.
REPORTER: How much does he work at right tackle in practice?
TRESSEL: Not a whole bunch. Not a whole bunch. But back in the day with Coach Bruce, you know, our guys were closed and open and our guys — if you’re a right tackle or you’re the third guy, you’d better have worked a little bit on your foot work and so forth on both sides. I don’t look at that as being a huge thing. Not that I pretend to flow a whole bunch about line play, Jim Lachey’s here, he can speak better on that. I don’t think that’ll be a huge issue.
REPORTER: As far as working freshmen in, are there different positions where it’s easy to work a guy in?
TRESSEL: Where there’s good ones. You know, where they’re ready. We’ve had guys play, you know, many positions, receiver, — Malcolm Jenkins, he’s a good one, you know, and A.J. Hawk was a good one. And — and then there’s some guys — Quinn Pitcock didn’t, but he’s a good one. He could have, probably, but Darien Scott was there and Timmy Anderson was there and there wasn’t, you know, the need for that. So I guess it’s two answers where there’s good ones and where there’s a need.
REPORTER: How insulated are you — I mean, sequestered because it strikes me when you win a big game you should be nominated for sainthood. When you lose a big game, then so-and-so’s got to be fired. Are you struck by the fickleness of the fans or other than our contact do you ever really sense that?
TRESSEL: Well, you know, I learned a long time ago — I’ve been around football longer than some of you have been alive, and I remember learning a long time ago that there’s two things that you don’t listen to: Flattery, which can’t help you, and abuse, which can’t hurt you, and you have to look at the facts. And you can’t, you know, look or listen to either. And if you want to progress. Now, if you want to enjoy the moment and be flattered and, you know, enjoy that, someone with a baseball bat’s waiting for you outside the door, you know, because you’re going to get hit. So I think you — I think you have to — you have to look at what is and try to get better.
REPORTER: Have you sensed any of that this week?
TRESSEL: Abuse or flattery.
REPORTER: Well, how would you — how would you gauge it.
TRESSEL: I don’t know. Like you say, I’m sequestered. You know, the guy cleaning the locker room wasn’t too nice to me on Sunday, but, you know, I mean, no more or less than normal. I mean, quite honestly, I have a worth knot in my stomach when you walk in after Iowa and they tell you everything’s wonderful than they do when you walk in after Penn State and they tell you everything’s awful. Now, either neither are true.
REPORTER: Less trepidation after — after a —
REPORTER: How much though do you — when you go to church on Sunday, when you go to dinner on Monday —
TRESSEL: Well, I go to church if we win — no.
REPORTER: Seriously. How much of your daily life —
TRESSEL: I need to go when we lose, get some help. How much do you hear?
REPORTER: Do you hear.
TRESSEL: Oh, you hear plenty. Whoever invented the Internet, you know, ought to — the e-mail, you know, my poor deleted items box, you know, is — it’s in trouble. But you guys get the same thing when you write an article or you do a — you know, you get 54 opinions. You know, that’s — that’s life.
REPORTER: You guys have the same — that you had last year, still trying to figure out — (inaudible).
TRESSEL: I know what we want to do on offense.
REPORTER: No, last year.
TRESSEL: I was going to say, we’re not trying to figure out what we’re going to do.
REPORTER: That’s what I’m getting at, how much better of a team do you think this is —
TRESSEL: I think we know a little bit more about what we’re capable of doing. You know, I think, you know, we — I’m not sure we were as tuned in, again, because of so many, you know, unknown — you know, we didn’t even know that Ted Ginn was going to progress quite like he did or — you know, Antonio Pittman’s a year older than he was last year. We had great expectations for them last year. Have greater ones at this point in time. So does that mean I feel any better about not being as good as we want to be, no. I don’t feel any worse, you know, but I think you have to go to work. That’s — that’s what it’s about.
REPORTER: Did you spend any time this week kind of building them back up a little bit, just letting them know that they’re not completely out of the Big Ten picture?
TRESSEL: You know, we don’t talk a whole bunch about, you know, what’s going to be in the third week of November. As I’ve said to you before, we talk at the beginning about ultimately what are we — what are our goals? Our goals are to be the national champions, the outright Big Ten champions. Now, that being said, it’s almost, you know — you almost don’t need to say it because that’s why they all came here. Now, let’s go to work today. What have we got to get done today? If we will — if on Sunday we came in and watched the film with the proper objectivity, you know, and we graded the film and if we graded — oh, man, we shouldn’t have gone to this design or shouldn’t have blitzed at this point or oh, man, you know, we were on the 30-yard line, third down and ten, you know, should we have run a quarterback sneak and maybe Josh Huston would have had a 49 yard field goal — no, you go through all those things and hopefully you can do that and hopefully you improve. So now we won’t sit here this afternoon and say do you guys, Michigan’s going to beat Penn State and that guy’s going to beat that guy and we’re right back in that. Forget that, Ohio State is playing Michigan State. That’s the only thing in the world that’s important. And prior to that, the only thing important is today’s practice. And so we won’t change our demeanor, I guess, from what we try to teach.
REPORTER: Will D’Andrea be ready to go Saturday?
TRESSEL: Yeah, D’Andrea will be ready. Where’s your media card?
REPORTER: The Brian times. Your words to Joe Pa after the game?
TRESSEL: A good football team.
REPORTER: Is that what you told him?
TRESSEL: Absolutely. It was a good, tough game and, you know, the thing he mentioned to me right before we got done talking before the game is he said, you know, I’m excited because this is going to be one of those good, tough games. And it was, it was a good, tough game and I congratulated him because they did what you have to do to win.
REPORTER: What jumps out as you in terms of Michigan State — what catches your eye about the challenge you have this week?
TRESSEL: Well depends on which side you’re looking at. I think the diversity on offense, the magnitude of what you have to be ready for. Now, they can only one run play at a time, but the magnitude and diversity of what you have to be ready for. Defensively, I think they’re very athletic and they’ve done a great job designing — knowing how they want to stop the run and how they want to stop the pass and the pressure that they can produce — you know, defense is about putting pressure on people. You know, if you let them just stand there, people are going to throw and catch or hand it off if you don’t have enough guys in the gaps. But they put good pressure on you and have people in the box, have people in the gaps, put pressure on the passer, very athletic. Special teams wise, I think they’re a fast team, you know, and when you’re a fast team and things can happen, you know, as I mentioned they blocked 13 punt coming into this year. That’s — that’s a belief they have, is that they can make a difference in the game if they can block a punt. Then they made a difference in the Notre Dame game when they blocked a punt. You know, and — so I guess that’s what would jump out at me, and they’re extremely well schooled. As we said earlier, I guess it was on the Big Ten call, someone asked about John L. Smith and I coached against John L. Smith in 1993 and I knew then, that guy’s a good coach. You see a guy win like he did at Idaho and win like he did at Louisville, you knew that they were going to be good because, you know, he has some things that they believe in.
REPORTER: What does Stanton have?
TRESSEL: You know, Stanton, I think, has got a little of that swagger about him that, hey, follow me and we’re going to be fine. Just — he just carries himself well. He brings the ability to throw and run, which you better keep track of him, and he’s going to compete even if he has to — you know, dive off the bridge to get the first down, he’s going to do whatever he has to do. And, you know, he’s a fun guy to watch because he loves to compete.
REPORTER: Do you expect to make anything like significant changes to the offensive game plan or the strategy of how you guys go about things on offense.
TRESSEL: Well, what we’d like to plan is significant improvement in executing what we do, and that’s what we’d like to do. If every time, you know, if after Iowa we said, okay, hey, we’re done, shoot, this is it, we’ve got it — we’ve got it going, you know, we’re in trouble. And if after Texas or Penn State you say oh, man scrap what we’re doing, this is no — we’ve got to start over and go to Rusty’s lonesome pole cat or whatever it happens to be, I think both things are in error. I think there has to be constant, you know, improvement on what does that group need to do to help our team win and what are they most capable of doing.
REPORTER: It seemed like in the Iowa game that that was happening.
TRESSEL: That we what I thought we executed well, no question about it.
REPORTER: When you have to look at one thing from Saturday night that just — like you talked about after the game, you all get a couple plays and then someone would blow it up.
REPORTER: Or from the one good drive, 14-play drive right down the field, and the rest of the evening.
TRESSEL: That 14-play drive — and we had four drives that were eight or more plays. It wasn’t like we had 14-play and then the rest were three-and-outs. Our goal was to have four long drives. We think we can control all those goals we have. No one brings up that we lead the league in time of possession, you know, but we’re last in whatever. Let me tell you what the important one is, if you have your pencils out. We’re last in the league in turnover margin. You know, don’t talk to me about the rest. You know, but what did we do that 14-play drive? We were consistent. You know, we consistently did what we had to do. Now, how many were runs and how many were passes, I don’t remember offhand. You know, but — so if you had to say what didn’t we do the rest of the night, we didn’t play as consistently the rest of the night.
REPORTER: What can you do to create more turnovers on defense, are there things you can do disguising your defense differently or how can you get better at defense, you want to stop people but create more.
TRESSEL: That’s an emphasis that our coaches have constantly is, you know, strip drills and, you know, covers disguises and hoping that someone will throw it into a robber coverage, that type of thing. Putting pressure on the passer and maybe he lets to go before he should. You know, that type of thing. You know, I think just like on the offensive side, what’s the most important thing in terms of having zero turnovers, it’s having the belief that that’s the most important thing in the world. Once you believe that that’s critical, you have a better chance of doing it. Same thing, I’m sure can be said on the defensive side, you know, don’t talk to me about this or that stat, we’ve got to get the ball for our guys. That’s how you beat Penn State at Penn State, you know, and — and, again, I’m not, you know, I’m not saying anything negative about our defense because I think our defense is very good. Very good. But we have to get better at that particular area. And, you know, don’t think our guys don’t know that and believe that and think that and have consternation about the fact that we haven’t. Our guys don’t delineate between the units quite as much as the people in this room do. We worry most about how does that unit complement this unit and how does the special unit weave the group together. And I know that’s not easy writing or easy talking, but I think that’s what you have to understand about how we look at things.
REPORTER: What do you see out of the runningbacks, particularly Ringer?
TRESSEL: Oh, Ringer’s a great player and Teague and Caulcrick. Bringing three excellent runners, plus the quarterback who runs, so —
REPORTER: Ringer was somebody you guys were interested in and didn’t pan out for whatever reason?
TRESSEL: Oh, very interested. Thought he was a great player.
REPORTER: Jim, D’Andrea’s coming back at MIKE (middle linebacker)?
TRESSEL: He’ll be back at MIKE (middle linebacker) to start with and I think what we’ve got to make a decision on is just how quickly will Marcus Freeman be back. And the other thing I think Mike can do is he can add to those edge guys when you’re in your nickel stuff, too, like we’ve played them in that viper and edge rush guys and that type of thing, so I’m excited for him, you know, to be out there and I think he’s excited to be out and ready to go and we were almost took him with us to Penn State but he wasn’t quite ready, and, you know, I’d like to see him slowly get in and be able to help us out.
REPORTER: On your last offensive play Saturday night, did they just get a — did they get a great match up, I’m talking about with Hali coming around the end.
TRESSEL: We got beat. We got beat. We had run that protection probably four times, you know, maybe five in the game, and, you know, didn’t get beat and it held up fine and that time it didn’t hold up and we had a chance, you know, on that play, but, again, that’s the fine line, you know, between winning those tough ones and not.
REPORTER: Does Troy need to see that? There t wasn’t a blindside, it was a peripheral vision type of thing.
TRESSEL: No, I would say that a fellow might want to be able to feel it. I don’t know if you can really, you know, if — you don’t ever want to see the rush, because as soon as you’re seeing the rush, you’re not seeing the field, okay. But now feel the rush, absolutely. You have to try to feel the rush. And, you know, he was glued in on trying to make a play and didn’t feel it. But it — it probably happened before you’re typically — you know, there’s a certain clock that goes in your head when the antenna’s out and you can feel things, Dave Purdy knows that, he played back there. When it happens a little sooner is when you might get hit a little sooner because you’re not used to getting there that quick. You’re used to having to step up when they contain rushers and it just happened a little bit sooner. Marla, last question. We’ve gone over board here but we didn’t have any guys because we had a couple quizes.
REPORTER: I want to go back to rusty’s beginning. Is Jim Bollman taking too much heat?
TRESSEL: Is Jim Bollman taking too much heat? I think that goes with the territory. You know, when that — you don’t win the game, the head coach, you know, gets the heat and that’s part of the deal. The quarterback gets the heat. The offensive coordinator gets the heat. And someone goes out and scores 42 points against us, Jim Heacock and Luke Fickell are going to take the heat. So is it too much, you know, I suppose it would depend upon the — the tenor and the sanity of the heat, you know. I mean, you know, questioning whether a guy could be better, yeah, I think that’s appropriate. Using, you know, a little bit stronger words and out of control emotion, I’m not sure is appropriate, but everyone has their own beliefs. We’ll see you out there this afternoon.