Oct. 4, 2005
Press Conference Video
TRESSEL: Well, it’s exciting times in the Big Ten. We had a chance during the open week to see more Big Ten teams play than when we’re playing and as we thought at the beginning of the year, it’s going to be a battle every time you play in the Big Ten, whether you’re playing at home or you’re playing on the road, you know, the greatest stadiums and the atmospheres are extraordinary, and we’re getting ready to go into, in my mind, one of the most fun atmospheres and that’s at State College at Beaver Stadium there and we all saw that Penn State has progressed over a five-week time frame to get better and better and better every particular game, which is what becoming a good team is all about, and, you know, they had excellent home victory this past weekend and they’re a mature football team. I think over on the defensive side, there’s about nine guys that are either fourth or fifth year starter kind of guys and played a lot of games. I think their defensive starters combined have over 200 and some starts, not to mention 300 and some games they’ve played in. So they’ve seen it all, they’ve played it, they just do an excellent job over there and over on the offensive side, there are guys up on the front, there are fourth year guys. Their tight end’s a fifth year guy. Their quarterback is a fifth year guy sprinkled around. They have an infusion of some young guys who have really made an impact on the scene and could make big things happen and, of course, when you talk about Penn State’s special teams, you’re talking about solid and their punter is a fourth year or fifth year guy, left-footed. Their kicker’s a freshman and doing very, very well. Their return men on kickoff return are their two young guys and Williams and King and their punt return specialist is Lowry, Number 10 and their cover people are very disciplined as Penn State always is and what I like watching when you watch their special teams, you see a lot of those veterans, Lowery and Cronin and Zemaitis and Phillips and Posluszny and those guys, you can tell they take special teams very seriously, so what you’re seeing is a good football team. It’s one we knew would be a good football team and, you know, I think they’ve made the progress that they had hoped to make and now positioned themselves to make noise in the Big Ten, which is what we all hope to do as the Big Ten schedule begins and I know our guys are looking forward to getting back on the field. The open week, I think, was good. I think sometimes, you know, it’s good to get a little — take a deep breath when you’re getting ready to go into battle for the next seven weekends in a row in a league like ours and I think our guys did a nice job preparing and getting themselves going in school and all of those things and seem to have a little bounce in their step on Sunday night when they got back and Coach Johnson told me there were like 94 of them or something that came in and worked out on Monday, so I think they’re anxious to get back at it. Questions?
REPORTER: Are there pitfalls to a week off in terms of — from a coaching philosophy, keeping everybody’s attention, being focused, particularly if you’re playing well?
TRESSEL: I think in anything there can be pitfalls. You know, sometimes when you’re focused and you get into a little groove and a little discipline and you go forward, things can go well. Then on the other hand, you can get into a little rut from that standpoint and maybe you’re not improving — maybe your emotional gas tank isn’t as full. So the open dates are scheduled when they are and you hope that, you know, you work hard on being focused on the fundamentals and we worked hard on ourselves last week and then got a head start on Penn State and I’d like to think that this group will be a focused one.
REPORTER: You guys are 1-3 coming off of bye weeks (inaudible).
TRESSEL: Well, we won’t know for sure. You know, we’ve talked about the, do you organize it a little differently, but you’re a little bit bound by we have school and you practice when you practice and I suppose you could say, hey, we’re 1-3 coming off of bye weeks so we’ll practice every day for ten days and get that squared away. I’m not sure you’re using, in my opinion, you’re not necessarily using that the right way, so I just think you, like in anything you do, you have a plan and you believe in your plan and you execute the plan and when you do it well, you win and maybe all of a sudden you’re not 1-3 anymore, but we talk about it every day as to what’s — what does this team need today? This will just have to be a bye week.
REPORTER: How much say do you guys have on the visiting team, if any, on game time and if you do have a say, would you be weary of night games like this coming off of bye weeks?
TRESSEL: We’re a part of the partnership, which is the Big Ten and the Big Ten has partnerships with the television media and radio and everything else and they want as much exposure and fill their time slots and to be a good partner, I think you have to be willing, you know, to do what — what people want. Would you vote for necessarily night games away from home, no, you probably wouldn’t, as a coach, vote for night games period. You want to get up and play. Same with the players but I don’t know if that’s fair either, because you want people to have as many opportunities to see the Big Ten and Buckeyes as they can, so I hope we don’t spend any time worrying about that, because it’s scheduled 7:45. It was either going to be 7:00 or 7:45, it’s 7:45, we’ve known that, let’s go.
REPORTER: Is it harder to kill time in State College, though?
TRESSEL: Well, you know, it’s hard to kill time on a game day anyway. You could go to Cedar Point and you’d still be thinking about the game, still be nervous and still be dying for the game to start, so we’ve got to — we’ve got to, again, make good decisions as to how we use the time and the mix of — of useful time and rest and inevitably, though, you’re going to have some nervous moments and hours. That’s just the way life is on a night game.
REPORTER: Coach, you haven’t taken a lot of transfer players, yet Anthony Schlegel has been a good deal, maybe you could go back, what was it about him that made you take him and how he fits into your defense?
TRESSEL: Anthony’s situation was that one of his coaches was out recruiting and the academies you have to make a decision after that second year as to are you going to stay in the academy and fulfill your commitment post-graduate or are you going to not do that, and Anthony had been very up front with his coaching staff that he really wanted to be a high school football coach. That’s what he wanted to do. Didn’t necessarily want to fly, didn’t necessarily want to, you know, serve in the Air Force. Really, deep down, what he wanted to do was coach high school football, so he kind of put the word out and his coaches were calling around to various places and giving recommendations saying, hey, this is not a guy that’s having a problem, this is a guy that’s making a life decision and you ought to look at him. And then when we looked at him and met him and saw the kind of guy he was and, yeah, I’d say we’re very fortunate that he came because he brings — you know, Anthony brings where ever he is, he was captain of the Air Force team as a sophomore. That’s virtually unheard of. He’s a special guy not just in football, but we’ve got many stories here in the community, you know, where he’s made an impact on young people and just — he’s just a good one.
REPORTER: Have you ever talked to Coach Paterno about what keeps him going?
TRESSEL: About what keeps him going? One time I did ask him, I said, you know, I think it was after I’d done this for like two years, I said, man, what’s the secret? And — and, really, just like when I called him ten years ago and asked him should I become the AD and the coach, he gave me good advice, yeah, do them both but don’t do it all because it’ll wear on you. He’s exactly right. He said you have to try to eliminate your distractions because it isn’t football, it’s not the recruiting, it’s the things that take you away from your core business that can wear on you. He said you just have to make sure you do the things that are important to your young people and to your school and then do the best you can with the other things. And I’m sure that’s been his secret. He’s been able to keep a great balance on that.
REPORTER: I can’t imagine, though, coaching that long.
TRESSEL: I’m just trying to make it through my fifth.
REPORTER: Coach, is there a good chance that’s Steve Rehring will be redshirted?
TRESSEL: There’s a possibility. You know, obviously right now we just want him to get back to being able to go to school and that type of thing. But that is an option, yes.
REPORTER: What’s the prognosis for him being back and everything?
TRESSEL: To practice and so forth? I would say no time soon. Obviously you’re very careful when it comes to kid’s health and we’re conserve stiff in that situation.
REPORTER: D’ Andrea —
TRESSEL: I think he will be back before Freeman and I think this week will tell on Mike if he’ll be able to contribute this week. There’s a possibility.
TRESSEL: No. No.
REPORTER: Jim, can you talk about what Derrick Williams has brought to Penn State and if you see any similarity to what he’s doing and what Ted did as a freshman.
TRESSEL: Yeah, I think if you bring people that have a natural energy, natural excitement. Difference makers — I remember Mark Dantonio used to always talk about impact players are ones that not only come do it, they help raise everyone else up. I think Derrick does a little bit of that, I think Teddy does a little bit of that. We’ve got a number of guys that do that, but I think Derrick Williams, you know, is that kind of guy. He does what he does and he assists others, you know, in raising their level.
REPORTER: (inaudible) playing this way for a while —
TRESSEL: Penn State defense I think last year ended up, I don’t know, fourth, fifth, sixth in the country. Shoot, they’re good. Historically been good and, you know, they’re deep up front. I — Number 41, that Paxson is something special now. The rest of them who have been playing, Hali and all those guys have been playing along the front, they’re good football players, and, you know, I think most of us in the Big Ten recognize that, you know, because we got to watch the film every day and they’re stopping everybody and make it tough on you. And great tacklers in the secondary. I think their pair of corners — if you recall, I’ve been saying since preseason, their pair of corners may be the most talented corners as a set in the conference and who knows beyond that. You know, Phillips and Zemaitis have played forever. I don’t know how many starts between them but I bet it’s 75. They’re good and they’ve seen everything, they’ve experienced it and they’re good players.
REPORTER: What differences have you noticed in Antonio Pittman this year, particularly off the field, I guess physically different.
TRESSEL: I think like most guys who are working hard to get better and if they’ll do so in all phases, they will. And I think an Tonya has, he’s done an excellent job in the classroom, excellent job off the field, in the film room, in the media room, the understanding of what we’re trying to do, on the practice field. I think when you mature, if you’re paying attention, you will get a little better in those things and I think Antonio really has.
REPORTER: How was he the week after the 20-plus carries game, was he beat up or —
TRESSEL: You know what, I think when a guy carries 28 times and has a bunch of yards, I think he’s full of energy. He’s, you know — in fact, during the course of the game, the more he ran, the more he wanted it. He’d run by the side line and, you know, get me the ball again, which you love to see that. I think if he’ll keep the progress he’s keeping as I’ve said, you know, since last spring, I think he’s going to be a very good back.
REPORTER: You said earlier about having an opportunity to look at the Big Ten a little bit. Does it appear there’s more good teams this year without — there might be elite teams, we don’t know yet, but it seems like there aren’t a whole lot of bad teams.
TRESSEL: Yeah, I don’t think there are any. You know, it — I think we’ve got excellent coaches. Every time I go to the Big Ten meetings, I’m impressed with the men that are running their programs and, you know, you see in recruiting — you’re recruiting against guys, they end up getting a guy that, boy, it would be nice if we could have talked to that guy or whatever it happens to be and I just think Big Ten is talented and well schooled and tough and I think kids are proud to play in this league, they feel good about their schools — no one goes to the stadium in bigger masses than the Big Ten and from a television standpoint, you know, it’s — it’s a great place to be, and that’s why I think you’re seeing every member of the Big Ten blossom from that and we’re a little more experienced this year. I think last year we were a younger group. I think every team is a little more veteran. Maybe with the exception of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin’s undefeated, you know, so it’s a good league.
REPORTER: With your team’s experience, having played in all kinds of (inaudible) where does Penn State (inaudible) this is your first road game. Where does this venue rank in difficulties —
TRESSEL: I think it’s one of the most fun places to play. They’re loud, they’re excited, they love their team, they love their school. You know, they can’t wait to get there and, you know, their students are involved, you know, I think it’s neat. It’s not unlike our situation or — or Michigan’s or when you get that many people, it’s exciting and is it a tough place to play? You know, I — I don’t know what that means, exactly. It gets loud but so does a lot of places. It’s tough because they’re a good team. But it’s a fun place.
REPORTER: Coach, can you elaborate on what you guys have tried to do this week to simulate environment. I know in the past you’ve pumped up the music and they’ve got that Lion, that obnoxious noise they play the entire game. Are you doing anything different because you’re going on the road for the first time?
TRESSEL: You know, we won’t do it prior to Thursday. We will rehearse — in our situation on offense, our center calls the cadences as much as anybody. We do that because it’s loud in Ohio Stadium. Thursday is kind of like our noise day. Tuesday, Wednesday is our teach day and it’s hard to teach with as much noise but now when you’re rehearsing Thursday what you think you may be implementing now you’ve got to do it under a little duress and we’ll — we’ll do the noise and so forth on Thursday.
REPORTER: What kind of progress have you seen Michael Robinson made?
TRESSEL: You know, I think he’s always been one of those guys that’s tough, he’s a good leader. I think you can see that because he’s gotten more undivided reps, you know, he’s split a lot of the time with Zack Mills over the course of two or three seasons there. It’s hard to get as good as you’d like to get when you’re only getting partial reps and I think you see him progressing every day, every game, I’m sure their coaches see him constantly in practice getting better and better. He’s a good football player. He’s a leader and he’s a tough — you know, the number one characteristic that your quarterback better have is be tough especially to play in the Big Ten and that guy’s tough.
REPORTER: People say that college football players — (inaudible) is Penn State still considered in that class and to see them 6-0 (inaudible).
TRESSEL: Well, you know, we always look at Penn State as good. We’ve played them four times and it was a two-point game and a six-point game. Shoot, we’ve — one-point game. Ohio State and Penn State get together, that’s — so we look at them as being one of the — you know, we don’t play Oklahoma every year or whatever. Penn State to us is — it’s big and I think the people around the country, likewise.
REPORTER: How important is this week for you guys offensively? You had the good week last week, but having putting maybe two in a row together yet —
TRESSEL: I think consistency is always the measuring stick to see if you’re going to get good and, you know, that would be our goal is to become a consistent offensive football team that does its part and whatever needs to be done to win. Now, you know, exactly what that will be, how that will unfold, we’ll see, but I think at this point in time, what you’re really hoping to feel good about is that you’re becoming more consistent and tough task because we’re going against a good defense and — but, again, our guys like that.
REPORTER: Is it easier for a coach when you don’t have bye weeks? Is it easier to maintain a level throughout the season when you don’t have that stutter and start?
TRESSEL: You know, it’s real when you have them and I guess also real when you don’t. For instance, in ’02, we had that Pigskin Classic and then I think we had an open day and then we had 12 straight weeks, and I don’t remember saying oh, that’s wonderful, we get to play 12 in a row, you know, nor do I — I’m sure our players after we played the Pigskin Classic and it’s still 90 degrees around here and we go back to work like it’s preseason, I’m sure they’re like, oh, man, I thought preseason was over. But I will say this: The 12 straight games, 13 games plus a bye week in ’02, you could see there was a wearing physically on our people, because the schedule we played that particular year in the Big Ten that year, every game went down to the final play or over time, and so I don’t know that one’s better than the other. You just — again, you — they say, hey, here’s your schedule and, you know, you’re going to be evaluated on how you do with that schedule.
REPORTER: Have you ever done anything differently after bye weeks because you’ve had less success — I realize it’s not just a trend, I don’t know, is this anything you’ve looked at and said hey we’re going to do something differently.
TRESSEL: Oh, we talk about that all the time and, you know, as it gets down to when you put all the factors involved, the players’ schedules, the players — you know, we want our players to go back home and see their high school at least one time. So if you take that away from them because you’re 1-3, maybe someone would, maybe they’re smarter than I am or whatever, but I think you assess, you know, what you think is important. Got to be in school these days and we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do that and say, okay, we’re allowed six recruiting days from September 1 to November 27, when is the best time to use them, so you factor all the things together and come up with your decisions and, you know, we didn’t ignore — I don’t know that anyone, you know, was not aware that our last couple times out after a bye week haven’t been as good.
REPORTER: Did you all change anything though compared to last year?
TRESSEL: Not dramatically but I didn’t — to be honest with you, I didn’t go back and pull out those practice schedules and say, okay, we went 26 periods on Wednesday and this year we’re going to go 28 or less. You try to assess every day what does today mean, you know, and hopefully you make good decisions on what you ought to do today.
REPORTER: You guys went 1-3 in the Big Ten last year. Is that maturity —
TRESSEL: That seems to be the theme here, 1-3. I guess we worry about more why something happens than exactly what it is. You know, you might say, hey, you’re 3-0, you know, in a certain stretch, maybe it was in spite of what you did and not because of what you did. So I think we try to evaluate why was this good, why was this not good or — what could we do better and those types of things and — as opposed to blanket saying, hey, 1-3, we must be awful, we’d better change everything we do.
REPORTER: With Penn State having embraced the idea of the spread offense more this year, are we officially now in the era of the spread offense?
TRESSEL: You know, I think now a days, if you turn on film, we’re officially in the era of everything. If you look on defenses — I don’t know what more defenses can do than what they’re doing and I don’t know how many different ways you can line up on offense than what we’re doing. Maybe you can do the little deal where they put the tackle clear out on the hashes and do the Lonesome Polecats from the Tiger Ellison days. I don’t know how else we could line up, so I think we’re officially in the era of doing everything.
REPORTER: So we’re in the Lonesome Polecat days?
TRESSEL: We haven’t done any Lonesome Polecats lately, but I’ve got the book and I had an open week. I’ve got two handsome guys up here that want to visit with you. Nate Salley, done a great job leading our defensive team and knows the challenge Penn State brings, and Nick Mangold has done a great job with his guys up front. Thank you much. We’ll see you — a bunch of the guys after practice.
REPORTER: Marla’s got to ask the last question.
TRESSEL: I’m sorry, Marla, my bad.
REPORTER: During the bye week, did you look at the return (inaudible).
TRESSEL: Penalties, did we ever. I mean, we talked about penalties — if we could have those penalties back, you know, we would probably have less offensive yards, though, because we’d be closer to the goal line than when we started, but — I don’t have a number, but it’s in the 200s, yeah. Yep.
REPORTER: What did you all emphasize that we didn’t talk about?
TRESSEL: Tim, if I answer that, we’re jinxed.
REPORTER: I’m just following up on Marla’s —
REPORTER: Why don’t you comment on (inaudible).
TRESSEL: You know, that we’ve got to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of penalties, because they’re huge. If in doubt, don’t.