Sept. 7, 2004
TRESSEL: We were anxious to get out there and we had been practicing a long time and wanted to see what some of the guys with new roles were going to do and I know our coaches were excited about the amount of good video we got to study and hopefully our guys are excited about figuring out how we can get better.
One real upside was the fact that we had a nice, hot day which we hadn’t had many of in preseason, which concerns you somewhat, and we went and had that opportunity and I thought played through that very, very well. And it appeared to me that we’re in pretty fair condition. It was also good that we had a chance to go against a physical, sound football team, a team that was going to challenge us because of how well they knew us and they came with some wrinkles that were very, very good. And our guys, from a coaching standpoint, I thought, came with some wrinkles that were not anticipated on their end of things. And so I thought it was a good, hard fought first test opportunity for us to see who we are and figure out how we’ve got to get better.
We had some guys that had outstanding performances. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 guys graded winning performances. Our special units player of the game was Mo Hall. In fact, Mo is here with us today and you’ll get a chance to chat with him a little bit. I thought his two kickoff returns, he and his unit were two big momentum situations. Both times I think they were after the field goals that Cincinnati had kicked, brought the game tighter, one, they got out ahead and the other they brought the game tighter and seized a little bit of momentum and then we took the momentum right back away from them by bringing the ball out to near mid field and I thought that was a real plus for our young quarterbacks that as the game tightened up a little bit all of a sudden they didn’t find themselves on their own 13 with 87 yards to go and I thought those were two huge plays and Mo Hall as was the special units player of the game.
Offensive units player of the game was Bam Childress, we all saw what Bam did as far as making plays after we threw him the football but he also did a good job of blocking. A couple of our longer runs were sprung by blocks down the field by Bam and he did an excellent job out there as a leader and he had some young people out there with him and did a good job of steadying them and getting them lined up and, therefore, was given the offensive player of the game.
Our defensive player of the game was Bobby Carpenter. Bobby had 7 tackles and an assist and a tackle for loss and a quarterback pressure and really did an excellent job playing both the SAM outside backer and a little bit of the MIKE position in the nickel situations and was very, very productive.
Also with us today will be Mike D’Andrea, you might not have recognized him with his little goatee, his mom hasn’t seen it yet either. We’ll get him on the news back there in Cleveland and he’ll be in trouble. He made his first start at the MIKE position, we thought it was very outstanding. He did a great job, made plays, is going to be an impact guy both there and we like to put him in some other positions in our nickel and dime positions and utilize his abilities and talents and it’s good to see old Number 5 out there. We missed him the last two or three ball games of the year and we’re looking forward to a great year with Mike D’Andrea so he’ll be able to visit with him after my part of the program is done.
Our offensive lineman of the week was Ryan Hamby, and as Jim Bollman told the rest of the linemen, it was because he was the leading receiver amongst the linemen, as well as blocking 90%. Did an excellent job there at the tight end position and has grown into a guy that has a passion to make sure that the Ben Hartsock-type play that we’ve enjoyed in the past is doubled and continues to get better and we felt good about what Ryan did there as the O lineman of the week.
The attack force player of the week was Quinn Pitcock. Quinn had excellent impact when he was in the game. The way we roll our D linemen, I think Quinn might have had 30 or 35 plays. When he was in there, he was making an impact and pushing the line of scrimmage around and making plays and pressuring the quarterback and we felt good about Quinn going into the game and continue to feel good about how much better and better Quinn is going to go throughout the course of the year.
The Jack Tatum hit of the week was by Johnny Hollins which was on one of the plays where Bam did a little jitter-bugging out there and reverse field to get about 70 yards around the corner and gave Johnny a chance to get a good clean Jack Tatum type hit on a guy that was in hot pursuit of Bam. So Johnny Hollins, a senior from Wayne Huber Heights, is the Jack Tatum hit of the week.
The scout team players of the week, who we talk about and talk about and can’t tell you how important they really are, the special units was Jordan Hoewischer, the young guy from the home that Steve Snapp built, Sidney, Ohio, probably the second best outfit to come out of Sidney behind Steve.
SNAPP: I’m not laughing.
TRESSEL: Oh, okay. And the scout deem defensive player of the week was Sian Cotton, defensive lineman, and scout team offensive player of the week was Todd Boeckman quarterback. I thought our guys prepared hard through preseason. I thought it was a little bit of a different type game for all of us because of the relationships, but I thought our guys put that aside and played hard and were willing on Monday to put all that aside and learn where we’ve got to get better and there’s a lot of areas we’ve got to get better. We understand that. We understand that Marshall coming into the house after having lost to Troy, you know, Marshall doesn’t lose very often. I think since Coach Pruett has been there he’s won 85% of their games or something and they’re a football team that’s used to winning and they will not be happy about having a loss in the column and they’re going to be getting after it. We’ve talk many times about the fact that they went to Manhattan Kansas and beat Kansas State, which we studied that film probably as much as we studied any film getting ready for the Fiesta Bowl and went to Tennessee and played Tennessee nose to nose and lost at the end and they’ve won, I don’t know, five of the last six MAC championships or something. They know how to win. So we understand the challenge and the challenge begins with us getting better and then learning all we can about Marshall to make sure that we’re prepared for the Thundering Herd. With that, open it to questions.
REPORTER: You obviously know Marshall pretty well from your Youngstown days. Can you assess them just as to how they’ve developed into one of the premiere football teams in this particular part of the country?
TRESSEL: First of all, football is very important to the people in Huntington, West Virginia and the people at Marshall University. It’s a very important part of their culture they take great pride in the prominence that football has brought to their community. I think secondly the thing that’s still the case as it was for the many, many years I’ve played them in the past is they run fast. They’ve got people that can go. They love to hit. You can tell it’s important to the players as well as to the community and to the school. It’s a passion. That’s why they feel as if they’re the giant killers. They’ve named themselves as being folks that go in and beat people that are supposedly bigger programs. They’ve always had vision and goals. They wanted to move into the next level so they’re moving on to Conference USA and they have a lot of confidence, a lot of passion, they love to hit you, and they’ll come here ready to play, as they always have.
REPORTER: Jim, when you talk about improvement, do you prioritize into one or two or can you prioritize into one or two of the top areas as you go into this week?
TRESSEL: Well, I think by position, you can ask any one of our coaches and they could prioritize one or two items. As far as the most seen items, I’ll tell you this, we can’t lose a turnover margin 3-0 and win any games. The only reason we were able to do that is that we happen to have a lot of what we call explosive gains, which are runs over 12 and passes over 15, and they didn’t have — I think they had two for the whole game, we had 16 or 17. That was the only way we offset losing the turnover margin. So if you want to talk about one main area that better get better it’s turnover margin. Now, there’s 50 others that need to get better, but that’s a big one.
REPORTER: How much have you thought about — I know it’s still early in the week, but are you still planning on both Justin and Troy playing and have you thought about the same kind of distribution or how far along are you with those plans for this weekend?
TRESSEL: I think we’re as far along as the beginning of your statement, which is we’d like Justin and Troy to continue, to both get playing time, just like we would like to continue eight offensive linemen and eight defensive linemen and five or six linebackers and seven or eight in the secondary and three or four runningbacks. This is the time of year that I think you have to give guys opportunities to show who they are and get yourself honed in by the time you get to conference play. So I hope we’re able, through the improvement paid by everyone in practice, both Troy and Justin, and everyone else at all their positions, to feel like, hey, we can go in and compete with playing a lot of guys. That would really help us as a football team the deeper we could be.
REPORTER: Jim, are you at the same point this week with being committed to playing Troy or is this week a situation where it’s Justin’s and Troy may get in, may not?
TRESSEL: I would say that I would be committed as long as the practice week would back that up. Same thing as the other positions, but, yeah, I would say that we need to stay committed to building our whole team and that’s one of the things, quarterback, we need to do the same.
REPORTER: You’ve stressed in the past the importance of your quarterbacks being mistake-free. In light of Justin’s difficulties maybe hanging onto the ball and throwing the two interceptions, what’s your evaluation of him and your evaluation of where the two stack up, is Justin as solid as he was before or what’s your take on that?
TRESSEL: I think we’ve — at that position and all the others, but we’re speaking at that position, we’re committed to growing through the process and there’s no doubt about it, our quarterback being mistake-free is huge. There are some mistakes that, you know, we’re not going to be able to live with, but Justin knows that, Troy knows that. I don’t know that any of them went out there with the idea that there’s that cornerback there and I’ll throw it to him, and you learn from those experiences. And I do know this, the first thing that has to be in place is you have to believe in what’s important. And I know both Justin and Troy believe in the fact that our quarterback must be mistake-free. So that’s a start. Now we’ve got to get better at it.
REPORTER: Jim, it looked like on his first interception he was shaking his hand. He came over to the sideline, asked you something, you said, okay. I mean, was it something — was he hit? Did he hit his hand or anything like that? How many of those mistakes were forced and how many were maybe execution errors on his part?
TRESSEL: Usually if you really go back and study mistakes, it will start with your decision making, which has to do with what you see. Are you seeing the right things. You know, sometimes I didn’t see that linebacker or whatever. And other times it’s just that I didn’t — you know, I didn’t execute. The one down by the end zone, Ryan Hamby, was wide open. He saw the corner behind him. He knew he needed to drop it in. The ball slipped out and went over and there was an execution error. I don’t think it was a decision-making error. I think the first one that ended up getting banged around a little bit and tipped — I don’t know which one was first, but the one that ended up getting banged, the guy made a nice interception on the deflection, I think that was probably more of a decision making, I’m not sure we should have tried to put that one in there, but there’s going to be improvement needed in all those things. We’ve got to execute better. That’s why we practiced so long yesterday and the day before and all that stuff. There’s got to be learning — decision-making is a learning curve as well, and experience, so I hope we grow.
REPORTER: Your defense did a good job of preventing Cincinnati from running the ball, Marshall had great difficulty running the ball against Troy and they’ve got a better quarterback and good wide receivers with speed, do you anticipate they’ll throw an awful lot?
TRESSEL: You know, that’s hard to tell. They haven’t won so many games by being one dimensional, so I would question whether they would begin the week saying, you know what, we’re going to abandon the run and throw it 70 times. I haven’t seen great teams do that. I would think they’ll go to work on the run. They ran the ball extremely well against Kansas State and we studied that, in fact, used some of their thoughts. So I don’t think they’re worried that they’re inable — unable, excuse me, to run. I would bet they’re sitting over there saying, we’ve got to get better at this and try to be balanced against a good defense, but we’ll see.
REPORTER: Marshall’s offensive line gave up eight sacks to Troy State, obviously —
TRESSEL: We would like to. I think as you evaluate the sacks, they come into two or three categories, some of them are missed assignments, some of them were maybe someone was beaten and some of them were a good scheme that protection couldn’t handle. How those eight break down, I don’t know. I’m sure their coaches will work hard to eliminate the last one, the scheme problem, if there was. Now, the physical part, obviously the offensive lineman is going to have to work on his technique and missed assignments, you’ve got to eliminate that and sometimes in an opening game you may have a few more of those. But we want to be a pressure defense, so we are going to put the pressure on the quarterback.
REPORTER: Coach, is John Kerr back with the team this week?
TRESSEL: Yeah, John is back, Andree Tyree is back, we’re allowed to expand our roster after the game. Steve Fender is back, A. J. Trapasso is back, Chibundu Nnake is back, and anyone else you guys see? Those five guys are back on the roster.
REPORTER: Because of your success in the playoffs at YSU and obviously because of Marshall’s success it kind of became a rivalry between the two of you in the season. How big a rivalry was it and can you give me any of the aspects of it?
TRESSEL: Just visualize this, visualize playing someone for the National Championship for three straight years. That’s a pretty big rivalry. And the third year in a row, we happened to play for the National Championship against Boise State, but it was at Marshall, so obviously there was a tremendous rivalry and a tremendous respect. The people in Huntington love football. That’s why one of the first questions was, talk about Marshall, they love football. They love it. It’s just part of them and their players love it and it’s a passion. We enjoyed being part of that.
REPORTER: Talk about Snyder being a former Marshall player.
TRESSEL: Well, you know, playing against your alma mater, when Mark was there, they played for the National Championship back in ’87, he was their captain and starting safety and a big part of that team. I’m sure it’s a little special to play against your alma mater and you can kind of see that in him ever since we scheduled it, that it’s been something he’s excited about. Again, he has so much love and respect for the folks back there and his alma mater that it makes it special.
REPORTER: Do you anticipate we’ll see Ted Ginn on the defensive side of the ball this game or just on the offense?
TRESSEL: This first game he was predominantly offense and special units. Preseason camp, he was probably 40% on defense and 30% on special teams and 30% on offense. Right now from a health standpoint over on the defensive side, I think we’re in pretty good shape, so I could see that his role becoming even more percent-wise over on the offense and special teams side.
REPORTER: What has come around in Bam Childress’ game that’s now given you the confidence to give him the ball, Jim?
TRESSEL: One thing he’s always had is a passion to contribute to the team and get on the field and do whatever we have to do to win and move the chains and so forth. Bam has worked extremely hard at the little techniques, the things that you might not see. He has such great quickness that sometimes that can hurt you and all of a sudden you’re not getting up the field to the route depth and so forth you need and for the last two years, I think he’s made tremendous improvement in using his quicks when his quicks will help him and using his normal stride and length and whatnot when that is called for. I think I mentioned to this group a week ago that the last third of last season, the bowl practice, the spring, and the preseason, has shown all of us that Bam Childress is going to make a big impact.
REPORTER: After grading your quarterbacks’ performance Saturday, can you say who your starter is for this week, and whatever distinction there was between the two of them prior to last week’s game when Justin was starting and Troy was number two, did that gap narrow at all based on their performance Saturday?
TRESSEL: Well, they had a different set of circumstances. They both weren’t able to grade winning performance, but Coach Daniels is pretty tough. I thought I was a hard grader. They used to belly ache that Krenzel never got a winning performance because I graded him. So I told Joe, I said it’s the first game, you grade them, I’ll grade them, we’ll see. I was worried maybe he’d be too soft, you know how that stuff goes, paranoid head coaches and my grade came out higher for both of them than his grade did. He was tough. And now I know why Bam always told me Coach Daniels is a hard grader. But neither of them graded a winning performance. Justin probably had what you would call more point of attack opportunities where he had to make decisions on where to throw the ball and those kind of things, but as far as have gaps narrowed and this and that, we just go, try to get better, all of us, and we need better quarterback play, that’s not a slam on our quarterbacks. We need better middle linebacker play and Mike’s right here. We need to get better at everything we do. You know, I think our quarterbacks will work to do that, just like Mike will and Bam will and Mo will.
REPORTER: How about your starter?
TRESSEL: Justin will start.
REPORTER: You talked about Maurice Hall in the return game and improvement in the return game. Can you tell us what Darrell Hazell has brought to that?
TRESSEL: Darrell has done a great job with our return units with the passion he brings to it. He has a lot of confidence in the system systems that he has built in and the system of the return game, as he shows one, he’ll go to next one and then the next one and has a lot of confidence in that system. I think he gets that across to the guys doing the job and that’s what a good teacher does is they teach their concepts and get you to believe in them and try them out at least and then when there’s a little proof, maybe it will even get better. I thought Darrell and the guys he’s got working with him, we’ve got three or four coaches on every special teams staff. It’s never just one guy and I think all of them have made a commitment and maybe bought in to committing time to learn it, which is — it’s a new situation, and then learning to teach it and then learning now to evaluate it. And if we’ll do that, we have a chance to he keep getting better.
REPORTER: Can you give an example of something he’s changed conceptually?
REPORTER: You can’t?
TRESSEL: Now, you don’t know whether that’s no, I don’t know what he’s changed or no, I’m not willing so I’ll leave it at that.
REPORTER: I’ll guess B.
REPORTER: Jim, the center exchange between Justin and Nick had some problems, Justin said his brother may have made his mouth piece incorrectly, have you guys straightened that out? What was that situation?
TRESSEL: His brother made his mouth piece incorrectly so we fumbled a snap?
REPORTER: He said he couldn’t hear the count, there was some problems with that.
TRESSEL: Oh, boy, I don’t know about that one. I’m going to have to plead the fifth on that one.
REPORTER: He squarely did blame his brother.
TRESSEL: He did? I’ve still got a chance to blame my brother for some things, so —
REPORTER: What’s your observation on that?
TRESSEL: As I listen, the one, Nick’s hands were all wet and he just didn’t get the snap up. That’s what Nick said. The one where we were down on about the 4 and the bull goes flying backwards, our pulling guy ran in, we had a little collision back there and we weren’t holding the football tight enough. There was a shotgun snap that wasn’t as good. We can go through all 100 and some plays that wasn’t so good. I don’t know which one was the voice thing and mouth guard thing. All I know is we need to get rid of all of them.
REPORTER: Coach, when you talk about the linebacking corps and how they measured up to your expectations, and against the controversy that this may be the deepest and best according to how they played.
TRESSEL: Our linebackers love to prepare. Mike D’Andrea is in the film room, I’m telling you, he’s in there more than our coaches and our coaches are in there a long time. But he’s constantly in there as is A. J., Bobby, Anthony, Thomas, Curt, all those guys are in there, so they love to prepare. They’re in the weight room. When they’re on the practice field, they’re getting after it. There’s not any moments that they’re sitting around. And they’ve been blessed with ability. So if you put all that together, they have a chance to become a heck of a group and they’re unselfish. Sometimes you’ll see Mike D’Andrea with his hand on the ground being a defensive end, other times we’ll see him being called a spy or a viper, that’s a different world. And then you’ll see him being a middle linebacker, an Anthony Schlegel you’ll see him being a middle linebacker and a SAM linebacker and Bobby being a SAM and a MIKE. So they love doing whatever the team needs to do and that gives you a chance as well. But they’re a great group to have around.
REPORTER: So you’d say they’re all very athletic and versatile and pretty much do whatever they need to do at that position?
TRESSEL: Yeah, because they’re smart, they’re strong, they’re fast, and they’re smart, that’s pretty neat.
REPORTER: Did Marcus Freeman get any snaps or where does he stand?
TRESSEL: I know he was on a lot of special teams, but did he?
D’ANDREA: I think he might have.
TRESSEL: Maybe at the tail end he might have gotten a couple. He’s smart and he’s fast. He doesn’t have as many reps as all those other guys, but he’s going to be a good one and I know he did a very good job on kickoff coverage and interestingly enough, we didn’t know that that necessarily was the case on game day and after we watched it, he made a couple of adjustments because he had listened and he read his keys and he’s such a smart kid that he really was in the right lace place and we weren’t a hundred percent sure that was true on game day. I think Marcus Freeman is going to be good.
REPORTER: Coach, Curtis Parry got a lot of play on game day, what do you see in him this year?
TRESSEL: Curtis loves to run and hit. He’s a special teams kind of guy while he’s waiting to grow as a linebacker. He’s getting scout team reps as a linebacker but he’s getting the real deal on the special units and I’m sure he’s slowly learning the defense. Our defense is pretty complicated and hopefully he’s watching these guys close but Curtis is going to be a good player.
REPORTER: I know Redgie Arden is not going to play this week but will he be in uniform or can you share anything about Coach Pruett’s conversation with you about that situation that developed down there?
TRESSEL: Well, he won’t be in uniform. He had his surgery last week and he’s doing fine, in fact I talked to him today, so he’s doing fine. The only thing I can share about the conversation is it was two coaches talking about the fact that we apologize for those things happening. We weren’t probably where we should be and either were they and usually when that happens, it’s not a great result and that was the length of the conversation.
REPORTER: Branden Joe any closer to anything?
TRESSEL: It’s going to be close. They have these new terms now, high ankle sprain. In the old days, it was just an ankle sprain and this and that, so high ankle sprains take longer than low ankle sprains. I don’t know if they wait and see how long they take and then they deem them high or what, but they say it’s about a four-week thing. This is — we’re in the middle of the third week since it occurred. I don’t know, maybe you could ask Mo how he moved around yesterday In drills. I really didn’t see, but I would have to go with questionable until I know better.
REPORTER: The ’91 championship over Marshall, that was your first.
TRESSEL: ’91, yeah.
REPORTER: Was there a particular defining moment for YSU?
TRESSEL: The only break through is, is they want to know when your second one is going to be. First they want to know when your first one will be, then they want to know when your second one will be. It was great. We had a great team and great kids. In fact, I got an e-mail from a kid today that he was getting ready to go to work, he lives in Florida and said, hey, I just opened a new company, I’m working hard and I just watched the ’91 championship game because you guys are playing Marshall this week, it was fun to watch. Those things are memories. Well, Steve, should we go along to the guys?