COACH TRESSEL: Happy Veteran’s Day to everyone. Glad you could visit with us. Our guys had a good Veteran’s Day. We had a field trip in the morning and early meetings and got on the field this afternoon and finishing up with meetings. Looking forward to the trip to Champaign-Urbana. Play a very good Illinois team. Every week you go on the road it’s a battle, so we’re excited to get a win at Northwestern and we know it gets tougher as we go and we’re looking forward to playing the Illini. Right now they are at 5-5. A year ago when we played them they were at 7-3 and the difference is a ball bouncing here and there and a play that doesn’t get made and I think as I watch them on film they look every bit as good or better today than they did a year ago, so we know what the challenge is going to be.
Juice Williams is coming along such that when I thought early in the year when I first saw him again that he was throwing the ball with a lot more velocity, a lot more assurance. He’s had a couple balls bounce off hands into the other folks and those things that happen when you throw it a little bit more. But obviously he runs the ball extremely well and you better keep it away from Number 9 because if you let Number 9 have it, whether it’s in the pass game, the run game, don’t punt to him, don’t kick off to him, because he can make it happen, so we’ve got a great challenge ahead of us in terms of when they’re trying to move the football.
Defensively it’s a once-a-year thing that you face this concept and they have a little bit different style of defense, very aggressive, a little bit different type coverages, carry receivers within zones and so forth, a little bit different than what we face every day, so it’s a learning challenge that we’ve got to handle first and then an execution challenge as we get ready to go.
Had a good workout today. I wouldn’t call it great, but it was a good workout and hopefully as the understanding of what we’re facing improves after watching the post-practice film, hopefully Wednesday’s practice will be significantly better. That’s typically the way it works. If it works that way that you get much better on Wednesday because you know a little bit more about what you’re facing, then that usually lends to a crisp Thursday workday, then it’s time to get back on the road again. So our guys are looking forward to it. Illinois has revamped their stadium and have excitement and we’re looking forward to the competition.
REPORTER: Coach, during your time here, Ohio State football has reached a lot of milestones, this past weekend your win at Northwestern was your 50th Big Ten win, what does something like that mean to you?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, I’m glad we got that 50th one because if we didn’t that means we lost the game. But that means stuff to you maybe when you’re in your rocking chair, but right now it’s — I guess I reflect back that just when we started the season we talked about having a fierce urgency for now and that hasn’t changed. I’ve got a fierce urgency for Malcolm Jenkins and James Laurinaitis and Brian Robiskie and on and on and on to have the best game they can possibly have. And they’ve done a good job of keeping their mind on the task at hand and we certainly have to do the same thing as coaches and not start daydreaming of milestones and things like that.
REPORTER: You mentioned after the game you weren’t concerned about the overall consistency, what did you see when you looked back on film?
COACH TRESSEL: I thought we did some things better than we’d been doing but not at the level that we’re going to need to be at as we go forward. You’ve got to be consistent with 11 guys on every play, that’s the goal. If you do that sometimes you throw for 250 and rush for 200 and some and have no turnovers and live happily ever after that day. I thought we got a little bit better. The competition steps up this week. I mean, these guys we’re trying to block, Illinois’ front, I think is excellent in their two deep at the ends, two deep inside. Number 44, the middle linebacker, is tough. We’re going to need to be better at what we do to be consistent against that group.
REPORTER: Do you notice a little bit of interest maybe now that Penn State has lost and you’re back ostensibly in a tie for the Big Ten lead?
COACH TRESSEL: Ostensibly?
COACH TRESSEL: Apparently, okay.
REPORTER: Maybe that would have been off the table a week ago but now you’re in the thick of things again and you have some control over your situation.
COACH TRESSEL: When we entered November, we talked about the same things that we always do no matter what the standings were that anything can happen in November and, yes, we were a game behind. That was a fact. But that we’ve got to take care of business in November and typically if you go through history, the team that takes care of business in November usually ends up feeling good about the result. So do I see a peak in any more interest? We were riding the bus home from the airport when the Iowa kicker kicked it through and you could see that peaked interest because all of a sudden you’re ostensibly back with a shot, if you do your work, but immediately then your thoughts go to, you know what, we’ve got a lot of work to do, so Illinois has to become the focus and not what our perceived chances are.
REPORTER: When you come back and face a team that beats you the previous year, do you notice a difference in the guys that week and how much do you kind of — obviously you always remind them of the past, but what kind of part does that play in preparations or attitude?
COACH TRESSEL: I think when you’re playing teams year after year, the respect factor is built upon how much of a hard-hitting game was it, how tough were they and did they keep bringing it and that kind of thing. And you have to, if you were a part of that game last year, they kept the ball the last, what, eight or nine minutes of the game, they made plays when they needed to make plays, it was a physical game. The fact that we didn’t win it maybe gives you a shade more to think about, but when you win tough games, you remember how bruising they were and how much respect you had for the competition. So if it helps you, maybe it helps you on the first play. Then after that, it’s time to go.
REPORTER: After the game, there was a little extracurricular activity on the field and I know some of your guys felt like there was a lack of respect or whatever. Is that brought up this week at all?
COACH TRESSEL: I haven’t heard it brought up. I remember being out in the middle of the field. My take on it was that they were excited that that was a heck of a win against a good team because I thought we were a good team. I didn’t take it as if it was any demonstration of — now, the league did, obviously, because the league looked at it and said that neither team, in their opinion, handled the post game as well as it could be handled, but it was in and out and we were on to the next game. It wasn’t talked about for even 24 hours here.
REPORTER: You guys haven’t lost a Big Ten road game in about three and a half seasons, do you see a different level of focus when you guys are on the road and just how they approach the game and everything else along with preparation?
COACH TRESSEL: We talk a lot about the difficulty of winning on the road and that it does take maybe a little bit more focus because you don’t necessarily have that energy that that home crowd brings, although I have to tell you at Northwestern, you walked out there and you were looking around for all purple and it was a lot of red. But we do talk about the fact that it just takes a little bit more to overcome the energy that can be manufactured by the home crowd and that it’s going to take a little bit better performance, but it will take that this week.
REPORTER: When you guys win the coin flip, you guys always take the ball first, curious on the rationale for that. Is that to get momentum to get the offense there? What’s your mindset when you get the coin flip?
COACH TRESSEL: We didn’t start doing that until last year and that was because kicking from the 30, we thought that you have a chance even with an average return to be out to the 25. When the ball was being kicked from the 35 and so many balls were going as touchbacks, we didn’t necessarily think that that’s an advantage starting on the 20, so we thought, well, let’s begin the game with some field position. We’ve won the toss a lot this year. It’s amazing.
REPORTER: Who calls that for you?
COACH TRESSEL: That’s a good question.
REPORTER: We were wondering if the same guy does.
COACH TRESSEL: I don’t know. You’ll be seeing some of those guys after practice, ask them. I don’t know.
REPORTER: Do you tell them what to call though?
COACH TRESSEL: No, if I start doing that, we’ll be kicking off.
REPORTER: It seems like tails a lot though, does that sound familiar?
COACH TRESSEL: I’ve never been out at the toss. I don’t know. Jim Lachey was, what did they call?
JIM LACHEY: I think tails.
COACH TRESSEL: Jim was out there.
REPORTER: After the game, you talked about there was no intent on running up the score or anything like that, but have you talked to Coach Fitzgerald since then?
COACH TRESSEL: No, just immediately after the game. I feel bad that the ball went in and never dreamed it would. We were getting three yards a carry and getting some young guys a chance to play and that stuff happens, but, no, I haven’t talked with him. He’s got a game with Michigan and we’ve got a game with Illinois, we’ve got plenty to do.
REPORTER: As you look at Illinois, do you try to get into their psychological makeup? Obviously you probably don’t because you worry about your own things, but coming off a loss like they had Saturday to Western Michigan, not a big crowd, they’re a season on the brink now, do you take into account what they might be thinking, feeling?
COACH TRESSEL: Sometimes you look at the full body of work and you say, okay, what’s gone on in their season and every time they’ve lost they’ve come back and played very well, so that doesn’t fire me up. But, no, you don’t try to analyze, because I’ve been a part of teams where ostensibly everything was going well, right?
REPORTER: Or misgivings.
COACH TRESSEL: Or misgivings?
REPORTER: That was a few weeks ago.
COACH TRESSEL: I missed that one. But anyway, and things weren’t quite as wonderful and I’ve also been a part of teams that everyone said, oh, man, they must be falling apart, the world’s going to end and all of a sudden we’re playing pretty good. But, no, you don’t try to analyze it, you just go to work every day. And I know this, we’re playing against a very good football team and if anyone in our building doesn’t think so, look out.
REPORTER: Do you have an injury update, Denlinger, Hines?
COACH TRESSEL: Denlinger worked today. Jermale didn’t work much today, but you never know couple days after. I’ll be more worried if he doesn’t work tomorrow. Mo Wells didn’t work today. I’m trying to think who else.
COACH TRESSEL: Thaddeus worked a lot more today than he did last Tuesday, yeah, that was good to see.
REPORTER: Ben Person?
COACH TRESSEL: Ben Person, we think, can get back for the bowl game, which a week or so ago, we weren’t sure, but he seems to be doing better than some thought he might.
REPORTER: Did he have his surgical procedure?
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, he did.
REPORTER: Illinois is doing that thing this year with the Big Ten network, the journey, following them through the year and doing some behind-the-scenes stuff with the camera, would you ever allow anything like that here?
COACH TRESSEL: No.
REPORTER: Why not?
COACH TRESSEL: Anything that could distract what we’re trying to do, I don’t think helps. So most of the time I try to keep things we do toward how can it help us and I don’t know as I analyze, maybe longterm something like that could help us because more exposure and all that, but I think about what’s going on here now and what’s the best thing for us today so I probably wouldn’t, but I’m old-fashioned, everyone knows that.
REPORTER: Have you ever been approached about anything like that by the Big Ten network or anybody else?
COACH TRESSEL: No, I don’t think so. Have I Shelly? Is Shelly here? She wouldn’t consider it either. I don’t know if we have or not.
REPORTER: What was the field trip this morning?
COACH TRESSEL: We went down to the Statehouse, and being Veteran’s Day, today was the last day that that display was up in the rotunda of the Lima Company, and it just so happened that we didn’t plan it or know it, but the artist who did all the portraits was there because it was the last day and they were packing it up and moving it to the next city and it was really special for our guys because a lot of the Lima Company have come through here over the last few years and some of their families of the lost have come into practice, so we’ve had a little connection with that over the years. Remember A.J. Hawk carried their flag on senior day and carried it with him in the Michigan game, carried it with him in the bowl game.
So we have a connection with that, so we thought it was — since we didn’t have school today that we’d go to the Statehouse and it was neat. The artist was there. There was one of the Company there that, again, we didn’t plan that and it was pretty neat for our guys.
REPORTER: How does the senior defense handle quarterbacks if they’re like Juice or the spread option, since a year ago, have you seen growth or understanding from your defense since then?
COACH TRESSEL: I think our defense flies around and creates pressure on any kind of quarterback. To me, the quarterback that adds the problems is the one that can pull it down and run with it, which that, to me, is why Juice — he’s another dimension. I think he’s throwing it extremely well. I think he’s come a long way in his two and three quarters years or whatever it is and not lost that ability to run and so that will be a challenge for us. We haven’t faced anyone like him, so it will be a good challenge.
REPORTER: After the game that Terrelle had, I think Juice and Terrelle are now 1-2 in the Big Ten in yards per attempt in terms of passing. Is that a big stat at all in terms of what you’re getting out of it when you are throwing the ball? Is that a stat that matters to you?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, it matters to me, but I think that’s affirmed by the fact that in the passing efficiency formula, that’s one of the most impactful parts in that formula. If you take that real long formula, one of the most impactful parts of that formula is how many yards per attempt you have. And I think they’re both number one and two in efficiency and that’s based upon how many of this and how many of that, but that number, if you have a great number in that category, you’re going to have a higher efficiency number and I think, I don’t know, Jim, in the NFL, yards per attempt probably has a significant —
JIM LACHEY: Sure, yeah.
COACH TRESSEL: That’s important.
REPORTER: With the spread these days, are people throwing it down the field less?
COACH TRESSEL: Sometimes when they’re throwing it short like those little bubble routes and so forth, they’re running with it. And watch Number 9, I mean, some of the guys throw a lot of hitches in the three-step game, maybe their yards per attempt isn’t as high, but the fact that a guy like Juice can play action you out of the option, look, and hit major plays, that’s what makes that yards per attempt really go.
REPORTER: As you watch Terrelle on video from this game, what progress did you see in that regard from just his passing game? It looked like he was throwing the ball out there on the deep routes, things like that, just what did you see?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, his feet were much improved, which that was our goal, and if your feet are with you, it doesn’t matter what sport it is, if your feet are right, you have a chance to do the best you can do and I thought his feet were much better. Now, when you have good protection, it’s a lot easier to have good feet. The one that he threw early to Brian Hartline down the field, great job by Mike Brewster coming back and cutting that guy after he delivered to the right guard, another guy, but that guy was tumbling through the air and landing at Terrelle’s feet and Terrelle’s feet were still good, which I thought was a great sign because some people, when bodies are flying, all of a sudden their feet start getting nervous and so I think his feet was the biggest thing.
REPORTER: Are you surprised happily or whatever by the way he throws out on the edge sometimes?
COACH TRESSEL: As he’s moving?
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah.
REPORTER: Did he show you — go ahead.
COACH TRESSEL: His feet are always under control when he’s moving. Where we thought we needed his feet to be better is when he’s in the pocket and he has to step forward. He was so used to having enough arm that he didn’t have to have the feet and so forth, but out on the run when you’re forced to move toward your target, he’s always been able to flick it pretty good and with little wasted motion, you’ll see some guys out on the perimeter and their motion has so much time in it and it’s not real efficient, his motion is pretty efficient, and hopefully he’ll get better and better every day we go.
REPORTER: At the risk of you saying you get as your works derserve, a lot of people are saying a 10-2 Ohio State team is a BCS bowl team. Any thoughts on that, sir?
COACH TRESSEL: The only thought I have on that is you can’t be 10-2 until you’re 9-2 and being 9-2 is going to be a challenge. If we would become 10-2, we will get as our works deserve and it might be that.
REPORTER: Terrelle talked about the bye week and working on his feet as well as you have for the Northwestern game, I was wondering if whatever defect you were addressing impacted him during the game and play selection, that type of thing.
COACH TRESSEL: No, typically the play selection is based upon what the defense is doing and if they work, usually your feet are right or the protection is right or the route was run right. And we may have — we may have tailored down some because we had a little bit of time to study ourselves and which are we doing better, what can we block well enough, et cetera, et cetera, but then when you get into the course of the game, if they’re doing what they’ve shown, which interestingly enough, Northwestern came out and they’d run a tight defense the whole nine games leading up and they played stack defense the whole game. Hadn’t played it all year, but that’s what happens sometimes. So you have to get adjusted to that. The coverages didn’t change much, but their front totally changed and our guys had to adjust to that and you have some growing pains as you’re going through a significant change, but what we do in the course of the game is based on what they do.
REPORTER: There are a lot of juniors at the end of the year that can think about going to the NFL, do you think that will have any impact on the guys this year that are thinking about going pro?
COACH TRESSEL: I doubt it. I think those end up being very personal and very individual decisions with a whole different set of circumstances with each young guy. I’ve had some guys that very well could have and they could have been fine and they would have succeeded if they left and other guys that perhaps needed to stay, but have been just fine, you know, the fact that they left. So a lot based upon what you value individually and the other thing is if your degree is done, we’ve lost a couple guys because they were those early arrivers so they got way ahead of the curve and they stayed every summer and all of a sudden they’re saying, why should I stay, I’ve got my degree, that’s a good point unless you want to go to graduate school. Dionne, last one.
REPORTER: How did you feel the offensive line played last week in light of especially what you said heading into a game where they only see a defense that sets up like this once a year?
COACH TRESSEL: I thought that we did some things better, not enough things better and we need to take another step this weekend and it will be a more difficult step because this group is — interestingly, their front isn’t a lot different than a lot of other fronts, it’s their secondary that’s different. So I don’t think we’ll have as much of a learning curve up front although they’ll move different than some defenses we’ve faced. Where they’re a little different is in the back seven as opposed to the front four. But we need to use every day the rest of November to get better up front if we’re going to be a good team and get what we hope.
REPORTER: Do you mind addressing Ray Small’s availability or lack thereof this week?
COACH TRESSEL: Lack thereof.
REPORTER: Can he still work himself back?
COACH TRESSEL: Yes, absolutely.
REPORTER: Can you express your reaction to hearing the T.J. Downing news?
COACH TRESSEL: Those things hurt, you know, and I haven’t had a chance to talk with him and I don’t know, I’m not judge and jury, I don’t know what allegedly is the case or not the case, but anytime you hear of something as disappointing, even if it’s alleged, that puts a knot in your stomach and it just reminds you that it’s a difficult transition. Look at all these cameras and all this stuff and then two years later, there aren’t all this cameras and all this stuff and that’s not an easy transition and it’s just a reminder that we’ve got to keep working hard to — I don’t want to get on the pulpit, but there’s a bigger difference between what you do and who you are.
Sometimes, I hate to say it, because of all this and because of aunts and uncles and everyone else telling us we’re out of this world, we start thinking that what we do is what gives us our value and we’ve just got to keep working on helping ourselves understand that it’s who we are that really is important, but it hurts. I guess a shorter answer to a tough question, it hurts.