Aug. 24, 2004

Junior linebacker A.J. Hawk
On Nate Salley:
“Nate is beginning to look a lot like Donnie Nickey in terms of size and speed. He weighs about 225 now and has gained considerable speed. He is everything we could ask for in a safety – a great player who hits hard.”

On the linebackers:
“We have so many talented linebackers who we know can make plays. Everyone can handle the load if they are called upon this season. Our coaches are pleased with our progress and love the idea of being able to use so many linebackers in our rotation.”

On the quarterbacks:
“Both guys played well in our scrimmage Saturday. They both made it tough on our defense to stop them. Troy (Smith) is quick and can beat you to any point on the field and Justin (Zwick) is very accurate and can connect with any of our receivers in any kind of coverage.”

Junior tackle Rob Sims
On the team:
“We are ready to play and eager to hit someone else. We are confident in our abilities and getting closely acquainted with each other. There is great communication on this team, more than I have seen in the past two years.”

On Cincinnati:
“They are a well-balanced team that can beat you in many different ways. There’s no question they will be excited and ready to play. We will have to be at the top of our game and make no mistakes to beat them.”

Senior fullback Branden Joe
On going into the Cincinnati game:
“It’s normal to be nervous but there also is a level of excitement and emotion. On an emotional level, if you can control it and use it in the right way, it can be an advantage.

On his routine before kickoff:
“I have a routine and I would say that 85 percent of the guys have one on game day. We are so used to doing the same things because the coaches create a routine for us. Within that, we have our own routines.

On handing nervousness:
“I try to think of something that relaxes me. Any good player is going to be nervous before a game. As soon as the first snap goes, those jitters go away. If I don’t get jitters then I can get a little worried. I just try to relax as much as possible. On his role this year:
“I’m looking forward to putting everything together this year. I feel that I can be a solid fullback. I feel that I can get the job done. I’ve also shown over the past two years that I can carry the ball. I was a true tailback in high school. I have shed a couple of pounds and gained some quickness. I think I am the inside-of-tackles type of runner that Coach Tressel likes.”