Oct. 11, 2004

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Windows A/V Press Luncheon
Transcript of Press Luncheon
Player Quotes
Depth Chart
Top 25 Polls

Ohio State hits the road this week in search of its first win in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes, 3-2 on the year and 0-2 in the Big Ten, are coming off a 24-13 setback at the hands of Wisconsin in Columbus. The loss was the second in the row for Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes who are trying to avoid their first 0-3 league start since 1988.

Iowa enters the game with a 3-2 record, including a 1-1 mark in conference action. The Hawkeyes were idle last week after defeating Michigan State two weeks ago 38-16 in Iowa City. Their losses have come at the hands of Arizona State and Michigan, both contested on the road.

This will be the Buckeyes first trip to Iowa City since the 2000 season. The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes did not meet in either 2001 or 2002, but they shared the Big Ten title in the latter year with identical 8-0 records. The two teams renewed their rivalry last year with Ohio State prevailing 19-10 in Columbus.

Saturday’s game in sold out Kinnick Stadium (70,397) will be televised by ABC-TV and will kickoff at 3:36 p.m. EDT. Brad Nessler, Bob Griese and Lynn Swann will call the game.

As always, WBNS Radio will carry the game on the statewide Ohio State radio network with network programming beginning an hour before kickoff. Paul Keels, Jim Lachey and Jim Karsatos will describe the action.

The Buckeyes will depart Rickenbacker Airport Friday via private charter and will stay at the Sheraton in Cedar Rapids. There will not be a walk through. The team and official party will return to Columbus immediately after the game.

Ohio State opened the season ranked ninth in both the ESPN/USA TODAY and the Associated Press preseason polls. The Buckeyes, who climbed to sixth in the former and seventh in the latter following a 3-0 start, are 23rd and 25th in the voting this week.

The Buckeyes are hoping to get back into the win column and keep themselves in the mix in the Big Ten race.

“We have our work cut out for us against a good Iowa team,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, said. “We played hard against Wisconsin. We need to cut down on our mistakes and become a much more consistent football team on both sides of the ball.”

The Buckeyes enter the week second in the Big Ten in passing defense and fourth in total defense, allowing an average of 314.4 yards per game in the latter category. The Hawkeyes are sixth at 327 yards per game in total defense.

Nugent sets career field goal mark: Ohio State’s sensational senior kicker Mike Nugent has set yet another record. With a pair of field goals last week against Wisconsin (from 42 and 55 yards out), Nugent has become the school’s all-time leader in field goals made with 60, breaking the previous record of 59 that had belonged to Dan Stultz (1996-2000). It is the 17th school record for Nugent, who now has 301 career points and is just the fourth player in Ohio State history to top the 300-point plateau. Nugent needs 48 points to surpass Pete Johnson (348 points, 1973-76) as the school’s all-time point leader.

On the year, Nugent, a first-team All-American in 2002, is 12-of-14 in the field goal department and 11-for-11 in PATs. His lone two FG misses came from 53 yards out in the season opener against Cincinnati and from 40 yards away in the overtime loss at Northwestern. Both were just wide to the right.

Nugent, a Lou Groza Award candidate, is the most accurate kicker in Ohio State history with a conversion rate of 80 percent (60 of 75). The Buckeyes’ co-captain has been especially accurate the past three seasons, hitting 53 of 61 attempts (87 percent).

With Saturday’s 55-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, Mike Nugent has now hit six-of-seven FGAs from 50 or more yards, including three of four this year. Nooge’s only miss in that span was a 53-yard attempt against Cincinnati that was wide to the right. Nugent’s 55-yard kick against the Badgers tied his career long, set earlier this year when he won the Marshall game as time expired in a thrilling 24-21 OSU victory.

For the third time in five games, Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent has been selected as the Big Ten’s Special Teams Player of the Week. Nugent was honored again this week on the heels of a 42 and a 55-yard field goal against Wisconsin. The two treys give him 60 career field goals, making him Ohio State’s all-time leader in that department. Nugent also was selected following the Marshall and North Carolina State games. He kicked the game winner in the former (55 yards as time expired) and was five-for-five in the latter.

Junior linebacker A.J. Hawk recorded a career-high 20 tackles against Wisconsin this past week. Hawk was credited with eight solos and 12 assists. He also recorded a tackle-for-loss and forced a Badger fumble. Hawk’s previous high had been 14 tackles against Northwestern this year. He is the ninth player in Ohio State history to have 20 or more tackles in a game and the first since Chris Spielman had 29 against Michigan in 1986. Spielman and Tom Cousineau (29 against Penn State in 1978) share the school single-game record.

“A.J. Hawk is a football player,” praised Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel. “He comes to play every game. The great thing about him is that as soon as one play is over, he is ready for the next. Nothing bothers him.”

Hawk was recently announced as a candidate for the Lott Award as the top all-around defensive player in college football. He has also been nominated for the Butkus and Lombardi Awards.

The 6-1, 238-pound Hawk leads the Big Ten in average tackles per game with an average of 12.8 per outing.

Hard-hitting strong safety Donte Whitner made his presence felt in the Wisconsin game with a career best 17 tackles. The Buckeye sophomore had 11 solo stops against the Badgers and now has a team-high 32 solos on the year. Whitner is the Buckeyes’ second leading tackler with 43 total participations.

Freshman Ted Ginn Jr. scored his first collegiate touchdown Saturday, returning a punt 65 yards to pay dirt against Wisconsin. “It was a great feeling, something I have waited for my entire life,” said Ginn, a world-class sprinter. Ginn prepped at Glenville High School in suburban Cleveland. The last true freshman to score a touchdown on a punt return was Donte Whitner who recovered a blocked punt in the end zone against Iowa last year. Whitner also prepped at Glenville.

Five games into the season, the Buckeyes are averaging 22.9 points and 306 yards per game. Against Wisconsin’s rugged defense, the Buckeyes were held to 224 total yards – 125 passing and 99 on the ground. On the year, the Buckeyes are rushing for 111.8 yards per game and throwing for 195.

In the passing department, sophomore quarterback Justin Zwick has thrown for 946 yards and completed 51.4 percent of his passes. Split end Santonio Holmes has been on the receiving end of 29 of those passes and leads the team in touchdown receptions with four. Flanker Bam Childress and split end Roy Hall have 16 and 12 catches, respectively.

Senior Lydell Ross continues to lead the Buckeyes in rushing with 343 yards and is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has scored three touchdowns. Freshman Antonio Pittman has chipped in with 155 yards and is averaging 6.5 yards per attempt. Pittman turned in a career-long 43 yard run against Wisconsin.

Defensively, the Buckeyes are allowing 19.6 points and 314 yards per game. The Buckeyes’ first five opponents are throwing for 167.8 yards per game and rushing for 146.6.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk leads the Buckeyes in tackles with 64. Strong safety Donte Whitner, a true sophomore, has 43 and leads the team in solos with 32 – one more than Hawk. Linebacker Bobby Carpenter checks in with 41 tackles.

Turnovers continue to plague the Buckeyes. OSU turned the ball over twice against Wisconsin, giving the Buckeyes 12 miscues on the year, compared to seven takeaways.

“We need to do a much better job in that area,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, said. “We can’t expect to lose the turnover battle and win the football game.”

Now in his fourth year at the helm of the Buckeyes, Jim Tressel has compiled an impressive 35-9 record during his stay in Columbus. Included in that figure is a 19-7 mark in Big Ten play and a 16-2 record in non-conference action. His teams have been especially successful at home, winning 22 of 25 starts.

After a 7-5 record in 2001, Tressel led the Buckeyes to a perfect 14-0 record, a share of the Big Ten title and a consensus national championship in 2002. He was the Football Writers choice as national coach of the year in 2002. In 2003, the Buckeyes posted an 11-2 record and played in a BCS game for the second-consecutive year.

Now in his 19th season as a head coach, the 51-year-old Tressel has compiled a lifetime record of 170-66-2. During his stay with the Buckeyes, he has posted a 14-5 record against teams in the Top 25 and a 5-1 slate against teams in the Top 10. Masterful in close games, he is 16-6 in games decided by a touchdown or less, including a 13-2 mark in the last 15 games. Each of his last two teams finished the season ranked in the Top 5 (1st in 2002 and 4th last year).

Prior to coming to Ohio State, Tressel spent 15 years as the head coach at Division I-AA Youngstown State, where he won four national championships and appeared in the playoffs 10 times.

A crowd of 105,090 was on hand for the Wisconsin game, the fifth largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history. In three home games this year, the Buckeyes have drawn a total of 314,316, an average of 104,772 in the famed horseshoe-shaped structure.

Ohio State leads the series 42-13-3 and has a 16-5-2 edge in the 23 games that have been played in Iowa City. The Buckeyes have won the last eight games in the series dating back to a 16-9 loss to the Hawkeyes in Columbus in 1991. OSU has a 6-0-1 record in its last seven games in Kinnick Stadium, last losing there in 1983. The Buckeyes downed the Hawkeyes 19-10 last year in the first meeting between the two teams in three seasons.

The host Buckeyes jumped out to an early 10-3 lead, upped that margin to 17-3 after three quarters and went on to record their sixth victory of the year in seven tries. Mike Nugent’s 53-yard field goal put OSU up 3-0 and Michael Jenkins’ 54-yard punt return for a touchdown, and Nugent’s PAT, made it 10-0. It was Jenkins’ first career punt return. The special teams also accounted for the Buckeyes only other touchdown of the day, a blocked punt by Roy Hall that Donte Whitner recovered in the end zone. Ohio State’s final two points came on a safety that gave the Buckeyes some breathing room with 3:03 to play.

In 1973, sophomore tailback Archie Griffin set an Ohio State single-game rushing record with 246 yards on 30 carries in a 55-13 win over the Hawkeyes. That record was later broken by Keith Byars (174 yards vs. Illinois in 1984) and Eddie George (314 yards vs. Illinois in 1995), but still stands as the third-best effort in Ohio State annals and the best ever by Griffin – college football’s only two-time Heisman Trophy winner. In 1988, Iowa quarterback Chuck Hartlieb filled the air with footballs and threw for 360 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the two teams battled to a 24-all tie in Iowa City. Other memorable efforts include 319 yards passing and three touchdowns by OSU’s Joe Germaine in 1998 and nine receptions for 159 yards by Iowa tight end Marv Cook in a 1987 upset of the Buckeyes.

All-American Mike Nugent continues to lead the Big Ten in several categories including kick scoring (9.4 ppg.), field goals made per game (2.40) and field goal percentage (85.7). He is tied for the lead in PAT percentage at 100.0 with a perfect 11-of-11 and is second in the league in overall scoring at 9.4 points a game. Linebacker A.J. Hawk is the league leader in average tackles per game. The Buckeye junior has 64 tackles on the year and is averaging 12.8 stops per game. His 64 tackles is topped only by Kyle Killion of Indiana and Tim McGarigle of Northwestern, both of whom have 66 in six games. Split end Santonio Holmes is fourth in both receiving yards per game (92.8) and receptions per game (5.8). Holmes, who twice this year has had double figures in receptions, is averaging 16.0 yards per catch. Senior Maurice Hall leads the Big Ten in kickoff returns with an average of 34.0 on five tries.

Kicker Mike Nugent is one of several Ohio State players who are in the running for major individual awards in 2004. Nugent, a leading candidate for the Lou Groza Award, is joined by center Nick Mangold (Rimington Award), tailback Lydell Ross (Doak Walker Award), linebacker Bobby Carpenter (Butkus Award), linebacker A.J. Hawk (Butkus, Lombardi, Lott and Walter Camp Awards), defensive end Simon Fraser (Ted Hendricks Award), cornerback Dustin Fox (Thorpe Award) and flanker Santonio Holmes (Biletnikoff Award).

Jim Tressel’s Buckeye teams have won 13 of the last 15 games decided by seven points or less. That ledger includes victories in four of five overtime games, one of which was the 2002 National Championship game. During his stay at Ohio State, Tressel is 16-6 in games decided by a touchdown or less and the Buckeyes are 24-2 when leading at the half and 26-3 when ahead at the start of the fourth quarter.

Flanker Santonio Holmes caught 10 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown at Northwestern. He also returned a punt 63 yards for a score against the Wildcats to record his fifth multiple touchdown game as a Buckeye. Holmes had 10 receptions earlier this year in the Buckeyes’ win over Marshall. He racked up 224 receiving yards in that game, the second highest total in Ohio State history, surpassed only by Terry Glenn’s 253 against Pitt in 1995 and the most ever by an OSU receiver in Ohio Stadium. His 80-yard TD catch in the Marshall game ties for the third longest pass play in Ohio State history. Holmes leads the Buckeyes in receiving with 29 catches for 464 yards and four touchdowns and has caught passes in 11 consecutive games.

Senior wide receiver Bam Childress has 11 catches in his last three games, including a career-best five at North Carolina State. Childress has 16 receptions for 193 yards in the Buckeyes’ first five games. The 5-10, 185-pound Childress had 16 career receptions prior to this year. The elusive receiver, who starts at flanker, is still waiting for his first collegiate touchdown. He had one called back in the opener against Cincinnati.

The Buckeyes first fielded a football team in 1890, compiling a 1-3 record in their first season. From that modest beginning, Ohio State has gone on to post an all-time record of 760-296-53 in 114 years and has experienced just 11 losing seasons.

Ohio State has an all-time record of 352-102-25 in Ohio Stadium (opened in 1922). The Buckeyes are 18-1 at home since the beginning of the 2002 season and are 22-3 in three years under head coach Jim Tressel.

Seniors Mike Nugent, Lydell Ross, Simon Fraser and Dustin Fox have been selected by their teammates as the 2004 captains. Nugent is the first kicker to be chosen since Tom Skladany in 1976. Fox is the fourth member of his family to captain the Buckeyes, joining uncles Mark Stier (1968), Ken Kuhn (1975) and Tim Fox (1975).

Fifth-year seniors Kyle Turano (punter, Worthington Kilbourne), Roshawn Parker (tailback, Columbus Eastmoor), Mike DeMaria (tailback, Oregon Cardinal Stritch) and John McLaughlin (offensive tackle, Cleveland St. Ignatius) have been awarded scholarships for the 2004 academic year.

There are two new faces on the Ohio State staff this year. Darrell Hazell has taken over as coach of the wide receivers and John Peterson is the new tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Hazell, a graduate of Muskingum College, comes to Ohio State from Rutgers. Peterson, a former OSU offensive lineman (1987-90), has spent the past five seasons at Miami of Ohio. Additionally, Dick Tressel has replaced Tim Spencer as running backs coach. Tressel has spent the past three seasons as associate director of football operations for the Buckeyes.

Starting cornerback Dustin Fox, who broke his left forearm in the first quarter of the Marshall game, is expected to return to action this week after missing three games. The senior co-captain had started 30 consecutive games before being sidelined. Junior linebacker Mike D’Andrea will miss the remainder of the season because of a knee injury. D’Andrea played in the Buckeyes first four games and had 13 tackles, including a team-high 3.5 tackles-for-loss. This is the second straight year that the Avon Lake, Ohio-product has had his season cut short. He missed the final three games of last year with a shoulder injury.

Ohio State’s highly touted freshman class is making its presence felt. Thus far eight members of the class have seen action in the Buckeyes’ first three games. They are: Ted Ginn Jr. (WR), Rory Nicol (TE), Antonio Pittman (TB), Devon Lyons (WR), Curtis Terry (ST), Vernon Gholston (DE), Marcus Freeman (LB) and Sirjo Welch (ST).

Six current players have fathers who played for Ohio State: offensive guard Doug Datish (Mike Datish, offensive lineman), fullback Dionte Johnson (Thomas “Pepper” Johnson, linebacker), cornerback Shaun Lane (Garcia Lane, cornerback), linebacker Ryan Lukens (Bill Lukens, offensive guard), flanker Kyle Ruhl (Bruce Ruhl, defensive back), fullback Stan White Jr. (Stan White, linebacker).

Iowa is 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten and will be trying to protect a 15-game home win streak Saturday against Ohio State. The Hawkeyes, who are celebrating the 75th anniversary of Kinnick Stadium, have posted home wins against Kent State (39-7), Iowa State (17-10) and Michigan State (38-16). The losses have come on the road at Arizona State (44-7) and Michigan (30-17).

The Hawkeyes are averaging 23.6 points and 312.2 yards of total offense per game. That breaks down to 92.8 yards rushing and 219.4 yards passing. Quarterback Drew Tate has completed 65.6 percent of his passes (86-of-131) for 1,010 yards with six interceptions to go with six scoring strikes. His favorite target is Ed Hinkel, who in five games has 23 catches for 317 yards and four touchdowns. He is averaging 63.4 yards per game. There is a bevy of receivers as 15 players have caught passes for the Hawkeyes this season. The other two touchdown grabs have been to the hands of Matt Melloy, who played in the season opener before getting sidelined with injury. He returned to action against Michigan State. Jermelle Lewis is the leading ground gainer with 57 carries for 200 yards and one TD.

On defense, Iowa is allowing 21.4 points and 327.0 total yards per contest. Opponents are running for 85.2 yards and passing for 241.8 yards per game. Iowa has 10 sacks totaling 55 yards and have intercepted opposing quarterbacks three times, while benefiting from five fumbles. Opponents are converting 38 percent on third and fourth down, 31/81 on third and 3/8 on fourth. Chad Greenway has 50 tackles, including 24 solos, to lead the team. He has five tackles-for-losses of 14 yards, two sacks and a pair of the team’s three interceptions. Abdul Hodge has 43 tackles and has recovered one fumble. Half of Jonathan Babineaux’s 18 tackles have been behind the line of scrimmage for losses of 31 yards. He also has a team-high three sacks.

Field goal kicker Kyle Schlicher is 5-of-7 and has made his last three tries, including a season long of 39 yards. His two misses are from 44 yards. David Bradley is averaging 40.5 yards per punt, including four touchbacks and seven inside the 20-yard line.

Iowa had a bye week last Saturday as Ohio State played host to Wisconsin in Columbus. The week before the Hawkeyes claimed a 38-16 victory at home against Michigan State. Drew Tate finished the game with 340 yards and a touchdown in going 25-for-36 and tied for the 15th-best performance by an Iowa quarterback. The Hawkeyes finished with a season-high 464 yards on offense. Jermelle Lewis carried three times for 49 yards and a score while Marques Simmons added 47 yards on 13 carries and a pair of TDs as the offense added 124 yards to Tate’s passing total. The Iowa defense allowed 204 yards rushing and 245 yards passing.

Kirk Ferentz (Connecticut, 1978) is in his sixth season as the head football coach at Iowa and is 35-31. Combined with a three-year stint as the head coach at Maine from 1990-92, his career record is 47-52. In 1999, Ferentz’s first year at Iowa, the Hawkeyes were 1-10 overall and 0-8 in the Big Ten. Just three years later in 2002, Ferentz had guided the Hawkeyes to an 11-2 record and went perfect in eight conference games to share the Big Ten championship with Ohio State. It was the first conference championship for Iowa since 1990 and the 11 wins were the most in the program’s history. Last season, Ferentz and the Hawkeyes finished 10-3 giving the Hawkeyes 21 wins in two seasons, the most of any team in school history.

The Buckeyes return home Saturday (10/23) to face the Indiana Hoosiers. Kickoff is set for 12:10 p.m. EDT on ESPN Regional Television. It is Homecoming weekend on the Ohio State campus and planned activities include the annual Captains’ Breakfast on Saturday morning and reunions of the 1949 and 1954 football teams. The former squad posted a 7-1-2 record and won the Big Ten, capping off the season with a 17-14 win over No. 3 California in the Rose Bowl. The ’54 team won the National Championship with a perfect 10-0 record that included a 20-7 win over Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl. Both teams will be introduced at halftime of Saturday’s game.