Sept. 11, 2004
TRESSEL: We played a team that I thought got prepared very well. Marshall is passionate about the game of football. They had a good plan. They committed themselves to their plan. Their defense had lots of people up by the line of scrimmage. They weren’t going to let us control the tempo of the game with the run.
Offensively they did a good job of changing up things and so forth. And the quarterback, I thought, played an excellent football game. Obviously the difference in the game was Mike Nugent. We can’t turn it over like that and give them points and let them have a chance.
REPORTER: Seems like we’re going back to 2002, another narrow escape. How comfortable with you, Mike, with 54 yards?
TRESSEL: I think it was 55, wasn’t it?
NUGENT: I really couldn’t tell you.
TRESSEL: That’s what Jim Lachey said on the radio. I was confident. We’ve put him in that position many times in kick scrimmages. It’s the last play of the game and here’s what we’ve got to do. He’s a great kicker. There’s not a better one in college football and I think he proved that today.
REPORTER: There was a fourth quarter rock with turnovers and yet you find a way.
TRESSEL: Our defense hung in their tough and did a great job of stopping them there that last drive. We appeared like we were going to put pressure on their punter and he kind of shanked it and we were really trying to set up a return. We wanted Santonio to see if he could bring it back, give us 15 yards from what we needed, then maybe throw for it and skip that overtime stuff, but we were fortunate.
REPORTER: Can you talk about that last drive Justin engineered after throwing two picks in the fourth quarter?
TRESSEL: He did a good job finding the open guy. And life happens to you so much defensively, you don’t know which way to go and you don’t know, if I play it too tight if Teddy Ginn or Bam Childress is going to run by me, or you play it real loose and make sure you make the tackle. Today the athletic move of the day was on the first completion when Santonio Holmes was able to get out of bounds. How he stayed up and got out of bounds, that was the difference.
REPORTER: Coach, were you surprised they declined that illegal shift penalty there right before the kick?
TRESSEL: No, they took it. They moved us back five yards. They took it.
REPORTER: Any resemblance here in this game and the games you played against Marshall in the past?
TRESSEL: Tight, hard fought, two teams really that love the game and love to get after it and, you know, we’ve said all week long they’re passionate about the game and they lost to a very good team, Troy State, which we all know that, after seeing what they did to Missouri and really they dominated the Troy game in a lot of ways and just didn’t win. They’re not used to losing, we mentioned that to all of you all week long and they played like they’re not used to losing.
REPORTER: Mike, would you take us through the emotion you have of winning the game and take us through the kick itself, first the emotion and then about the kick.
NUGENT: When you say emotion when “I” won the game, I don’t think “I” won the game at all. I just kind of did my job when I was called upon, just a few extra points and one field goal. I think these coaches as well as the rest of the guys on the team, like Coach Tressel was saying, they put us in situations all the time, it was not like I was out there and anything was really new to it, I think they’ve done a great job in putting us in situations like that and I thought the best part about the game today was how Justin just kind of handled the adversity he saw all game and took the guys down the field that last drive, that was unbelievable. Even though it ended up being a pretty long field goal, I don’t care, I tell those guys all the time, get it down the field and we’re going to get at least three out of it. I thought it was unbelievable how they got the ball down the field like that for us.
REPORTER: Did you debate at all taking the holding penalty that moved them back and gave them another shot at what would have ended up being the tie touchdown? What was your thinking, to make them take a longer field goal there?
TRESSEL: We talked about it a little bit back and forth. Do you want them to be third and eight, I think, or do you want them to be second and 19? I guess it’s irrelevant because they threw a touchdown the next play, but, yeah, we kind of went back and forth and it would have made — if we would have had two incompletions in a row or make a sack, we might have knocked them out of field goal range. As it turned out, it wasn’t the best decision. Sometimes when you sack them a couple times, you look smart when they miss their field goal, but you have to make decisions and you have to do it in 20 seconds.
REPORTER: Coach, Santonio sat out most of the third quarter, how much of that factored into the offense?
TRESSEL: Santonio is quite a player, as we’ve been saying all along. It really didn’t change what we did. We didn’t score any, obviously, but I thought we stayed with a similar plan and so forth and they stayed with their plan of having everyone up in the box or on their way to the box at the snap of the ball and I suppose he wasn’t there to make a couple big plays for us, but he’s a special player.
REPORTER: Did you see Justin go through growing pains today, a brilliant start, and then what’s your impression of how he fought back there with that last drive?
TRESSEL: I don’t know if he went through more pains than the rest of us, but that’s the life of a quarterback, the ball’s in your hand and you have to make decisions and hopefully you learn when the decisions you make aren’t quite what they should have been and maybe you don’t keep the situation in mind quite as much as you should. But I think as Nuge said, he handled it all. There were some times where it just didn’t work out for him, but he wasn’t going to stop competing and he competed and took us down and gave us a chance to win the game in regulation. So you have to feel good about that, and you also have to be working on the things that we’re not doing well enough yet, and he’ll do that.
REPORTER: Quite a disparity in your yardage game passing as opposed to the run, is it Air Tressel now? I think you had 300 and something.
TRESSEL: It better not be. You could count the number of games at most schools that you’ve thrown 300 yards and you’ve probably lost. You can count the number of games that you rushed for 200 yards and you probably won 95% of them. I know it’s the case at Ohio State, but probably across the land. So do we want to throw for 300 and run for 100? No. Do we want to be able to throw it well? Absolutely. Do we want people concerned about our pass game? Yes, but we’ve got to be able to do both.
REPORTER: You talk a lot about turnover margin and the importance of it. I think you’re seven down in turnover margin but you’re 2-0, can I get your reaction to that?
TRESSEL: We’re lucky, I guess, because typically if you’re at a minus seven in turnover margin, you’re going to be 0-2. But that tells you that something else must have been going right substantially like the defense playing well or special teams or maybe getting — we talk a lot about explosive gains. I don’t know how many plays of 12 to 15 or more yards we had, but I think there were a number of them and sometimes those explosive gain margins can help offset the turnover margin if it’s not so good, but we can’t count on it. I’ve not been around too many teams that can lose the turnover margin and be a champion.
REPORTER: Coach Tressel, talk a little bit more about the running game not being able to gain a lot of yards today, talk a little bit more about that, please.
TRESSEL: I think part of it is that Marshall’s a good football team. Part of it is we’ve got to get better. Part of it is a numbers game where there’s more folks there than we can block and that’s why 300 and some yards passing because everyone was at the line of scrimmage. But that was — they committed themselves to that plan. They thought that that’s the way that they could win the game and you know what? I’d say it was probably a pretty good plan, they almost won the game.
REPORTER: Jim, I’m wondering about, it looked for a time there they were really controlling the line of scrimmage when they were going up the field, what was happening for you there defensively? Why were they able to really move the ball on you?
TRESSEL: I think that one drive especially, they got us going a little bit sideways and were making some nice cuts and I’ll bet you we’ll find that maybe we were playing high a little bit because usually if you play up a little bit you’ll get pushed sideways, but they’re a good outfit and they had us on our heels a little bit. The quarterback was very efficient when he threw. He completed them and so he mixed it up. I thought, again, that they had a good plan. They stayed with it and they were tough to beat and we gave them 14 of their 21 points. One we handed to them and they ran in with it, and the other we gave to them on, I don’t know what yard line, the 25 or something.
TRESSEL: 13? Yeah, so they had to travel 13 yards for 14 points and they only got 21 total. So we can’t turn the football over.
REPORTER: Mike, could you talk about when you kicked it? Did you know it was good? When you kicked it, how did you feel?
NUGENT: That was actually one thing we were just talking about, I don’t know how our guys were when they hit a ball, every time I hit a solid ball it goes back and forth a little bit. It kind of scared me at first. First it was going dead center and then it started going back in. I was just telling it to go in and that last second it made it by about two inches. My first thing was, where’s my team at, because I was one guy out of 10 guys on the field at that time and those guys did a perfect job. It’s only one point, three seconds. I thought they did a great job. The snap was unbelievable. The hold was unbelievable. I was glad they could do their job to put it all together.
REPORTER: Was it up and it was center and then it started going where, to the left?
NUGENT: Yeah, sometimes when I say back and forth, sometimes it will start in and come back and that’s pretty much what it did. It went out and faded back in, and I don’t know if it was at that last second, I don’t know if it was because I told it to, I don’t know, but I was screaming at it and it just went in that last second.
REPORTER: Could you assess your injuries and what you guys may have lost today?
TRESSEL: The only one I know is Dustin Fox as far as the only one I know what’s wrong. He’s got a fracture and he’ll probably not be back any before the middle of the Big Ten schedule. Outside of that, I’m not sure. I know Mike Kudla left the game. Santonio left with cramps. I don’t know who else. SNAPP: I think that’s it.
TRESSEL: That might be it. But I know Dustin will be out for a while. It’s a shame.
REPORTER: Fracture where?
REPORTER: Jim, how much do you think a team has its mind set expecting to win and finding a way to win in the second half?
TRESSEL: We had a lot of confidence that if they could move it close, Mike Nugent would kick it and put it through and back up another step. Our defense had a lot of confidence that if they could stop Marshall and maybe Santonio could run it close enough, and if not, our offense could move it close enough. So I think that mindset is they have a lot of confidence in each other and a lot of belief in that they know their comrades won’t stop trying and there’s nothing guaranteed that we’ll always win, but they know that their guys will go down trying and they have a lot of faith.
REPORTER: The way college football is set up, each loss is so detrimental and it can further you from the goal of a National Championship. Was there an urgency that the talent’s there, it’s your senior season, when you went out there that it was all on you?
NUGENT: I don’t think it was too much this is my senior season, this is all I have. I think you’re right when you say the talent is there in college football, that if you lose one game you might have blown the National Championship, so I think we just try to get one step at a time and we know if we don’t get past this step of success we’re not going to be where we want to be.
REPORTER: What specifically do you focus on? You’ve got the crowd screaming, you’ve got the referees, what specifically are you focusing on when you walk out on the field and get the snap?
NUGENT: Really I was talking to someone about this before the game and they asked the same question. I just got out there and told myself, this is no different than an extra point. I don’t know what anyone else thinks, every extra point I hit, if it’s dead center I could have hit it from 65, maybe 70. So I was telling myself, don’t change anything. Some people get out there and try to kill it, but everything was so perfect on the other end besides the kick itself, so I knew it would be there. I just kept telling myself, just hit it like an extra point.
REPORTER: But it looked like it was lower than most of your extra points.
NUGENT: I’m not sure, I didn’t see it too long. After I hit it, I focused a little bit — if I could see any of it.
REPORTER: Mike, one of your friends and mentors maybe, Vlade Janakievski, goes to the Hall of Fame, I know you see him frequently each week, can you talk about how he might help you, or the fraternity of kickers, and him being here today obviously made for a perfect ending.
NUGENT: I think things happen for a reason. I had lunch with him and Dan Stultz yesterday, so it’s kind of unbelievable that maybe this happened on the same time that he was getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. I was so excited to hear that for him because he’s one of the best that’s ever gone through here. So it’s exciting to hang out with guys like that, him and Dan, hear their mindset, hear coaches’ stories. He’ll tell me Woody Hayes stories and I’ll tell him Coach Tressel stories and things like that.
REPORTER: Go right ahead.
NUGENT: Good stories. It’s fun hearing three different guys. We play for three completely different coaches or different teams, and it’s nice getting to know people like that, make you feel comfortable in your surroundings.
TRESSEL: Mike is done for today. The stories are coming out.
REPORTER: Coach, were you prepared today, with last week, you had a similar circumstance in your running game especially early on, but last week, you had a number of players touch that ball that this week did not, namely Bam Childress, Maurice Hall, I’m not sure Maurice Hall had a touch at all in your running backs, and Bam Childress, did you have very many plays for Bam Childress in the second half especially?
TRESSEL: I think Bam had a big catch coming out, 20-some yard catch coming out in that fourth quarter. But we don’t always design plays just for a guy, you know, the positions they play, the route that Bam caught two or three balls on last week, today we happened to hit the square in one time, we happened to hit the back one time, because they covered Bam and that’s — if a guy catches three or four balls, it doesn’t mean we told the quarterback in the huddle, throw it to Bam. It just so happened the routes he was running were covered and they were finding other people. As far as Mo Hall, I don’t know how many rushes we had, but I think Lydell might have been the only one that carried from tailback. I’m not sure.
REPORTER: What about Antonio?
TRESSEL: Antonio pulled a quad a little bit last weekend. We thought he might get back and he was kind of perky Wednesday and Thursday, but we didn’t think it was in his best interest to play today.
REPORTER: The last pass to Ryan Hamby, did you have any fear that you wouldn’t get lined up in time to get the field goal off? And can you take me through, I guess, on a penalty there’s some way that works out that if Ryan doesn’t get back across the line, the game is over, they take the time off the clock, is that accurate?
TRESSEL: He doesn’t get back?
REPORTER: He doesn’t get back across the line.
TRESSEL: I don’t know the answer to that. I probably should. That last play, we had just hit Santonio on a little hitch route. He stayed up and got out of bounds. We kind of ran the same type of thing, the play that could happen the quickest and we talked to him at that point in time that, hey, if we happened to be in the field of play, everyone just get up and we’ll spike the ball and we should be okay. They were holding us down. They’re well schooled and they were getting up slow and keeping us from getting across the line of scrimmage, but I’m not so sure of that rule that you asked about. But was I concerned? Yeah, I watched that clock just like you did. I wanted to see the ball spiked.