Oct. 30, 2011
COACH Luke Fickell
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open up with Coach Fickell.
COACH FICKELL: Obviously the most important thing is we got the win. I think we went into the game the big thing I talked about, I kept thinking to myself was we had to gain momentum. We had momentum from two weeks ago.
We had to keep the momentum, had to find a way to get some momentum on our side. Thought we had to throw the ball better, which obviously towards the end we did a better job of.
But need to continue to get better at that. Our big focus on defense was stop the run. And you know what, I think we did a heck of a job. The guys up front, the front seven, really learned a lot from last year and the couple of last years we played them, did exactly what we asked them to do at stopping the run up front.
The last thing I had down there was we had to make some plays and create momentum on the special teams. Blocked punt is a huge, huge thing. The special teams really played well in every other aspect of the game. That’s the difference in the ballgame, I believe.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. What about just two looked like two true freshmen there just improvising at the end on the game winning play, Braxton to Devin?
COACH FICKELL: We talked about it. We knew all year that Braxton can throw the ball, can do some things keeping the ball alive. And he had confidence. It was amazing to see that from a young guy like that as he walked out there in the last minute and ten seconds and he looked at me and winked.
And it takes Jordan Hall to create that momentum, to give us that little bit of spark there for that last drive.
Q. Keeps a lot open for you. A shot at the division. When was the last time you felt this good?
COACH FICKELL: I don’t know that I feel that great, right there at the end. But I’m so happy for these guys. I mean, the way they fought, the way they continued to believe in each other. You know, the ups and the downs. We’ve learned a lot. I think a couple of weeks ago at Nebraska it was something that hopefully we learned a lot from. We couldn’t figure out when you can continue to fight and not lose your focus and understand what you need to do, that you can still be successful.
Q. A lot was made about Braxton, about his passing, using the two weeks to really kind of juice up the offense and the passing game. What do you think this game will do for him? 99 yards rushing, the big pass to win it at the end, do you think this is the kind of game that can really build off the work you did here the last two weeks and take it to another level the rest of the way?
COACH FICKELL: It’s a confidence thing. And I think I’ve talked about it all year long or as long as Braxton has been the quarterback, it was about confidence. He’s learned to grasp things a lot more.
And we know he can throw it. We know he can do a lot of different things. It’s just understanding what we want him to do and having the confidence and doing it. And like you said momentum is a big part of it. Confidence and momentum and belief is a big part of it. I think we’ll still see him continue to grow and have a lot of abilities to throw it as well.
Q. What were your instructions in the defense as they go out there for the last possession? Would think one would be: No stinkin’ penalties. But take it from there.
COACH FICKELL: We had to regroup. That was the biggest thing they had to see from us, is we had to regroup and make sure we were staying focused. The game is never over. We saw it happen last week. We harped on that. You learn from those kinds of things. That’s what you hope as a defense and as a team you can learn from.
You don’t have to have things happen to you to learn from. We saw it last week this their game against Michigan State. We had the idea, hey, we need to get our hands on the receivers. We didn’t want to let them run free like had happened the last two series. We ended up getting called there for the pass interference or face mask on the second to last play of the game. But we stuck with what we did, and the last play was the same thing.
Q. Talk about Andrew’s efforts.
COACH FICKELL: That’s what we need. Sometimes everybody has an opinion, if it doesn’t work, they say why wouldn’t you have brought five guys or bought six during the last play of the game, don’t let them get the ball down the field.
That’s kind of what we do and put a guy in there that you trust, that we had been putting those freshmen, Ryan Shazier in there a little bit toward the end, he was a guy that could run and was fresh. Came down to the last play, we have to make sure we have our guys in there, I want Andrew in there, and he made a heck of a play.
Q. What is your reaction when your freshman quarterback gives you a wink on the way out for that last drive?
COACH FICKELL: I felt good about it. I think that’s what you need. You have to have confidence in what you’re doing. You have to have belief in what you’re doing.
And that’s a lot different from what you saw probably five, six weeks ago. Maybe even Miami. And you can just see that kind of growing in him. But he understands and we’ll make sure we keep on him to understand we have a long way to go. Be humble and make sure where you are right now is because of what you’ve done working in the last five weeks.
Q. What were the thoughts going in your head as Wisconsin was coming back there in the fourth quarter and eventually went to take the lead?
COACH FICKELL: You just try to figure out ways that you can make sure you’re correcting the things that are happening out there. You can’t let your mind drift. Yes, we’ve all been in those situations, and you look at those guys and you know they’re going to continue to battle. We’ve got to learn from it.
But you can’t let your mind drift. And ultimately as a coach you’re trying to figure out, hey, what’s going wrong and how can we get it fixed.
Q. What did happen on that, their last scoring drive when they took the lead and the guy’s pretty wide open going into the end zone, what happened there and what got mixed up on the play?
COACH FICKELL: A little bit of blown coverage, and those are the kinds of things we talk about. The one thing we wanted in the game we wanted to stop the run and we didn’t want to give up big plays. I think we did one heck of a job at that until those last two drives. And that comes down to being able to finish a game. You gotta be able to finish. That’s where we’re going to be able to get a lot better at, be able to harp on, learn from this and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Q. Jordan Hall had a couple of fumbles tonight but you stuck with him late in the game, ended up having one or two nice returns toward the end there. Talk about the decision to stay with him.
COACH FICKELL: We believe in him. Yeah, he’s going to be in a situation, he’s going to try to make some things happen, and we’ll put the ball in those guys’ hands. We asked those guys to be able to make some things.
He caught one probably inside the 10 on the punt. Took one out of the end zone about six, seven yards deep. I’m not saying those are things we designed up to say we’re going to do, but we’ll want the ball in the guy’s hands that we know can make some plays. Just because he makes a mistake here or there, he doesn’t make them too often. We’re going to stick with him.
Q. Simple question: How heartwarming is this for your players, your coaches, the fans? Obviously there’s been some turmoil with the program, and sounds like the party’s going to continue for a while out there. What does this really mean to everybody involved?
COACH FICKELL: This is what Ohio State is about. We don’t ever look at ourselves as underdogs or is this a huge win? This is for this team. This is for this program. This is what we expect. But it is that same thing. It’s about confidence. It’s about momentum. And you can learn and learn and learn from all different ways. But until you do it, there’s no other way to learn it.
And to get a victory like this, just makes those guys realize what all that hard work and all those adverse situations and things they’ve been put through are well worth it when you can see these kinds of things happen for you.
JOHN SIMON and DAN HERRON
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players.
Q. John, a lot of this, trying to get the crowd into it, did you feel this could be a special night if you could get them in here and get the crowd on your side and get the momentum?
John Simon: We thought it was big tonight. We wanted to have the crowd on our side, things like that, which we knew they were going to be. And just making sure in crucial situations that we had them maybe distracting offense a little bit with communication, things like that. And I think we benefited from it.
Q. Boom, then John, just that feeling at the end of the game, you pulled this out and the players are still on the field and the fans are storming the field, what did it feel like?
Dan Herron: It was a great feeling. We definitely wanted this win really bad. The team kept on fighting. Guys never gave up; we went out there and got it done.
John Simon: I’d say the same. We knew it was going to be a fight. And this is a big win for us, things like that. We’re going to enjoy tonight and get back to work tomorrow. There’s a lot of football left.
Q. Boom, what was Braxton like in the huddle there the last series, did he say anything to you guys? What was his demeanor like?
Dan Herron: He was very focused. The whole thing with the offense was just stay focused, make the plays and just keep moving the ball.
Q. John, last week against Michigan State, they fell behind, had those two late touchdowns and got back into it, almost pulled off the same thing here tonight. Just talk about maybe the feeling on defense down the stretch, like just get one stop and you win the game and that’s what happened there at the end.
John Simon: Right. Absolutely. We knew it was going to be a fight. We knew they had play makers and they were going to make things happen. We just had to handle that adversity and they were able to get two quick scores on us and things like that. The offense made a big play for us. We knew we had a chance to redeem ourselves and we were going to play again.
Q. Talk about what you were talking about before the play, what were the instructions to everybody, what was the focus?
John Simon: We really wanted to get pressure on them, make them throw it early. I think Andrew Sweat got great pressure on them, maybe got a hit on them, just bat the ball down before anyone could catch it, and luckily we executed well.
Q. In the first half they seemed to contain you in the run game, and you came out in the second half with that long run in the first play. What kind of adjustments made to allow that to happen?
Dan Herron: We definitely made a couple of adjustments. The “O” line was doing a great job. They opened a great hole for me the second half at the beginning of the game. And the other big thing was just to come out and make a big play and just get the offense going.