Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript
Sept. 20, 2011
COACH FICKELL: Our focus is on ourselves, how do we get better. I think that's the thing that we're going to continue to talk about as a team all week. People are going to ask me about the matchups, what's this. Ultimately a lot of your questions are going to come down to we're going to look at ourselves, evaluate ourselves, figure out a way we can get better as a football team, football coaches, get around our guys, making no excuses, whether they're young or old.
We're going to be around them as much as we possibly can and focus on how we can get better fundamentally so we can go out and play football like we know how to play football.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Luke, you had a chance to look at the tape obviously. A lot of difficulty throwing the football on Saturday. Will your plan be similar?
We know we need to get better. We had a hard time throwing the football. We had some younger guys out there, that's no excuse. They got up on us, took away some things we wanted to do. When we get an opportunity to catch a couple balls, if we do it, we have a better chance. If we play better, keep ourselves in the game defensively as well, I think things will open offensively.
It all works together. I know when you focus on just one single part of it, it becomes a lot more obvious. You look at the stats, what your completions are, how many yards you threw for, it becomes obvious.
Sometimes if you do a better job around the ball, you're going to have better opportunities. Get one score, a pick, have a chance of a touchdown, now it's a seven or six point game as well.
Q. Why didn't you call any of your timeouts when you were late on defense in the game?
Probably if I went back and looked at it, the one they called with 8, 10 seconds left, maybe should have saved ourselves 25 seconds right there. Once they called the timeout on the third down before the last four plays, we decided, Hey, we're going to need to save these unless we get in a situation because we're going to need two scores.
Q. You didn't consider it earlier in the drive?
If we look back in hindsight, the very last one, maybe it would have saved us 30 seconds in our minds and maybe we could have got a little bit of a breather is something that I always look back at. Our thought was, Hey, we're going to best we can try to make sure we have a couple to score twice.
Q. You talked several times over the past few weeks of handling adversity, suspensions. You were presented with some adversity with the two early touchdowns, the big run right at the beginning, things you weren't able to do offensively. Were you surprised a little bit about how your players were not able to respond to adversity like that?
But when we say, How do you handle adversity? I look about it, Are your heads down, are your shoulders down, are you not fighting with it? I think we did. I think we'll put ourselves in better situations, obviously, if it's not an 11 point game. Defensively we didn't handle adversity after the first touchdown. That's probably why they got the second touchdown. How do we do that? I sit here and contemplate, we have such an incredibly high standard for those guys and we preach it, that all of a sudden when something happens, it's such a letdown to them that it's hard.
Where is that, Hey, guys, it's okay. You don't want to think it's okay to get scored on, but yet there you didn't see the emotion. It was almost like, Wow, you could see the youth, they were shell shocked they scored that easily instead of responding. We gathered ourselves and handled it a little bit better.
Q. Fans out there who are worried, you have a difficult schedule coming up, what's reasonable expectations for a team as young as this is and has had as many things going against it in terms of suspensions until you get players back? What do you hope you can do over the next couple of weeks?
To me, we got to focus on every day. We just got done talking about it as a staff. We're going to be around those guys as much as possible, coach them up as hard as we possibly can, make sure we understand we have to get better. It's ultimately where you end and not where you begin. We want to see improvement. That's what our focus is going to be.
Q. When you watched the tape, what did you like or not like about each of your quarterbacks?
I know you want to ask questions about one position, but I think it's a whole. I think we help him out defensively, if we put ourselves in a situation, I think we help him out offensively if we give him some more opportunities.
But it was the way it went. He didn't have a lot of opportunities, either one of them, because of the guys locking up. They did a good job of that.
I can't pinpoint one single thing other than we got to get better all across the board.
Q. Did you give any thought to Kenny or Taylor?
They were doing a good job defensively for what we were doing. When you're down 11, you can't just pound it and run it, you need to make things happen. I think it put us in a situation where we didn't do a good job of handling it.
Q. The ball security issues with Braxton, was that something you have seen or were worried about? What do you attribute that to?
That's the big thing. We have to be aware of what the situation is. I think we had two fumbles all last year. I don't want to exactly tell you how many we've had already this year, but I can tell you it's almost three times or twice as many in three games.
We got to get better.
Q. You had success in that second quarter with Jordan running the football primarily out of the 'I'. As the second half went along in retrospect, he obviously had some issues where he wasn't totally comfortable running the football. Is that something you look back on the third quarter you could have taken more advantage of?
It's everything. Yes, if we could have run the football, been within three, six, eight points, I think our offense would have felt more comfortable. We would have made them to do a few more things and complete some things in the passing game.
Q. Will Jordan be a hundred percent for the weekend?
Q. Luke, following up on what you were talking about the quarterbacks this week, is Braxton in the running to be the starter? Do y'all have a big decision to make in the next couple of weeks of what direction you go there? Can you see this playing out for a while?
I know there's situations when you have to have different guys on the field, whether it's defensively or offensively. The thing we have to make sure we do is try to find a way that we can, A, get better each and every day, but how do we get our best 11 guys on the field.
Q. The way you guys were able to run the ball with Jordan and Carlos, was that a silver lining coming out of this game? They have a pretty good defensive front.
There's some good things. You turn it on and you're always going to find some things that you can build upon. Doesn't mean we overlook the things we didn't like, I promise you that. But we're going to build upon those things we do like.
Q. How much of a job is it, coaching staff wise, when you have a game like that, confidence with a younger kind of team to get knocked back like that? Or do you look at that as you're not particularly worried about that going forward? You're talking about improvement on the field. Are you worried about their confidence or do you think this team is okay that way?
Somebody asked, What do you think this team is going to be in three weeks? I worry about today. I'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow. I think that's the focus we have to have so we get our best every day. Will that bring confidence? I hope so. I haven't lost any confidence in them. That's what you do.
Hopefully they'll take that lead, us as coaches understand that's what we have to do, and we're going to continue to do it.
Q. It sounds like you have a plan at quarterback; you're just not interested in sharing it just yet.
Q. I thought that's what you said.
Q. Is there a clear cut choice or you need more time?
Now, again, we'll see. We start practice. We got a practice here in about an hour. We want to see how those guys compete, how they respond, then we'll continue to make our decisions as we go forward.
Q. You don't see an overwhelming upside of Braxton over Joe right now?
Q. Receivers. Were they not getting open as you look back at the tape? Were there not a lot of choices? You were talking about the youth at receiver earlier. What were they doing to take some of the options maybe away?
You got to give them some credit, too. They got up on the guys. They got some good DBs. Our guys didn't have opportunities to get loose and they weren't running free.
Do we need to get better there? Yeah. We need to get better in a lot of areas. We need to get open when guys are up on us. That's just the nature of the game. That's no excuse that they're young. We're not going to give them that excuse. We're not going to have that excuse as a coaching staff or as a team.
That's what I mean. It's focused on the quarterbacks, but we got to do a better job all in all.
Q. I think the TV cameras near the end of the game caught Joe Bauserman laughing or smiling at the sidelines. Is that anything that's an issue for you while you're losing the game?
No, that's not something you want to see. Whether he was disguising or masking how his gut felt, I have confidence that Joe hurts every bit as much as I hurt. We try and tell those guys, nothing goes unnoticed whether it's on the sidelines of a game, whether it's in a classroom, wherever you are having something to eat. Just make sure you understand that.
But I haven't noticed anything that would tell me that Joe isn't 100% with us.
Q. When you guys this week are making decisions about which offensive players will play or get more time, whether it's at quarterback or tailback or anywhere else, how much will that decision be yours as the head coach and how much do you leave that to the offensive staff?
Ultimately we understand that when there's a decision that has to be made, there's got to be one place the buck stops. I feel like we'll all be on the same page.
Q. In the Toledo game and Miami game defensively you gave up drives early, which I know is something that probably keeps you up at night a little bit. This Colorado team offensively has a lot of weapons and can do that. How do you make sure on the defensive side of the ball you're ready to go when the whistle blows?
We talked last week about starting fast. That's the one thing we did not do a good job of. I'll put that on me and make sure we know we're ready to go this week.
Q. Speaking about what you were just talking about, how much of this week do you spend on or own psyche and cleaning up your affairs and how much do you spend on Colorado?
Does that mean we're not going to run their plays, do what they do in practice? No. But we want to make sure those guys understand we want to get better at what we do every bit as much as we're making sure we understand what they do.
Q. They're coming off a big win. They have guys from Ohio. What do you anticipate seeing coming in?
Q. Before the season Jim Hancock was talking about the seven starters on defense that you lost, not just how good they were as players, but as leaders. Where does that stand in terms of the defensive leadership? Do you feel like you're on the right path there?
I can't sit here and point a finger at it right now. There are guys that are working, there are guys that are going to be leaders, there are guys doing a good job for us.
Q. One guy who played well is John Simon. Can you talk about his development?
Q. Is there a situation where getting an athlete playing time is not the most beneficial thing to their development overall? Are there situations where guys can learn more by practicing or watching?
A lot of what we do, our experience, that's why we put our guys on special teams as freshmen. We want you out there playing. Make a couple tackles, have a lot more confidence putting you in, too.
So it's about playing. That's why we got to get guys a chance to play.
Q. At least in your experience there's never been a college player who's been stunted because they were thrown in before they were ready?
Q. I know you're still a couple ways out from getting players back. I know you're focused on the guys you have. How are you keeping those guys engaged for what will be a couple weeks when you do get them back? How are you handling them in practice? How are they taking not playing?
Q. You say you're going to use practice this week to evaluate the quarterbacks. Just to be clear, is this still a two quarterback situation or is Guiton and Graham in the mix?
Q. You made a couple references to how you're handling this: stomach churning, the email you got, the buck stops here. You've never had to deal with this before as an assistant coach or player. How is this week different than last week and week one for you personally?
That's where it's been most difficult, but that's where we are right now.
Q. Colorado looks like it wants to sling the ball a little bit. Your corners had some challenging times the other night. Where do you work to get the confidence back on that group?
Corners anyway, they got to have a short memory. If they lack confidence out there, they won't be out there quite as long. That 17 hours is over with. We're going to figure out how we get better from that. We're going to move on and make sure we're getting better at what we do.
Q. Can you talk about the competition at safety between Orhian Johnson and Christian Bryant? What do you see there?
Defensive line wise we do a pretty good job of it. Linebacker wise we don't do as good a job of it. To have those three guys, I think we do a good job. We have to do a better job rolling them.
Q. Andrew Sweat was favoring his knee, and Adam Homan?
Q. During the Toledo game we heard some scattered boos from the crowd. Coming off a loss at Miami. Are you concerned about what kind of reception, what it will be like in the stadium on Saturday?
That's not what we're going to focus on. Hopefully that doesn't affect us mentally in any way.
Q. I don't want to belabor the point on the timeouts, but I'm going to. Do you regret you ended up with three timeouts in your pocket at the end of that game?
Q. Did you feel 17 6 was striking distance?
Q. Perhaps the most glaring was when there was an injury on the field and they took 40 seconds off the clock. Do you regret not using one at that point to keep a full 40 seconds on the clock?
It ultimately didn't end up hurting us. That last one, as I look back and evaluate it, that was the chance to get hindsight, that would probably be the spot.
THE MODERATOR: Luke, thank you.
COACH FICKELL: Sure.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open up with questions for John Simon.
Q. In the Toledo game and also last week against Miami, both teams were able to get quick starts on you offensively. Had an impact on the game. You have a Colorado team this week that has some offensive skill as well. How do you shore up and make sure that doesn't happen this week?
Q. Where the defense was late in the game when Miami was driving, did fatigue or any kind of being worn down a little bit play a part in that drive at all?
Q. Coach Fickell was mentioning those first couple of drives, first couple scores for Miami, felt like some of the younger guys on defense might have been a little shellshocked about what was going on. Did you sense that at all on the field? Is that a learning experience for you guys?
Q. What did you think the mood was of the team after the game or since the game, I should say?
Q. You had a decade where you always seemed to come up with exactly the play you needed to get back in the game. Were you a little bit surprised that neither offensively or defensively did anybody really make a play that kind of got you back after that?
We're not going to make excuses for ourselves. Miami came to play and got the job done. Our objective this week is Colorado. Like I said, just getting on the field today, we'll bring that fire back. Everyone's excited. We got a big challenge for us on Saturday.
Q. John, Jim Heacock said before the season that leadership on defense was going to be a key. How do you think that stands right now? Do you feel you're stepping into that role?
Q. Can you assess your play so far this year?
Q. Coach says there's a 17 hour rule with the team. It's been a while since Ohio State has had that kind of performance and outcome in a football game. Is it possible to forget something?
Colorado is our objective now, so that's all we're focused on.
Q. John, I think you're the only Big Ten team playing another BCS conference team this week. Wondering, do you feel like you could use a light touch right now or do you like the fact you have a PAC 12 team coming in here that can sling it?
You're always going to have a challenge on Saturdays. We're excited for this one. I don't think any of our guys want to break. We're up to the challenge. Like I said, guys are in there this morning breaking down film, game planning, so we're ready to go.
Q. What are the challenges with this Colorado team? What stands out to you about them?
Q. John, this doesn't directly affect you, but I think some people might have questions about the first year quarterbacks, first year head coach. You're doing your job, but how do you respond to things like that if there are people asking questions about your coach or quarterbacks?
THE MODERATOR: John, thank you.
JOHN SIMON: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll bring in Zach Boren.
Q. A year ago in this offense you were certainly a guy who got a lot of touches who was using some creative ways. That hasn't quite been the case at this point. Is it frustrating? Do you feel like you can give more to the offense than is being asked of you right now?
When you create your personality, first couple games of the season, you can't get too creative. You just have to kind of go out and run what you think you can do against a given defense.
Q. How do you think the rest of the team responded to the way Miami played, came at you early and often? How did you feel you came back at them?
Our defense was holding them. After those first two drives, our defense started playing their butts off. We could have finished two drives in the first half. We should have. But when you're down 17 6 at halftime you're feeling pretty good for getting outplayed pretty much. Coach Fickell got us fired up, told us we had to come out and play.
I feel like we fought the whole game. Like I said, we came out a little dead. But I feel like we fought. Especially on the road, that's hard to do at times.
Q. After two wins, a lot of your fans thought this is great. Now some have doubts. Is there any danger that players could also have doubts?
That's our mentality. We can't have any doubts, especially with everything that's happened this year. We have to go out and prove people wrong.
Q. How do you keep the morale of some of the younger guys up on this team?
Q. What did Jordan Hall specifically bring to the table? What do you sense he brings to the offense now?
The guy is small. I don't even know how tall he is. But he hides behind offensive linemen well. His vision is great, for him being back there and stuff like that. He's a play maker and that's what we need.
Q. For right now coach sounds like he's going to continue the two quarterback system. As you're in the offensive huddle, on the sidelines, is there a growing sense that one of those guys, Joe or Braxton, is gaining a little bit more confidence amongst the other offensive players?
We support whoever is out there. It's not we're leaning one way or another. We just hope whoever is out there is out there making plays.
Q. You have some guys watching right now. This offense is in dire need of somebody stepping up and making a play. Do you see someone who is ready to do that, taking over those roles right now?
Jordan Hall is more than capable. All the runningbacks are capable of doing that. Even out wide, the young guys. I think we have the fastest team I've ever been a part of here at Ohio State. We definitely have that capability of guys to be able to make big plays, be that play maker. Someone just needs to step up and do it.
Q. You mentioned trying to figure out your personality on offense. What do you feel the personality of this offense is? If there's one drive you have to figure out, what do you think you're best at doing?
I mean, like I said, we really don't know just because against Toledo, we weren't effective running the ball. Against Akron, Miami, we were. It depends on the game. Depends how we're feeling. Depends what the defense is giving us, stuff like that. It's kind of an adapting process throughout the game.
Q. Do you feel it's still a work in progress?
Our personality is definitely evolving still, and we'll see what comes out Saturday.
Q. At your fullback position, what can you tell us about Adam's injury?
Davis a great guy. Hard worker, one of the hardest workers we have on the team. He comes out every day at practice and works his butt off. That's what we love about him.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Zach.
ZACH BOREN: Thank you.