Weekly Football Press Conference Transcript
Nov. 8, 2011
An interview with:
COACH FICKELL: I don't know that it's been brought up, maybe a little apology to the band. I'm not sure when we were supposed to come out there at halftime, but it was hard to keep them in the locker room. The band was still playing. They said not till three and a half minutes. We needed to get back out there, a little bit more time to loosen up.
If we kind of messed it up, I'll take the blame for that. I'm not sure anything was said as of yet, but I apologize for that.
Obviously we came out the second half, played better, a little more physical. Got the job done up front offensive line wise that gave us the spark to finish that game out. Defensively finally made a big play. If the team is going to have 80 some snaps, you're going to have to get a few turnovers. Otherwise, those turnovers, you'll continue to get five, six, seven, eight yards. If they can convert on third down, it makes it difficult for you defensively.
Moving forward, I guess we'll open it up for any questions.
Q. How is Boom Herron's ankle feeling? Do you expect Jordan Hall will be available?
Jordan we're still kind of curious on. Hopefully he'll be able to go. He'll be a little bit hesitant. We'll hold him out a little bit today. But we're hoping. We obviously have to wait till later in the week to find out for sure.
Q. What about J.B. Shugarts?
Q. Any reaction at all to what's come down over at State College the last several days concerning that football program?
Q. Assuming that Jordan Hall is available this weekend, how do you split the carries between him and Carlos Hyde?
If Jordan is fine, we'll get him back into the situation. I am sure he will get some touches whether it is kickoff or punt. We'll find a way to move that thing around, put him in positions that they can have opportunities to touch the football.
Q. From the very start you mentioned turnovers as one of the main things you want to focus on with this program. I think you're plus four so far this year. Are you pretty happy with the way you're taking the ball away from other guys or where do you think you could improve?
But these offenses that are going to get 80, 85 snaps a game, you can see some of those games Saturday night, not the ones Tim was watching, some of those other ones the scores are 55 48, 54 35. There's going to be turnovers with having 80, 85 plays. That's kind of the offense we played. To only get one is not where we want to be.
Q. Nine games into the season, do you feel you have a pretty good grasp on your team's identity?
We're not out there saying we're trying to set a new identity. This is Ohio State football. We've had an identity for over a hundred years. We have a great base for what we are and what we believe in. It's just a continued growth of that. Might be a little bit more of a focus on some specific things because of who we are and who we have right now.
Q. Your last game on the road you played well, worked out well. Do you have to kind of reinforce to everybody about the challenges out there inherent with road games, how dangerous Purdue can be?
It's part of what we do. We can't get too carried up with are we home, are we away. There are some travel things that you have to make sure you understand that it's a business trip and stay focused.
Q. What do you remember from the '09 game?
I don't know. I'm not sure to say, hey, we didn't come out and didn't play. They played a very good football game. We just got to make sure we understand, we have to learn from those past things, make sure we see what happened, know what to expect when you walk into something.
Q. What kind of lessons can be learned from that? Will you bring that up this week?
It's going to be a battle.
Q. Hard to be too critical offensively when you have three guys go over a hundred yards rushing. Do you have any concerns with your pass game? 50 some yards in the first quarter, little after that. What have you seen in the passing game? Are there challenges there? Does it have to get better as the season goes along?
We know we have to get better at it. We know if there's any chance for us to be where we want to be in the end we got to do a better job obviously of throwing the football, we got to do a better job of getting off the field on third down on defense. That's why we'll be out there again today, every day, knowing we know to make sure we harp on the things we need to get better at.
As long as we're all on the same page, it comes down to what are you thinking. As long as those guys understand we know we need to get better, we got a chance.
Q. When you watch Christian Bryant on tape, do you see a guy who is on the verge of emerging as a force? What is your take on him at this point?
We talked about it a little bit earlier. Why haven't you been as good in the first quarter? Not that we want to use that excuse of youth because they're not young anymore. This is the ninth, tenth game of the season. Sometimes when you have to come off the side, the first series or two is when you're seeing things whether it's offensively or defensively, you have to draw things up for guys. Okay, now I see. Maybe, hey, that's new, we didn't do that in practice.
Christian is one of those guys that naturally sees things, is a natural football player. He'll give us a chance. He has an opportunity to make some of those picks or some of those plays that we just got to continue to make them.
Q. During the last two games, Drew Basil has had kickoffs going out of bounds. Is there something he's doing mechanically wrong?
It's a concentration thing. He knows what he needs to do. It's a technique thing. He's done a great job of kicking field goals, then all of a sudden we had a little lapse in the kickoff. We have confidence. He'll figure it out. Might have twisted his ankle on the first one, stepped wrong. Those are the things we just can't have happen. They can't happen at any time whether it's the opening kickoff or in the Wisconsin game the final kickoff. Those are things we're going to be on all the time.
It's more of a concentration, relaxation, doing your job.
Q. Braxton took a pretty good shot at the game. How much do you cringe when you see that? How is he doing now that he's had a little bit of a chance to heal up a little bit?
He's going to take some shots, just like everybody on the field. We want to try to limit them, but I think he's feeling all right.
Q. You mentioned a bit ago the first quarter issues. Do you have any explanation? You trailed in five of the nine games, being outscored in the first quarter. Any explanation as a staff? Anything else you can do?
It's a mental thing. Sometimes those are the things you're seeing now with offenses and defenses. You're going to get something different every week. Being able to react and adjust to it, hopefully before you get to the sideline, so that a coach has to draw it up, is to me one of the biggest things.
It's about having confidence in what you do. It's about having a system. Even though you're getting something different, you got to be able to play within the system that you can handle some plays that you might not have repped 10 times that week.
Q. You were talking the 52 45 kind of games, that style of football, offense, risk a couple turnovers. Do you like that kind of football or when you see games like that is that sort of like, No?
Hey, I like good football. Everybody is a little bit different. You got to do what you do. Some people are built for that. Some people, that's what their system is, they got to be able to adapt to it.
I'm not saying that's something I love to see. I didn't say I didn't love to see that other game Saturday night that was 9 6. Heck of a football game. Hard hitting. You pay it later.
I think it's all part of football. Do I like it? I love great defense. Yeah, I love to see points scored. But I think some of those situations you do put your defense in a tough situation if you're throwing the ball 65 times and you're going to turn it over three or four.
Q. Why was turnovers such a big part? Is it being a defensive guy? What was it that made that such an important part of your football philosophy?
Then really when you go down to it, in college especially, you're going to get guys, you're going to move the football, they're going to have situations.
To me the two biggest things on defensive, you got to be good, create turnovers, you got to be good in the red zone. I think those are the things, whether you're a great defense statistically, you can look back to '06, we ended up being a very good defense, scoring defense, but it came down to I think we were number two or three in the nation in turnover margin. We weren't a great, so to speak, defense. We had a lot of young guys with James, Malcolm, (indiscernible), but we got a lot of turnovers at opportune times that give you a lot of chances as a team.
Q. At wide receiver, you have injuries, suspensions, youth. How would you assess the progress of that group?
It's a difficult situation because of obviously how you're running the football, your youth as quarterback as well. All those things kind of add up. If you had a fifth year senior at quarterback that was throwing the ball 45 times a game, they might get a little bit more work and get some of that game experience spread in the field where there's a lot of different options.
For what we ask our wideouts to do, you see go to the NFL a lot of times because they're probably in the long run going to be a little NFL ready because it has to come down to how they run their routes, read their coverage, do the thing at the next level, as opposed to being out there four and five wide, finding the open spot. Does that take a little bit longer to learn? Probably a little more difficult thing for the quarterback as well.
Q. You talk about the perils of going to Purdue, 2 2. What do you think about this team that just got ripped at Wisconsin? How would you describe them right now from what they're all about offensively and defensively?
We have to make sure our guys understand that's what you're going to see. Don't watch that game from last week. Maybe watch the first 20 plays because it's 7 7 till all of a sudden some of these offenses, you get down by 21 points, boy, it puts the defense in a pretty good situation that you can have some patience, relax, take some chances. That's kind of what has happened to them maybe a little bit more on the road.
Q. The New York Times is reporting that Joe Paterno is going to be out imminently as the head coach, maybe not in a week, but sooner or later. Ohio State as their primary Big Ten rival, your reaction, not the circumstances that led to it, but what it would mean for him to walk away? COACH FICKELL: I don't know. I'm not going to comment a lot on the Penn State stuff. Obviously, he has an unbelievable career. I haven't read about it. It's probably speculation. It would be nothing more than a speculation if I said anything.
Great program, great man, and I'll just leave it at that.
Q. Do you know what the Leaders Division standings are?
Q. You're in the Leaders Division.
I don't stare at them every day. Jerry puts all that stuff on my desk. I know if we control what we can control, we have a chance. That's where our focus is.
Q. Is that the primary goal you have right now?
Q. Coach, this weekend when Carlos Hyde scored his touchdown, I saw Boom congratulate him. In practice, what have you seen out of those guys as far as how tight in it that group is?
It's hard in this world at times. Who is going to be on ESPN, who is going to be on this. Hey, if you truly believe in the team, you're part of something bigger than yourself, you'll be excited for everybody.
Q. They've had three games this year where they've been over 200 yards a game rushing. Is that where they're hanging their hats, a run first team?
For me, a lot of those things are just as good as a run. That's probably the best thing I can say about Purdue that I see from them that I haven't seen as much in the past. Even going into last year, they had a quarterback down, they a new quarterback maybe in his second or third start against us. He was a true running guy. They were a true run offense. Where in the past sometimes Purdue had been a Drew Brees, Curtis Painter, they ran it, but they were a true throwing offense.
I think that's what they do. They give you a bit more of a true balance, which is to me why they've been able to be pretty successful at least offensively.
Q. You talked about starting slow. How about finishing slow? Couple of these teams have come back at you in the second half. It's usually worked out. As a defensive coach, what do you see happening in the third and fourth quarters that's allowing some of these teams to come back?
We got to finish. We know defensively we talk about it. It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish. It's about us first playing four quarters. I don't know that you can pinpoint any one specific thing that we could say is anything different. To me it really comes down the thing against Wisconsin is being able to overcome giving up one of those things, giving up one of those big plays that you can just go to the next play and not still dwell upon those things of the past and move forward. I think that's probably, from the start of the season to right now, where we've got to get a lot better defensively.
We've had those expectations. We don't want anybody to ever score. All of a sudden something happens. It's like there's a letdown. We want to keep those same expectations, but we have to know the most important play is the next play, move on, correct those things within a game.
Q. You obviously came out with a win. In talking to you and other coaches after the game, you seemed to think there was room for improvement in the coaching staff. I'm wondering what you learned from that game that can help you going forward.
We know in general, in everything we do, we're never going to be satisfied where what it is. We'll save that till the end of the year to really try and look back and figure out, Hey, we are happy about this. Not that we're not grateful for the win, but we're not going to be satisfied.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about the play of Bradley Roby. Seems like he's always around the ball.
Bradley has done a good job. He's continued to prepare. He has a bright future.
THE MODERATOR: We have Tyler Moeller. Questions.
An interview with:
Q. Which quarterback do you expect to see over at Purdue? Talk about the differences in the two.
I do foresee a duel threat quarterback system on Saturday.
Q. What did Wisconsin do against them or bother them last week?
They do a good job of spreading the ball around, doing different things. It's a tough offense when you do have a quarterback, two quarterbacks, that can throw and run the ball at the same time, giving them an extra man, so to speak, to do things.
Q. Just wondering what you remember about playing there in 2009 and how much that game has been brought up this week.
For me personally, I really don't look at past games and past experience. That's a different team. We're a different team. But I do know any team could beat any team and we have to do a good job of starting strong and finishing strong, too.
Q. Purdue has had very good fortune against you when they're playing over there. Is that something you have taken special note of this week?
For me, like I said before, I get excited to play at stadiums and atmospheres like that. They have great crowds, they have great fans. I'm excited to go there. I'm excited to play there.
Q. Do you know what the standings are in the Leaders Division?
Q. What's the next immediate goal for the team do you think then?
Q. What are you shooting to do?
Q. What would that get you?
Q. As part of the defense, how much does it benefit you guys to be on a team that is predominantly run base? Does it benefit you being on the sidelines longer getting fresh or would you rather see the team pass a little more, too?
Any time the offense is controlling the ball, really knocking time off the clock, we're playing good obviously. Players like myself who really haven't played that much, me with injury, just getting that experience under us, playing a couple games, getting our feet under us, I think that's the biggest thing.
Of course, that win was a huge win for us. To have that momentum, in football that's a huge thing. Having that momentum on our side for the last three games, I think that's a great feeling.
Q. You're nine games into the season. Do you feel like you have as a team a strong identity? If so, what is it?
Q. With the way a lot of teams play offense in college football, putting up big numbers, is there an attitude sometimes as a defense you can't stop them every play but we'll force them into a big mistake, we'll force a turnover? I don't know if the attitude has changed at all that maybe you have to give up something, but you have to make them pay at some point.
Also, our defense, as the Silver Bullets, we strive at shutting them down. That was a big thing at the beginning of the season. Someone got a big play on us. We were like, What's happening? We're not used to it. We have gave up a little bit too many big plays than we wanted to.
But, yeah, our mentality is we want to stop them every play, get negative pass yards. That's tough to do, but that's our mentality.
Q. How do you think you've done as a defense in terms of getting turnovers?
THE MODERATOR: Tyler, thank you very much.