We’ve certainly had a great few days here, and the people here that have taken good care of our players and coaches, and media, I hope, and fans, and everything else has been wonderful. It’s been a great experience for our young people. I think every guy that ever chooses to attend Ohio State or any Big Ten school or any Pac 10 school perhaps dreams of the day where you might get to play in this game and spend this week here.
Our kids had a lot of fun at all the different things that were provided for them, and they worked hard along the way. I think they’re anxious to get out and compete against a great team.
It’s been fun getting to know the Oregon folks. They’re a great bunch. We had a chance to have a coaches‘ dinner last night and get to know them better. It’s just been a great honor and a great thrill to be here, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.
It was just a thrill to meet Jon Gruden earlier.
Terrelle talked earlier this week how he had a partial tear in a ligament behind the knee. How healthy is he right now, and just address his … He’s very healthy. He can move around very, very well. We mentioned back in early November that we were hobbled a little bit. Obviously we as coaches don’t talk about what injuries are, nor do the trainers or doctors. But obviously young people can, if they choose to. And so really those first couple weeks in November, we weren’t quite where we had been. But he’s done a good job of rehabbing and had a good Bowl practice, didn’t see any hints of any problems there, back in Columbus or here, and I’m sure he’s ready to go.
Overall, just your offense, do you sense this offense is as healthy as it’s been all year, and do you see a crispness maybe you didn’t see at the end of obviously November? It is as healthy as it’s been, especially the front half of the season. It just didn’t seem like we could get any continuity going from an execution standpoint, a practice standpoint. I felt we got better as the year went. Really I think the only one banged up a little bit near the end was Terrelle. We seemed pretty healthy other than that.
Bowl practice is so long. You have so many plays that you’re evaluating. It might be the same play 100 times, but so you don’t always feel as a coach as if you’re 100 percent crisp. But then maybe if you pulled off a little reel of the ones that you really felt like you did a good job of, I feel as if we have progressed. We have to line up, go against a very fast, aggressive defense and have to play with great poise.
I think we have to play with good balance and have to give ourselves an opportunity to do the offense’s contribution to the whole. But I feel good about their Bowl practice.
You typically have had a featured running back, whether it’s Beanie or Pittman or so forth. How have Boom and Brandon worked together over the season? Have you noticed anything different about how they interact now as opposed to in August? Well, we’ve always liked to have two, like when we had Beanie and Pittman. A year ago when we had Beanie with Boom and Zoom together, those are two great kids. They’ve welcomed with open arms Jordan Hall, as well, and Jordan is prepared to help this team, as well.
But those are two good backs. I think to have a good team, you need to have a couple good guys ready to carry the mail, and those are two good ones, and they’re great kids. They don’t care how many carries they get, they don’t get who gets called upon when, they just want to do what they can to help the team, and we’re fortunate to have two kids like that.
The Rose Bowl obviously is a huge game, but with you having coached already three National Championship games, where do you feel this ranks in your own career, and how do you stack this game up against those other three games when there was so much on the line in the other three? Well, the fun of it is it’s unique, obviously unique to us because we’ve never been here. And really just like with teams, I don’t really spend any time or energy stacking them up against one another. I like to think back to what I enjoyed about each team and each Bowl experience. Sometimes you even think back to some of the struggles you had with each team and perhaps any Bowl experience.
But this is a special opportunity. There’s not one of our kids or coaches that have been here, and it’s there’s something special about it, and when you talk to people that have been in multiple venues, you know, they’ll always tell you that this is this one holds a special spot. It hasn’t disappointed. And we get a chance to go out to the Rose Bowl here later this morning and do the picture, and our guys will have a chance to look around. We haven’t been there yet, and I think that will take it up another notch, then of course when they see the stadium on game day and all the pageantry around it and the great challenge and opportunity you have playing a team like Oregon.
We’ve been blessed; our last four games, you take our seniors, we got to play against a national champion Florida team, a national champion LSU team, a No. 2 rated Texas team, and now Oregon in my mind can play with anybody in America. And gosh, when you line up and play college football and you get a chance to compete with folks like that, I think that will add another notch to it.
It’s unique. One is not better than the other. But this moment we really appreciate.
Doug Worthington mentioned this week that toward the end of the Texas game he thought the defense got a little tired. Are you pretty confident that they can’t wear you out, or are you a little nervous about their pace and tempo and keeping pace with them? Football is such a great team game, and if you think back to the Texas game and you evaluate it, you look at the first half, it was kind of an even played game, even number of snaps, those kinds of things. And then in the third quarter, offensively I think we only had like eight or ten snaps maybe. And when you leave your defense on the field that long against good football teams, there is going to be a wearing factor.
So I don’t consider that as something that I’m disappointed in the defense because perhaps they were a little tired at the end. That was a hard fought game. They were probably called upon more than you would like them to be. But I know this: Chasing Oregon around is going to make them tired, too. So it’s going to be a great challenge.
You mentioned that your team has been in consecutive BCS games, I think it’s five in a row now … I didn’t mention that, but yeah, we have.
But Oregon has not been to one of these caliber games in quite some time. Might that give your team an advantage that they’re used to that experience? No. I think whenever you fight your way through a tough conference, and I think if you fight your way through the Big 10, fight your way through the Pac 10, fight your way through the SEC or the ACC or you name it, any conference, conference play is tough, and that gets you ready. Those are high anxiety games because you know the people, you face them every year, you faced them last year and all those types of things.
They’re battle tested. They played Boise State early in the year; they played Utah. So they’re a battle tested bunch. So no, I don’t know that there’s any advantage. A game is a game, whether it’s we were laughing over there that we didn’t have that many flashes when we played in the 1-AA playoffs and stuff. A game is a game, though, no matter where, what, what level. They’re battle tested to play the game.
I’m curious about your rotation on the offensive line. Mike Adams, what his role might be in this game, and from an injury standpoint, it seems like maybe you’re as healthy now on the offensive line as you’ve been all season: Yeah, we really are. The first five would be Michael Brewster at center, and the guards would be Browning and Boren. Jimmy Cordle will start at left tackle and J.B. Shugarts at right tackle. Marcus Hall will get some playing time at right tackle, Michael Adams will get some playing time at left tackle. Probably the eighth guy in the game would be Andrew Moses. But we are that first seven guys right now is as healthy as they’ve been.
A lot of times you see teams in Bowl games use that extra time to throw in some wrinkles you haven’t seen during the season, and I know you guys have done that in the past in Bowl games. In your experience coaching Bowl games, how can that affect the ability of the other team to keep up, and same thing when you face a team that’s done that? You know, I think it can make a little bit of a difference for you, but it’s not going to be the difference for you. The things that you’ve done all year long offensively and defensively and the special teams are going to be the things that will carry the day. Can you get a little bit of a burst from something new? Certainly. Can you get zinged a little bit by something new your opponent does? Absolutely. Will it make the difference in the game? Probably not.
Two questions: Number one, just overall health, is everybody pretty healthy? Has anybody come up with anything lately? Not one thing. We stayed healthy throughout the December preparation.
And number two, the kickoff punt return deal, did you finally settle on, like DeVier Posey is vying for the punt returns? Yeah, DeVier and Dane will handle the punt returns. The third guy will be Jordan Hall, who really has gotten a new opportunity since there’s only so many reps out there, but he looks very comfortable back there.
Kickoff wise, Lamaar Thomas and Brandon Saine and Boom Herron. From a kicking standpoint, Devin Barclay will kick off, and Devin and Aaron Pettrey will probably share the field goal duties. We are still trying to find out exactly how we’ll do that in our minds. But Aaron Pettrey is ready to go from a field goal standpoint.
Are you surprised that Aaron is ready? Yeah, that was our best hope scenario was that we could get him back for this game in an effort to at least have him be there for some field goals. Worst case scenario we wanted him ready. He plays in an All Star Game in early February, and we wanted him to be 100 percent to be able to kick off and do field goals because we think he’s got an opportunity at the next level.
We didn’t push it. He feels good. He’s had I don’t see any difference in his range and so forth. I just don’t think I would put him out there on a kickoff for two reasons: One, the torque that you put into a kickoff with the running start is one thing, and then the coverage. You know, he’s just shortly off of a knee surgery, and to put him out there and put him in harm’s way, those guys can return kickoffs. I don’t want a one legged guy out there trying to help.
With what Oregon does offensively with their tempo, they’re near the bottom of the country in time of possession … That’s because they score fast.
As an offensive coach, would you be comfortable with an offense that didn’t have a good time of possession, or is that part of what you value offensively is maybe trying to control the ball and keep the other offense off the field with your offense? Well, I don’t remember exactly what their points per game is, but it’s up near 40 or something like that, 38 or something. So if I could find a way to score 38, I’d do it. And remember this: All you have to do is go back to their last game, and they needed to keep the ball for I don’t know how long that was, that last drive, five or six minutes. It seemed like it.
They … again, where I think they’re so good is they’re in concert. Their offense does what their defense needs, their defense does what their offense needs. Their special units are a great blend in the middle. They can possess the ball if they’d like. And in that case, the game ended where I don’t think Oregon State got another chance with the ball.
If you had to identify one thing that you felt like was maybe a concern right before kickoff in a game like this, what is it? A concern? It’s probably that hour before the game where you feel a little bit helpless; there’s no more meetings, no more practice. And us coaches, we’re always feeling like we can do one more thing. So if I can just get through that hour before the game, then just let it rip. Look around and remind yourself how fortunate you are to be at great schools like we are and in a situation like this one and just try your very best to do your very best with each and every guy that gets a chance to step on the field or each and every guy that makes a decision in the course of the game.
LeGarrette Blount didn’t play at all in the first couple games, he could have, and then came in and really gave them a boost in the Civil War. He’s so different from LaMichael James and what he brings to the game. How do you prepare for him when you’re not sure how he’s going to be used in this game? I’ve always like to have tempo changers as running backs like when we had Beanie and Pittman. They were a little bit different in the tempo and the style that they would hit you. And I think that that always added a little bit more pressure on the defense. So I think any time you add LaMichael is like, "ptchoo," and then all of a sudden Blount is going to run you over. It adds more to their repertoire, as if they needed more. But it adds more to their repertoire.
But it’ll still be the same plays. They’re not going to put in a new offense because they have a different style of guy per se. He still does the same things, and the bottom line is we have to find the guy with the ball, which sometimes is hard, and we have to get him on the ground, which many times is hard.
But he’s a good player.
It’s been a while since you’ve played a game, long Bowl practice. How ready do you think you guys are? How hungry are they, especially your seniors, to get out there and play this game? I think all the kids that have this opportunity that they worked hard to go through a tough regular season, two teams that battled their way through a league and became the champion and then you battle your way through the practice and the preparation and the excitement and all the hoopla, and I just think that they’re anxious.
I think our seniors know that this is the last time out. But how deeply do you know that? Maybe not until that clock ticks to zero does it become very real. I’m sure a lot of those guys on both sides don’t want it to end. But I know this: Everyone is anxious to get it kicked off, and we’ve really appreciated everything that’s led up to it. But the real fun part will be out there just taking a peek around that Rose Bowl and lining up and seeing how you can do. And I think everyone is anxious to get that going.
This week your players have all addressed the situation, the fact that y’all have lost three straight postseason games and they don’t want to go out losing a fourth and stuff. Have you felt that at all as a pressure situation, or do you have you noticed a more intense more intensity this week or in the month leading up to this, that these guys want this monkey off their back? We have not talked about it collectively, but the fact that someone might bring it up individually, it must be important to them. I haven’t been disappointed. I mean, I thought our guys did a terrific job getting ready to play a year ago. Their Bowl preparation again this year I thought was excellent.
That’s the beauty of the game of football; it’s really what happens that day, not what you’re capable of or not what you could have done but what happens that day at whatever it is, 2:00 o’clock Pacific time that’s going to determine how successful we are.
But there’s no way at 6:00 o’clock Pacific time will I tell you that I was disappointed with the way that our guys prepared, because coaches and players alike, they prepared very hard. You have to be excited about the fact that so many people in these times were able to find their way out here to cheer on their beloved Buckeyes. So I’m not disappointed in any of the scenario.
Now, as we grade the film, how we are as coaches, we might be disappointed at this or that or we might be happy that we did this or that correct. But our guys have prepared hard.
You are only 165 victories behind Joe: Joe who?
Paterno. Have you given any thought to chasing him? Chasing him? We chase him once a year. That’s the beauty of being in our conference. It’s a thrill to have him in our conference. It’s a thrill to have him in our conference meetings because they’re not boring. (Laughter.) He never hesitates to let us know what he’s thinking.
At each conference meeting there’s a designated chairman, and it goes alphabetically, and whoever’s name is up there, they’re the chairman of the meeting that week. Regardless, Joe is the chairman. Every letter begins with P or whatever. (Laughter.)
It’s just been fun to be around him. Will I be coaching in my 40th something season as a head coach at Ohio State? Probably not.

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