Sept. 4, 2006
On Northern Illinois running back Garrett Wolfe:
(smiling) "Well, he's a problem. He'll be a problem for everybody that he faces. He's a legitimate big-time back. It's obvious he's got big-play ability every time he gets his hands on the ball, and they're doing a great job of getting the ball to him in the running game and the passing game. Ohio State got on top of them very quickly, but it soon became very apparent that Garrett was going to have an impact on them moving the ball and being able to get in position to put points on the board. I don't know if you stop him. You try and do your best to slow him down. He's probably going to get his yards. You just have to keep them from getting too many points. The best way to handle him is to keep him off the field as long as you can. That would mean being able to control the football on offense and have long drives. In having those drives, the 12-, 14-play type, you have to be able to put points on the board at the end of them. That's probably the best way to try and attack these guys, but that's easier said than done. They're aggressive on defense. They're very sound on defense. We'll have our hands full. We need to move the ball much, much better than we did in this last game if we're going try and keep Garrett off the field at all."
On what to look for from the Ohio running game:
"We expect that as we go through the year we'll run the football much better than what we did in this first ball game. In fairness, we did not have a multiple attack for this game. I'm not saying that we held stuff back, but we were pretty basic in our approach. The strength of Tennessee-Martin was in their defensive and offensive line, and that showed a little bit. We'll have to do a few more things to move the ball against Northern Illinois. Our three backs will have their opportunities as the year goes on to make big plays. There were very few big plays (in the last game). We had two big plays, one on a pass and one on a run, and they had one big play. That's a pretty boring ball game if you came to watch a lot of offense. Certainly, on our end of it, we've got to get more big plays. Those guys are capable of giving us that. We'll look at the running game to do things just a little bit differently to get some big plays."
On utilizing both quarterbacks in the game:
"I see it, and I think Coach Gdowski sees it the same way, as something similar to what transpired on Saturday. Austen (Everson) will start, and the starter generally plays a good share of the game, but we're definitely going to get Brad (Bower) snaps. If one guy is not playing well, and the other guy is playing really well, then you go with the guy that's playing really well. I'd like to see them both play well as the season goes on. I think they both played better as the game went on. Both of them could have caved in. Neither Austen nor Brad got off to a good start. Brad threw an interception, but he was able to bounce back from that and do a good job in leading the team and throwing the ball. Austen had some early plays that maybe are not what he was all about this fall, yet he was able to bounce back and have some very good plays and start running the option better as the game went on."
On using Josh Febus on special teams:
"As long as he produces, we'll use him there. Right now, he's our third-team quarterback with Brandon redshirting. We want to continue to improve him as a quarterback because he has a very good arm. He'll get some snaps in practices, and who knows what transpires down the road. He's an aggressive player. He likes contact. We're always looking for guys on special teams that will have an impact. He appears that he might be able to do that so we'll keep working with him."
On the play of the defense last week:
"There are things that we definitely have to continue to work on, but I was really pleased that we didn't have a lot of breakdowns. Guys knew their assignments, and they were getting to where they needed to be. We really have good team speed on defense. When we're able to utilize that team speed by not questioning what we're doing and slowing ourselves down because we're not sure of ourselves, we can play really good defense. It's a key for that to continue to be the case. We need to have enough defense in to where we're not going to be caught short, but on the other end, not have too much in that we're not able to utilize our team speed because everybody's not sure of what they're doing. We had some different packages we used. We were able in long-yardage situations to get really good pass rushers on the field and different combinations."
On the new rules regarding the clock:
"The game is a little bit different game now. There's fewer snaps. Both teams had in the high 50s as far as offensive snaps. A lot of times you'll be in the 60s, and if you're playing well you'll be in the 70s. I've been around offenses that have had 90 snaps. Those days are probably gone with the way the clock is running. You have to make the most of what you're about when you're on the field. The fact that you'll have less snaps probably enables your starters to go a little longer and keep fresh guys on the field. In some ways in can come back to help you, especially if you're not a team with a huge amount of depth."
On the penalties against UT Martin:
"We kind of won that battle in some ways. We had one personal foul that what they classify as contact on a defenseless player. It was by one of our lineman, and it really was not a brutal hit. It was on the other side away from where the ball was. The play was still live, but their lineman was out of the play and trailing and our guy was about three yards from him and hit him from the side, which generally is a legal hit. They're protecting players more so than they ever have. If it's not truly part of the play, you might get that called on you at times. I thought our guys were in control of themselves. We weren't talking. We were focused on what our job was. We weren't talking to the other players and letting them start conversations. We weren't striking back if someone pushed us. I thought we showed more self control on the field than what we did at times last year. Now, we had about four guys jump offsides on the one play. That's a little frustrating. Once it happens, everybody tries to pull you off. But we've been somewhat better at that in practice, and we'll continue to work on it. I was satisfied with the penalty situation overall."
On preparing for the three-game road stretch:
"It's obvious when you play as many road games as we do, you have to learn how to travel, and travel well. You have to make sure a new environment doesn't cause you problems, especially the young players. We will get a workout in their stadium on Friday. It will be really light, but we'll be there so it won't be the first time we'll have showed up. That doesn't necessarily have to be the case. There will probably be times this year where it doesn't fit for us to go to the stadium first. In terms of preparing, you have to make sure you don't get taken out of it by not having a home crowd. If you have great focus, it really doesn't matter if you're playing at home or on the road. In this league you have to learn how to be a good road team because of the number of road games that you'll have. It seems like non-conference games you have more road games than how it would normally work out. Some schools it's three-to-one in favor of home games. For us, sometimes it works out where it's one-to-three. It's important to get a mindset with your team that we're going to play well on the road. I feel comfortable about that. We've got good leaders, and I think that will help us in terms of being a good road team."
On Northern Illinois' recent home success:
"We can't do much about the fact that we have to play them there. We can do much about the fact that they have a lot of returning starters. But you know what? No one's invincible. Ball State did pull an upset there. Of course, Garrett (Wolfe), their star running back was out with an injury and that could make a difference (smiling). You just have a mindset that you're going to play great football. It doesn't matter if you have a home crowd. It doesn't matter if one person is sitting in the stands, or 25,000, or 40,000 or whatever is there. We have to play our own football game. We take that approach all the time. We will never be taken out of a game just because of our surroundings or what is supposed to happen. We're going to get prepared to play a great football game, and we expect to win no matter where we play the game. Of course, Northern Illinois and some of these road teams will have something to say about that."
On stopping Garrett Wolfe:
"He's not a big guy at all, but you've seen smaller backs that have not only played on the college level and had All-American kind of years, but you've seen them in pro ball. He just has a special ability. You better put a lot of people around him. You can't have one guy around him and expect that tackle is going to be made."