Oct. 23, 2006
On what Kent State has been doing well:
"In terms of turnovers, in the four conference games they've played, they're ahead in that category, 14-5. You look at that and you look at sacks where they're ahead 19-4 and those two things are exceptionally huge. They've been an explosive football team. They're ahead 35-20 in their four conference games in terms of explosive plays (a rush of 12-or-more yards or a pass of 16-or-more yards). They've got an awful lot going. They're leading the conference in four different categories - pass efficiency defense, passing defense, scoring defense and tackles for loss. (smiling) I don't know. Maybe we shouldn't even go. It's obvious they have a very good football team, and they're doing a lot of things right."
On the similarities between Kent State and Ohio:
"I think the two teams are similar in our approach. We're trying to work on field position, trying to win the turnover battle and the sack battle, not giving the ball up and putting points on the board at the end of drives. They've been very good at all that. It's obvious why they've been winning ball games."
On Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman:
"I think their quarterback could be the best combination player we've played so far, and we've played some good ones. He's as good of a runner as we will have faced. In fact, just watching film, I think maybe the best runner of the group, and we've faced some good ones when you look at Missouri's quarterback, you look at Illinois' quarterback and so forth. He's got a strong arm much like Illinois' quarterback had. There are a lot of challenges ahead for us defensively in slowing them down a little bit."
On Kent State's defense:
"They are really a team defense. You see them playing well together with a lot of guys around the football. They play extremely hard. They're a very physical defense. They are really an athletic bunch."
On getting more pressure on the quarterback:
"We're starting to turn some of that around. We're not ranked very high in any ranking as far as sacks go, whether it's in the conference or nationally. We've been trying chip away at that a little bit. We're not going to go from where we're at to the top 50, but we're working at trying to win that battle. I think we've been doing a much better job of that the last two or three games, and that's what we have to continue to do if we're going to have a chance. That and turnovers. Winning those two would be huge."
On Kent State's turnaround from last season:
"I think they played a lot of young players last year so, they're still somewhat young, but they're a mature team. I think their quarterback has made a huge difference for them. It's amazing how just one or two guys at the proper spot can really make a big difference in what you're doing offensively. I think they've got a couple of excellent running backs. The one young man is only about 5-5, but he's a very elusive type of guy. He reminds you a little bit of Chris Garrett from our side of it. They bring in the other guy that is about a 200-pound back that is very athletic. They have the right combination of big-play people operating on the offensive side of it. Defensively, they're just talented across the board. They're a team that can run. One thing that's got us to where we're playing a little bit better is that we have a football team that can run. That has helped us on defense. I think we face a defense that is very much that way - talented and runs extremely well."
On any potential special teams advantages:
"We need to (have an advantage). That has to play out big for us. You look at field position in this last game against Buffalo. I think our average starting field position was the 42-yard line and theirs was the 18. I mean, give me a break. When it's that much in your favor, it's going to show on the scoreboard. A lot of that came down to special teams as well as the offense that could move the ball and the defense that played well. Special teams enters into field position a great deal. Even though we didn't have a punt return (for a touchdown) in this last ballgame, we were very close on two punt returns to maybe taking it all the way. We were certainly getting positive yards on the punts. Our kickoff coverage was excellent. We did make some changes and put more speed on the kickoff coverage team. We're hoping that will help us also. Special teams will play into this one big."
On not too many people predicting this game would carry the significance that it does:
"The teams that have not been in the middle of the pack or at the top of the conference are getting better. I think it's showing improvement. Kent State has shown drastic improvement from last year. There's a very thin line between losing and winning in college football period, but I think that line is even thinner in this conference. You don't have teams lining up against one another where there's a distinct advantage in most cases. You're going to have to get the game won on the field. It's not a deal where one team comes in as the favorite and it just goes that way. It's a conference that I think you're going to see upsets, and that has happened extensively this year in the conference, if you want to call them upsets. I think it's helping the conference get stronger. As a whole, I think this conference is stronger right now. That's from a view point of a guy that's only been in it a year and a half."
On Ohio's confidence level after three straight wins:
"I think we're a confident football team. That has been shown by how we've responded, not necessarily in this last game. Yet, in this program we have to win the games that maybe we're favored to win. We need to line up and do that. I think that was a good step for us by winning the Buffalo game. We had to also learn how to take games into the fourth quarter and once we've done that, to win those games. When you do that a few times you're confidence level can shoot up, and I think that's what happened to us. I think our players believe in one another and have the feeling that every time we step on the field we can get it done."
On the importance of getting on a winning streak:
"It helps when you have when you have winning streaks instead of losing streaks, or if they're mixed in with one another where you can't get anything going. You win one, you lose one, you win one, you lose one. Right now, we're on a little bit of a roll, but it's just a tiny roll. We could be, all of a sudden, rolled the other way pretty quickly if we're not careful. We're not taking it for anything more than it is. We've played hard. We've played well. We've not beat ourselves. We've come a ways, but we still need to line up and continue to win ball games and find ways to do it."
On the increased success in the running game lately:
"I'm glad to see Kalvin have the kind of success that he had last year throughout most of the year in running the ball. We faced some really good defensive football teams, guys that lined up and were able to slow teams down and stop the rush. Even with Tennessee-Martin, I don't think they've lost since they've played us. They had a very good defensive front. You're just not going to run up and down the football field on those kind of teams. That's why we're trying to be as multiple as we can be and develop into a multiple football team. We always want to run the ball and we'll work at that, but we need to keep improving in the throwing game so that we're just not one dimensional. If we are, we're going to be in trouble in a lot of games."
On whether it's better to enter the game with momentum or off a bye week like Kent State:
"It depends a little bit on where you are health-wise. Coming off wins like we have, there's nothing wrong with keeping momentum going and not having an off week. If you get some guys banged up and you know another week would allow them to be right at full speed versus maybe being three-quarters speed, you kind of want that extra time off. It's obvious they can zero in on you a little bit more without a game prior. They get all of our films and just have more time to spend on you. That's an advantage. All-in-all, I wouldn't mind having an off week when teams we're playing have an off week. That way it could hurt their momentum as much as ours. It could help us as much as them in terms of healing up. But, that's not the way it is."
On being able to use so many different players against Buffalo:
"There were several players that came in and did a good job. We had guys that hadn't played much put together our last drive which was really encouraging for all of us. You look in the offensive line, and we don't have a lot of experienced depth there. We got Josh Leuck some plays. We got Chris (Rodgers) some plays at the opposite tackle. We got Shawn Fosnaugh some plays. Those guys held up pretty well for guys that really hadn't been playing any. All that can contribute to trying to build some depth, even later this season if all of a sudden they have to be thrown in because right now we're basically playing five offensive linemen the entire game. That was critical there. We got a lot of receivers some playing time that hadn't gotten playing time. We got Brad (Bower) a little more. We got Josh (Febus) in the game. I think we got almost everybody, but there were a few. We needed to practice on how to get everybody in the game. We haven't had any practice in a year and a half of that. We'll be better at that if that ever happens again."
On limiting mistakes and not beating themselves:
"I like our game plan too. Where we have our best chance of succeeding is what we're doing. We're not taking a lot of chances. We're trying to play the field position game a little bit. We're working hard at trying to create some turnovers and some sacks. It's a team that at this point has shown themselves to be a smart football team. When we talk to them through the week, we've been able to identify what we need to do well to have a chance in the game, and they've been practicing that way and it's been working for them."
On what Ohio must do to have a chance against Kent State:
"We have to hold their explosive plays down. They're averaging something like 8.7 explosive plays per conference game. That's up there. If we allow that to happen, if we get beat in the turnover ratio and the sack battle, we're going to have problems. We're trying to identify things in the special teams area that we need to get accomplished in order to be successful, and that again leads back to field position."
On whether or not the team talks about the season beyond the game at hand:
"We really don't have the luxury of looking down the road. Even as we prepared for Buffalo, I was nervous. Buffalo was in it at the end of ball games against some pretty good football teams, and they were scoring a lot of points. We have to just zero in at what is at hand. The circumstances that surround this game make that easy on this one. There's some that aren't easy, but like I was saying, we're a much smarter football team.
On playing a smarter, more disciplined game:
"You're not seeing the personal fouls or the things that just take out of drives and we had a lot of that last season. We had six penalties in this last game to Buffalo's 13. We had six penalties in the Illinois game. That's somewhat acceptable. If you start to get up close to double digits or in double digits when it comes to penalties, you're really hurting yourself. I thought they showed great composure on our sideline when that hit occurred out of bounds and they ejected one of their players for kicking one of our players. Right in the midst of all of our players that took place, and almost always you're going to see a melee and an explosion of players pushing and shoving. It was great control and great discipline by our guys there. They're showing more and more of that, and that may be as big as anything in term of not beating yourself and letting yourself have a chance to win games."