Nov. 13, 2006
On how the team spent the bye week:
"We gave them some time off right away after the previous game, two days. We started practice on Tuesday doing some running. Wednesday and Thursday were strong practices for us, padded practices. We went in sweats on Friday and gave them Saturday off. We came back yesterday (Sunday) again with a padded practice. We'll be in half pads today. We've kind of fallen into a format that, even in off weeks, we have three good practices, a couple of them in pads and one in sweats, and then try to rest them up a little bit so that you're not setting yourself back any in terms of beating them down. That format has worked pretty well in the past. We practiced really well. They've been very focused on their practices."
On whether or not the bye week helped the team's health:
"We had some guys come up with injuries in the previous game that would not have been able to play had we had a game this past weekend. I won't necessarily name those guys because they'll still be a little bit banged up, but they'll be able to play where that would not have been the case had we had to play this past weekend. I think the timing has been good for us in the off week. When you get to where it's later in the season, we've got a lot of guys playing with minor injuries, bumps and bruises. Hopefully those have healed up some. Then there's a guy like Michael Brown who has come back and has played and is still working himself into playing shape. The extra time is good for a guy like him."
On whether the team is as fresh as its been since the season-opener:
"I hope so, but I don't know if that will be the case. When you get to the latter part of the year sometimes you may not be quite as fresh as you'd like to be, but everybody else is in that same boat. Certainly, earlier in the year where everybody is pretty healthy and you're coming off a great summer of conditioning, your strength is where you want it to be and everything is kind of clicking, to say that teams at the end of the year are like that, I don't know. There may be a little bit of a drop off. I think we'll be fresh. I think we'll be flying around the football field, and I think the attitude will be excellent."
On whether the team is still taking the one-game-at-a-time approach given the importance of this weeks' game:
"We'll approach it the way we've been approaching the season. When you start putting wins back to back, every game becomes important after that because now you've got something going. You don't want to get to the point to where you're building it into more than what it is. It's our next game. It's against an excellent opponent. We're going to have to play on top of our game. Goals are attainable if you get to where you're playing at the top of your game week after week. That's really what we're striving to do. If we can do that, hopefully some things will fall in place. We don't want to build too much into it."
On whether the players have taken a different approach this week:
"Sometimes in an off week you won't get what you'd consider good practices early on because the game is down the road yet. It's tough sometimes to get good practices in an off week. That has not been the case. Our players identify with the fact that they're positioned to control things if they play well the next couple of games. I think they want to do that. They want to continue to have success and try to play this thing out as well as we can possibly play it out. They've been really focused."
On if the bye week broke the momentum of the teams' five-game winning streak:
"The good thing about this football team is that they've bought into really everything we've talked to them about as coaches. If you're preparing yourself to play well, some things are going to happen that are good for you. They're anxious to continue to play and continue to play well. I think they're smart enough to understand that the timing was good for us for a break, but we needed to maximize our practices in a manner that's going to continue to allow us to move forward. We addressed that. They practiced that way. It's turning out to be a fairly smart football team. Last year, I don't know if I could've sat here and said that because we continued to find ways to beat ourselves. This team is finding ways to win. They're certainly playing smart football right now."
On the team's attitutude:
"They started off playing pretty well with the idea that they had a chance to have a very good season. Coming out of our first four ballgames when we were 2-2, that still was very much a football team that still had all its goals in front of them. A lot of things entered into the Bowling Green game. Of course, we lost that game. It would have been easy for a team to go on a downward slide and just continue on a downward slide. They did not let that happen. I've been real pleased with their attitude from day one on with the idea that they believe in themselves. I know we've said that a lot, and I don't want to overstate it, but they have believed in themselves and they've played like it."
On whether or not the team has chip on their shoulder:
"I really don't think that's the case. I don't think there's a chip on their shoulder. None of these guys have been on a team at Ohio University that's won more than four games so it's not coming from a chip on their shoulder as much as it's coming from the fact they know that they can be a good football team. It's much easier to drop off than it is to rise. They've worked and done everything they needed to do to make it work. It's starting to fit together, and they want to finish it off right. I think the attitude has been great, and their drive to be good is just come from that. They just want to be good. They want to be a good football team. The recognition that it does bring your football program and your school, I think it goes along with that. I think that's great. We all want that too."
On if he's brought up the Bowling Green loss this week:
"That happened and it's what it is. There's no need with this group of players to bring up anything negative that has happened in the past because they've let everything fall behind them. That's even in good wins. They have not relished in a win to the point where they haven't been able to step on the field and play well the next week because they're still patting themselves on the back. They've been able to let things just fall behind them. I think that's good whether you're talking about wins or whether you're talking about losses. We're just projecting ahead to this game and preparing to play it well."
On Akron's recent success:
"I do think that we're playing a football team in Akron that is playing on top of their game now, and there was reason for them to be considered one of the very top teams in the MAC coming into this year. They won the championship last year, and they have a great share of their players back. Offensively, they're above 400 to 500 yards the last few games. They're balanced running and passing. We have a lot of challenges ahead for this game, and we're just zeroing in on those challenges."
More on Akron:
"They've got talent, and they're playing good football right now. The combination of those two things can make things difficult for a team. We have that facing us. This team has been remarkable in terms of finding ways to get things done. We'll have some opportunities in the game, we just need to take advantage of them and not allow them to have big plays and hopefully not allow them to just move the football on the offensive side of it with their running attack as well as their passing attack. If you're two-dimensional, then you have a great chance in a game. We're trying to work at being two-dimensional. We haven't gotten that done yet. There are some challenges there.
On facing Zips' quarterback Luke Getsy:
"I think he's as good of a passer as we've seen. He really throws the ball well. He has a strong arm. They make big plays through the passing game. He has the ability to scramble. He's probably a better runner than what most people think. They don't design a lot of their offense around him running, but he will take off and scramble and make first downs and make big plays for them with his legs as well as his arm."
On attacking the Akron front with the running game:
"Their front is, by design, different than anyone we've faced this year. Some people have used their front in long-yardage situations, but they'll do it first, second and third downs. They'll do a lot of things out of it. The extra week has helped us there too in preparing for what they're likely to do to us. They've got physical people up front that have excellent movement. That allows them to do a lot of things with their (line) backers. It also allows them to do a lot of things with their secondary. We didn't have success against them last year for a combination of reasons. We need to find a way to move the football. We'll see how the game plan works come Thursday night, but we're a better football team than when we faced them last year. We'll certainly play better."
On how far the team has progressed since playing Akron last year:
"The attitude I thought was good last year, but there was some things that would happen to us through the course of the season that I think these guys just started to think back on to where they didn't have much success in the past. They kind of looked at it as maybe something that was reoccurring. But, they stayed together. It wasn't a football team that fell apart from the inside. We were really beat up at the end of the year. We had no depth. If you would have had what happened to us this year, some guys that have been suspended, some guys that have been hurt from the beginning of the year, if that would've happened last year, the same result would have occurred. This year is a little different story. We have some depth and guys have come through. Guys know the system better and so they're playing the system with a lot more confidence. We've been able to survive with non-starters in there for a decent share of the season now. You have to give them a lot of credit to being able to overcome a lot of the things that have happened to them this year. Last year we were building on that, but this year, this team has arrived on that end of it. They'll play hard. They'll play hard together. They won't let anything that's happens in the past affect them."
On if it's important to get an early lead in the game to help feed off the crowd's energy:
"I think it's always important in games such as these to try to get on the scoreboard first. That doesn't mean that if it doesn't happen that you necessarily have an uphill battle. At some point in time you're going to have to battle through some things to win this one. You can't discouraged, you can't get down, you can't let two or three plays cause you not to play good ball the rest of the game. The fans will be important in this one. We hope to have a home-field advantage. You really only have a home-field advantage, the field is still 100 yards long whether you play at home or on the road, if you have the crowd really into a game. One way to do that is to play well and give them reason to be excited and cheer. We'd love to see a great crowd."
On this season's seniors:
"It's been an excellent group of seniors. We'll miss this group, maybe as much leadership-wise as anything. They've been a group of seniors that have done the right things. Just look at our senior captains, and I won't go beyond them because then we'd just keep naming and naming and naming. Austen Everson is just a great leader. This football team would not be where it's at without his leadership and his ability to get us in and out of plays. He's made plays with his legs, and at times, he's made plays with his arm. He's stayed on the field. No one was ever able to beat him up and get him off the field, and that's crucial. You look at Matt Coppage who has really played hurt since his junior year. I think he's tremendously respected by his teammates. He's very much a leader by example, but he's also a leader verbally. He will make sure things are going as smoothly as possible with our football team. He's our most experienced lineman, our best lineman and was able to come through despite all the injuries that he's had to have an excellent year. Matt Muncy has done just a great job throughout his career here. He'll be missed as a `backer. It will be interesting to see what kind of future he has in football because he has a lot of the qualities that it takes to continue to play the game. He's a very humble guy. Every time he steps on the field, he'll give you everything he has, and he has a lot. Tyler Russ has had a year equal to Matt's. I think Tyler has had a great season. Those are four guys that are captains. There's a reason for it, but we have a lot of other guys who are seniors that have really done a great job of not only producing for us on the field, but also done a great job with their leadership."
On where this team ranks among the one's that he's coached:
"When you're as old as I am, you've seen a lot of seasons come and go and you've been involved with a lot of teams. I'm not sure where it ranks. I've had other teams that have had to battle through a number of things to be successful, but this one has been a special year on that end of it. I don't think anyone picked them to have great success in the conference, but yet they do have a chance to have great success. There's been issues, some off the field issues that were expanded on us to where we had to battle a lot of things from that. There was three road games in a row against outstanding opponents. There just seemed to be a lot of things that they had to overcome. Each step along the way, they overcame what they had to to make it work. You have to give them a great deal of credit for that."
On the keys to Thursday's game:
"We'll need to move the ball on the ground. If we get shut down there totally, and that's pretty much what happened to us last year, it will be a struggle. We need to play well on special teams. We were in that ball game for the first half last year even though we didn't play well. I believe there was twice last year where we didn't field punts and we started insider our own five-yard line. This has been a team that has not allowed that kind of thing to happen to them in special teams. We need to be on top of our game special-teams wise across the board. That's where field position will come into play. We can't allow them big plays, and they're a big-play team. If we can cut down on their big plays, we'll be doing ourselves a big service in terms of trying to keep them from putting a lot of points on the board."