Nov. 27, 2006
On preparing for a conference championship game:
"In a lot of ways it is (like another game). You try to make sure you're not going off your preparation format of what you've used throughout the course of the season. You want to stick to it as much as possible. We're treating it as another game, and that's exactly what it is to us. It's the next one in line. We want to play well, and obviously if we do play well and win it, there are certain things that come with it. We're hoping to perform well. The preparation this week, it's a little shorter week so we're only going to go one day in half pads. We've done a lot of banging around during the course of the season. We're fairly healthy, and we want to make sure we go into this one as healthy as we can be. Our players are in good shape, I know they'll hit, so it's just a matter of trying to keep them fresh."
On the health of Austen Everson:
"He practiced some yesterday, although it was a very short practice. He did get out there, he did move around. We'll know a little bit more after today's practice, but he is improving. Certainly, there's a chance that he could play."
On the health of Todd Koenig:
"I think he also has a chance to play. He practiced yesterday. The soreness was not there today and so that was a good sign. He feels like its getting better all the time and that he's not far from being full speed. I think he'll be available."
On what makes this year's team special:
"They've believed in themselves. I've stated that several times and don't mean to be redundant with it, but I think it is important to state that when you look at this football team, there was never a time when they questioned themselves about their ability to get it done. We've had setbacks. We've had distractions. We've had a lot of things that we've had to go through. We've had a tough schedule with three away games in a row and those kinds of things that were thrown on this football team. They've always responded positively and worked toward winning football games. I think they've stayed together. They're a very tight group. They want to excel as individuals and as a team, and I think they've worked towards that. They've done what it takes in the offseason to prepare themselves to have a good season. Without that, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about playing in a MAC Championship Game. I think they committed themselves to making it work. We have enough athletes. We have enough depth that we were able to make it work to this point."
On the team's confidence level::
"I think that they've really taken the field with the idea that they were going to win. I think they've been confident all along. There was a setback there earlier in the year, but they did not let that beat them down. They came right back off the setback. They had a tough schedule earlier in the year, and at times we played very, very well against some very, very good football teams and came up on the short end of it. They never did not have confidence in themselves and their teammates as far as stepping on the field and winning. I think that's what's made it so much fun. They've approached every game the same, regardless of who we've been playing and have played all out. It's been a great group to be around."
On if there has been any change in attitude being so close to a championship:
"Actually, no. They're still talking about one game. That's all this is. This is the next game. Certainly, it's important. Certainly, there are things that will come from it, win or lose, but the bottom line is they're addressing this game just like they have all the other games during the season. I think that's what has enabled them to get to this point. They did not look down the road. They did not build one particular game, or two particular games, on our schedule into something big and the other ones not as big. They were all big football games for this team as we went through the season one-by-one. If you get a team to do that then I think you give yourself the best chance of winning."
On Central Michigan:
"It's obvious why they're playing in the MAC Championship Game. They're an outstanding football team. They're really athletic. They're physical. They have excellent size across the board on both sides of the ball. You look at how they played Michigan. You look at how they played Boston College, some very top teams, they battled those people. They have the athletes to get it done. They're well coached. They've got key people at the right spots, playmakers at the right spots where you need them to make big plays. They play sound defensive football, don't take a lot of chances. It's not a deal where you're necessarily going to have a lot of big plays against them. On the other side of it, they produce a lot of big plays against the teams that they've played. It's a combination of things that make them good. There's a lot of things for us to address in trying to slow them down a little bit. They lead the conference in scoring with over 29 points a game so it will be a real challenge for us to slow them down. Defensively, they're a very physical football team. They have an All-American rush end. They've got the kind of talent to match up with anybody that they play. It's going to be a real challenge, but our guys have found a way to win in the games that we've played. We're anxious to play it."
On using his past experiences coaching in championship games to help the players deal with the atmosphere better:
"Our preparation all along has shrunk this to the next game philosophy. It's obvious we're considering it another road game for us. They're a lot closer to Detroit than we are. I think this will be like the eighth road game for us. We've been good on the road. We've approached it in a manner that's enabled us to play good football. This is going to be a little different situation in that we're going to leave a little bit earlier, we're going to leave in the morning. That will make the trip there on Wednesday a longer day for us. There will be some things that we have to go through once we get there that sometimes aren't associated with how we normally would travel and lead up to a game. We have to be ready to handle all of that. We have to understand that Thursday is going to be an awful long day. There's going to be parents and guardians and friends and family of players and coaches. The thing we can't allow is for distractions to occur. We have to continue to make sure it's a game philosophy, a game feeling, and not a celebration or family gathering. We're there to play a football game so all our preparation will go into it that way. We'll keep coming back to putting our mind on the football game and not let a lot of things that happen those couple of days take you away to all of the sudden the kickoff occurs, the other team is playing good football and you're down 14-0 and you don't know what hit you. I think we understand what we're faced with and how we'll handle it."
On Central Michigan's offense:
"Any time you face a team, one, that's talented, and two, that tries to do a multiple number of things, it's always difficult to prepare. Then you take one day out of that because it's a shorter week for us, it makes it extremely difficult. We've got really good coaches. Our guys have been able to prepare game plans, that when put into play, have been solid game plans and have given us a chance. We'll have a good game plan against them. Athletically, they have a lot of good athletes. We have to make sure we just don't allow them to make big play after big play from the offensive end of it. Their quarterback is as good as we've faced. He's not only an excellent thrower, he's got a strong arm and will throw all the way across the field on you on some routes that a lot of quarterbacks won't even attempt to throw, but he's also a great runner. They screen so well. You have to be ready for screens. You have to be ready for the quarterback scrambling. That's how they've gotten some of their big plays."
On the similarity of the two teams not having been chosen as preseason favorites:
"I personally have not looked into the history of their school, and I'm just finding out about the history of ours to tell you the truth. I'm not a guy that looks back and says, `Wow, this is something that this school hasn't done for so many years.' I've got no interest in doing that. My interest is in taking the football team that we have and making it work. Wherever that leads us, it leads us. If we set some records or do some things that haven't been done in the past, that's great, but I don't take time to look at it from that angle. I certainly don't take time to look at it from Central's angle. I'm sure they've some things they're trying to accomplish. I just don't look at it from that angle."
On Ohio sweeping the MAC East Division Player of the Week Awards for the third time:
"It's been somewhat amazing that we've been able to accomplish that as much as we have. At the beginning of the year you'd probably say there was not a team out there that would be able to do that. To our credit, our guys lined up and played well enough to be able to do that. We've got a board that we're going to putting up shortly that will identify everybody that's won the MAC award that will be displayed here because we're very, very proud of those guys who have been able to capture those awards. We want to put that in front of our team, in front of recruits. We'll also have a scout team player of the week board that's going to get posted with the guys that we've picked each week that have done a special job. When you do win football games it's not because of 11 guys or 22 guys. You have to have great chemistry amongst all your team, great chemistry amongst your coaches and great chemistry amongst your support group. We try to recognize those types of things as much as possible. Our whole team has come together and it hasn't been just the travel squad for instance. A lot of good things have happened. Getting those awards has been super, and I think they've been justified."
On this season's effect on recruiting:
"I think winning always is a plus. Players want to go to a program that has the ability to win football games and help them reach their goals individually as well as team goals. It is definitely important. This was good timing for us on that end of it. I will say this though. From day one as a staff when we got here, there was interest from players in terms of coming to Ohio University so it's not a deal that if we wouldn't of had this season that we wouldn't have been able to attract top athletes. We would've been able to do that. Certainly winning is a big plus."
On Mark Parson's and T.J. Wright's play at cornerback:
"They've had an outstanding season. To me they're as good of corners as there is in this conference. They have played exceptionally well. That has allowed us to do some different things defensively because our two corners can lock some guys down. That opens up a lot of things that a defensive coordinator can do when you have the ability to man up with your corners on excellent wideouts in terms of blitzing, in terms of coverages. We really have the ability to do whatever we want to do from the defensive end of it knowing that we have two guys out there that are playing great football. Now, at that spot you can get beat. You can have 100 really good plays and one bad play and its really sticks out, but they've done a great job."