“Obviously number one we’re very excited we have the opoprutnity play the 13th game. To be in the Sugar Bowl is exciting to all of us. We’ll start practice today, and we’ll go this weekend, next weekend, and keep it going after next weekend and kind of dodge around finals times and all those things you kind of deal with this time of year and with recruiting. We’re going to play a tremendous, great opponent in Virginia Tech, a well coached team. Frank Beamer’s done a tremendous job for many years, so it’s going to be a great challenge and be a lot of fun. We want to enjoy the atmosphere and embrace it, but we want to prepare to go win. That’s why you play in bowl games when you have that opportunity.”
You’ve done bowl prep a couple different ways. What have you found that works?
“The one thing, there’s a fine line between trying to outsmart yourself, maybe outpractice yourself a little bit and the intensity that you want to do things with. There’s a tendency sometimes to get stale -- and that can happen all year long, but you like the consistency of how you prepare, but at the same time I think you need to change it up enough. We’ll try to do that a little bit from shoulder pads to helmets the full length of practice, maybe some different drills, and those kinds of things.”
What are your thoughts on spending this time strictly for bowl prep vs. developing players for next year?
“If we had better depth at the big positions, your O-line and D-line, I think we’d do more. But when we came in we only had eight scholarship offensive linemen. Usually you’re at 15. That’s a little dicey. You’ve got to be healthy. You can’t run the race if you’re not at the start line. That’s always a part of it. We’re a little deeper at some positions, but O-line and D-line is where we’re thinnest at. You’ve got to be smart in how you transition your practice and the physicalness that you want to play with that you have to practice with. So it becomes more difficult. It’s kind of like spring ball when you don’t have a spring game. Well why don’t you have a spring game? You don’t have enough bodies. We’re still in that position obviously where we don’t have the bodies, especially at the bigs -- the big positions.”
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There was a suggestion to the NCAA to reduce total scholarships from 85 to 80. Thoughts?
“I think that’s ridiculous. I think when you go through a season, and we’ve been (knock knock) fortunate this year when you look at some of the injuries and things that can happen, once you take your two-deeps and you look at your skill groups and all those things, I don’t think it’s a wise suggestion.”
What did you see from the Ohio State game that you’ll need to work on for Virginia Tech?
“Yeah. You know in the back end I think we played a little looser than we had been. That’s alarming a little bit. Their quarterback has either thrown for or has 28 touchdowns this year. They’re very good at what they do, and we have to be tighter in coverage. We have to be better in zone. All those things are part of it.”
Do you expect your coaching staff do be intact going into next season?
“I don’t know. Did you hear anything? … Yeah I do. I do. I’m sure if there was anything, they would approach me about it.”
Speaking of coaching staffs, the NCAA is allowing Ohio State to have two coachings staffs. One to recruit and one to coach the bowl game. Any reaction to that?
“You know, I think it’s a little different. I’ve never heard of it before. I may have gone that route … It’s different. That would be my reaction. I’ve never heard of it, but there’s probably a lot of things I haven’t heard of. There are a lot of things. So, you know, it’s different. Is it an advantage? Yeah, I think so.”
Thoughts on Molk winning the Rimington?
“It was awesome. It was awesome. Deserving -- David did a tremendous job this year in a lot of ways, and I was excited for him.”
In what ways did you see Denard grow the most this season?
“I think there was a confidence in the offense. There was a confidence in his teammates a little bit, when you look at route running and protection and all those things. But the biggest growth was him understanding progression reads, understanding how you move in the pocket without moving 100 miles an hour, how you step up in there a little bit and gain a little more time and scan the field a little better. And now I think at the end of year, because he was healthier, because we were able to some degree take a little relief off him running the ball so much, he was much more physical and decisive running the football. That was huge for us.”
How banged up was he?
“He had a staph infection. He had a lot of different problems that he went through during the course of the season. His elbow, his hand, he had an abdominal problem -- he’s a tough guy. I just think he was so much healthier and a little more confident at the same time.”
Was it hard to not reveal that information while he was receiving so much criticism earlier in the season?
“Yeah because there are no excuses. Everybody’s beat up. Still there are no excuses for performance. Performance by us to do a better job of coaching them and making sure they understand exactly the expectations for plays or routes or whatever from an offensive or defensive standpoint.”
How bad was the staph infection?
“It was bad enough. I don’t know.”
When was it?
“I can’t remember. I can’t remember yesterday, to be honest with you.”
Was that the thing in his forearm?
“Yeah. Right through here.”
What did they do for it? Antibiotics?
“Mmhmm. Clean it. Get some good stuff out of there every now and then.”
When you say “bad enough,” do you mean you thought he wasn’t going to be able to play?
MGoCueTheTrumpet: You’ve had success with players like Denard and Molk who aren’t prototypical players in a pro-style offense. Does that open up your mind to recruiting players like them in the future for your offense?
“Well I don’t know what you mean with David.”
MGoLowerTheFlag: He’s described himself as a smaller center, but he’s faster and uses his strength --
“He’s got a great quickness. And smaller, I think that’s all up to opinion. He’s 290 pounds. That’s not bad size. That’s not like you’re small, unless you consider me small. I’m closer to 300.”
MGo21GunSalute: But with a dual-threat quarterback like Denard, if there were another player like him in the future --
“I think you always want to have athleticism in your quarterback. Believe me, we’re a pro-style offense, but we don’t want a guy who can’t move in the pocket and do those things, and I think that’s what we’ve kind of recruited. I think the biggest thing has been everyone else’s opinion of what Denard was. And we never put any limitations on what he is.”
With what Borges inherited as far as personnel, are you happy with the job he did?
“I think, number one, the kids on that side of that ball did a tremendous job. I think the guys like David Molk, like Huyge, Junior and Fitz and Smitty and all those guys and Denard, I think they did a tremendous job of adapting to some of West Coast, pro-style offensive things that Al added. I think that whole staff Darrell and Dan and Heck and Freddie, they all did a tremendous job in teaching. The same thing -- fundamentals and techniques and how they do individual and what their expectations are. Al, you know, he has a tremendous offensive mind. Look at his resume and how many places he’s been and coordinated. He had Randle El at Indiana. There’s a lot of different guys. The guys at UCLA and Ryan Lindley, what he did with him at San Diego State. He’s a smart man. You have to look at your personnel first and foremost and adapt to it. The best part of it is he doesn’t have an ego. He doesn’t care.”
Why do you think Denard should be in New York for the Heisman ceremony?
“Well, I can’t sit here and rattle off statistics, but in the Big Ten conference, he took the team to 10-2. It wasn’t solely him, because none of those awards are solely one person’s. I don’t know his stats for the year -- I’m not a big stats guy -- but what he did.”
Rocky Long ranked you guys pretty low. Nick Saban and Les Miles had you at 8 and 9. Are you curious as to why SDSU ranked you so low?
“No. Not really.”
Rocky doesn’t like you anymore?
“I don’t know. It has no effect. We can’t control any of that.”
Do you do your own poll or does someone do it for you?
“That’s a very personal question. I have a little help and I discuss with a person who helps.”
Is it your final say?
“Uh, I think so.”
Do you project any competition at certain positions during the bowl practice?
“Yeah I think you always do. And I would say, you look at it, and that’s a really good question -- linebacker wise I think there’s always some competition for us. I think up front, when you get Will Campbell and quinton Washington and how they’ve performaned and what they do. Nate Brink is a guy who’s constantly pushing and doing a lot of good things in practice. It needs to carry over a little more to game time. I think because of the depth at receiver there’s always good competition. Running back, Fitz did a nice job, and Shaw keeps fighting in there, which is a real credit to Michael. Smitty will be healthier than he was at the end of the year. To answer that, they’ve got to come out every day and earn it. They have to earn it.”
Is bowl practice more like fall camp?
“Yeah. We’ll do a bunch of fundamentals this whole weekend, getting back into it a little bit. They’ve lifted and run, and next week they’ll lift and run again and we’ll come back and have more of a game plan. Because the guys have been out. I know Greg, I think, was in one day. Al was in a couple days. So they’ve gotten a little bit of a head start. The GA’s have done their due diligence in breaking down the games we want broken down. All of that information is coming together. Next week will be a little more game planning. This weekend will be more of a fundamentals, techniques, playing fast, physicalness, all those things.”
Which games do you look at for Virginia Tech?
“You usually always take the last four. And then you may go at look at, and I’ll speak from both an offensive and defensive perspective -- you’ll look at similar offenses or similar defenses and kind of see how they want to approach and attack those schemes.”
What stands out to you about Frank Beamer?
“I think, number one, Frank Beamer’s known for special teams and how they’ve performed over the course of many years, with blocked punts, blocked field goals, punt returns, the whole gamut within the kicking game. That tells you the team is really coached well. Their defense -- Bud Foster does a tremendous job as coordinator -- how hard they’ll play the game with, the soundness they play with. Offensively they’ve always had a guy back there. I think they have 1600-yard rusher this year that’s going to be able to run downhill and run physical. They’re a football team and program that does and should have a lot of confidence with who they are and a lot of pride in who they are. When you have that kind of team and that kind of tradition, they’ve built an awful nice thing in Blacksburg. Those things are what I see and know without looking into the tape yet.”
New Big Ten coach at Illinois in Tim Beckman. Do you know him at all?
“I know Tim. He’s a good coach. Did a nice job at Toledo. He was coordinator at Oklahoma State, and he was on the Ohio staff at one point. He’s a good coach.”