Coaches Press Conference Transcripts

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel met with the media on Monday to preview the matchup between their two teams. It was the last media session before the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.

Opening statement from Bobby Petrino:

I think we've had a tremendous experience down here. I'd like to thank the Allstate Sugar Bowl staff and the city of New Orleans for making a great experience for our football players, our coaches and their family. It's a tremendous Bowl.

And when we started this thing off 38 days ago, since our last game, we knew we had a long preparation in front of us and our players have done a nice job of handling it. I think our assistant coaches have done a nice job of handling it.

Obviously we're all ready to get to the game and play the football game. Our fans are exciting. It was fun last night. We had a radio show downtown, and there was a lot of Razorback fans downtown. I think we'll come out and put on a great show with our crowd, give our players a lot of excitement and enthusiasm and have a great football game.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions.

Q. Special teams in Bowl games rear up and play a role. What do you expect tomorrow?

COACH PETRINO: They do in every game. What you have to do is be sound. Make sure you don't beat yourself in special teams. I think that's real important. Both teams have very good skilled players, very capable of returning and making big plays and we've worked extremely hard on our coverage game kick off coverage and punt coverage. I think our specialists get an advantage because we are playing inside so you don't have to deal with the elements and the wind and rain or anything like that.

Q. You obviously had a difficult experience three years ago with the Falcons now you're here. Could you reflect on your personal journey and what this means to you to be here?

COACH PETRINO: Well, it's been really enjoyable for me and the players that have been with us for the three years when we came in the first year we were not very good. We played 16 true freshmen, not all of them started. But they all played. We took our lumps. At one point we played Texas, Alabama and Florida back to back to back and got beat up in all those games. I think what I'm really proud of is our coaches and the fact that we had strong beliefs on how you do things, things, how you build a program, how you run your offense, your defense and your special teams.

And even that year you could see the improvement as And this off season was really special, as a coach, because our players ran the off season. They pushed each other. They made a total commitment to our football team and our football program and it was fun to see that happen and see us mature and become a very good football team.

Q. This is for the first time in a while Arkansas has been on a stage this big. Can you talk about what a win would mean to take this program to another level to put it on a national level of being a contender?

COACH PETRINO: What a win does is finish it off for our seniors. Finish it off for this team the 2010 Razorbacks.

And we started this season with real high expectations. We felt like we had an opportunity to get into the championship game. We lost a couple tough games.

I'm very proud of the way our players reacted to that, and just kept working hard with a positive attitude. And a win does two things for us. It sends our seniors out with a special team. Could be considered one of the best teams at the University of Arkansas, finishing the top 5 somewhere probably.

And then it starts next season off the right way. And we want to be ranked high when we start next And I always feel like the preseason rankings are determined on how you finished and how many players you got coming back.

Q. Continuing what a win might mean, you've often spoke of the fan base at Arkansas. Now that you have a feel for them in three years, what do you think it might mean for them? It's a hungry fan base waiting a long time to win the Sugar Bowl?

COACH PETRINO: It's been really fun this year with our fans and the support that we've had. All the games that we've played in Fayetteville, how we traveled and went to Dallas and played in the game down there against Texas A&M, the two big games in Little Rock.

But it's a unique state, because I think everybody in the state are Razorbacks fans. We have other colleges and other universities and they support them but they can still be Razorback. And it's very unique. Something that as a football coach you see the passion and the pride that everybody takes in Razorbacks football. And really motivates you. Motivates you every day to go out and recruit hard and work as hard as you possibly can.

Q. Some of the players have commented on the lightheartedness and joking of D.J. Williams in the locker room. Can you comment on that side of him?

COACH PETRINO: Well, D.J. is a special young man. Certainly everyone is aware of his past and the obstacles that he's overcome and how that has shaped his personality.

You know, the thing that's so special about D.J. is it's not only with the football team and with the people in the athletic department, but you can go on campus and see all the professors, other students and everybody knows D.J. Williams. Everyone knows that he smiles and loves life. And it's one of those young men that you're fortunate enough to be around that affects everybody around him in a positive way.

Q. Coach, what was the thoughts and attitude of your quarterback in getting a chance to play Ohio State again?

COACH PETRINO: What Ryan has done a nice job of once he came to the University of Arkansas, he put everything behind him. He put everything behind him and moved forward and I up wanting to be an Arkansas Razorbacks football player. He's got tremendous personality. And love for football. He's one of the special guys to coach, because doesn't take a lot to motivate Ryan. He loves to work. He loves to come in the meeting room. He loves to watch video and study. He's a great student of the game, and I think he'll just approach this just like any other big game.

Q. Can you talk about the seniors and have you noticed the body language, a couple have said they really appreciated and soaked up this moment and the entire experience about capping it off with a BCS game. Has it been any different than different than the rest of the season?

COACH PETRINO: It's different. There's no doubt about that. When you come down here and you have five practices and there's a lot of things going on, I think our players have done a nice job of keeping their focus and doing a good job in meetings, doing a good job on the practice field. But certainly they feel the reward that the Sugar Bowl and the City of New Orleans has put out for us to make it a special experience, and they need to have that. There's no question about that.

Now it's time to get ready to get focused on getting ready for the game. We came in for breakfast and we'll have meetings and go through our normal Friday, Saturday routines for a game, and I think our guys will do a good job of focusing and getting ready for the game.

Q. Could you talk about who are the most similar opponent to Ohio State maybe you faced this year would be, or how they're different than maybe anybody you faced?

COACH PETRINO: Yeah, I'm not real good on making similarities or comparisons between teams. When you look at Ohio State, the first thing that jumps off at you is how well-coached they are. They know exactly what they want to do, what their schemes are. Their players execute them. They play extremely physical.

They'll be as physical of offensive and defensive line that we've played all year long. So we got a great challenge ahead of us. It's been 38 days of studying what they do. And you know, I'm looking forward to the matchup. I think you'll see a really good football game.

Q. Today is Black Monday in the NFL. Some changes. You've already had one BCS coach leave. Teammate of BCS Bowl leave. What is it like for you to be out of the mix of that for a change?

COACH PETRINO: It's great. I'll tell you what, I appreciate Dr. Gerhart and Jeff Long. We want to try to get it done as quick as we possibly could, so we all understood the commitments that are there on both sides.

And it's been a lot of fun. It's been a lot of fun to know that we're going to continue to build this program the way that we want to.

Q. Coach, a lot has been made recently, especially with the day that the Big Ten has this past Saturday of the difference between the conferences. Do you feel that you have an advantage playing a schedule that you did in the SEC?

COACH PETRINO: No, I don't think any of that matters for this game. I think what you see in this game is a great football team from Ohio State that's a tremendous challenge for us. And you know, what happened in other games, what we play throughout the year, you kind of put behind you and just focus on going out and trying to win this game.

Q. Talk about the seniors, Alex's last game, a couple of days, and obviously is there any chances that he might do a field goal or extra point?

COACH PETRINO: Well, the seniors have put a tremendous amount of energy, leadership and commitment, dedication into this football team. And the leadership that they've provided throughout the year is one of the reasons it's been so enjoyable for me to coach, is because you know when we had challenges come up and things you thought, well, this might be hard to get the team ready to practice today or might be hard, might have some distractions, the leadership from within the team has really taken that over, and we've been very mature and prepared very well. But as far as the game goes, we play to win the game.

Q. You played on Bowls at different levels. Is there a biggest lesson you've come away from, having been a part of so many different Bowls?

COACH PETRINO: There have been a lot of lessons you learn. Most of them are when you get beat. I think what you try to do is just figure out a schedule that allows you to continue to improve as a football player, as an individual football player, continue to work on your technique, your fundamentals, and you also use this preparation as a spring football for the young players.

So that when we get to spring ball now, they're very familiar with what we do offensively and defensively, and now they can compete for a job in spring football.

And then you try to balance it out for how do I prepare for the game, not overdo it, not try to do too much, and try to get to a normal routine. And that's one of the reasons why today we'll take the travel squad, move to a different hotel and really focus on what we would normally do on every Friday and Saturday of the game.

Q. Last year, last month of the season, Ohio State threw the ball an average of 17 passes a game. All of a sudden in the Rose Bowl, they threw it 34, 35 from a prior game, what do you expect from Ohio State from an offensive standpoint going into this one?

COACH PETRINO: I think you always try to do what you do best and execute what you do best. And then adjust as the game goes on. So I think they'll come in and try to live with what got them here.

We feel like we have a great challenge in stopping the run. Not only the runs to the running back with their quarterback runs, and try to get them in third and long situations.

But obviously when you have this much time to prepare, you know, we're going to see something that we haven't prepared for. They'll probably see something they haven't prepared for. That's just how the Bowl games go.

Q. I've talked to some of your players. Rudell Crim and Byran Jones and Tramain Thomas and also Jeff Long and asked about the local flare and if they learned any French or Cajun terms while they've been here. I got them all to attempt [French] and I really need you to attempt it as well.

COACH PETRINO: Let's hear it again.

Q. [French].

COACH PETRINO: One more time. If you do something three times then you've got a chance to get it.

Q. [French]?

COACH PETRINO: [French].

Q. Let the good times roll.

COACH PETRINO: Let the good times roll. I like it. Good term.

Q. They say a team usually takes on the personality of the head coach. You've been here three years. Big week of preparation here. Would you say that team, or this team has done just that?

COACH PETRINO: Well, I don't know. I'm not sure that's all true, because you have so many different things that go into a football team. Certainly you feel like, offensively, we have a personality from our staff and our coaches and how we want to operate. Defensively we have a personality that we've been working to develop for three years now, and now have it that way. But I think what I like about our football team is that they're very aggressive. They're very, very competitive.

And we've been able to go out and work as hard as we can to give our best performance each week. And that's really what we tried to do as a football team is prepare and have a better game than we had the previous week.

Q. This is the first BCS game, big game, Bowl game for the Razorbacks. But can an Alabama game, that atmosphere, that experience, playing in an Alabama game, the Auburn, the SEC schedule, can this help this team in their first big-time Bowl game?

COACH PETRINO: I think it can. We go on the road and all the big stages that we play on, all the loud crowds and hostile environments, I think certainly puts you on the same type of stage that we're going to be on tomorrow night. And what's important is, as a football player and football team, is you focus on what you can control and what you do.

As long as we can get to our comfort zone as quick as possible within the game and say, hey, we know what this is about, we've been here before, it's just a different team, I think we'll execute and play well.

Q. The Ohio State secondary, are they about as talented, good a group as you've seen this year?

COACH PETRINO: It will be a great challenge for us.

They've got two big, tall corners with long arms that are well-coached, have tremendous technique. Their safeties are real impressive because they come downhill and make a lot of tackles, are able to be in zone coverage and get down to the line of scrimmage very, very fast.

Their ability to read run pass is something that's really impressed me. It will be a good challenge for us.

We've got to try to get in some one-on-one situations. And we feel like we have good wide receivers and good quarterbacks.

So that's what a good matchup will be.

Q. How tough is it to prepare for a game when you have this much time off as a lot of obviously Bowl teams do? Would you prefer to see a little closer period between the end of the season and the Bowl season?

COACH PETRINO: Yeah, I think we would all prefer that. I don't think it's ever going to happen again. But there's no doubt that it's different with this much time and being after the 1st, it's certainly something that's a challenge in how you deal with it.

But, again, what we tried to do was go back to really working hard on technique, fundamentals, not overworking our players.

In the early practices, the guys playing in this game were maybe on the field an hour, 20 minutes, hour and a half, we got them off the field and worked hard on conditioning and weightlifting, and then practiced our young guys.

And then once we got closer to the game, we tried to make it just like a regular week, what we would do late in the year on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So we get some sense of getting back to a normal game preparation.

Q. Getting to a BCS game in your third year, when you set up the master plan, when you took over Arkansas, are you ahead of schedule? Are you right where you thought you would be?

COACH PETRINO: It's a hard question to answer, because really what you do is you evaluate how you do in spring ball. You evaluate how the two-a-days go and summer goes. And then you set your goals.

And we set our goals this year to get to the championship game. We really felt like we had an opportunity to do that when we stumbled a couple times throughout the year and lost a couple of hard-fought games but we were right in them. We were winning in the fourth quarter in both of those games. And then we put on a nice win streak. Six in a row and kind of snuck up on everybody and had a huge win against LSU to get here.

But we're always going to set our goals high. We really feel like the program has developed the way we wanted it to and getting continuity with our coaches and getting continuity with our players, staying in the program and getting better.

And then doing a good job of recruiting. So we've just got to keep it going.



Jim Tressel:

Coach Tressel: As I was standing up here with Coach Petrino with the trophy, it kind of reminded me back the first BCS game we were ever a part of. I showed up at this press conference in my sweat suit. And Larry Coker had his coat and tie on. I thought they probably didn't use those nine million pictures they took.

But it's a tremendous honor to be a part of games like this. Really, it's more than a game. I was talking a little bit last night with Mike Sly at one of the events, and the opportunities that we as schools and conferences and kids have to experience different cultures and meet new people and hear different speakers and be a part of different things is -- you know, it's extraordinary.

And it's a neat opportunity for kids. And the folks here at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, their hospitality is tremendous. And the opportunities the kids have to experience things are special. The people over at the Dome were unbelievable.

And our kids are out there practicing on the field that the NFL plays on every Sunday. And it's been a wonderful opportunity. We always talk about these opportunities being life-changing opportunities for our kids. And it's been fun.

I think we're all anxious to tee it up and get going.

We know we're playing against a wonderful football team. If you're fortunate enough to be at games like this, you know that your opponent is going to be extraordinary. And Arkansas is just that. It's been fun getting to know Bobby a little bit and some of our guys know some of the guys on the staff.

Of course, we've competed with John L. Smith a little bit over the years. And it's another experience that you feel very fortunate to be a part of.

And I think our kids are excited and know the task at hand. And looking forward to that. And we've been here since the 29th and they've experienced a lot and are excited to go out and be in a tremendous football game.

THE MODERATOR: Questions?

Q. Jim, I've been asking the players all week about whether or not adversity can help a team grow closer, rally together. You've had experiences particularly in Bowl games before with stuff going on outside. Your players seem to have responded well in those situations. What makes that so and are you hopeful that's the case?

COACH TRESSEL: I think adversity, whether it's for a football team or for an individual or for those that aren't football players is always the greatest teacher. Not always the most fun. But always the greatest teacher.

I think it does give you an opportunity to be inwardly reflective and all of those things. And I think I've been around bowl situations where sometimes I was worried that everything seems like it's too good and all of a sudden you might be get shocked at the adversity you face on the field and we've been a part of moments where we've had to handle some adversity. But nevertheless, as we move closer to game time, our ability to handle adversity and play together and stay together and the last time we were here wasn't in the Sugar Bowl per se but playing against LSU I thought we came out ready to play and played pretty darn well and had some adverse things happen, and probably got knocked off kilter a little bit and didn't regain our feet for ten or 12 minutes in the game. And when you're playing great teams, that's not something that you can afford to do. And so you'd like to think that you can gain from those adverse situations.

Not that you want them to occur in hopes that you learn from them. But you would hope that will be the case and maybe in this game but more importantly down the road for individuals and teams in the future.

Q. With all the things that Ohio State has done, Big Ten titles or Michigan wins, where do you think that Bowl games, where do they fit into how people evaluate both teams and players, how you perform in a Bowl game, how individuals perform in a Bowl game. How does that fit into the mix, do you think?

COACH TRESSEL: I think when people look at teams or individuals they get a whole laundry list of things they talk about. It might be statistics in their performance. It might be how they do in their league. It might be how they do in their rival games. It might be how they do in Bowl games and all those things.

I think when you get a chance to play in Bowl games you just give one more opportunity to add to your legacy to be evaluated within how you've done.

But where they rank, you know where Bowl games rank versus other things, I don't know, I'm not sure where any of the things rank, per se.

But it's part of the data that's talked about.

Q. As you watched on Saturday, the Big Ten took a lickin' from the SEC. Do you feel like you're carrying a little bit of a burden in that respect, the banner of the SEC of going against the SEC, Big Ten against the SEC, and how does that figure into your plans?

COACH TRESSEL: I think one of the big thrills about playing in the Big Ten is that we know our Bowl alliances and the games where we have a chance to compete against the SEC and other conferences and so forth. And to me that's one of the bonuses about playing in our league.

We always say if you ever want to become the best, you play against the best. And I didn't really see many of the games. I got back to see the later games that day. Obviously I saw the results.

Does it add something more to our challenge, I don't think so. Arkansas is enough of a challenge of its own. What someone else did or didn't do is probably going to have very little effect on how we do against Arkansas. And our guys have been preparing hard to compete against a great team. Which happens to be from the SEC. I've said all along if you go back to any of the thoughts I've had over the course of the years, is that I've always held a tremendously high esteem the programs in the SEC, and this one is -- this one is no different.

Q. Your thoughts on Pryor criticizing former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit this week?

COACH TRESSEL: As we talked about with any of our kids in terms of giving their opinions on things. I've always felt that sometimes those are best left unsaid. Which is difficult sometimes for kids because they spend so much time hearing people's opinions of them. But I've always wanted to err on the side of sometimes keeping my thoughts. But I guess that's why we get to play this game in this great country and so forth.

We're allowed to say what we think and that's, I guess, one of the standards that makes our country a little bit different. But as I've said before not simply about what TP might have said, but what anyone might say from an opinion standpoint, and I'm not sure giving opinions is that flattering.

Q What kind of reins have you tried to keep on your guys this week, balancing the practice and in fact some of the guys who were part of the suspend ed group were out, some elbow grease and hedge clippers and clearing a lot in the lower Ninth Ward this morning. Do you find that helpful, therapeutic?

COACH TRESSEL: In terms of how we were trying to keep the Reins on our guys before we go to any Bowl game before we leave, we print our schedule we sit down with our seniors and we talk about here's the events we get a chance to go be a part of and here's the practice schedules and so forth. Now, where do you think we ought to be from a curfew standpoint and that type of thing.

So it's been very similar. I think there was a night or two where they had a one or 2:00 curfew and the rest of the time it was midnight, 11:30 type thing. And I haven't heard any issues with that.

One of the opportunities our entire team had to take part in if they would have liked to was a community service project. I think we had 25 or 30 guys go out there this morning and clear some land and that type of thing with being around some of our fans and a couple of the kids told me that Dr. Gee, our president, was out there helping out and so forth and the cheerleaders and the band and that type of thing. And again the list of opportunities that our kids have had from the time we arrived through today, in my mind, have been so valuable. And again those opportunities for those kids on our team, Arkansas team, I don't know how many Bowl games there are -- 30 some Bowl games -- you know, it's hard to put the right value on that. I think our kids have done a good job.

They also know part of the job is do we play to our ability come Tuesday night.

Q. How confident are you that the suspended players will keep their word to you and return for next season? And has anything happened to maybe make you believe any differently?

COACH TRESSEL: I'm totally confident. Totally.

Q. Jim, how much lower on the radar screen would you have rather have been on this Bowl with all that's going on.

It strikes me often you've been successful when you've been the team that wasn't getting all the attention. Is that something that kind of comes with a big game being the team that's kind of ignored?

COACH TRESSEL: Well, I think all of us as coaches like to be on the radar from a standpoint of recognizing that our kids have worked hard and have earned this opportunity to be at a wonderful Bowl game.

We obviously don't like to be on the radar when we err, but we know that's part of being on the radar. And it's not wrong. But as far as whether we've been under the radar or over the radar, I guess I don't check the radar that close.

But we've been working hard to prepare ourselves and get ready to play a whale of a football team.

And I've been pleased with our preparation. The beauty of games, as you look back, there's been, what, 28 games so far? You look at those games that have been played, and the same things that make the difference in games during the regular season are the ones that make the difference in this game. And so what we've got to do is we've got to make sure we do the things you need to do to be successful against a very very good team.

And I wish I could help you more on the radar thing, because I'm not that knowledgeable on where we are there. It's a bad answer, I know.

Q. Given all the things that have happened off the field with the kids, and specifically with Terrel, how would you describe how he's been emotion wise, leadership wise responding to all of this in terms of his preparations for the Bowl?

COACH TRESSEL: I think his preparation has been good. I've said many times over the course of the years I've spent with Terrelle, he's the kind of guy he's really a perfectionist, when he doesn't do as good as he could, it really bothers him. Whether it's on a test in school or on a play during practice ( or something off the field, or maybe just in a casual conversation with someone, you know, he's got real deep-seeded need to do okay.

And I think he's prepared hard. I think he's done all the things that we've asked him to do and had the same type of film preparation and practice preparation and little things, and you know how coaches are, we evaluate every little thing on every play and all those things. And I have not seen -- I have not seen any drop-off in any of that.

But I also know this about him. And that's what I love about him, is that it really disappoints him when he doesn't do what he thinks he can do. And I mean that universally. I don't mean that simply off the field or -- I mean that within his play, within his relationships, within his role on our team.

He really wants to do well. And so he works hard to try to do that.

Q. Following along that, do you worry about Terrelle possibly pressing -- I mean, this could be his last game until October of next year. Will you have a talk with him about that, trying to make his mark so to speak? Because as he said the other day, many of his goals may be going into his senior year making a run possibly for a Heisman, things like that, are you worry about him pressing?

COACH TRESSEL: We try to evaluate as we go play-by-play, and if we sense that there's a pressing there, you know, obviously we'll address that, and we always talk about the old quarterback phrase of: Take what they give you and your best throw of the day might be a throw-away. And it's okay to punt. And all those things.

But you guys that are from Columbus know him. He's a highly competitive guy. He looks like he's pressing a lot. He is. He's pressing to do the best he possibly can. So we've got to make sure we make good decisions while we've got the ball in our hands or when we're at the line of scrimmage, change and protections or whatever it happens to be.

But he knows he's playing against a great team. And we've got to be -- we've got to be on target with all that we do and not be thinking anything beyond that.

And so my sense is that he isn't sitting around consciously saying: I'm not going to play for a while so this has to be out of this world. And if he is, I suppose we'll be able to tell that in his play and we can address that.

Q. Earlier Coach Petrino had said, you know, you're always going to see things that you haven't prepared for.

Knowing Coach Petrino's pension for offensive play calling and pulling a surprise here and there, how concerning is maybe that aspect, the stuff that you haven't prepared for when it comes to this Razorback offense?

COACH TRESSEL: I think that's always a concern you have defensively is you have a little bit longer in a Bowl game so you get a little bit more locked into what tendencies might be and all those things. And you gotta make sure that information doesn't hurt you.

Because all of a sudden, the key breakers can be devastating. And you know, Bobby's teams have always done that. I thought his brother did good job of that against us earlier, came out early and did a couple of key breaker things -- and it was challenging.

And so we have to make sure that in the course of the game, you know, that we don't get disappointed that, hey, you know, they're not doing exactly what we've prepared to do, because it's not within the rules that they have to. They're allowed to run whatever plays they want and line up in whatever formations they want and do what they think will work best against us.

And our job is to react to that and execute -- the neat thing about every defense is it's engineered for success.

And every offense is, too, so it will come down to who can block and tackle and protect and all those things.

Q. Adding to that, Petrino said you guys are physical on both sides of the ball. How would you describe Arkansas? What do you think is going to be the most challenging thing about them for you guys?

COACH TRESSEL: I know this, they're a physical team.

10 and 2 and the schedule they played, week after week, the battles they were in. I mean, they're a well-banged, made it through lots of rounds team.

And I'd like to think we are. And that's the beauty of getting two folks together who both have been tested. Both have done a lot of good things. Both wished they would have done even better. And anxious to improve and to end their season the right way. But they're a physical -- I've said all along, I think they're the quickest, fastest physical team think they're the quickest, fastest physical team we've faced in quite some time. And I hope we are -- I hope he's right. I hope we are a physical team.

Q. A number of your players said that since the Michigan game, the biggest area they've seen improvement is everyone's pretty much healthy now. Can you talk about how much difference that will make compared to how you were playing at the end of the season? Specifically we saw Salomon Thomas didn't seem to practice on Friday. What's his status for the game?

COACH TRESSEL: We had a couple three guys had a little bit of flu type things. Saly was one of them. I think Storm Klein missed a day or two in there. We had to move someone in to kind of a sick room, but we don't have any ankles knees, elbows, shoulder stuff, anything that's new.

As far as who we get back, I thought we were pretty healthy near the end of the season. We lost all those guys for the year that we lost. But I'm just trying to think back. I'm not sure who we get back that we didn't have at the end of the year. Christian is back. He's probably in the two-deep. But I wouldn't expect him to have quite the role that he had when he was first injured.

He missed such a big chunk for a young guy. I'm trying to remember what game it was had to be there in October. Didn't he miss four or five?

So we do have him back. Which, of course, helps our depth. But other than that, you know, one of the reasons we're blessed to be at the Allstate Sugar Bowl is is that we stayed healthy, because you don't make it through a conference schedule if you're not healthy.

And so hopefully we can stay that way in the course of the game.

Q. I know this is off track, I wanted to get your reaction to your favorite NFL team making a coaching change today. I don't even know what you think of Mike Holmgren, and what direction do you think he'll be taking the Browns in?

COACH TRESSEL: There are times when you question whether I know what we're doing at our place, how would I know what Mike's doing. (Laughter).

The Browns are my team. Now you're getting me in trouble in New Orleans. But the Browns are my team. I grew up a Browns fan, and I was in mourning those years we didn't have the Browns. And now I'm back. Coach Holmgren has had great been a part of. I don't really know him, other than I know of him.

What will he do? Gosh. No scoop here on that one.

I have no idea. I have no idea.

Q. You were a quarterback in college, too. You know that competitive drive similar to what Pryor has. If you were in his shoes right now with his current situation, how do you think you would react and how do you think is a good way to react?

COACH TRESSEL: I think play-by-play is the only way to react as a quarterback. If you do anything beyond that, if you do anything beyond learning from the last play and getting your communication set for the next play and then working hard on all the little things that you need to do to execute that play, if you do anything beyond that -- one of the kids was talking I think to one of the strength coaches at the Saints, and they were talking about Drew Brees and the way that, just in walk-throughs, that everything is so precise.

And that's why he's one of the great ones. And you know, you play that position, you better only be worried about the next play. And so that's what I would hope he will do. If we're going to be successful, you know, against a team like this, that's what he's going to have to do.

And you know, again, I think he enjoys competition.

And he understands that that's what he needs to do.

Q. You've had the luxury, if you will, or at least the experience of facing Mallett before. Can you talk about what you see as different, maybe seeing him now on film, his growth, and also just how that, you juxtapose him into that offense, that Petrino offense, and how explosive it makes him?

COACH TRESSEL: I remember watching him warm up when he was a freshman and we were playing up at the big house, and I mean, he could spin it.

And Chad was banged up at that time. And Ryan had played some. And you know, we weren't for sure who we were going to face and so forth. And it was their last game, and Chad was a senior, I believe. And so we figured we would see Chad. And he tried. He was banged up.

It was kind of not a great situation to throw the ball. It was kind of a sleeting, rainy -- it wasn't a wonderful time for a guy to try to spin the ball out there.

And Ryan came in and played some. And for a freshman, his composure and command and so forth were outstanding. I've told people here before all week or weeks leading up to this that when he left Michigan, you know, I don't know if it's the right thing to think, but I was happy.

I don't know if that's an honorable emotion or not.

But I was. And as fate would have it, I guess I was being punished for that terrible thought, because here we are. And now I get him as a senior. Whoo. And I get him with a great tight end and great running backs and offensive line that hasn't missed a start and wide receivers who can make plays, balanced, and let's face it. I think all of us know that Bobby's done a great job wherever he's been with his offenses.

But that's exciting. Our guys, when they're sitting around 15 years from now and they're talking to their kids or their buddies or whatever, they're going to talk about they played against Ryan Mallett. They played against so and so.

They played against so and so. And that's the good fortune about being in situations like this.

Now, will it be a challenge? I hope to shout. And, you know, if you don't want that challenge, when the Allstate Sugar Bowl called you up, say no thanks.

Q. Just wonder what you expect from Cameron Heyward in this last game?

COACH TRESSEL: Cameron Heyward, as any of you who have covered him know, is a special, special kid. He's a great player. Everyone knows that.

It's been kind of neat seeing him here, because you know his dad spent time here. And people bump into him that knew his dad and maybe give him a little bit of a story about I remember when.

And so beyond being his last game, beyond being that -- he doesn't really know what the future holds and that emotion that every youngster has at that stage in their career, you know, here he is back in the city where he knows his dad loved.

So what I expect from him is, like he always does, he goes the best he can possibly go. And he knows he's got a tremendous challenge. And he will play every play the way he has for Ohio State for four years. And I think when he's done, he'll have an emotional reflection that he got to do that here in the city where his dad loved so much.

And that's pretty neat. It's pretty neat.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories