On whether Ohio State's defensive success against Indiana was a case of personnel or scheme:
"It was both. It is a well-coached and veteran defense. We probably over-planned for all of the blitzes. They were blitzing 58 percent of the time, and might blitz us in warm up. They didn't blitz us hardly at all, because they really didn't have to. The strategy that we planned, right from the beginning, became ineffective.
So, we had to start adjusting. Sometimes it is easier to adjust to something that is easier to define than the four-man rush they were giving us with change-ups in coverage. Those aren't as easy to pencil around. The thing is, we ought to be able to attack them and do our thing. We didn't do that.
It wasn't any one person. Just because they took away James Hardy, did not keep us from doing our thing. A lot of other guys weren't open, either. It wasn't that they all ran to James Hardy.
We played Randy Moss in 1997, and there was one particular play where they threw a slant and it looked like bees to a piece of honey. If Randy Moss came close to the ball, we were going to make sure that we got a piece of it. It wasn't like that. They still maintained the integrity of their defense, yet did enough to make it difficult to get the ball not only to James, but to everyone else."
On whether Ohio State gave the rest of the teams on the schedule a blueprint to defend Indiana:
"Yes, if the other teams can put pressure on us with four men. It wasn't anything like it was Cover 9, or Cover 2, or Cover 1 with a fifth rusher. It wasn't something that we had never seen before.
We talked about it as a staff. We were going to get rid of the ball. We are not going to hold the ball. We are not taking any negative plays. `Get rid of the ball, Blake. Get rid of the ball, Blake.' That was my mantra all week, because we anticipated the blitzing look. We didn't get that. That happens sometimes. How are you going to match up once you cross the line? You never know. We didn't match up very well.
Then, we needed to adjust and that was on us as coaches. It is not just coach-speak. They had a plan that they executed and that their players played well with relish and enthusiasm. We didn't match that part of it.
We kind of got stunned a little bit, and we aren't veteran enough or far enough along in our development to handle that. I have literally taken the game plan and stuck it away because 'this one ain't working today, boys. We are going to draw in the dirt and here we go from here. This is fun.'
I didn't do that with this team that is still in the early stages of development, because that is the truth. We had a confidence about us, and all of the sudden when you get shocked like we got shocked and there is a big turnover that goes against you early on, it affects you. `This isn't going according to plan. This isn't what coach said was going to happen.' Now, I am rallying the troops with three minutes gone in the game.
When you build a game up like this and it doesn't meet its expectation, now we have to regroup. The good side is, we are still early enough in our development that we can shake this off. It is not like the fifth year.
In 2009, if that happens, I will really be disappointed and surprised. It is just a good performance by them overall. It wasn't perfect. They made a bunch of mistakes. They had some penalties. Tracy Porter's pick was exactly what we needed to offset that fumble. We flipped the field. We are back in the game. Let's rock and roll. We call a play on the first play. It is supposed to be a fake end-around and Jahkeen (Gilmore) is supposed to get lost in the shuffle and then you throw a touchdown pass. Except, they were in Cover 2 and there were two guys back there with Jahkeen. Blake does a good job, and checks down to Marcus (Thigpen).
It was just one of those days. They are a good team and had a lot of answers for us. We will learn from it. I am anxious for practice today. I am looking forward to seeing this guys and going to work.
It has been a long time since I have been on the receiving end of a game like that. I don't like it. I don't see anyone in our program that likes it. No one has given up. There is an eagerness to hurry up and get out there."
On whether there is more of a sense of urgency now with needing two wins in the last four games to be bowl-eligible:
"Only in that you start in August and November looks years away. Now, the reality is that we are guaranteed four. You want to make them all count. It all comes in the frame of reference to what has happened most recently. You have momentum. You are feeling good and can't wait to play again.
The opposite is Wow. We thought we were ready to go, and they punched us right in the mouth. Our eyes watered and it took us awhile to figure out. We didn't respond very well.
The beauty of this game is that we have another chance. Also, that is why you play this game in the first place. You want to test yourself to see how you operate in this complex team game. That is why I coach it. To me, it is the ultimate coach's game. You have the most control. One guy can't beat you. I need to rally the troops. It is not a 300-yard drive. It is a chip and a putt right now. It is doable. We can do that."
On re-establishing the running game:
"We practiced against Ohio State the same way we prepared for Kentucky and we rushed for 300 yards. It is not a judged competition. The other guys have a lot to do with it. I don't want to give them too much credit. We are anticipating making a couple of personnel moves to shake things up a bit. Let's shake it up. Let's go. We'll see if we can do anything to improve."
On how much of a scouting report Northwestern head coach Randy Walker has given him:
"I haven't talked to him. I intend to. He is busy. He has a big game, too. Mondays and Tuesdays are so crazy, that I will reach him tonight. We don't have a regular call. Anytime, he can pick up the phone and call me, and I can pick up the phone and call him. We have a special relationship that way. It is not one of those where we talk each week. Nobody likes me that much. Nobody wants to talk to me every week."
On the status of Troy Grosfield:
"Troy is possible to probable. He is not doubtful. He is a tough guy."
On what steps he will take to defend the run against Michigan State:
"(Ohio State running the ball well) was probably as surprising as anything, second only to the fact that we couldn't throw the ball well. We could not consistently contain the run. We have been able to do that, aside from one game, against Wisconsin and Iowa. That was a little disturbing.
We took a hard look at it. Some of it is structure with the defense that we were in. We made some adjustments at halftime and helped ourselves a little bit. It is not a simple answer. They are a little different. They won't be in two backs. They are a spread running team. Their number one personnel group is one back, one tight end and three receivers. They run it differently.
John L. Smith said it today. They throw it to run it. If it is a passing team, you can't let them run it on you. If it is a running team, like Wisconsin, you can't let them throw it on you. Well, we did. By design, they are going to throw it to run it. We need to make sure they aren't going to run it. That sounds a little backwards."
On how you get the emotion back after a tough loss:
"That is part of something you do from day one on a daily basis. We talk about player development. As position coaches, they are involved in a regular basis. We had a 7 a.m., breakfast club meeting today. We reinforced some things for our players to be doing. It is not that I am going to read this book tonight, cut this quote out and come up with this motivational speech. It is developing trust and consistency over a long period of time.
We have that. Our players trust us as coaches. We trust the players. They trust us to come up with a good game plan this week. We have had enough success that we are not going to allow one game to wash everything away. We have built the foundation to a point. It shook us, but didn't wipe us out. It is how we respond.
Responding is something we talk about all the
time. How do we respond to the next play? Don't let that win go to your head. Don't think we have things all figured out. I said early on after Kentucky, 'this should convince us that what we are doing is correct and that we are on the right track, but we have not arrived. We have just gotten to a good starting point. We need to do more of it, and do it better and build on what we have started.'
That is the only way I know how to do it."
On whether he has noticed that the team's confidence is shaken:
"That is human nature. I also think that young people are very resilient. They have the ability to respond very quickly if they are focused.
If they don't care, they will be distracted. They will show up and wonder what we are doing and who we are playing. The seniors will help us. That is the advantage of building a program and having a freshman class that are seniors that have heard it for four or five years. They are carrying and reinforcing the message when we are not around. We are around them 20 hours max. That is a joke to say we are around them 20 hours, because we are not. That is the max we can practice, and that includes three hours of competition on Saturday. I have very little time with them. I have to make sure that the disciples are carrying the message on a day-to-day basis in the locker room, training table, apartments and in their cars driving around.
That message is that we are going to get this thing fixed. Saturday, it is going to be different. Sounds simple. That is the key. I really believe that. You have to get guys that trust you. That doesn't happen overnight."
On Michigan State:
"At 4-0, I think I voted them number eight or something like that. They went on a bit of a negative streak. That same talent they had when they were winning those games to go 4-0 is still there. They have a few guys dinged, but they are one of the most productive offenses in the Big Ten in a year when the Big Ten is moving the ball and scoring a lot of points.
I think we will get a renewed sense of vigor from them. We are meeting at 3:40 p.m. as a team. I am going to tell them to not expect anything but their best shot. Don't read the media or what they say about them being in disarray. The Spartans were 4-0. Expect the same team you saw play Notre Dame. Expect the same team you saw play against Michigan. Expect that team to give great effort and play with an offense that is very explosive and dangerous. They also have a defense that is similar to others in the Big Ten. It is a good football team."
Terry Hoeppner's Weekly Press Conference
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