How does (Miami quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) have to tweak his game so he doesn't become the same quarterback as he was last year?
TH:He's not even close to the same quarterback he was last year. We've matured in that position more than any other position with experience. He's definitely done that. He's a better leader than he has been. Regardless of your abilities, I think it's difficult as a redshirt freshman and a sophomore to be the leader that you need to be at quarterback. It's usually the senior's role. He did a good job as a redshirt freshman and a sophomore. He's definitely expanded his leadership role now.
You spent some time at Quantico (Marine base) this summer. Why did you do that and how did you benefit from it?
TH: It was a great experience. I had an opportunity when our local Marines here on campus provided me with part of the great experience. I think the Marines do a great job developing leadership. That was my main goal, to try to borrow whatever I could from them. It reinforced some of the things that I believe in and opened my eyes for some new things. We've applied some of those during our camp. There is a Marine sign that says "We've been searching for the enemy. We're surrounded." That explains what we do in basic and in a couple days going into Nile Kinnick. We're looking forward to the game, but we're going to be surrounded. I'm not making light of anything with the military, but I think it's out of respect that we've adopted some of those slogans that they use. They're time tested. You go into a hostile environment like Nile Kinnick Stadium. You better go out there and be ready to play a very good Iowa football team.
TH: We knew about Brad Banks. He played a little bit against us two years ago. We also knew about Fred Russell. They didn't surprise us. I don't want to take too much credit, but I had said that the Hawkeyes should be in the hunt for the Big Ten. I said that before our game with them last year. The only thing that we know (about Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler) is that we've seen him in a few scouting situations. We were actually at a game at Pasadena (City College, where Chandler attended before Iowa). That's the only time we've seen him. He's more athletic than people would think with his size. You're always a little bit anxious going into the first game not only for the unknown of the other team but also you own unknowns.
As far as the unknowns about your team, what are some of the things that you're waiting to find out?
TH: We just need to play somebody. We've had a great camp. It's been a unique camp. You always have players that have been playing as backups that maybe are starters now. You wonder how they're going to do. That's the fun part of competing. If you knew how it was going to turn out, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. We're eager to see how we stack up. And we're eager to find out how good the other guy is too. That's the best part, when you get between the lines. Waiting is tough.
In what areas has Ben improved from his freshman season to now?
TH: Sometimes as a young player you don't know what you don't know. There becomes and awareness and an appreciation for the coaches. Sometimes if you're a young player, you don't understand exactly why we're trying to do some of the things we're trying to do. On the flip side of it, an understanding of what the other team is trying to do. That's what the coverage looks like This is what they're trying to do with their posture. That was Byron (Leftwich's) observation. It takes probably two years of playing college football before you really start to understand. You're out there winging it around, and improvising and getting some of it but not all of it. More of it sinks in just like anything. It takes awhile. It's a complex game.
He has compared himself to Brett Favre. Do you think that's a good comparison?
TH: I told him when I was recruiting him that I wanted him to be the next Chad Pennington (who played at Marshall) because I had such a great appreciation for Chad. (Ben's) a good improvisor. He does that maybe like a Brett Favre. A lot of the plays that end up being successful for us, we don't draw them up that way and we never practice them that way. What we do practice is if he does get out of the pocket and things break down, how we react to that, how the receivers, how the line reacts to that. With some of the things that happen, his intangibles take over. His competitiveness, his ability to see the field and keep his poise, he does have that ability. That's like Brett Farvre. If he compared himself to him, that's fine.
Who is your surprise player of fall camp?
TH: We've got some freshmen. We probably have some guys that you hope are good players that you didn't anticipate being quite as good or being ready to play. We've got a guy named Ryne Robinson (true Fr. receiver from Toledo's Central Catholic) that will probably play some against Iowa. That's kind of unusual for us. We're pretty conservative with freshmen. We may use them in Game 3 or 4. We also have some veterans that have really stepped up. Guys that people haven't heard about that have been good special teams players. Will Stanley (Sr. DE, former FB) is a starter on defense. He has really blossomed. I think we have a number of guys like that. I think that's why we're optimistic right now.
A Heisman candidacy is kind of tricky. How did you and Be handle that?
TH: A school really can't proclaim that a guy is a Heisman candidate. That probably starts with the NFL scouts and the gurus of college football. When they start paying attention to a guy and indicating that he's someone on the national radar, then and only then can we do our part as a school. This is unchartered waters for us. Our SID came up with the slogan "Where have you Ben?" With a name that's hard to pronounce for some people, that's part of it. It gives him an opportunity to talk about his teammates. And he's handled it well. It's motivated him. He's ready to step up and be the better leader that I wanted him to be.