Q: How much have you seen of Ohio State and what do you think?
Drew Tate: I watched the Texas game last night. They're a typical Ohio State team, they've got unbelievable athletes, a great scheme, and play very well. I didn't watch their offense, just their defense. A lot of new names, but it's still Ohio State, and they've got 11 big guys. They've got other guys that play too.
Q: What makes them so tough, they seemed to frustrate you last year.
Tate: Well, they were good last year. They had everyone back from the year before, except for 1 or 2. They really knew how to beat us. They pretty much beat us every possible way you could be beaten. Special teams, offense, and defense. I'm sure they were ready for that game because the year before they came here and it didn't work out for them. I'm sure they had a lot of emphasis on that. This is a new year, a new game, this is probably the most important week thus far. It is the most important week thus far. It's all going to come down to practice and stuff like that.
Q: What happened two years ago, why were you guys so successful against them? It seemed like everything you did worked.
Tate: I know they had a lot of new guys on their defense from the year before when they went to the Fiesta bowl, I think. They lost a lot of guys from 03 to 04. They had just lost to Northwestern I think the week before. They were probably trying to find their identity like we were last year. They had a lot of new guys. They had a lot of different pieces. They came in and our defense played extremely well that year. Their QB didn't play until the fourth quarter, so on offense, they were still shuffling guys around, trying to figure out who their guys were. That stuff just kind of happened. Our defense was very good that year. Our offense, we had lost all of our running backs. We had a game plan that week to throw the ball, a lot, they probably weren't ready for that.
Q: How much does it concern you to watch Ohio State's secondary score 14 points last week?
Tate: That's just typical Ohio State defense. They cause turnovers, they've got athletes that can just take the ball and do a lot with it. Some of those turnovers against Penn State were probably mental. Ohio State still caused them, and did a good job.
Q: Is there any extra excitement for you this week, being it's #1?
Tate: Not really. I'm still going to classes, so you know, it's not that big. It's a huge game for us, for the state, for everything involved with this program. For them, too. It's a huge game for them because they're #1, trying to stay #1 and do all that. Gameday's coming, they're used to Gameday, I'm sure. They've had it, fourth time, third time, something. I think we just all need to let the outside distractions do what they do. It's mostly for the fans. We just need to play and execute.
Q: With Smith being called a Heisman frontrunner, is that motivation for you at all?
Tate: No. If we win, do what we've got to do, all that stuff will take care of itself, I think.
Q: You mentioned that this team has the best chemistry you've seen since you've been here. How important is that entering a game with stakes this high?
Tate: It's there. When I say a lot of team chemistry, I think there's maturity involved in that, everyone caring for each other, which everyone does on this team. From week to week we've really taken major strides. Last week we just couldn't really get things going. Illinois made it tough for us, because they were ready to play, they really were. I'm sure they had that game highlighted, it was their opener, they played us well. Looking at this week, as far as this team, we've been doing a really good job every week of progressing in practice. We just have to have our best week of practice this week. As the weeks go on, you just have to keep getting better. It definitely goes onto the field on Saturday.
Q: What makes Troy Smith a Heisman trophy candidate?
Tate: What I know about him is that he's an unbelievable athlete, he's a team leader. Without him, Ohio State's not the same. I look at him and I kind of think of Vince Young. Vince Young, by far, was contributing more to his team last year than any other person did to their team. The year before that, I though Alex Smith was that to Utah. I think Troy Smith fits in there, he's the guy in there, he's the leader. The guys look to him to make plays and he does. He's got great guys around him too.
Q: A lot is made of their defense being inexperienced this year, but there's still good numbers on defense. What do you see as you look at the film? Things you think you can do against them?
Tate: It's mostly turnovers. If you look at the Texas game, the Penn State game, that was a huge part. Sustain drives on them, keep their offense on the field, that's the most important thing, I think. Penalties, we've got a lot of penalties, I think. Not just on offense, but special teams too. On offense, we've had stupid penalties which can be fixed, and that need to be. Like I said, keeping the ball, keeping their offense off the field, just taking what they can give us.
Q: Do you think the team's been getting better every week?
Tate: I think so, it really has. Every game in the Big Ten is hard. There aren't any easy ones, especially on the road. Ohio State's very, very, very good. It's going to be a huge challenge for us, but it's going to be fun. I'll find out a lot about myself, too, as well as everyone else on this team. To see how we can respond to a win like Illinois and from stuff in the game, really.
Q: How important is leadership this week?
Tate: It's important this week. It's important every week. I've just got experience at my position on this team, but I don't have any more or as much as Elgin or Busch or Chandler or Jones, those guys have been playing a long time too. The other guys are getting better every week. This is our fifth game, so all the first-year starters this year, they're experienced now. They know what it takes. They're just going to have to focus a lot more this week than any other week.
Q: It's not every year you get to play the #1 team, do you see this as a huge game?
Tate: Yeah. I've always wanted to be a team where gameday comes to your university. Playing the #1 team hasn't really hit me as much, I just know that we're playing a very good team. They're worth number 1, obviously. It's fun to know that we're going to have them at our place, playing Ohio State. You know everyone knows about Ohio State and all that stuff.
Q: A lot of people think this could be the biggest game ever for Iowa football. Growing up in Texas, you probably didn't follow Iowa football. How much context do you have for that? Do people tell you about other big games?
Tate: The 85 Michigan game they said was pretty big, I'm sure there's been a couple ones. It's a huge game for Iowa. For coach, for the staff, everyone involved in the program, the state, too.
Q: Mike Elgin at center at the end of the game. Does that change the equation at all with a different center?
Tate: I don't know. On the TD pass to Tony, I didn't even know that Mike was the center when I took the snap underneath him, I didn't even know. It didn't really change much, to tell you the truth. I got the snap, dropped back, then threw the ball to Tony. I didn't even know till I got down there looking for Raf, he's usually down there celebrating. Mike said that he had snapped the ball to me. I said, "Oh? That's good."
Q: Means you guys were pretty comfortable.
Tate: Yeah. I was with him as a freshman, actually. He was the 2nd team center, when we'd go ones-up, twos-up, I went with him my freshman year and sophomore year. That's there. That's not a problem at all. As far as what he does best, what he doesn't do best, I don't really know that. I don't know how to answer your question. I don't know what the approach is or anything.
Q: So many of your games are early kickoffs. How much of an adjustment will it be for you to play a 7pm game?
Tate: We haven't really talked about that. The last one was the Arizona State game, I remember that. They had a thing set up for us. I don't even know. We want to get up, get things going, get some blood going, probably take walks or something like that. I don't know.
Q: Will it be hard for you to wait a whole day for a game?
Tate: Yeah, you want to play, obviously, but it's just something you're going to have to deal with. It's not like we're going to go sit in the corner and cry. I don't know. We'll figure something out, I'm sure.
Q: What has this week been like, in terms of ABC coming in, talking with you guys yesterday. How has this week changed?
Tate: Nothing, really. We usually do the ABC interviews on Thursday before practice. We just did it on Monday, just switched days doing that, nothing else big.
Q: On the other side of the coin, talking about the big game, no matter the outcome, you won't be out of it when this game is over. You'll still be in the hunt.
Tate: Like I said at the beginning of the year, I think September is a huge month for us, which I think it is. Before this year, as a starter, I was 4-4, which doesn't really cut it for a month. Now we've really started fast. We've done really, really, really good at making strides from week 1 to week 2, to 3, to 4. I think we're just practicing well. Talking to Coach Ferentz, he said he hopes that we haven't hit what we're capable of hitting, and he doesn't think we have. He said, "I hope we haven't." I feel the same exact way, everyone else on our team does too. When we can really get everything together and do what we need to do, it makes everything so much easier as far as practice and during the game.
Q: Do teams need to start respecting your receivers, as opposed to looking in your backfield?
Tate: Obviously. Our run game hasn't been the run game that everyone's probably accustomed to. We've got a lot of guys in there doing a lot of things. We're doing a lot of different things, I think. We're doing a lot of play action, we're taking whatever the defense gives us. Like I said before, everyone was worried about our young receivers. They've got the ability to catch, it's just getting game experience, and getting game time in them. Like I said, this is the fifth game for all those guys. They've got the routine down, they know what they've got to do. Every player, the focus and margin for error, you've just got to be sharp this week.
Q: Does the game plan feel like 2004 at all?
Tate: No. It's been the same, I think, every week. Last week we wanted to run the ball, that's what we wanted to do last week. We thought that's what Illinois was going to give us was the run game. They did a good job taking it away. You ask any coach, they want to run the ball, no matter if they're in the spread, they still want to run the ball. That can do so much. Even in the NFL, all those coaches really want to run first.
Q: A lot of people on the outside say it's going to take a career game from you for Iowa to have a chance. Is that fair?
Tate: No, I don't think so. That goes back to the thing where it's a team game, and it's going to take all of us, not just me. I just play within myself, don't turn the ball over, try not to have myself. We've got a good defense, we've got a really good special teams unit, there's guys around. It's not just the QB in our program. That's not how our offense is built, either. You don't want the QB to do everything. Coach Ferentz will tell you that too, that's just not how we're built.
Q: Going back to the spike last year at Ohio State, do you expect them to bring that up to you, Ohio State defenders, maybe between plays?
Tate: I doubt it. I don't think so. I don't know what their whole take on it was. I was worried more about my teammates and my coaches. It happened, it happened, and that was it. Everyone just moved on after it.
Q: It seems like any little opening you give these guys, that's how it works out there.
Tate: I'm sure they're going to do what they've got to do, but I'm sure that they know I was a different player last year. Our team was a different team last year. I don't think they're going to do that.
Q: Is it difficult for you, as a senior QB and a leader to try and stay within yourself and not do too much in a game like this?
Tate: Not really. I'm just going to have more fun playing, just being out there, than I did last week, Iowa State, Montana, it's just such a big game. Growing up, this is what college football is really all about. Just go have fun with it, just play. Don't let all that other stuff jump in your face and get worried about it. If I'm fortunate enough to go to the next level, I don't know if that's going to work out, so this is probably my last year of just having fun. I'm going to go out and have fun.
Q: Have you been watching any of the TV after the games on Saturday, just as they talk about it?
Tate: Saturday all I watched was the Notre Dame Michigan State game, I think that's the only one I watched. I just watched that. That atmosphere, all that stuff, Gameday, I think, was there, the night game. I was just seeing how they were doing that.
Q: Trying to scout it out?
Tate: Yeah, just see what it was going to be like for us.
Q: Some of the Ohio State players talked about avenging the 2004 game here. You guys have last year's memories against Ohio State. How much does revenge play in to a game like this?
Tate: I don't know the whole revenge thing goes.
Q: Do you guys talk about it, do you talk about what happened last year?
Tate: No. That doesn't really mean anything. That's two years ago. This is a whole new team, a new season, new everything. I played in 04, Elgin played in 04, Scott played in 04, Busch played in 04. Other than that, I don't know who else played in the game on offense. I don't know about the whole revenge thing. Some people will probably look at it differently than I do. I'm worried about this team and what we're going to do on Saturday. I could care less what happened last year or two years ago.
Q: As far as what happened at Ohio State last year, it didn't seem like you were having much fun out there. How much did what happened last year contribute to that sort of attitude, "Hey, I'm just going to go out and have fun, enjoy it."
Tate: I'm older now. I think more mature about it. Like I said, I let a lot of things get to me last year, especially in that game, where I just normally don't do that, it just did. I think that was just the competitiveness in me. I think I'm just more relaxed this year. Just trying to have fun and enjoy being out there with the guys. Just running the scheme, doing things like that.