Opening Statement: First of all, I'll congratulate Ohio State on a tremendous effort. They're an excellent football team. We had great respect for them coming into the ballgame, and for obvious reasons, even more now. They're a very, very strong football team. They played a clean game. Both teams really played pretty cleanly. It's just an outstanding group. I want to thank our fans, what a tremendous environment it was tonight. To come into the stadium and to take the field was really a thrill. It's just a shame that we couldn't give them a little bit more to go on. All that being said, our guys prepared well during the week. We played hard tonight and played together. We got beat by a very, very good football team. We'll lick our wounds here for a little bit. We'll get back to work tomorrow, take a look at it, realize the fact that there's an awful lot of football left in this season. This was the game that was most important to us this week. The one on Saturday will be in our sights after we finish up tomorrow afternoon.
Did Drew seem a little tight in the first half?
Well, yeah. It‘s fair to say. I‘m sure there were some throws he‘d like to have back and some things he‘d like to do a little differently. We had a drop or two also. So, you can‘t make errors against a team that‘s as talented as this team is. You really have to try to maximize your opportunities.
It looked like their speed just kind of overwhelmed you.
Yeah, they‘re outstanding. I mean, they‘re an outstanding football team, particularly on offense. They‘re very veteran. Their offensive line, first and foremost, played an excellent game. Everybody knows the quality of Ted Ginn, but I‘m a big Gonzalez fan. He‘s an outstanding football player. That‘s two pretty good players out wide. And I‘m not slighting the other guys. They‘ve got extra guys, too. But those two guys, to me, are on a little different level. Their running backs are very strong and then Troy Smith is…you know, I‘m not an expert on the national scene, but I can‘t believe there are many players in the country that are better than him at that position or any position for that matter. They give you some tough match-ups, there‘s no doubt about it. We won‘t be the first or last to experience that. That will be my guess on that one.
Can you talk about the matchups where you have linebackers on Gonzalez?
You know, you choose your poison. You choose your poison and come after them and hope that you can get him to throw the ball before he gets his feet set. You play the zone. The only thing you can do is try to mix it. Those guys give you great problems.
Did the injury situation at safety prevent you from going nickel or dime?
We‘re not a big nickel team as you know. That‘s just not what we do traditionally. We don‘t do an awful lot of it. When you go that route, it opens you up in other areas, too. We try to do what we feel we do best. We‘re down two safeties right now, but I am sure that wasn‘t the turning point of the ballgame. It really wasn‘t. I‘m a little concerned about it, but it‘s not the turning point.
You threw 41 times tonight, a lot of it coming from behind in the second half. Did you think you‘d want to throw that much coming into the game?
I thought overall in the first half the way things were going wasn‘t bad. I really felt that way, outside of the turnover. We had the one turnover where we gave them a very short field. You can‘t do that against a team like Ohio State. That little sequence in there. We gave them a short field. They scored. Also, we had the ball at midfield the one time and didn‘t convert into a first down, let alone get points and then they took it 89. That sequence was tough. On a positive note, they scored twice and we came back and responded. They had two touchdowns. We came back with a field goal and came back with a touchdown. Both of those drives were very nicely orchestrated. We ran fairly effectively in the first half. Nobody is just going to run the ball up and down the field on Ohio State, that‘s for sure. We did some good things in those drives. You get into the second half, that third quarter, boy it was over from an offensive standpoint. We didn‘t have many opportunities. Now, in the fourth quarter, you‘re in one of those situations where you have to throw just about every down. That kind of puts a tilt on the picture a little bit. It‘s tough to evaluate, I guess is what I‘m saying how that goes.
Drew was awful hard on himself when he came in here. He didn‘t think he played very well. What is your assessment of that?
He‘s probably his own worst critic. You could see a little frustration tonight. He competed all the way through it. He missed a few throws, a couple of things he‘d like to have back, certainly. But he‘s missed some practice time. I‘m not making any excuses for him, but he has missed some practice time over the last several weeks. The good news is, hopefully we're heading in the right direction now. The more work he gets, the sharper he'll become. Our team will get better offensively. There's a lot of football left. We need Drew and I'm very confident that he's going to play good football for us. He did a good job in tough circumstances tonight, and he's going to lead this team to some real positive things do far.
Did he miss any practice time this week?
Yeah, he had to pull out on Tuesday. Yeah, he pulled out. I went to bed on Tuesday night not knowing where we were at on that whole thing. He was able to rebound and come back. We‘ve done a little research so at least I‘m a little more optimistic now. I haven‘t been around many of these. We were able to locate another player who is going through the same thing at that position that is moving in the right direction. So, at least we‘re all kind of feeling now that the worst is behind us. That will be a good thing.
So, there‘s not a chance of him being shut down with this injury?
That was my concern after Tuesday. You can‘t move forward if you‘re up and down all the time, you know, stopping to starting all the time. Based on a case that we discovered, I think at least now we feel a little more confident that we‘re moving in the right direction.
Is Jason (Manson) strictly a quarterback right now?
He has to be right now just because of the dicey situation we‘ve been through the last month. We‘ll see how this week goes and go from there.
How about the confidence for your team? They were in this game until the fourth quarter.
Yeah, I think so. And I think the score, just like the Montana score, is a little bit misleading. We had to fight hard in that one. This is one where the score doesn‘t tell the whole story. Our guys prepared hard, they played hard. We‘re fortunate that we‘ve got great character guys on our team. They‘re fun to coach. I‘m confident that we‘ll improve. I thought that we improved in some ways this week. So, if we keep our focus where it has to be, and we get good leadership which I fully intend both of those things to happen, there‘s an awful lot of football left. That‘s how we have to look at it.
Was Eubanks a game time decision?
Not really. He wasn‘t able to practice Tuesday, Wednesday. He did very little Thursday. He was going to be an emergency guy, strictly. The good news there is that he could have played. He worked out yesterday with Chris Doyle. He had confidence in it. We‘ll be careful with him tomorrow. We‘ll have him on Tuesday. We‘ll gain a player there. That‘s good news.
What‘s the value of seeing how you‘d play against the No. 1 team?
Well, I‘m not sure I understand the question completely. But I‘ll say this, and I don‘t coach at Ohio State, but from my vantage point, this was the best they‘ve played this year. They look good on film, don‘t get me wrong. But they really played well tonight. They responded the way a team has to respond when a team is as talented as they are and as good as they are. They are extremely well coached. They‘re an excellent football team. They‘re five into it, so they have to feel pretty good about where they‘re sitting. They looked very, very impressive.
What does that say about you guys?
This wasn‘t the environment that you want to walk into as a visitor. I know that. But nobody has their heads down in our locker room. I can assure you that. The coaches don‘t either. I told the team on Tuesday, "Hey, one team is going to be 5-0 and the other 4-1. And no matter what happens, there are seven games to go. There‘s an awful lot of football left. We know that as much as anybody based on recent years. I‘ve got nothing to be discouraged about. What we have to do now is utilize this week and try to do a heck of a job next Saturday.