Thanks for coming out. Obviously, number one, we're very excited. You know, they have the opportunity to play that 13th game and to be in the Sugar Bowl is exciting to all of us. We'll start practice today, and we'll go this weekend, next weekend, and we'll keep going after next weekend and kind of dodge around finals times and all those kinds of things that you deal with this time of year, and with recruiting, but you know, we're going to play a tremendous, great opponent in Virginia Tech, a well-coached school team, Frank Beamer's done a tremendous job for many years, so it's going to be a great challenge and be a lot of fun, and you know, we want to enjoy the atmosphere and embrace it, but we want to prepare to go win, and that's why you plan in bowl games and you have that opportunity.
You had said on the conference call the other night you've done this a couple ways in bowl prep. What have you found works and what are the things you're going to try to…?
Yeah, Mark, you know, the one thing, you know, there's a fine line between, in my opinion, trying to outsmart yourself, maybe out-practice yourself a little bit, and the intensity that you want to do things with, you can, there's a tendency sometimes to get stale within, and that can happen all year long, but you like the consistency of how you prepared, but at the same time I think you need to change it up enough, and we'll try to do that a little bit, you know, from pads to, you know, shoulder pads and helmets, the length of practice, to maybe some different drills, and those kind of things.
How much do you use those particular practices for just bowl prep versus actually maybe getting a jump ahead on next year?
If we had better depth at the big positions, you know, your O-line and D-line, I think we'd do more, but you know, when we came in we had only eight scholarship offensive lineman, that's what we have, and usually you're at 15, you know, that's a little dicey, you know, you gotta be healthy, you know, you can't run the race if you're not at the starting line, and so that is always part of it, you know, we're a little deeper at some other positions, but O-line and D-line is where we're the thinnest at, and so you gotta be smart in how you transition your practice and the physical-ness that you want to play with, you gotta practice with, so that becomes more difficult, and it's kind of like spring ball is, you know, when you don't have a spring game, well why don't you have a spring game? Well you can't – you don't have enough bodies, and we're still in that position obviously, where we don't have the bodies, especially at the bigs – the big positions.
Speaking of having the bodies, there was a suggestion to the NCAA that the scholarships be reduced from 85 to 80, I don't know if you've heard about that?
Your thoughts on that?
I think it's ridiculous. You know, I think when you go through a season, and we've been fortunate this year, when you look at some of the injuries, and things that can happen, once you take your two deeps and then you look at your skill groups and all those things, I just – I don't think it's a wise suggestion.
You talked on the conference call about needing to get better in a lot of areas before Virginia Tech. was there one thing in the Ohio State game that you saw that kind of just stood out to you to say we really need to work on that before our bowl?
Yeah, you know, I think in the back end, I think we played a little looser than we had been, and that's alarming a little bit; I think their quarterback has either thrown for or has 28 touchdowns this year, and you know they're very good at what they do and we've got to be tighter in coverage; we've got to be better in zone, you know all those things are part of it.
Do you expect your coaching staff to be intact going into next season? I mean, there's so much going on…?
I don't know, did you hear anything?
Yeah, I do, I do. I'm sure if there was anything they would approach me about it.
Speaking of coaching staffs, any reaction to the NCAA has given Ohio State a waiver to have two coaching staffs, one with Meyer that can just recruit and one that can just coach, while you and other teams in bowls and trying to juggle recruiting and coaching, any reaction to that? Is that an advantage?
You know, I think it's a little different – I've never heard of it before. I may have gone that route…I…I…it's different. That would be my reaction. I've never heard of it, but there's probably a lot of things that I haven't heard of. There are always a lot of things I haven't heard of. So yeah, it's different. Is it a…I …the last part of that, is that an advantage? Yeah, I think so.
Thoughts on Molk winning the RImington?
That was awesome, it was awesome. And you know, deserving. David did a tremendous job this year in a lot of ways, and I was excited for him.
You know early on Borges was telling us and anybody that would listen, you know, it takes time for a quarterback in the system, I've seen it before, and obviously early on it looked – Denard looked shakier much more early on than later. In what ways did you see him grow the most?
I think it was a confidence in the offense, I think it was a confidence in probably his teammates a little bit, when you look at route-running, protection, and all those things, but I think the biggest growth was him understanding progression reads, understanding how you move in a pocket without moving 100 miles an hour, you know, and how you step up in there a little bit, and gain a little more time and scan the field a little better. And then I think at the end of the year, because he was healthier, because we were able to some degree take a little relief off him running the ball as much, he was much more physical and decisive in running the football; and that was huge for us.
How banged up was he?
Oh, he had a staph infection, he had…he had lot of different problems that he went through during the course of the season, you know? His elbow, his hand, he had an abdominal problem. I mean, he's a tough guy, and you know, he played with it, and I just think he was so much healthier and more confident probably at the same time.
Does that make it tougher when – to not say much when you hear some of the criticism about how he's not doing this or that in the middle of the season?
Yeah because there are no excuses; everybody's beat up. You know? Still, there are no excuses for performance, you know, and performance by us – doing a better job of coaching them and making sure they understand exactly the expectations and plays or routes or whatever from an offensive/defensive standpoint.
How bad was the staph infection?
It was bad enough. I don't know.
When was that?
I don't know, I can't remember. I can't remember yesterday, to be honest with you.
That was in his forearm wasn't it?
Yeah, right through here.
What do they do for that, just antibiotics?
Mm-hm. Clean it; get some good stuff out of there now and then.
When you say bad enough, did you think he wasn't going to play?
Coach, you've had some relative success now with players like Denard and David Molk – the traditional prototypical players for the pro-style offense. Has that opened up your mind at all to maybe in the future recruiting players like that for your offense?
Well, I don't know what you mean with David.
David has described himself as smaller, but he's faster, and …?
Well, he's got great quickness, and smaller…you know I think that's all up to an opinion, you know; he's 290 pounds; I mean, that's not bad size, I mean he's probably closer to 300. That's not like you're small; unless you consider me small. And I'm closer to 300.
But with a dual threat quarterback like Denard, if there were another player like that?
Well, I think you always want to have enough athleticism in your quarterback, you know? Believe me we're pro-style offense, but you know, we don't want a guy who can't move in the pocket and can't do those things; and I think that's what we've kind of recruited, and so I think the biggest thing has been everyone else's opinion of what Denard was. You know, and we never put any limitations on what he is.
With what Borges inherited as far as personnel…are you happy with the job that he gave considering what he likes to run versus what you guys ran?
I think – number one I think the kids on that side of the ball did a tremendous job. I think the guys like David Molk, like Huyge, Junior, and Fitz and Smitty and all those guys, and Denard, I think they did a tremendous job of adapting to some of the west coast pro-style offensive things that Al added, and I think our whole staff; Darrell and Dan and you know, Heck, and Freddy, I think they all did a tremendous job in teaching, and you know, the same thing – fundamentals and the techniques and how they do individually, and what their expectations are, so…and Al, he has a tremendous offensive mind, and he's been, you know, you look at his resume and how many places he's been, he's coordinated and he had Randle-El at Indiana. I mean, there's a lot of different guys, you know, the guys at UCLA and Ryan Lindley, what he did with him at San Diego state, you know, he's a smart man, and you've – you've got to look at your personnel first and foremost, and adapt to that, you know? It's not about – and the best part is, he doesn't have an ego. He does – you know, he doesn't care.
Brady, about the staph infection, I don't know if I understood you correctly. It concerned you enough that you didn't think Denard could play, or did it impair him? And also on the show the other night you were asked if you thought Denard should be in New York for the Heisman; and why do you think he should be?
Well, you know, I can't sit here and rattle off statistics, but in the Big Ten conference, he took a team to ten and two, you know, part of it – you know, it wasn't solely him – because none of those awards are solely one person's but I think he – what was – I don't stats, to be honest with you, for the year. I'm not a big stats guy, but he – you know, what he did. Your first part of that, yeah you know there was some concern you know that – those things are funny. They're not funny, they're serious, you know, and you want to make sure you're doing everything the right way to help him through it; and we got a great medical staff here, and they did a tremendous job.
Was that around the time of Devin playing more?
No, I…I really can't remember, to be honest with you. And really it had nothing to do with Devin playing more, because if he was playing he was playing, and the two quarterback stuff and all that kind of stuff was kind of planned and in.
Did any of your other players contract a staph infection?
No, no. Our people here, from the equipment, you know that's a real red flag, and did a
really good job with everything. How you wash stuff, and all that stuff.
Did you quarantine Denard at all?
No .Didn't have to do that. I'm probably making more out of it than there is to it, to be honest with you.
Do you look at the coaches final polls…?
You didn't? Well Rocky Long had you guys ranked pretty low – I think 18th, and then Les Miles and Nick Saban had you guys eight and nine. Does that make you curious why…?
No, not really.
Rocky doesn't like you anymore?
I don't know. It doesn't matter. You know, I mean, yeah. It doesn't – it has no effect. We can't control any of that.
I just thought maybe you would think it was amusing. Do you do your own poll, or does someone else do it for you?
That's a very personal question. [Laughter] I have a little help, and then I discuss with a person who helps.
Is it really your final say though?
I…I think so. [Laughter]
Will there be… I mean, do you project any kind of competitions right now in the bowl practices for starting jobs going into the bowl, like obviously…?
Yeah, I think you always do, and I would say, you know, you look at it, and that's a really good question. Linebacker-wise I think there's always some competition for us. I think upfront you know, when you get Will Campbell and Quinton Washington, and you know how they perform and what they do, you know, and Nate Brink is a guy who constantly is pushing, and doing a lot of good things in practice, and needs to carry over a little bit more to game time. I think because of the depth at receiver to some degree there's always good competition. Running back, you know, Fitz did a nice job, but you know, Shaw keeps fighting in there, which is a real credit to Michael, and you know, Smitty will be healthier than he was at the end of the year, so to answer that Angelique, they've got to come out every day and earn it. And you know, they have to earn it.
In a way, is the start of bowl practice almost like the start of fall camp a little bit, where you kind of get a deadline of, you know, when you're playing, and things you have to accomplish?
Yeah, Jeff, we'll do a bunch fundamentally, you know, bunch of fundamentals this whole weekend; getting back into it a little bit, you know. They've lifted and run, and next week they'll lift and run again, and we'll come back and have more of a game plan. Because the guys have been out, you know, Greg I think was in one day, and I was in a couple days. So they've gotten a little bit of a head start, you know, the GAs have done their due diligence of breaking down the games we want broken down, so all that information is coming together, so next week will be a little more, you know, game planning. This weekend will be more of the fundamentals, techniques, playing fast, the physicalness, all those things.
How do pick out what games you look at from Virginia Tech?
Yeah, usually I always take the last four, and then you may go and look at…and I'm going to speak from both an offensive and defensive perspective – you're gonna look at similar offenses, or similar defenses. And kind of see how they've wanted to approach and attack those games.
With Beamer, obviously not – you said you don't really have any relationship, you don't know him real well, but over the years obviously you've appreciated what he's done…?
Has anything stood out to you that he's done in building that program?
I think, number one, you know, Frank is known – Coach Beamer is known – you know, the special teams, and how they've performed over a course of many years, you know, with blocked punts, blocked field goals; punt returns, the whole gamut, within the kicking game. And that tells you that a team is really coached well, and the emphasis, I think their defense by Foster does a tremendous job as a coordinator. How hard they'll play the game with, the soundness that they play with, and offensively, they've always had a guy back there. I think they have a 1600-yard rusher this year that's going to be able to run downhill and run physical, and that, you know…connects the offensive lineman, how they play, so you know, they're a football team and a program that does and should have a lot of confidence in who they are, and a lot of pride in who they are. And when you have that kind of team and that kind of tradition, because they've got, you know, they've built an awful nice thing in Blacksburg, so those things are what I see and know, without looking into the tape yet.
Did you pay attention to what happened there yesterday?
You know, I didn't know anything about it until five minutes ago. It's a tragedy, obviously. I've kind of been out of the loop to be honest with you.
New Big Ten coach at Illinois, Tim Beckman – do you know him at all?
I know Tim. He's a good coach – did a nice job at Toledo, and you know, he was coordinator at Oklahoma State, and he was on Ohio staff at one time. He's a good coach.
Have you talked to seniors at all? Kevin talked Sunday night, I guess when we were here, about having a very focused, business approach to this bowl game, because they were, his word, embarrassed last year. Have you detected that – this sort of focus?
Well, you've talked to him more than I have since then? I'm going to see him at 2:25 today, and we had one meeting the Monday after last game, and they kind of got a sense of how we'll approach this.
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