Junior safety Tom ZbikowskiCan you put into words what the last year meant to you and how it changed?
"I can't tell you how much things have changed in such a short period of time, but it all came down to just hard work and dedication and going in every day and sweating with these guys."
All Tom Zbikowski wants for Christmas?
"A BCS win. I don't care about anything else."
How about a Bear's helmet for Christmas?
"Naw, I'll leave that up to them. I would like for them to win a little bit."
Have you been able to watch any of the Ohio State games?
"Yeah, I was watching them on ESPN Classic against Michigan and then against Texas, so I got to see them play a little bit. I watched both games start to finish so I got a pretty good feel for what they are all about."
So what did you see when watching them play?
"They have weapons and speed on offensive. Special teams are big and everyone knows about their defense. They're a BCS team, and they are going to be good in every facet of the game."
What will winning this game mean to you?
"For me, that's the reason I came to this school is to be in BCS games and to win them for the school and just to be back on top. It's too hard to put into words as people don't realize the hard work that's put in. This just didn't happen overnight."
Is there a theme to this team?
"We were never into that; we just wanted to take care of business. Go into every game and win them and take care of business. Get in and get out."
How do you feel about being the underdog going into this game?
"We can always use that for motivation, but like I said before, we are going into this game and we just want to win it. We don't care what people are saying, and we don't care how much they doubt us or if we are the underdog or not. We just want to go in and win and I don't care which way, I'll take it."
A lot of you guys weren't involved in the bowl streak - what do you think of the streak?
"Everyone is talking about the streak; 11 years or so since we won a bowl game, but none of us were here 11 years ago and we had nothing to do with those losses. We just have to go in the bowl game and not worry about that and get the win."
Senior tight end Anthony FasanoDo you think you guys will be a little rusty after the lay off?
"It was good to get some time off from school, especially last weekend. There may be a little rust to knock off but it won't take long. I would rather be playing football than being in class but it is hard to look forward to two-a-days, but it is definitely needed and I think it is going to do the team good."
How was it getting back out to practice today?
"It was pretty good getting back. We definitely worked hard and we focused on special teams and techniques and just what we need to set the fundamentals and the foundation for learning our game plan."
How much film did you watch this week?
"With a lot of time off, I got to see probably about five games they played."
What is your impression of them now that you have seen them on film?
"They are a real athletic team and very physical. They play hard on defense and are always flying to the ball and gang tackling. So it is definitely going to be a challenge for us."
What are your impressions of A.J. Hawk?
"He is a good player and works a lot on hustle, and he is definitely a person we are going to have to focus on."
Is he one of those players you always are aware of?
"You are, but once you get into the game, you can't really find number 47 where he is on every play. Their two linebackers are the heart of their defense, and really their team, so missing one is a big deal for them, but I think they have enough athletes where it is not going to affect them much. He is able to go and play linebacker and play in coverage and he also gets on the line a little bit. He is very versatile, and he is part of the triumvirate they have over there at linebacker."
Did you see the two games that they lost?
"I think they really played well and a couple of mistakes within themselves is what hurt them in a couple of games. They have lost two games but again they are a good team."
They are fourth in total defense and this coach has put up some numbers against a lot of defenses; how do you feel about this?
"We're doing well on offense and we're up there in total scoring per game and they're up there in points allowed per game so something is going to give and we are fully confident in our coaching staff and team. I think we are going to come out on top."
Do think there is a sense of urgency and how do you stay focused with the game so far off?
"We just have to approach practices with the right mind set and really get out there in practice and feel comfortable with the game plan before we get to Arizona."
Junior wide receiver Jeff SamardzijaHow excited do you get about being named to All-American teams?
"I get excited when they say that stuff and then they follow it up by saying Notre Dame and the team and the season we have had and they talk about Brady throwing the ball and Darius running it and things like that and Mo having a great season. When all that stuff is brought into account too it makes me happy because I have little to do with the success of this team, and it's just nice when everyone is brought into the mix and that's the truth because that is just how it's been."
How disappointed were you when you didn't win the Biletnikoff Award?
"I wasn't disappointed. I was just happy to be down there and soaking up the atmosphere and getting to meet all the guys you get to watch on TV. It was just a great atmosphere and good time, but I'm happy to be back though and getting down to business which is what we are here for."
How was it getting back out there today?
"It was nice. We have had a couple of practices that were kind of laid back more than this one was. Today it was kind of intense, and we did a lot of running today and put in a lot of plays. It was nice getting back out there and getting in the mix and running around with the guys and putting the pads on and hitting it around a little bit. It felt really good."
How often does Charlie remind you guys about the bowl losing streak?
"He definitely doesn't forget; that's for sure. So we have been reminded a few times, but it's not like we don't know either so everyone on this team knows our situation. But we understand that this is the game we have control over. We don't have control over those last few years so we are going to go out and get ready for this one."
What does this game mean to you and the team?
"Any time you can get out there and play a team you have a lot of respect for and is almost just as respected as you are out there on the field; when anyone looks at the game, you just know it is a good game that you want to compete in. And that's what we are gong to have to do because they are a good team."
Did you talk football with the Ohio State players when you met them?
"No, it was a real formal situation and it didn't have too much to do with football and competition and stuff. It was just kind of nice to meet them and stuff and just as long as you know that you and they are all thinking about the same thing as it is in the back of everyone's head that we are going to playing in a few weeks. So it's kind of exciting and gets everything going, so it's pretty cool."
Did Ohio State recruit you?
"Yes they did, and it's the same story with that and Purdue and Michigan and all of that. But I'm here right now and that's pretty much the story and now just trying to get ready for this game."
Do you guys tease Brady about his Ohio background?
"Not really, I think he gets enough badgering for it as it is so we just kind of lay back and give him hell for other stuff. We'll lay off on the Columbus stuff, but we'll get Brady for hair and stuff like that."
Speaking of hair do you think you have started a trend?
"Why not, if you want to give me credit for it, I will gladly take it but it's just something kind of fun. I haven't really cut it for awhile so I don't really want to change right now."
How long does it take to prepare the hair?
"Zero - it doesn't take anything. Actually hop in the shower and hop out but it takes awhile to dry it though because there is so much hair. It's like trying to dry a rug."
When was your last hair cut?
"June, just before the regionals in Florida so I had to get it cut for the game - for baseball regionals. Not sure when the next one is coming but hopefully not too soon."
Do you get a lot of notice because of your hair?
"It's always out there and getting mentioned, so it's cool."
Do you get fan mail and mail from girls?
"I don't know about the girls (laughing) but it is cool and you have to understand that it's going to happen and you try to respond to all of it, you know. There is a lot of stuff coming in and it seems like it is coming every day multiple times. You just try and get back and they want to get close to you and there is no reason not to it's something fun and you just do what you can to help out."
Looking back on this year doesn't it seem like last year's bowl was in 1994 or something like that?
"That's a good way to put it as it does seem like a long time ago, and I think it's for different reasons and mainly because that's the mentality we took with this team as we're done with what happened before and we should be winning games. We should be winning a lot of them and I think that confidence finally came through this team and we are trying to win them one at a time and right now the Fiesta Bowl is next."
What are critics going to say about this team win or lose?
"I think it's going to be the same story no matter what. I think no matter what, we are a team that is tough and we go out there and we don't stop playing for the whole 60 minutes or more if need be. We are out there playing hard every game and we don't give up and we are always coming back for more. That's a common theme for this team - we are always coming back and we are never stopping and that's the kind of mentality that is gong to be around here for some time to come."