Zwick Reflects On NU Loss, Looks To Today

OSU quarterback Justin Zwick met with the media this week to discuss, among other things, his play in the overtime loss at Northwestern, his progress this season and the challenge of playing Wisconsin. Plus, we have comments from Roy Hall on his status and big play against NU.

Earlier this week, we had a chance to sit down with Ohio State sophomore quarterback Justin Zwick. Zwick reflected on his team's 33-27 overtime loss at Northwestern and discussed how the Buckeyes planned to bounce back for today's game with Wisconsin.

Zwick was asked about OSU coach Jim Tressel deflecting criticism from his team by saying he did not have the team ready to play.

"We didn't come out the way we needed to and, as the head coach, he may have put that on himself a little bit more," Zwick said. "But the fact is he isn't out there playing. We are. We have to take care of business when we're on the field.

"If we're going to have a wake-up call, it better be that one. We just have to go out and win. We want to do that every game. We weren't able to do that last Saturday. Now we have to get back on the winning ways. It's definitely not fun to lose. It's part of life and something you have to deal with. The biggest thing is how you come back from a game like that and how you're going to respond. That's what we have to do."

Zwick was asked about the flagging offense, which averages just 327.5 yards per game.

"We're out there every day trying to get better at what we do," Zwick said. "Whatever works for us works. We're trying to have a balanced offense and move the ball down the field.

"I think our guys are working hard. They're working hard to get better. The more experience they get the better they will be. It's no secret that in the Big Ten you have to run. You have to execute. If you have one guy miss an assignment, it might be a blown play."

Zwick took a moment to look at Wisconsin, the nation's No. 1-ranked defense.

"They are a strong physical team, which isn't anything different than what they've been the last couple of years," Zwick said. "They're big and they move well.

"They have a lot of experience at what they do and they're good at it. They are big, strong physical football players. We're excited about getting out there against them and trying to move the ball a little bit."

Zwick knows he has to be aware of UW free safety Jim Leonhard, who has 18 career interceptions.

"You definitely look for the safeties when you get up there," he said. "He's a guy who always seems to be around the ball. He always makes big plays in games. He's a good ball player. We're going to go out and try not to give them any opportunities to take the ball away."

Turnovers have been an issue for Zwick. In four games, he has four interceptions and two fumbles lost.

"You don't want to have turnovers," Zwick said. "It's something that's going to happen and something you have to learn from and get better from that. That's life. You're not going to be perfect all the time. I definitely feel bad about putting the team in that situation.

"I feel all right about the way things have gone. I have definitely turned the ball over way too much. That's something I'm working on."

But if Zwick did anything well it was running the ball. In seven scrambles, he netted 56 yards against Northwestern.

"It kind of got me tired, running it," Zwick said. "It felt like I was running a conditioning test. But that's a big thing Coach Tressel talks about a lot, running the ball. For a couple of years, I got to watch (Krenzel) play and he made a lot of big plays like that. Coach Tressel always talks about how quarterback step-ups are big. The defense might forget about you a little bit.

"I should probably get down a little bit faster, but you have to move the ball and get some yards."

Zwick showed his moxie in the third quarter as he stepped up under pressure on a third-and-12 predicament and threw deep down the middle to split end Roy Hall. Hall went up and made a big grab with two NU defenders hanging all over him. The grab helped set up an OSU touchdown.

"That was a great play by Roy," Zwick said. "We wanted to get the first down. I stepped up and thought about running. I knew we needed more than just 8 yards. I threw it up to him and he made a great play. That's what we expect out of those guys, to be able to go up and make plays for us. He was able to do that."

Zwick made one more big play in the game's waning moments as he hit Santonio Holmes on a 21-yard TD grab to tie the game at 27-27 with just 1:54 left in the game.

"We had him going," Zwick said. "We thought we could get him by the corner. He was able to give him a little move and get inside of him. I was able to put the ball up there and he made a great catch for us, jumping up there and grabbing it. That's just another big play we expect those guys to make."

Zwick's one gaffe in the fourth quarter was his interception to NU's Jeff Backes on third-and-goal from the NU 20 with 4:55 left. Zwick appeared to just float the pass for Bam Childress, allowing Backes to swoop in and make the pick. Had OSU just gotten a field goal on that possession, it could have won the game with a touchdown after that.

"I felt good about what was going on," Zwick said. "The corner just snuck in there on me. He made a great play and that's part of the game."

The Kid Named Hall

Hall opened the season as the starting split end, but he had to deal with a demotion as Childress moved into the lineup.

"Initially, it was tough," Hall said. "Whenever you get moved out of the starting lineup, it's hard. I just got through it by talking to my high school coach. He said, `Keep your head up and keep working hard. If you get in, make the best of your opportunities.' That's what I tried to do.

"I took it in stride, kept working hard and tried to help the team any way I could."

Hall, who had a touchdown grab against Marshall, discussed his big play at NU.

"We ran a double post," Hall said. "Justin threw the ball up for grabs almost. I just had to go up and try and make a play on it. I think that play did give us a spark because we went down and scored after that."

When asked about the offense's woes, Hall replied, "I don't know what the issue is, but I know we need to get it taken care of. I don't think it's a back issue or a line issue. I just think we need to get back to doing what we do best."

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