Q & A - Jim Tressel

SEATTLE - Jim Tressel admitted Monday that his quarterback - Todd Boeckman - has never been in a situation like the one he's bound to face Saturday when Ohio State comes calling to play Washington. And even more candidly, he professed his need for his top signal-caller to be thrown into the heat that Husky Stadium provides.

Here's what he had to say Monday.

On the status of his team: "We're a young football team. 18 seniors last year, 17 were 5th-year seniors and three went out with the NFL draft. Haven't played the level of competition we're going to face Saturday. It'll be a great test for us. We're anxious. Most of our guys have never been to Seattle. We're coming out early, on Thursday, They have that opportunity to see that great city and have a chance to compete against a first-class team."

On his offense: "We're a work in progress, moreso on offense than defense. Our offense has very little experience. We're trying to get fundamentally stronger and trying to find out what it is they do best. We've been pleased with their effort. We think we have some talented kids, they just don't have a lot of experience. Every chance is going to be a good one, and it's going to be a tremendous experience for them to face the Huskies. The Huskies on defense are so veteran. They know where they line up, they're smart, they've seen it all. They are very, very physical. I know Coach Hart when we were assistant coaches at Ohio State many, many years ago. I know Coach Willingham very, very well. He's one of the finest in the business. It's going to be a great for our offense to come and compete against a very veteran unit."

On Washington's defense: "As I look at their defense, I think they are extremely fast, smart. They aren't out of position. They are very, very physical. And they have a lot of faith in the guy next to them. They don't leave their responsibility to go make a play in someone else's area, because they know that their buddy is going to be there. They are very well coached and they apply pressure to you. It's going to be a great opportunity to see if our kids can handle that."

On Jake Locker: "I'm not sure I've ever seen a quarterback run that fast. He's unbelievable. And it's not like he's little. He's a big, fast guy. And I think he has excellent ability throwing the football and he has great awareness. I think everyone had high expectations of him, and I think he's exceeded everyone's expectations."

On leaning more on the run game because of inexperience at QB: "We like to be balanced. If you aren't, defenses can certainly see what you're trying to do. We have a goal of being balanced. Our quarterbacks need every snap they can get, and we think we have some talent at running back, but it needs to grow. We have a sophomore, a freshman and a junior sharing duties there, so we're young. We need lots of experience when facing a veteran unit, and it's going to be an tremendous opportunity for them."

On Todd Boeckman: "He's our number-one guy, but that doesn't mean that we're not going to try and grow the other two. He was the No. 3 guy last year, so that made it so he didn't have many reps in practice. He lost three of our top receivers to the NFL, two in the first round. He's growing with some of the younger receivers we have, and it's a challenge."

On Ohio State's schedule so far: "There's a big leap in personnel when you talk about the likes of Washington, the Pac-10 and the Big-10. When you turn it over that many times, it's very unusual to win a football game, so hopefully we'll learn from the whole thing."

On James Laurinaitis: "He got to play two games as a true freshman and then played all of last year. He's had his ups and downs, growing along the way. He's really grown into a leadership role, and is much-improved from over a year ago."

On heavy expectations from the fanbase: "That's part of being in a great program. People are always going to talk about the great teams from yesteryear. They do it at Ohio State, and they do the same thing at the University of Washington, Southern California and Texas. If you aren't interested in upholding that tradition, then you've probably picked the wrong place to go. We don't do anything to shield it, because it's real. We're expected to be very good every year, regardless of experience, so that being said - let's go out and try to do that."

On Husky Stadium and the Washington fans: "It's going to be extremely loud, and that's one of the exciting things about playing in the Big-10. You go on the road to places like Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, and I'm told the University of Washington is even louder. Jim Heacock spent time on the Husky Staff, and he said that Husky Stadium makes those places sound quiet. So I think it's going to be great for our guys. If you aren't interested in being in the noise, you're going to be in trouble. I think our guys will have a great experience trying to deal with that this week."

On pumping noise into their practices: "We do it every week, because when whether you are at home or away in the Big-10, you can't hear. Maybe we'll crank it louder this week. I'll put in my earplugs, because the music they play, it's not familiar to me."

On the BCS Championship game creating a hangover effect with his team: "There were various degrees of it among individuals. For the young people, many of those guys were in the scout team, so hopefully there were some lessons well learned. And as coaches, the first thing you do is look in the mirror and wonder what you could have done to prepare the team better, so they could have performed up to their ability, so I think it hit all of us in different ways."

On Michigan: "The only thing I can tell you for sure is that we were watching Appalachian State...we were playing Youngstown State and they had played each other in the semifinals of the 1-AA Championship, and when we were watching the game, I was like 'Oh my goodness. Those guys are special'. And Oregon, we all know about Oregon. They are out of this world. When they are on all cylinders, you better watch out for the Ducks. I know Lloyd (Carr) very well and he's an outstanding coach. And he and his staff will get it headed in the right direction. The good thing is that neither one of those games were league games, so they still have an opportunity to reach a lot of their goals."

On Todd Boeckman ever having an experience like the one he's going to have Saturday: "I'm sure he hasn't. He may have seen some environments that were exciting while he was wearing a ball-cap, signaling plays. When he steps out and is in his own situation, he's never had an experience like this, and quite frankly both he and we need it. It couldn't come at a better time. And the amount respect we have for Ty, I think he's one of the great ones in our profession. And what he's done since he's been there, and the manner in which he's done it, more importantly...we tip our cap to him. We love competing against guys like that and we know how difficult it will be. But we also know how valuable that experience will be for us."


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