SCOTT COLE'S QUICKCAP
1. How will the defensive line hold up without Jared Odrick?
We have bodies. We have people who have the ability. They haven't had experience. We have to make sure we give them enough reps and don't get too complicated and change things around. Unforunately, they're going against one of the best offensive lines around and a very good offensive football team. They have a big tailback, a big blocking fullback and a good quarterback who has waited his turn. It will be a good experience for them. Whether they're good enough to not, it will be good for them to face Ohio State in the long run.
2. How has Ohio State been able to maintain consistency despite losing so many players to the NFL and graduation?
You would have to ask Jim Tressel that question.
3. How has Justin King done this season?
Justin King has played very well. You've got to realize that he takes on the best guy the other guys has got. He's hung int there. Joe tried to tell people last week that he was worried about Indiana's QB and wideout. He had a tough assignment all day long. They didn't give him a lot of help early on. He was in great position on the one touchdown, if it was a touchdown. Justin was two feet off the ground and the other guy was two feet off the ground, but he is 6 inches taller. He's a fine football player and has played well.
4. How would you explain Jim Tressel's success?
He's a good coach. Ohio State has a great tradition and recruits really well. He has a good coaching staff. He comes from a great coach, Lee Tressel. Jimmy knows how to coach and he has good people around. They recruit well, have great facilities and great tradition. Jimmy made sure they didn't waste those advantages.
5. Would it be accurate to say that Ohio State is a conventional team?
Joe doesn't want to categorize people and situations. Last year, they did things that Troy Smith could do well. They're not doing some of those things this year because the quarterback isn't quite as good a runner. The Penn State coaches knew Todd Boeckman in high school. He's a smart kid. He knows who's open and Ohio State adapted their offense to him. They've done a good job coaching that offense. Last year, they did a good job running the read option. Now, they take advantage of a couple of really good wideouts and a heck of a tight end and two big backs and a great offensive line.
6. Will you say anything to the offensive guys to prepare for a low scoring defensive battle?
The players have tio play. They're playing the #1 team in the country. They have to go out there and do the best they can and see what happens. If they get discouraged if a couple of things don't happen, then they'll never be good. If it turns out to be a low scoring game or a shootout and they can't keep up, then they won't win. Simple as that. The players will find out some things about themselves in this game. Penn State is young and to be fair, Ohio State is young. So, it's going to be a tough football game between two young teams.
7. Will having been through the Notre Dame night game allow your younger players to be prepared for this night game?
You hope that having experienced it once will help prepare the team for this game. Some of the guys who made big plays in that Nore Dame game are injured now so other people will have to step up. Joe isn't sure how much it will help, but it certainly won't hurt them.
8. How impressed are you with Rodney Kinlaw's durability and has he become a better back than you expected?
Joe always thought he could be a good back. Joe got frustrated with him because he didn't have enough patience and wanted to bounce everything outside like he did in high school. It took a while for him to find that patience, but he has always been a tough kid. He has the makings of a good football player. He just can't get too anxious to make big plays now that everyone is talking about him. There's nothing wrong with gaining 4 or 5 yards.
9. Do you ever have to coach kids that are injured and out for the year to keep their heads up and remain focused on their classwork?
Absolutely. They have to come out to practice and watch and the coaches have to make sure they talk with the kids and ask how they are doing and keep on them to stay with their classwork. Joe praised the position coaches for working with these kids and their families. It's a tough thing. Odrick and Hayes were both playing well. Matt Hahn was having a great senior year and now his college career is over. They have to encourage kids in that situation to make the right adjustments.
10. Status of Mike Lucian and what is your assessment of Stefan Wisniewski's and John Shaw's play against Indiana?
Joe doesn't think Mike Lucian will play. Wisniewski and Shaw did all right and will get better. Shaw didn't practice much until recently and Wisniewski is a true freshman, so that was a good experience for him.
11. The crowd was great for this game two years ago. Are you expecting the same kind of atmosphere on Saturday?
Joe hopes the crowd really gets into it. When they go to Ohio State, they always face a great crowd. Joe hopes the crowd is into it every play and thinks they can help the team win the game, which they can.
12. What stands out most about the Ohio State defense?
They hustle. They have people that are really quick and aggressive. It will be a tough fgootball game. Their defense is one of the better defenses in the country and they're a challenge.
13. When did you first meet Jim Tressel and did you have a relationship with his family?
Joe met Lee Tressel when they were both Coach of the Year in their division the same year and went to some coaching clinics together. Joe thinks his dad took Jim on the coaching clinic trip with him. Joe followed Jim at Youngstown. He thought about hiring Tressel as an assistant coach. They talked a lot when Jim was at Youngstown.
14. Your players say that you seem more excited this week in practice. Is it an exciting week for you?
Joe's glad to hear the players say he seems more excited. You can't be naive about it. It's going to be a highly profiled game. Hopefully, there will be a great crowd. There's a rally Friday night and hopefully, Rec Hall will be filled. Hopefully, the players and fans will be excited about playing a team with the talent and tradition of Ohio State. Joe is anxious to see how his players perform. He hopes the players will just go out and play a tough football game. Play hard every play and see where that gets them.
15. Do you have a favorite Woody Hayes story?
Woody and Rip Engle were good friends. After Penn State beat Ohio State in 1964, Rip invited Woody to speak at their senior banquet. Woody did a great job. Rip also got Woody to be on the AFCA Board of Trustees. The first time Joe faced Woody as a head coach, he talked with Woody prior to the game and was very respectful. Then he went into the locker room and told his players that Joe had tried to butter him up. One of the team managers taped every pre-game and halftime speech Woody gave and played that tape years later when Woody and Joe were together at a building dedication. Woody was a little embarrassed, but Joe was fine with it.
16. Would you say Koroma and McEowen are 100% now?
Koroma's 100% now but he's a little behind where he would have been experience wise. Taylort should be ok and has his weight down. Baker played very well Saturday. Joe's not sure any of those guys are as good as Jared is now because he played as a true freshman, but he thinks they will be all right on the defensive line.
17. Are you surprised at how quickly Maurice Evans has matured?
He played a lot last year. He's tough. smark and intelligent. Evans is a good football player and he'll get better too. He's played well most of the year.
18. How much of your success on Saturdauy depends on Morelli?
It depends on Morelli and everybody else. They need good pass protection. They won't be able to run the ball down Ohio State's throat because they're too good for that. They'll have to make some adjustments there. They have solid players all over the place and coach them very well. Morelli has to have a good game. He can't carry the team. He has to do some things at certain times and Joe thinks he will. He's gotten to the point where he can make plays now.
19. Is Ohio State the big rivalry game for Penn State?
Joe doesn't know. He doesn't think of it that way. They ed with Michigan State eery year. Every opponent is a big rival for them now.
20. Ohio State has a balanced offense, doesn't it?
Joe already said that. They have a very good offensive line. They have good wideouts, good tailbaxcks and a good quarterback. That sounds like a balanced offense to Joe.