You guys have played really well at night over the years. What do you guys … do you think that will be a big advantage, can you both address what you think that will be like and what the atmosphere you expect and how much you think that will help.
Jim Sorgi: "I think this will be the biggest game we will play since we have been here. It's again a high quality opponent, there is nothing better than the scenery. It's going to be at the Camp (Camp Randall). You're going to have 80,000 people watching the game, its going to be at eight o'clock at night, there is going to a be a little chill in the air, its just going to be the way football is supposed to be played. You know speaking for the team, I don't think anybody is ... this is probably the most excited we've been to play a football game in a long time."
Jeff Mack: "Its going to be wild … can't wait to get it started. Two quality teams playing against each other … just going to duke it out, four quarters."
Jim, after the Penn State game you talked about what the team needed to do in general , you said just … not an extraordinary game just a solid four quarter game in Wisconsin football. What do you specifically think you need to do, in terms of managing the game, making plays when you have an opportunity to be successful Saturday?
Jim Sorgi: " That's just it, just manage the game. That's just what I have to do. Put us in the right position in the right time. I don't have to make an extraordinary effort to win this game … for this team to win. I just got to go out there and play solid. Pretty much make plays when they come to me and protect the ball. I mean if I don't turn the ball over we have a really good shot to win this game. If we keep … protect the ball on offense and maybe get it a few times on defense … you know we are going to be a hard team to beat no matter who we play. Those are the focuses going into this game, you don't have to pull out all the stops and play a game that you've never played before. It's just football, go out and play. Do your job and everybody else do there's and were going to have a really good shot at winning this game."
Jim, does beating Ohio State legitimize this team, in your guys opinion?
Jim Sorgi: "Yeah. They're a top five team, defending national champions, probably the preseason pick to win the Big Ten. I think going 5-1 so far everybody is happy with the record, but we all would rather be 6-0. I think one of our goals as the season was to make this game one of the biggest games of the season and it's pretty much what it is. We're 5-1. They're undefeated. We're going to play football, you're not going to see a lot of spread it out, throw the ball around. We're going to line and run the ball; they're going to line up and run the ball. We're going to do what we do, they're going do what they do. Whoever executes better is going to win the game, and winning this game will be a nice feather in our cap."
Jim, all those things you mentioned before as to why this is a big game … is there such a thing as too much hype for a game and that having a negative effect on a team?
Jim Sorgi: "I don't think so, I think … I don't think you can ever have too much hype. I think you can have not enough hype for a game and you know play kind of lackadaisical, but having too much hype is kind of a ridiculous thing. You can never be too hyped for a game. I mean you came here to play football … when you walk out on that field you're going to have a few nerves; if you don't then you're in the wrong sport. I think everybody is real hyped for this game and I think they're supposed to be and I think that's good for us."
Jeff, how important is your position against a team like Ohio State, what do you expect from them?
Jeff Mack: "To me personally, I believe that every single position from the defensive stand point is very key against any team, especially a team against the caliber of Ohio State. We have to be sound fundamentally at each and every position. My position especially just for getting everybody lined up, making calls, making checks. They have a tendency to sometimes … you think about Ohio State and you think power running game, physical dominant offensive line, but they have enough weapons to actually spread it out and be potent from an offense of five wide spread and things to that caliber. So we have to be ready for that, make the initial checks and things of that nature. So it's pretty important but from a stand point of every single individual player on the field at that time … defensive backs, linebackers and the D-line, we all have to be a cohesive unit and know what we have to do."
Jeff, if I remember correctly you didn't play in that game at Ohio State at all last year because of injury, correct?
Jeff Mack: "Right."
I would assume you're looking forward to this game, perhaps more than some of the guys … what did you see on the field that maybe you could have helped make a difference had you been in the line up?
Jeff Mack: " To tell you the honest to goodness truth I don't remember a lot. Just being there … when you start off a season and you have your starting eleven and things like that, you become a unit, you become close to one another. When one person leaves regardless of who it is you kind of … you were kind of let down because that one guy isn't there any more and now somebody has to fill in. Being a second stringer you have to always be ready or be on call because anybody could go down at any moment. Still you just don't want to see that and hopefully I can bring some type of confidence to the defense, and maybe I could have did that last year. Last year is over with, new season. O (Ohio) State is a new team, we're a new team. We'll see what happens come Saturday."
Jeff, while the excitement is obvious in both of your voices as you answer and talk about getting ready for this extreme, coach (Alvarez) when he was in here earlier talked about that he was going to talk to you guys about trying to treat it like another game, prepare for it like it was another game. As seniors who have been in other big games before how do you do that, how will you try to do that so that you're emotionally and physically peaking on Saturday as opposed to Monday and Tuesday in practice? Because obviously there is so much hype surrounding this game.
Jeff Mack: "One thing you have to do is … like coach (Alvarez) said you have to treat it like a game. And from that stand point you can't play the game today, you can't play tomorrow, so you can't get too over worked and too over hyped about it now. We have to know our keys, we have to practice with a purpose. Know that practice is grueling at times and you have to get through it, but you have to learn something from it at each play. So take practice for what it's worth. It's practice. It is going to get you prepared for Saturday. So just practice like we've been practicing, we've always had pretty good practices this year. Just try and be as fundamentally sound with everything we do. I don't even know if that answers your question, but I don't even know how to answer it because I am hyped right now…"
Jim Sorgi: "Maybe I can help. Well what us older guys try to do is calm everybody down. Like Jeff said you can't play the game until Saturday and it's only Monday. You can see Jeff is a little hyped, and I'm trying to get Jeff calm. Like you said we've been in big games before, we know what the atmosphere is going to be like, even though this might be a little bit more crazy because it is an eight o'clock night game and its Ohio State in the Camp, but like Jeff said we prepared well the last three weeks, and we won the game last three weeks. I think going to the game we knew what our opponent was about, we knew what we had to do, we knew our checks, we knew … especially me and Jeff's position we knew we had to get the team in a certain position to win. It's just maybe to that extent going to be the same this week, maybe it's just a little bit more. Maybe that extra half hour of film at night or during the day when you've got that extra half hour instead of going and laying on the couch. Maybe it's going in and talking to the coached a little bit more about the game plan and about what we think is going to work and what we think is not going to work. It's just all that stuff that you do, just magnified a little bit more because you need to give just a little bit more effort to win this game."
You guys have some big plays on special teams. With the excitement at Camp Randall on Saturday can you see a special teams play being a bigger turnaround?
Jim Sorgi: "Special teams … when you get a play like a couple plays, we did against Penn State this past Saturday, punt return for a touchdown, then a punt inside the five at the end of the game. It just takes a lot of pressure off you because as an offense you're worried about going out there taking time off the clock, but also scoring. As a defense you're worried about getting the ball back to the offense. After the defense makes a stop and they punt it to us and we return it for a touchdown that is just a big relief off your shoulders and its just like okay now were up 14, now a little breathing room, now if we get the ball back we'll just pound it, try to take as much time off the clock and score again and then put it away. We've had trouble doing that the last couple of games, but I've never felt like we weren't going to win the game, it was a feeling like everything's going to be alright … we're going to win the game no matter what it takes. If it takes the defense to make a stop, the offense taking the ball eighty yards, taking seven minutes off the clock and scoring, or a special teams play, it was going to happen no matter what phase of the game it was going to happen. But I think in this kind of game points in the special teams either kicking or blocked kicks or returns it is really important because those hidden yards you get in the special teams and those hidden points can be a big confidence booster for the team, especially when maybe things … the momentum is not with you … when things aren't going all that right."
Jeff, as far as scenarios go is the perfect one to take on a national champion? Being that it is a home game and being that it's at eight o'clock at night, and being on national TV.
Jeff Mack: " Yeah. Yes it is. It's a big game. The caliber of a team that Ohio State is, the coaching staff that they have, the players that they have, (Craig) Krenzel's coming back. They're coming off a bye week, they're all healthy. It's a great setup. It's going to be a great game as long as we execute the way we know how. The thing is we have to treat it like a game we can't make it bigger that what it is. I can't wait to get out there though. It will be a good game."
Jim, a two part question: what do you remember about the second half last year that Ohio State did that kept you guys out of the end zone? And as far as this year's offensive line. They are talking about this game and they are looking forward to it. You have talked about taking those guys out for dinner and getting them to get close. What have they benefited and what have you benefited from those nights?
Jim Sorgi: "It's just kind of … we've been doing things a little differently this year, you know. Like one night a week, us four captains will go out. Wherever we go, we just talk football, strictly football, kind of have fun with it, talk about what needs to be addressed, what we think is going on and that is a big benefit, just for the fact that we're all on the same page and we have more of a part in the team and what happens to the team. With the O-line, it just gives us a chance to go out and relax, calm down before the game. A Wednesday night, if you're kind of in that lull, it's hump day, you know. You just had two days of hard practice and you got two mental days coming up. You still got three days to the game, so it's like let's go out. We try to stay away from football a little bit, just kind of talk about what's going on. You know, have fun, maybe spend my money. Actually, it hasn't been too bad though. And just kind of relax. It's something that I feel like … like Jeff said, it makes you feel a little closer and we've been lucky enough on offense, out of all those 11 guys starting, you know pretty much have been the 11 guys that have played every week with the exception of maybe A.D. (Anthony Davis) for a couple of weekends. But then you look at Dwayne (Smith) and Booker (Stanley) have really stepped in to fill the job, it's pretty much the same 11. And it's just been really nice, because you know, you trust those guys, count on those guys and stuff. But Ohio State last year, how they kept us out of the end zone, I don't … you know, I will have to go back and watch the game. It was … I really don't think … I think it was just that they had a solid defense. Their defense, their secondary, their linebackers, you know, all of their D-Line was just a solid group. I think you know most of those guys … some of those guys have gone on the NFL and you know are doing pretty well in the NFL, so it just shows you that they knew what they were doing last year. Not to say, we didn't have out opportunities to score and maybe missed out on some of those opportunities where we could to lead and maybe put a little pressure on them, but we were young and I think we are all a little older and a little more mature this year and a little more physical. I think we have a mental frame of mind that this is a little different than last year's team. I think this season is going to be a little different."
Jeff, you talked before, Ohio State has the ability to spread it out a little bit, but for the most part, they are kind of like you guys. They like to line it up and say who's tougher, who's more physical. Is that the kind of team that you would prefer playing almost?
Jeff Mack: "Yeah, I like those type of teams. Kind of cocky, you know, they know they are good, so they don't really need to change anything. You know, kind of like us, you know what we practice everyday. We go up against Jim and them. We know what they are going to run. It's more about just execution and I like that."
You guys have talked every week about making it a four-quarter game and trying to find a way to win at the end. But that's kind of what Ohio State has done best in their winning streak, isn't it? Do you guys like your chances if it becomes a game like that this week?
Jim Sorgi: "I just like our chances overall. I think we match up well with them pretty much in every aspect of the game. I think if it comes down to a four-quarter game and we have to win it in the last couple of minutes, we can do that. We have done that. We've done that, we have had to come from behind. You know, they pretty much patented that. That's what they do. You know, they end up winning close games at the end and … but I just think it's going to be … it's like two heavyweights getting into the ring and just slugging it out like we know what they are going to do, we know what we are going to do. It's who can do it better and we would rather play a game like this and I know the defense would rather play a game like this, instead of a team that spreads it out, it's going to be like a team that like ‘Well, here we are stop us' and you know I think our defense can do that and our offense is going to be like ‘Here we are. Stop Us!' and it's all who can stop who."
Jim and Jeff, you guys both obviously have the emotions all ready to go, but when you put your head down on the pillow at night when you go to bed this week, what will be the dream scenario for you as a quarterback, how will this game unfold. Will it be a blowout, will it be a last-second touchdown pass for you to win the game? And Jeff, defensively, would your dream be the same one?
Jim Sorgi: "I was talking to Lee (Evans) in the weight room today and I said "Yo, when we win this game this weekend, I might shed a tear.' You know I might actually sit on that bench for an extra 10 or 15 minutes after the game and shed a tear. But, you know, my dream is just to win. One point, just give me one more point than they got at the end of the game and no matter how we get that one point, just get it to me. I mean that's it and you know, just a celebration with teammates after the game in the locker room would be amazing, but you know, we have got to go out there and handle our business first. You know, it really don't matter. If I throw the ball 30 times and have a great game or if I throw the ball five times and have a horrible game, just as long as we win. That's all that matters to me."
Jeff Mack: "Yeah, we could do a 3-0 win, just a defensive battle. But I want Sorgi to have his thing, so I don't care, we can do a blowout as long as we win. If Sorgi does or doesn't play well, I don't care either way. Just win."
Jim Sorgi: "Yeah, well I mean what we want is their best against our best. No excuses, let's go out and play football and you know, go out there and give it our best shot. Whatever happens, happens."
Jeff, how are you feeling physically? You look like you're moving much better today.
Jeff Mack: "Yeah, it's better. It's a little sore, my ankle, but other than that, you know nothing is going to stop me from playing in this game. So I'll be fine."
Jim Sorgi: "Something would have to be
seriously wrong to stop any of us from playing in this game."