Short press conference today, including Coach Tressel being honored by the National Guard.
Well, the thing that’s made Penn State good over the years is they’re so steady. They’re never going to be too high and they’re never going to be too low. When it’s 21-0, they’re not going to fold the tent. That’s just not how they’re made. When they end the game winning 35-21, they’re not going to say, hey, we have arrived and we’re now the new kings of college football. They’re going to go to work and get ready for Ohio State, and within the course of our game, they’ll never get too high or never get too low and it will be one of those, you’re going to have to play 60 minutes to compete with them.
REPORTER: Because you are his peer, I’ve heard him refer to you as Little Jimmy on more than one occasion. How do you take that?
COACH TRESSEL: You know, I’m starting to like it more and more. When you’re young you don’t like it, when you’re old you start liking it, someone thinks I’m Little Jimmy. It’s been a special relationship with him in that I did have a chance to visit with him when I was aspiring to become a coach and I was one of those kind of guys, I didn’t end up being with him, but I ended up staying in touch with him, and then all of a sudden when I became a head coach just three hours down the road from him, we had a chance to interact a little bit more and connect in different ways and so now coaching with him for 10 years, you know, in the same Big Ten meetings and so forth, it’s really spanned quite a distance, but I’m sure he looks at me no different than — there have been times he’s called me Lee, so –
Give me no turnovers or give me death. That’s the way we paraphrase Patrick Henry.
And now we need to go on the road and play better than we’ve played on the road. We head to Minnesota and it will be the first time for any of us on our team to ever have seen the stadium let alone play in it, so that will be exciting for us. And it’s an evening primetime game, and our guys will get excited about that. So now we’ve got to go back to work and understand that we’re facing a veteran quarterback in Adam Weber. We had him in youth camp. I thought he was outstanding then, and 10,000 yards later I think he’s still outstanding. And I think the school career passing record for us is a little over 7,000 and he’s got 10,000, just to put it in perspective what he’s been able to accomplish and he’s a heck of a player. He’s a competitor. He’s a senior. You can just hear in his comments that he doesn’t want to hear about coaching transition or this or that, this is still the 2010 Minnesota Golden Gophers and still the same team it was at the beginning of the year who has a passion to get some good things done, and through his leadership, you can be sure that they’ll never stop, and that’s the kind of leader that you want to have. And he leads a young group of receivers who I think are getting better and better and they’ve done a good job of giving you a lot of different formation looks, a lot of different personnel groupings.
Over on their defensive side, they were very young when they began, now they’re eight or nine games into it and they’re no longer — you no longer talk when you talk about a team of so and so had this many starters returning because that’s irrelevant now because they’re going into this point in the season.
And they seem to have dialed up a little bit more of their pressure package in this last game or so than they did earlier in the year. They did a similar amount against us a year ago, so it’s not like we haven’t seen it. It’s not like it’s anything brand new, but they are bringing good pressure. I think they’re playing a little bit loose and getting just excited to go out and hit somebody and see if they can create turnovers and so forth, so it will be a great challenge for us.
Special teams, we always say, is the key when we go on the road and I think if anyone has an interest in Big Ten football and doesn’t think that the special teams had maybe the biggest impact on last weekend, Wisconsin’s fake punt was probably the turning point in that game. Michigan State’s fake punt was probably the turning point in that game. I think Iowa missed a field goal, which was big, and an extra point, perhaps. The Cleveland Browns, I didn’t see it, but the little reverse pass or whatever they did was huge in their game, and on and on and on. Missouri, I think, didn’t they bring the opening kickoff back?
So special teams is something that we’ll never stop talking about and you’ll never be able to convince me of its relative impact on the emotion of the game, and football is an emotional game. And so we’ve got to make sure that despite the fact that we’ve had to go with a lot of different lineups due to injuries in the linebacker and DB areas, we’ve got to get better at special teams, especially on the road. It’s a huge impact. Purdue found that. Go full circle, Purdue found that out, coming over here, you can’t make two big special teams mistakes and think you’re going to win in someone else’s stadium.
I apologize. It was disguised as a pooch.
I think their offense starts with the toughness that their quarterback shows. Their quarterback stands in there and holds that ball until the last second when the receiver is ready to break and runs when he has to run, kind of plays a little bit in the shadow of their rush game, which their rush game is — it deserves all the kudos that it gets, but their quarterback just kind of whatever the team needs him to do, he does, and he’s a veteran. He’s got a veteran offensive line who are very, very physical. Their tight end position is always one of the deepest and best utilized tight end corps in the Big Ten.
Well, they were going to be ready if we were 15th. I mean, I don’t know that that will change their readiness. What’s most critical is our readiness and our preparation and then how we handle the adversity and how we handle the situation there. There will be times when you can’t hear. There will be times when you’re not in the same comfort zone as you are back in your own meeting rooms at halftime or whatever, but I’m not sure that anything in terms of the rankings are going to change. I mean, Wisconsin is going to be ready, so I don’t know that that will change it.
Hard. Hard and long.
I thought the offensive line had a great challenge. It was kind of like one of those you get into a stalemate and you get into it, and you get into it, fortunately by the fourth quarter we won that stalemate. Probably didn’t win it early. Do they feel good about the fact that we didn’t win it throughout? I would hope that the competitor in all of us, we’d all like everything to work all the time, but you could see them on film. They’re a good football team. Especially in the trenches.
I thought they did a nice job of working the safeties down into the box, both run and pass, they tricked us the one time and robbed that little spot route and it was a similar coverage, though, when we threw the corner route behind it for the touchdown, but they got us the first time with it, and that also allowed them to have those extra guys in the box. That has a little bit to do with where the line goes toward where they work up the linebackers and safeties sometimes, but, no, it was — it was a reality, man, that was a tough one.
And now we have a chance to come home, play against an Indiana team that they threw it 64 times last week, 98 plays, you know, those receivers are veterans. The quarterback, of course, is a veteran. Their running back does a nice job in protection, and the amount that they run him, he’s very good at it and he’s a good receiver as well.
Defensively they struggled against a very fast, fast offense that Michigan brought at them. And special teams-wise, their return men, they’ve always done a good job on kickoff return against us and Doss is back there again.
I wish we had more balls. That sounds terrible.