Press Conference Transcript (10-21-03)
October 21, 2003
Head Coach Gerry DiNardo:
GD: We took Monday and Tuesday off after Northwestern. We took seven coaches on the road recruiting. We are really far along with our evaluation and identification with recruiting, and we are up to 10 commitments. We actually practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We gave them Saturday off and came back Sunday with practice, and they had Monday off. Now we are back with our regular routine. We are a little further along with our game plan against Ohio State because of the extra week of preparation. Were pretty healthy. We dont have any injuries other than the guys out for the year. Everyone will be at practice today and ready to go.
On Courtney Robys health:
GD: Hes better than he has been in the last month.
On Ohio States defense:
GD: They are real good. They are one of the better defenses in college football right now. They are a great defense.
On improvement of this years team from last year:
GD: I kept watching practice and kept saying were getting better and better. With this off week, I watched tape from last year and compared last years team to this years team, and Im even more convinced were better in a lot of ways. Not only has the team gotten better, a lot of things about the program have gotten better.
On Ohio States running defense:
GD: No one has been able to run the ball against them. Statistically, this is the best rush defense we have faced to date. They are first in the conference and second in the country against the run.
On Matt LoVecchio:
GD: Part of this offense is you should be around 60 percent completion, and hes not there. Matt shares in the responsibility, but it also has to do with getting open, pass protection and number of opportunities. We havent thrown it as much as we did last year. We have two touchdown passes. Thats not the West Coast offense. If you look just at his statistics, you would think he would be higher than 50 percent and you would think we would have thrown more than two touchdown passes. However, its his first year in the offense, so I have nothing to compare his play to. He has brought leadership, experience, maturity and good decisions. I still take this offense over that interception-fest we had last year. Im not throwing 21 interceptions in a season because you have no chance to win. This is still better than what we did last year. Its not even close.
On the teams ability to handle adversity:
GD: Im pleased with how the team has handled it. If you look at the Northwestern game, our defense not playing well in the first half is the most disappointed Ive been with our mental approach to the game. If you lump adversity with mental approach, I have been pleased. Our practices have been good. We havent always played well. The first half against Northwestern I was disappointed, but I would say I would give the team a passing grade.
On the teams walk-on program:
GD: It has been terrific. We could not function the way we do on a day-to-day basis without them. We had a 46-man rookie squad and only signed 26 guys. We did a terrific job recruiting walk-ons and bringing them in for visits, and it has reaped good benefits. We are going to have 65 guys on scholarship this spring. We had 38 a year ago. You look at the 65 scholarship guys we will have and then take our walk-on program, our numbers are going to be terrific in the spring. The program has been terrific, and were going to keep doing it. We have 10 guys now on scholarship that werent offered scholarships out of high school. Were going to continue to do that and continue to reward the guys that have come in non-scholarship.
On Ohio States special teams:
GD: (Michael) Jenkins is doing the punt returning. (Chris) Gamble was doing it and now Jenkins is doing it. Their kickers are very good. If you look at their punt team, it is virtually all linebackers. They are stabilized enough where their special teams reflect their depth at linebacker, tight end, strong safety and free safety. From a program standpoint, that is very impressive. They have the right positions playing in special teams, but they are very good at it as well.
On Ohio States running game being as effective without Maurice Clarett:
GD: I am just reading up now on everything that has been written about him since spring practice. This is a team that has lost one game in two years. I didnt realize there were so many people complaining about it. I hope to see the day that we get to lose one game in two year and people complain about what we are doing.
On comparing film:
GD: I was evaluating our team. You look at the first game and you look at the 7th game of last year, which was Iowa, as opposed to the 7th game of this year, which was Northwestern. You kind of bounce around a little, looking at it offensively, defensively and the kick game. Obviously the players that are back are better. Then you look at Herana-Daze who was playing linebacker and getting engulfed by a 300-pound lineman. Those type of things, that is where we are better, John Pannozzo, Brian Lewis Aaron Halterman, they are all playing better than they were a year ago. I think other than pass defense and pass offense which we obviously have to address, statistically we are supported that we have gotten better.
On the stadium being full this week being a positive or negative:
GD: Financially it is a positive. I have been through this before at Vanderbilt when Tennessee came to town. Its just something we have to deal with. I have learned a lot how to deal with it since my Vanderbilt days. It doesnt really affect us. We are just going to out there and get ready for the game. We have an opportunity to change that and that is all we can think about. Playing the battle, winning the battle, its ESPN, its national TV, the stadium is full-we have to get better as a football team and that is my attitude. Dont complain about it, do something about it.
On how you recruited a punter from Australia:
GD: He was actually committed when I got here. I watched the tape and he and I emailed each other back and forth. Much like every other recruit that was committed to the university prior to my arrival, we held by those commitments whether we would have recruited the player or not. That doesnt mean we wouldnt have recruited Tyson, but thats always been my philosophy, uphold the word of the previous staff as it represents the university. We are happy to have him.
On having a theory about being outscored 65-19 in the first quarter:
GD: I really dont. We have talked about it quite a bit. Obviously we have addressed it; its not a good statistic. We have done different things at practice. We have gone right to team work after stretch. It is a problem and we have tried to address it, but we obviously havent solved the problem yet. I dont have the magical answer if there is one.