"I think it all has to do with preparation. I think a good example is USC and what they did to Penn State. I talked to Paul (Hackett) about how they were preparing for the game, and a lot of the things they are doing, we are doing. The things we can control are making sure our team is ready to play at 9 o'clock in the morning (Pacific time), making sure we understand the game plan, making sure we have our legs underneath us by the time we get to Ohio, getting out there a day early to get acclimated. The things we have control over, I think we've done a really good job of. The things we don't have control of - like the environment, the talent of Ohio State - those type of things we have to find out about on Saturday. The things that are within our power, I think we've done a really good job of. Now we've got to go out and execute. The team that executes best is going to win the game."
On if this can be a successful trip if Fresno State does not win the game
"I think anytime you play a non-conference schedule like we do - I'd compare it a lot to the early `80s when I was here with Jim (Sweeney), and San Jose State every year would play Cal, Stanford and Washington. We'd go into the game 8-0 and they'd be 5-3, but they were more confident than we were because they had played in big football games. The non-conference schedule is going to better prepare our football team for the conference. Even in our first two years, when we didn't have as much talent, we played very well in the WAC, and I think a lot has to do with the fact that we've played 13 bowl teams in three years. Our team is getting better because of the competition we play early. No matter what happens on Saturday, we are going to be a better team going into the conference because of the non-conference schedule."
On quarterback David Carr preparations
"I think he's really done well, but he's been working hard since January. He has really taken to the role of quarterback. I've never seen a guy work as hard as he did in the offseason. For those of you who saw him in the two-minute drill the other day, he was a surgeon. He has complete control of the offense. He's just got to step on the field in front of 95,000 and do it. But I think he's going to be fine. And these early games are going to make us better when the conference starts. And that's what really matters - those games. Winning the conference and going to a bowl game are the most important things."
On if there are such things as moral victories anymore
"We've got a lot of odds stacked against us. But we've got a job to do. We've got to go win, and I'm going to stick with that. I'm never going to change my feelings - our job is to go win. Being close is not what is important. Winning is what is important. (The players) know that's the expectation here, and if you lower your standard, that's going to hurt you."
On the running back situation
"I'm not sure how much we are going to get out of Paris in this game. He has been hampered not so much by the knee but by the pulling calf muscle and the bone bruise. I think the brace gave him a bruise on his shin. And he really hasn't gotten the live contact he really needs. Most of the reps in practice have been taken by Derrick Ward and James Tillman."
On Derrick Ward's performance in camp
"When Derrick came back to the team, he has performed a lot higher than we thought he would as a staff. Not only being to all the practices, doing him 6 a.m.'s, doing his classwork. He hasn't missed one practice in fall camp. Before, we had a guy that would miss practices, would be hurt all the time and was in bad shape. He's done a lot of things since the incident that happened five or six months ago to put him back on this football team. He's very well respected by his teammates for what he has done and what he has accomplished. He's done more in the last five months than any of us really anticipated as far as the whole person. I think that says a lot for his commitment and how badly he wants to get on the right track."
On battling the crowd
"I think David has such a good grasp of what we are trying to do with our offense. We've prepared for noise. We've gone on silent counts, you see the lineman holding hands in shotgun formations, we have hand signals. We are anticipating a very noisy crowd, but I'm not sure it can get much louder than it was in Hawai'i (last year). I know that sounds a little out of the ordinary. Hawai'i was an amazing noise factor, and I don't think we were rattled too much by that.. The biggest thing is that we can't get rattled by the environment and the team we are playing against. We've got to really got to focus in on what we are doing. We've had the music out at practice, the 90 to 100 decibel level music. At first, it was really bad. The kids were thinking more about what the music was all about. But the last two practices with music, it has been much better. But you can't set up practice to match what we are going to see."
On the matchups with FS's cornerback vs. OSU's wide receivers
"I think our corners are very, very good. We don't have the height their two receivers have. But, then again, the ball has to be on the money. So a lot of that depends on how the quarterback gets the ball there. I believe we can cover them. The matchup in size is an advantage for Ohio State. Those two receivers are outstanding players. That's going to be a matchup that's very critical in the game."
On playing Ohio State after the Buckeyes went 6-6 last year
"They are going to be a good football team. They played with a lot of young players last year. They've got defensive tackles that weight 300 pounds and are very mobile. They've got big linebackers. They've got what they think is a good young secondary. They feel Bellisari is more mature and has a year under his belt. They got their kicker and punter back. I don't think we are going into an arena where we have a football team that is down. Even John Cooper has said they are going to be back in the BCS spotlight. This is a big-time college football program we are playing against. If you are talking about the best five football programs in the country, I think you'd have to include Ohio State among them. We are going to get their best shot, and that's the way it should be. We've got a big, big task in front of us, and our players need to be ready for that."
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|