Coach, Players Answer Your Questions
You asked for it, you got it. We asked members of the BuckeyeSports.com community to provide questions for Ohio State assistant head coach Jim Heacock, kicker Mike Nugent, fullback Branden Joe, tailback Maurice Hall, linebacker Thomas Matthews, defensive back Harlen Jacobs and long snapper Kyle Andrews, and we got to as many of them as we could during yesterday's interview session.
Joe was unavailable because he was taking treatment for his sprained ankle, but here are the answers to some of your questions:
DublinBuck: I would like to ask Coach Heacock if there are plans to use Mike D’Andrea as a rush-end/specialty position on obvious passing downs?
Heacock: “Well, I like all of those linebackers. I’d like to have a shot at getting them all. But we’re not thinking about right now. Then again, we’re really in the preliminary stages of trying to identify personnel. As we see where we are going forward, I think it’s always a possibility. We’ve done things like that in the past. We just haven’t really gotten together as a staff and talked about anything like that yet.”
buckeyebill73: Are you planning on blitzing more than in the past?
Heacock: “I really can’t tell you that at this point. We’re really still in an evaluation period where we’re figuring out which guys are going to be in our rotation. That’s why this jersey scrimmage (Saturday) is going to be so important. We’ll have a bona fide deep-two after that, and then we’ll be able to know more what we can do with our personnel.”
infinityguy: Who has made the most improvement since last year?
Heacock: “One guy who is really standing out so far in fall camp is been Quinn Pitcock. He played some for us last year, but he has really picked it up in camp. We really think he’s going to a very, very good player this fall.”
buck,esq.: Ask Mike Nugent how he compares his confidence between the pre-2002 season and now?
Nugent: “There’s really no comparison because the confidence you get with each kick and each season elevates your game. Whenever I line up for a kick now, I just tell myself, ‘OK, this is the right hash of the 35 and you’ve made this kick hundreds of times.’ It’s mostly a mental thing where you picture the successes you’ve had in the past and try to duplicate them. At this point in my career, I’m confident I can make every kick of every spot of the field.”
TheKingAdBuck: What was the recruiting process for you? Were there any coaches that stood out?
Nugent: “I remember the process very well because of the stress factor. It’s constant pressure about trying to decide where to go, if you’ll get a scholarship offer, what everybody is saying. It really was stressful and I was so happy when it was over, I can’t tell you. As far as schools or coaches or impressed me, other than Ohio State, of course, I really liked Stanford. That was when Coach (Tyrone) Willingham was there and I was very impressed with him. I also liked the coaches at Pitt. But nothing can compare with Ohio State. It was always my first choice and I really feel like everything that has happened so far has been a blessing.”
buckeyebill73: Ask Mo Hall about his yoga classes and how it has helped from a mental or physical standpoint.
Hall: “I think it helped me a lot. I kind of felt stupid when I first started the classes because it was just me and the instructor. But after awhile, I got the hang of it and really felt like it helped me on my flexibility. Part of our game is conditioning and stretching, and this really helped me with that. I’m still trying to keep up with it, too.”
DA-Bucks: How are your knees and your health in general?
Hall: “The coaches have wanted me to take things slowly in camp, but I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to being 100 percent right now. As you know, I had both knees scoped – at the same time, which was kind of tough. I was in a wheelchair for a little while and then crutches, but I came through that OK. My rehab went really well and I feel like I’m almost back to where I was before I got hurt. In fact, I feel as good now as I have since I’ve been here. That’s why I’m looking forward to this jersey scrimmage. I have to get back out there and show the coaches what I can do.”
infinityguy: If you’re not 100 percent, why not redshirt and shoot to be “the man” in 2005?
Hall: “I gave a little bit of thought to redshirting to tell you the truth, and if I didn’t think I was 100 percent I’d give it some more thought. But I’m getting healthy again, it’s my senior year and I want to go out on a positive note. I want to go out Saturday and have a good scrimmage and get back into the flow. Redshirting is really not something I’m thinking about right now.”
infinityguy: What are your impressions of freshmen tailbacks Tony Pittman and Erik haw so far?
Hall: “I think they’re going to help us a lot, especially Tony. He was here for a little bit last spring and learned some things. Then when he got back here for camp, you could see that he had taken those things and really stepped up his game. I think it was a real big thing for him to get the experience he got in the spring.”
(I also asked Hall about the speed of Haw and Pittman, and he replied, “Yeah. They’re pretty quick.” Then he smiled and said, “Not as fast as me, though.”)
mwcturf: Ask Harlen Jacobs if he has received any recognition for being the second No. 13 to make big plays in consecutive Fiesta Bowls?
Jacobs: “Yeah, we talked about that some last year right after the game. It’s kind of funny how that happened. But as far as I’m concerned, it was just one play for the team out of all the plays we had to have to win the game. I’m not looking for individual recognition. As a senior, I have goals that I want this team to achieve.”
infinityguy: Who is the best wide receiver you have ever played against?
Jacobs: “I’d have to say Michael Jenkins. Mike could do everything – catch the ball, run the routes, use his body, go after the jump ball. That’s probably an obvious answer because he was a first-round draft pick, but that’s who I’d say.”
infinityguy: Who is the best defensive back you’ve ever played with?
Jacobs: “That’s an easy one – Mike Doss. I sat back and watched him when I was a redshirt freshman and he was a sophomore, and it seemed like everything he did was right. Even since then, I’ve tried to remember was he did and do things like he did them.”
mwcturf: Ask Kyle Andrews if he has any protection on snaps or if he is just fodder for the defense?
Andrews: “My job, of course, is to deliver the ball to the punter, but part of it also is to drop back and provide protection. I do get help with that from the guards, who try to hold up the inside guys and prevent me from getting blown up. It does happen, but it’s something you have to put out of your mind. And once you get used to it, it’s not that big of a deal. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, I can handle it.”
infinityguy: Ask Thomas Matthews what it’s like to be part of arguably the best linebacking corps in all of college football and what he brings to the game that maybe his fellow LBs don’t.
Matthews: “I think we all make each other better. You know, you always hear the coaches talking about competition and how that makes everyone better. It’s true. Last year, we had some guys hurt at linebacker – especially at the end of the year – and we really didn’t have that competition situation too much. This year, we’ve got six or seven guys and all of us think we can play, and the coaches have told us all that we can play. It’s just up to us as to what we do in camp. As far as what I bring to the game that maybe my teammates don’t, I’d have to say leadership. I’m a fifth-year senior now and I have to take my experience and what I’ve seen and help the younger guys get where they need to be. Coach (Jim) Tressel is always taking about seniors having their best year ever and that’s what our class is going to do.”
buck,esq.: What are some of your goals for the season?
Matthews: Well, naturally I’d like to play a little bit more than I have in the past, but I think I’m working hard and the coaches notice that – so I think that will take care of itself. But even if I have to make my mark on special teams or in some other way, and the team is successful, that’s fine with me. I just want this team to be successful. That’s my bottom line.”
mwcturf: Who is the best trash talker you have ever played with or against, and give some examples?
Matthews: “That would be tough because there are a lot of guys who talk some smack. But if I had to say just one, I guess I’d go with Mike Doss. That guy could lay it down, especially when we were playing (video games). As far as examples, I don’t know that I can repeat those. I think Mike used to make up some of ’em.”
Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. We’ll do it again soon.
FALL CAMP NOTES
**Heacock said that junior defensive tackle Marcus Green finally shed the yellow jersey yesterday after missing contact drills so far this fall.
“Marcus has been cleared and he’s ready to go,” Heacock said. “We’re anxious to get him out there and help him shake some of the rust off. We think he’s going to be a big part of defensive line rotation this year.”
The OSU defensive line coach said that David Patterson, Joel Penton and Sian Cotton had all made strides at defensive tackle while Green has been out. “Brandon Maupin has also had a pretty good camp so far,” Heacock said. “We’re kind of licking our wounds right now, but that’s to be expected this far into camp. So far, we’re been pleased with what we’ve seen.”
**Heacock also talked about senior Jason Caldwell, who switched from tight end to the defensive line.
“He’s shown great attitude since he came over,” Heacock said. “He does have some pass-rushing ability. He’s got good size and really moves well for a guy who’s 275 pounds. I’m anxious to see him a little more Saturday (at the jersey scrimmage) but we think he’s a guy that’s going to help us in pressure situations.”
**Brandon Schnittker was a fill-in for Joe during interviews and was asked if he expected more opportunities to carry the ball this season after getting only one in the previous two seasons combined.
“I’d like to,” he replied, “but that’s not up to me. That’s up to Coach Tressel and Coach (Jim) Bollman.”
When asked if he’d lobby for more involvement in the running game, Schnittker said, “I think the fullbacks are very much involved in the running game. We work very hard on our blocking to make sure the tailback can hit those holes and get some yardage. As far as carries are concerned, I’ll just leave that up to the higher authorities. I’ll do whatever they want me to.”
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