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September 10, 2011

Joe Bauserman

Luke Fickell


COACH FICKELL: All right. Obviously first thing for us to go in was to be fundamentally sound and physical. Just things that pop out at you right off the bat was the very first punt, some of the things just fundamentally tackling, we knew that was going to be a big deal.
So just off the top of my head, that's something we know we have to be better at. They do a great job of challenging you in those things, but that was one of those areas we knew going into the game we had to be huge to win the rush battle. That was something unlike every week, especially with a spread team, if you can stop them running the football, you've got a chance to gang up on some of those pass routes and different things that they hurt you with down the field stuff especially with the bubble.
So that is probably the one thing you look down at it, we did a good job at it. They had 45 yards rushing. So we tried to make them one dimensional. Did a decent job of that, and just have to do a better job on the back end of it.
Then tackling was the other huge thing going into the football defensively that we knew we had to do a great job of. That is probably the biggest area that stood out to me that we made this thing a lot closer because we didn't do a great job at tackling and doing a great job of fundamentally of just getting leverage and getting the ball back inside.
We knew it was going to be a challenge. We're excited about how the guys fought, how they battled, and how they kept their chins up. This team has been through adversity and will continue to be through adversity, but that is how you challenge yourself to get better.

Q. You talk about adversity. Was it good to be in the fire in that kind of situation? Was Braxton Miller available, and what were your thoughts on using him or not using him?
COACH FICKELL: We've got a plan going into the game just like we had a plan defensively going into the game, and we had to adjust things defensively. Offensively we had to do the same thing.
Those guys are good with it. They understood the situation. We know it's about us. It's about this whole team. Sometimes your plan adjusts and changes on the run, and that's what happened today.
We were going to use him, we had a plan maybe to be in that second quarter, very similar to last week, but it just didn't work out the way we had probably planned it in our head, and we'll continue to move forward.

Q. Luke, I'm curious the angle you had after Rod Smith fumbles the ball, they take the shot deep. The deep balls on the money and Dominic Clarke makes maybe a game saving play. Just take us through as you were watching that and if you had a good angle on that play?
COACH FICKELL: Oh, I mean, that is one of the things. If you're going to win, man, you've got to eventually make plays. And that's one that you've got to hope your guy can make. Their guy made one heck of a play, I think it was a good ball thrown a little bit earlier. Same type of thing down their sideline, and he jumped up there and made a great play, batted the ball away.
And Dominic did a whale of a job doing the same for us. He understands that's what we expect of him. But we sure are proud that obviously he was battling and continued to do that in that situation. Hopefully, we had an idea that some taking a shot was coming, but still you don't assume anything?

Q. John Simon left and went to the locker room came back and stuff. What went on with him there? Then in the last drive you made a couple of huge plays, what did you see out of that? And number three, you all took that time out when they had the ball down there, was that just to make sure you got the right match-up on Eric Page?
COACH FICKELL: Well, you asked three questions again. My head's been hit a few times. First one was what, come on.
John Simon, John it some kind of happened to last week too. John is not an out-of-shape guy by any means, but emotionally sometimes things happen and he starts to cramp up a little bit. We've got to do a better job, and he's got to do a better job of making sure they get that under control because we need him out there. Hopefully we'll do a better job with that.

Q. The timeouts you all took when they got down in your end of the field and it looked like you had a match-up problem there with Page in the slot.
COACH FICKELL: We sure did. We had Andrew Sweat stuck on Page. It was one of those things where you assume the formation they're going to come out in was the same as before and just kind of lost track of him.
But, again, to me that is one of the better things we did. We saved them for our timeouts. We had him for a situation when we'd need him whether it was just to gather ourselves.
I think I learned a little bit in a similar situation last year when Iowa was playing here after we had the possibility of a big turnover, and we end up dropping it, and it bounced up. Their guy caught it and two plays later they scored. I always said in the back of my head, we've got to take a defensive timeout there to make sure our guys are settled down. We've got them under control. We've got them in the situation we want them in. Because it's not always about the call, but it's about the guys understanding what they need to do and being able to play.

Q. I know you guys always talk about next man up. But between the suspensions and a guy like Nate Williams not playing today, and Philly Brown goes down, isn't there a point where any team feels a talent drain when you have that many of your top guys missing?
COACH FICKELL: We're not going to dwell on it. We're not going to look at that. We never feel sorry for ourselves. We're not looking for pity. It is. The next guy's got to step up. That's what we said on the sideline. Adversity's going to happen whether it's a situation off the field or on the field.
We try to tell them all the time. You never know when your name's going to be called. You've got to be ready, and you've got to be willing and you've got to be prepared.
I think and I hope that this is what's going to make us better, all of this adversity, all of these different things that happened. It does nothing but makes you stronger as long as you handle it the right way.

Q. Luke, you said you planned to get Braxton in there in the second quarter or whatever but something changed. What changed? Was it the fact that it was a close game?
COACH FICKELL: No, it was just the flow of the game. It's just one of those gut decisions you've got to make out there. We've made some changes defensively that we had planned that maybe we were going to go with, and things just weren't going the way we had them planned.
You know, we thought for momentum reasons and some different things, we just want to stick with where we were, and those are questions that, us as a staff, we'll make sure we sit down and evaluate and look back over to see if there's anyway if we had to do it over again, if we'd do it different.

Q. How quick do the thoughts turn now to Miami? Just your thoughts on heading down there?
COACH FICKELL: Well, we tried to tell our guys we have about a 17-hour incubation period, or whatever you want to call it, that we can actually hopefully settle in there and reflect on what today was all about and how things went until tomorrow at noon. For us coaches, a little bit earlier than that.
But we're going to try to relax, and try to figure out what it is we need to do to get better here, evaluate ourselves and as we move forward to Miami.

Q. Would you give your assessment of Bauserman? Sometimes it looked like he had to throw it away, and maybe he missed and left some yards out there. Can you talk about him?
COACH FICKELL: There are always going to be things you wish you had back. There are some defensive plays and defensive calls we wish we had back and some plays we could have made. But Joe made good decisions. I don't think we had a turnover or he didn't have a turnover.
So there are some times when it's not real pleasing to the fans or to the crowd when they throw it six rows deep, but you know what, sometimes that's the best thing, and we're going to make sure that we're making good decisions to continue to play that next down.
We know we've got to take some shots and we did. But you know what, I think he understands what we're asking him to do, and we all left some plays out there no matter whether it's the quarterback, a defensive lineman, a linebacker, we all left some on the field.
That's how we get better. We evaluate, we're critical of ourselves and we find a way to try not to leave as many of those out there.

Q. For clarification, do you still feel you have two quarterbacks or do you feel you have a starter and a back-up at this point?
COACH FICKELL: No, I feel we have two quarterbacks. I've got confidence in both of them. One just hasn't had as many opportunities just yet. I feel like we've got two middle linebackers, but one has to start, and one probably played a little more than the other.
I feel like we have two Will linebackers. I know everybody wants to talk about the quarterback more so, but they know we have confidence in them. They know we need them both, and it's our job to make sure we can handle it the right way.

Q. Can you comment on your running game today? Was it something Toledo was doing well especially at the line of attack or was it blocking problems? Just your overall assessment of your running attack?
COACH FICKELL: It's hard to give you a complete assessment until you actually watch. But I know Toledo was doing a very good job. They know us well, and I think just hearing some of the O-linemen think there were 12 guys in there at times.
But they're going to do that. They're going to crowd up the box and test you that way. You know, we know there are some ways that we've got to make sure we get better at it. But, you know, checking some things, maybe. But it's hard to say.
I know we rushed for 114 yards. I'm not sure on how many carries. Was it 114, Jerry? 112, I had those two extra yards I gave them. But still, it still comes down to that rushing battle too.
We had 112, and they had 46. So I guess we've got to make sure that we understand that's what we're looking for. But we can always do better, and we expect to do better, and we will do better.

Q. In regards to that running game, Carlos Hyde did have that 36-yard touchdown that helped gain the momentum back in the second quarter. So how important has his role been in these first two games and where do you see him when you get some of your suspended guys back?
COACH FICKELL: Carlos Hyde is our starting running back. And I think he's done a very good job at doing what we've asked him to do, you know.
The thing about running backs is they've got to be tough because they're going to take shots. Guys are going to hit them in the legs, they're going to hit them in the head. It's not a position that you're not going to come in on Sunday morning and not feel it whether you had six carries and 35 blocks.
But he's done a very good job. He's our starting running back. We'll continue to feed him and, you know, I believe he's only going to get stronger.

Q. A blocked punt kind of flipped the Sugar Bowl and almost cost you guys. To get one up like that, what did you see break down? How big a blow is that to you guys? And then flip of that, Chris Fields - obviously Corey Philly Brown went out and Chris Fields had the punt return. What did you see there and did you challenge him to come back with a play?
COACH FICKELL: Obviously, we cannot have the special teams lapses, that first punt is just not something -- we just can't have it. We'll get better at it. I mean, you know, you've got to give them some credit. The guy did a good job. He made the play when we had to make it, but we've got to do a better job fundamentally.
That's what we're talking about. Making sure we understand what we're doing fundamentally, so if there is a problem, we at least know how to correct it. And I think we know how to correct it.
We've got to do a better job, and we'll go from there. But it's not like we're going to scrap the punt team and go to the drawing board. We're just going to get better at what we do.
As for Chris Fields, he stepped up. I think going into the game, Philly was a little dinged up from last week, probably the same ankle. So Chris talked about it last week. He had a couple of opportunities last week. Probably a lot more open last week than it was this week, and I think he learned from it.
So I'm excited about what Chris Fields did, not just because he took it back, but how much he maybe improved from last week to this week in his punt returns.

Q. Just to follow up quickly, do you have any expectation of what Philly's situation is going forward?
COACH FICKELL: No idea. No idea.

Q. What was halftime like? What was your message to the guys? What kind of vibe did you get from the team going into the half after Chris had given you the lead but it was still a tight game?
COACH FICKELL: Our messages to the team will always stay to the team. But I want to make sure they understood they were in for a fight. I think that was the biggest thing we talked about. You know, you don't figure out how tough you are when you're winning 42-0. You figure out how tough you are when there are situations whether you're down or up by four or up by six, or up by five or you've got to make a play the last 45 seconds of the game. That's when you figure out what kind of toughness you really have, and that's what we're trying to evaluate.

Q. Coach, can you comment on the penalties they had called today. They had considerably more than you guys did.
COACH FICKELL: I don't have the stats on that, and you maybe could ask the officials on that. But they call them as they see them, that's all.

Q. One of the things that's probably new to you in this gig is handling something like Rod Smith who fumbled last week going in for the touchdown. Then obviously a crucial fumble today. How do you handle him and keep his confidence up? He's obviously a guy you're going to lean on the rest of the year?
COACH FICKELL: I'm not down on Rod. He obviously knows he's got to get better. He's going to be hard on himself, and that's what you want to make sure he understands. I came up and reminded him of a guy that I played with that fumbled a few times as a young guy, and people were on him hard. He was on himself hard. But that guy was one of the toughest guys I ever saw, and hardest working guys I ever saw here.
I'm not sure if that really helped define Eddie when he was here. But I made sure Carlos understands that situation that that's happened to some of the great ones. But how you handle it will be the key into your success.

Q. Do you know who your team is now going into Miami? Obviously some unresolved issues, and how tough is that to deal with trying to make a game plan when Friday afternoon or maybe you know earlier, but you don't have the use of guys?
COACH FICKELL: We're going to continue to move forward. Again, we're going to have guys step up. We understand that. Again, there are some things we love to know, but that's one of those adversity things and we'll try to use them as a motivational thing for us. Make sure we understand guys, that we're going to have to overcome a lot of adversities, whether it's on the field or situations like that. How we handle those, things will be key.
It's not just how we handle them game plan wise. I'm not worried about that. We have other guys we put in and feel comfortable with. It's how we handle these things mentally, and the morale of the team handles those things is what I'm most concerned with. That we handle them in the right way and we channel our energy, and don't lose any energy on the things that we have no control over.


Q. Joe, offensively out there today did you guys feel like -- it seemed like a couple times on third down you had some guys and weren't able to convert. Do you feel you left a lot of plays out there offensively?
JOE BAUSERMAN: Yeah, that's one thing I want to do. I want to get back and look at the film. There were a lot of throwaways down there. Maybe I could have squeezed them in, but most important thing is no turnovers.

Q. When you went into the day, did you think you'd play all day or what were your thoughts on the game? Then when you did, what did you get out of playing a complete game?
JOE BAUSERMAN: Actually playing the whole game, it's a long, tiring game. Honestly, I thought Braxton was going to get some playing time. He didn't. But he's got to be ready for anything, and we both have to be ready for next week.

Q. Take us, if you could, just your emotions there at the end? Obviously, they get the fumble and they're able to drive it down, fourth and five they're knocking on the door. Just what you were feeling and your guys were feeling?
JOE BAUSERMAN: It's up-and-down fourth down a couple times there. We're like all right, we'll get the ball back and run the clock out and they converted, so it was a roller coaster.

Q. Is it like series by series where you're trying to just find out if you're going to be in the next time? Or how do you know you're going to be in on the next series?
JOE BAUSERMAN: I expect to be in until they tell me not to be. Got to be ready.

Q. How disjointed a day was it? You had the fourth down pass that went off Stoneburner's hands. You had the fumble by Rod. Looked like you were going to put the game away. How would you describe the day in a nutshell?
JOE BAUSERMAN: It's just one guy. Every time, every series we had, it just seemed like one guy would make it. One guy would come up and not be able to let us continue our drive. I just felt like it was just one guy every time.

Q. Did you ever get a sense that the offense was getting frustrated at all with how things were going, and did you get any sense that the crowd was getting frustrated? It sounded like there were a couple of boos out there at times.
JOE BAUSERMAN: They'll do what they do. I don't really worry about that. I'm going to throw the ball away, and if that's what they want to do, that's up to them.
I don't think we were frustrated. I think at times we wanted to run the ball, and it wasn't exactly what we're used to, so guys were getting a little upset. But we still want to run the ball, and we know we can run the ball.

Q. As a senior and as the starting quarterback, do you go up to a guy like Rod and put your arm around him and talk to him? Maybe take us through anything you might have said to Rod after the game to lift the spirits?
JOE BAUSERMAN: You know, he's going to be down. Crucial fumble at a crucial time, he's going to be down. You can say pretty much anything to him, but he's probably not going to hear it. Probably in the next couple of days I'll get to him and get him some encouragement.

Q. With DeVier and Boom and Jordon already suspended, then Philly goes down, does it reach a point where you lose enough play makers as an offense that it does have to have some effect on what you guys can do?
JOE BAUSERMAN: Not necessarily. I think we do a good job during the week of getting everybody reps and everybody ready to go. You saw that with Devon. He got in there today and made some good plays. Evan played a lot too, Chris Fields. I think we're pretty deep at receiver.

Q. Was it a matter in your running game, were they doing things that just kept you guys off balance? How would you describe it at the line of scrimmage trying to figure it out?
JOE BAUSERMAN: They decided to bring the safeties down and get in the run game. Again, it was, like I said, one extra guy they had down there and we just couldn't get to him.

Q. Joe, you mentioned bringing the safeties in, and they were really crowding the boxes. Is there part of you as a competitor that says I think I can take advantage of that? Do you feel like maybe there were some times you wish you could have and you guys didn't?
JOE BAUSERMAN: The coaches have the best view up there. They could see what was going on. You know, the things we were doing, they just had another guy in the box. So it is what it is.

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