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September 24, 2011

Luke Fickell


COACH FICKELL: I think our number one thing going into this game was special units had to make plays. I mean, that was the top of the list.
And we gotta come out with a good feeling there, that we did a good job there making some plays and trying to use that as a weapon. I think the next thing we had that poise on defense. We had to tackle better. Obviously we can always get better, but I think we had some poise. We gave up a touchdown on a play. You would hope you could make a play there. But we didn't panic, we just kept under control. So we're excited there.
Offensively went in thinking we have to run the football. I know there's some different ways we have to run it. But people are going to make it difficult on you. But when you look at it we did a good job running the football.
And then the last thing, as I said, we had to play with some emotion. I think that's what we wanted, to get back home and get that feel of emotion, get those guys on the sideline, get the students into it. And I think that's what we saw out there today from the beginning of the game, really, to all the way to the end. We're excited about those things.

Q. Braxton's play today, and overall how big a lift did he give this program to turn it from the direction it was last week?
COACH FICKELL: This is a big team thing, and we know there's a lot of guys -- Jordan Hall gave us some lifts. Defensively we got us some lifts. Sometimes it's obviously focused on the quarterback. But he gave us a lift, gave us some things we needed offensively as well as keeping plays alive and things.
But we're not going to throw everything at him right off the bat and say anything more than just it's still about the team.

Q. Did you expect to run him that much today?
COACH FICKELL: Probably not. But you know you wait and see how things really go. You've got some ideas of what's going to happen. And probably some more of those were, he made the decision to run a little quicker, maybe.
But we're going to figure out a way we can continue to get better. And obviously he's a big part of that.

Q. Jordan Hall was just a monster game for you guys, in the return game, run game. We saw a little touch of that in the game against Miami. But how good to get him rolling for all four quarters?
COACH FICKELL: We know our special units are going to be a big part of it. And obviously Jordan can do a lot of different things. He can be a weapon back there.
People have to be aware where he's at, kicking the ball to him, whether it's punts or kickoff returns. But we'll put guys out there that can help him make plays. I think that's one of the things, when you really look at this team, there's some guys playing on those special units that might be seniors, might be their role right now, maybe a third year guy battling to get some more reps, but they're taking it serious.

Q. You had to know that all the spotlight would be on Braxton. How much was the game plan designed to not put all the pressure on him, to make sure that everyone else did their job and lighten the load on him?
COACH FICKELL: It is. It's a lot of that. Just for his mentality, just for his psyche as well as the entire offense. But, ultimately, when it comes down to it, there's one guy that's got his ball on the hands every play besides the center and that's the quarterback. There's a lot of focus there.

Q. How did you think his poise was?
COACH FICKELL: I thought it was good. I think the great thing is sometimes you take a couple shots and to see how you respond and get hit in the back and take a couple of runs. And to see how he handles those things, a dropped pass, different things like that.
So I thought he did a great job. I thought all the guys on the sideline did a really good job. There's a lot of guys around him that have played a lot of football, they're going to help him out.

Q. Offensively it seems like you guys were using a lot of different personnel, a lot of different personnel groupings with three tight ends and different receivers in and out. Where do you think this game was sort of in the process of figuring out what this offense does well and evolving as an offense, how did you sort of go about trying to do that today?
COACH FICKELL: Well, we'll go and evaluate it. Again, the thing is we've got enough guys we think we've just got to figure out how they fit best and trying to get those best 11 on the field sometimes in different situations is tough.
Zach Boren is one heck of a football player, but you can't probably have him on the field every single snap just for his health and some different things you have to do. There's a lot of tailbacks you want to try to get out there as well.
So we're going to continue to try to figure out how to get those best 11.

Q. Looked like Christian Bryant got started at one of the safety spots today. What did you see in him and what prompted that, and just overall the defense in general, you focused on tackling, but what did you focus on especially about Colorado?
COACH FICKELL: We had to have poise. I think sometimes we put enough pressure on ourselves that we want to be perfect. And as you know that doesn't always happen. You gotta eventually make some plays and it's not just about getting so locked into being perfect.
Christian picked it up a little bit. We switched around, had some different personnel groups, tried to get the guys in the secondary on the field as much as possible.
So I don't know if it was actually he got the start. You might have that stat exactly, but --

Q. Something about him the last several weeks?
COACH FICKELL: Christian's a confident guy and he brings a little something to the defense. But again it's the same thing as offense, we're still trying to figure out how to get the best 11 on the field. You can't always dictate that because of what they put in the football game at times. But we're going to try our best to get those best 11.

Q. You talked about how offensively your primary goal was to run the football. What were your passing goals, given how things went last week through the year?
COACH FICKELL: Obviously the whole goal of an offense is to be balanced. I think that's the number one most important thing. To me you don't want to lead the nation in rushing, because if you lead the nation in rushing you probably can't throw the football. If you lead the nation in passing, you probably don't run the football too well. So we've got to continue to figure out how we can be a little bit more balanced in everything we do.

Q. Is Braxton Miller now your quarterback? Because obviously he played throughout, until the very end there. Number two, Devin Smith, just talk about him today, and clearly he seems like he's getting playing time very early now?
COACH FICKELL: Braxton's our quarterback. We're going to continue to compete in practice and probably try and figure out what it is he does best and what he can handle and have obviously some things that the other guys can handle as well.
So you still have to have a plan in case something happens. So we're going to continue to move obviously the whole entire offense forward. Devin Smith, all those young receivers, all those guys are young. Obviously it was nice to see him and Braxton connect a couple times there.
Make some nice catches. I kept hearing from upstairs that that was a catch over there on the other side, but seems like the officials didn't quite think so. But the guys up in the box kept telling me: It's a catch. It's a catch.

Q. Did you think of challenging that?
COACH FICKELL: We called a timeout. That's what -- talking with the official, that's probably to save your true challenge, probably sometimes the best thing to do is to call a timeout and give them another couple minutes to look at it.

Q. Braxton had 14 carries at the half. Did you think that was too many with the hits he took especially the one where, I don't know whether he was trying to hurdle or not, but he was pretty much knocked down?
COACH FICKELL: We are going to have to figure out some self-preservation. But things start to happen. We tried not to stare too much at stats, obviously as you go back to evaluate and look back at it, we'll take a peek at those things.
But sometimes we're more interested in those stats that probably don't come up on that sheet and how they handle it, how their poise is. But what else you know we've got to be smart.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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