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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


September 23, 2013


Luke Fickell


Q.テつ Is it easier when you're playing‑‑ when their preference is to come right at you, run at you?
COACH FICKELL:テつ No, I mean, there's no disguise as to what they are going to do.テつ I don't think it's changed probably in Wisconsin in a long time and that doesn't make it any easier by any means.
The unique thing about college football in general is each and every week, you're going to get something a bit different, and you know, you have to be able to do it, adapt and adjust and do some things different at times, too.
Two weeks ago we were at Cal, and that was a unique, different offense.テつ You wouldn't say that this is a unique, different offense, but in the offenses that you normally play, this is a unique, different offense that is going to run the ball right at you and be a bit more of a smashmouth and do what they do.

Q.テつ I know it's tough to play true freshman but what's holding Mike Mitchell back, is it knowledge of the defense or what's holding him back in your opinion?
COACH FICKELL:テつ Again, sometimes those young guys, their opportunities are going to arise at certain times.テつ And then just like last week, you have a situation, do you want to really put a guy in in that situation, or do you try to hold him and not know, you know, what the future holds, as a redshirt or something like that.
There's a few guys, we have about six of those guys that we had highlighted, that we were going to hold and if we have to, we'll go ahead and put them in.テつ But for right now, the situation has not arisen or really come up that we have to have him.
But it's still a lot‑‑ he still takes reps with us.テつ He still gets the best of both worlds right now, and he's willing and able and the opportunity has to arise.

Q.テつ We've seen linebackers who were not playing defensively earlier in their career earn their stripes on special teams.テつ Is he a guy that you could see play on special teams?
COACH FICKELL:テつ He's listed on basically every single one of them, but it's one of those things Coach does a really good job of.テつ He's on top of it.テつ If a guy is not going to have an opportunity to get reps and play some on those situations defense ‑‑ and it's not just really, truly play.テつ But legitimately down at the other end, getting ones and two reps; that they are actually getting a situation where they are going to get better and they are going to learn the defense, and he does a good job of trying to hold them.

Q.テつ Coach Meyer has said many times this year that the depth situation at linebacker has been one of his big concerns and stuff.テつ Will this be a true test of that this week?テつ What's your feeling about the depth in your room there?
COACH FICKELL:テつ Well, no, it's every week.テつ We are developing young guys.テつ You know, like I said, we got one guy with any true experience and that's Ryan Shazier.テつ And at points in time in most of those games he's gone down, and we've had a true freshman go in and take his spot.
There's definitely that.テつ We have a bunch of guys; we probably have ten guys in that room‑‑ we have a couple guys that are walk‑ons that get a lot of reps.テつ Doesn't matter if they are a walk on or scholarship guy.テつ They are getting reps and they are having an opportunity to get in there.
The thing that you see out of that room is there's a lot of guys that aren't there; in the last four or five years, we have had probably five or six guys that for different reasons are not still in that room.テつ So we are missing those guys that are in their fourth year, maybe they are a fourth‑year walk‑on or a fourth‑year scholarship guy.テつ We've had a couple guys with career‑ending shoulder, career‑ending head injury, career‑ending heart injury.
So there's a lot of different things that have put us in that situation, but we are still developing and we have got some depth issues.

Q.テつ Do linebackers look forward to a week like this where they know sort of what's coming, two running backs at over 140 yards last week at Purdue‑‑
COACH FICKELL:テつ I would hope so.テつ There's a lot of them that do.テつ They will.テつ I mean, again, it's like I said, it's not as tricky as you might think, but that doesn't make it easy.テつ Some people say, wow, this isn't a tough one to prepare for.テつ Oh, yeah, it is.
.テつ Every one is tough to prepare for because sometimes you don't know, and there's different situations and this is a unique offense in the sense that we don't see it every day.テつ We don't see three tight ends on the field or two backs in a lot of the situations and the things we have done whether we are playing our offense or any other offense we've played this year.
I don't think we've played against a 22‑‑ I don't think we've had a snap of 22 personnel this year on a Saturday afternoon, and we'll see plenty of it this week.

Q.テつ Joel Hale was counted on at start of the year to be a leader; how has his play and leadership been?
COACH FICKELL:テつ It's been great.テつ Joel is one of those guys we picked out this past week.
Joel is a unique individual, just like a lot of nose guards, as you know.テつ But he's one of those guys that's not looking for a lot of credit in some different situations.テつ He's a guy that gets subbed in for a lot of different times.
But the one thing you can say about Joel, the reason you say he's a leader, is because he makes others around him better.テつ He truly cares about others around him every bit as much as he cares about himself.
He was more excited for those guys that got an opportunity to play last week, some of the guys from that room, than he was about himself getting an opportunity to play or sack or anything.
So he brings a lot of energy and he brings a lot of leadership in that mind.

Q.テつ For guys like Joel Hale and Chris Carter, guys on the interior line, how big a game is this for those guys?
COACH FICKELL:テつ It's huge.テつ The game is won up front, and I don't care what kind of game it is, I don't care whether it's Cal and they are throwing the ball 75 percent of the time or whoever it is but the game is won up front.テつ And it will be evident this week:テつ Whether it's their offensive line or our defensive line, or our offensive line or their defensive line; that's where the game is going to be won.
I know people are going to say, it's going to come down to making tackles and stopping big plays and things like that, but we do a great job up front, we'll be in good shape.テつ If we don't do a great job up front, we'll have a tough time.
That doesn't mean the back seven don't have to play, as well.テつ The linebackers and things are every bit a part of stopping and fitting that run and being a part of that front seven, but those guys up front is where the game is won and lost.

Q.テつ There's been so much talk the last couple weeks about Kenny Guiton changing over the last year and a half, whether he can play at other schools now.テつ Is it possible you to take us back to the 2011 version and you were looking at your quarterback situation and maybe why he couldn't fit in or what he wasn't doing then at that time?
COACH FICKELL:テつ Well, I've been hit in the head way too many times to go back to 2011.テつ Maybe that's the nose guard in me.
All I can say is, obviously on the defensive side of the ball, we love ‑‑ we love seeing Kenny out there.テつ Whether we are playing against him during camp, he's just a guy that has a great passion and energy.
There's a lot of guys that take some different time to learn the game of football, and there's a lot of guys that take time to figure out how important it is to them.テつ When they do finally make those decisions, the ability is there.
And I think that's one thing that you can give complete credit to Kenny Guiton for is the guy loves ‑‑ he's got a great passion for the game of football, whether he's just found it, whether he had it, it was hidden a little bit, and sometimes when you know what you're doing, that passion shows a little more.テつ When you don't have confidence in really what you're doing, it's hard to show that passion and energy.
So I tried to tell those guys in the linebacker room sometimes:テつ Go sit in Latin class; go pick a Spanish class or go pick French class, and you're a guy that's really going to be intent and you go in there Spanish 2 or Spanish 3 and you pay attention; but you have no idea what they are saying, you're not going to pick anything up.テつ And sometimes that's just how it happens, even in football.
Those guys sit in a linebacker room or the quarterback room and as things are flying by them, and they can't slow the game down, it can steal your passion, it can steal your energy and it can steal your growth.テつ And sometimes it takes guys a little bit longer to do.テつ Whether it's taken him longer or not, you definitely see it from him.

Q.テつ Coach Meyer said in his radio show last week about how much he's enjoyed the work that the scout team has given this year.テつ In your years as a coach, can you put into words how important it is to get a good look in practice every week from that team, especially in a week like this where they are going from one extreme the past couple of weeks, big passing team to power running team and having to switch gears here?
COACH FICKELL:テつ It's invaluable.テつ The unique thing is, like you said, these guys will have to be in here and really good a good job of figuring out who they are, because they don't zone block the same way we zone block.テつ They don't pass set the same way we pass set, and what we expect those guys to be able to do is to do exactly what the other team does, and they have to take pride in it.
We say it, to every one of our groups:テつ Take pride in what you do.テつ I don't care whether you think you're playing on Saturday or not, take pride in what you do, and we'll be a lot better team with those guys taking pride in it.テつ We have tailbacks that have to come in and have to study the steps, the way that their tailbacks take steps.テつ They don't do them the same way we do.テつ
And when the come out on Tuesday, if they don't take the steps the way that we expect them to take the steps, just like Wisconsin will this week, we'll be up their rear every bit as much as we are up our guys' rear.テつ And sometimes they take pride in that, and that's where when they really truly have good groups like that, guys take pride in what they do.テつ Whether they are a walk‑on, scholarship guy, doesn't matter.テつ Every guy is pretty much treated the same and has to have the same effort and intensity and taking pride in what they do.

Q.テつ The Wisconsin quarterbacks, they seem to have two or three, but what does Gordon bring to the table?テつ What jumps out on table when you study him and what makes him dangerous?
COACH FICKELL:テつ You know what, to be honest with you, they are both very good.テつ But I think you see a little bit more‑‑ Gordon, you've seen in the past he was more a jet‑sweep guy.テつ He was a guy that they would put in as their second and third tailback.
But they have got, the speed combined with the ability to break tackles is something that you don't always see.テつ Some guys, you've got in the past, they have had a Ron Dayne or one of those guys that's 250 pounds and a big, bruiser downhill in the past and now with Montee Ball and a couple of these guys, they have guys that have it both.テつ They have got guys that are slashing and have speed ability, but they can run between the tackles and be physical.
Obviously they do a good job at figuring out what it is they are looking for, recruit to it and then develop it.テつ You know, it's no coincidence that year‑in and year‑out, they have got some really good guys doing exactly what they expect them to do.テつ

Q.テつ How much does the offense look pretty much the same for Wisconsin as it did under Bret Bielema or how has it changed?
COACH FICKELL:テつ There's not a ton of differences.テつ I don't know if that was completely by design, that's probably good coaching to realize when you come in and evaluate what you do have and a program that you're taking over and the situation in which you're taking over, you have to give them a lot of credit.
I think last year at the beginning of the year Wisconsin in the first three or four games, maybe were one and two and they were throwing the ball maybe 50 percent of the time and then they switched back after two or three games last year and went back to Wisconsin football and I'm sure it didn't take long for coach to figure it out when he came in there and took over a program that was in good shape to figure out they are going to do what they do well.テつ There's not a whole lot of changes.

Q.テつ Different topic, but a couple guys on this team, whether it's Darryl Baldwin, Chase Farris or Billy Price, who has started on defense and moved to offense or vice versa; at this level, is it hard to do, not that hard to do, for guys to switch from one side of the ball to the other side of the ball, specifically on the two lines.
COACH FICKELL:テつ I think it might be a little bit easier to switch over to the defensive side of the ball, just with the knowledge of what you have to learn maybe.
But the reality is, all those guys have ability, they came here for a reason whether they recruited them or walked on, they still have ability and to really find where your heart is and where your passion is, you just have a chance to play a little bit better.
Just like we talked about, how can you learn the game.テつ Well, if you don't have a passion and pride and love for the game it's really hard to learn.テつ And once you do, you've got a chance to learn it, whether it's offensive line or defensive line.
But the reality is you have to see that light sometimes.テつ You have to have those opportunities and in those situations; you see a guy like Chase Farris have an opportunity to come over to defense.テつ Maybe he was growing and was not thriving as much on offense, but now all of a sudden there's a real opportunity and a light shining down that gives him a little bit more of that passion and energy and you can see him grow.
It's either way, they can do it, but the reality is it's what is deep down in their heart.テつ Just like when we recruit a kid, we say, what position are you going to play.テつ Well, when you get here, a lot of times you'll figure it out.テつ Where your heart is and where your mind is, that's where you'll have a better chance to play because that's where your passion and energy are going to be.

Q.テつ Talk about Jared Abbrederis, their wide receiver, seems to be able to get open and make the big catch.テつ What stands out about him on video when you catch those guys?
COACH FICKELL:テつ He's a gamer.テつ I'm sure he practices the same way.テつ Here is a guy that, whether they are asking him to crack in 22 personnel and get himself in the box and crack the linebacker or the safety moving down in there; or the chance to have the guy that is going to take a shot on him.テつ When there's one wide out a lot of times, there's only one guy that has a chance to sometimes throw the ball up to.
But I think that obviously they have had confidence in him and this is the third year he's going to be that guy.テつ And when you develop confidence, and the coaches and everybody has got confidence in somebody, they give him opportunities, and that's what I think you really see.テつ
Not that Wisconsin always does that, but when you know people are going to load the box and play a lot of single coverage out there, you have a lot of confidence in the guy you've got out there, why not take some shots at him; and you have seen him do it for the last three years and they will continue to do it; not just because of what he ran a 40‑yard dash in or why they recruited him, but for the things he has shown and the unselfishness to block really, really well which gives him an opportunity to have a chance to get open on some of them deep shots.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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