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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


October 21, 2013


Luke Fickell


Q.  Urban talked about Taylor Decker kind of coming of age after the game, what are your impressions of him?  How is he coming along this year to start?
LUKE FICKELL:   Good.  His progress has been what we hoped, getting experience, continuing to play, being around other guys in the group that are very good players, learning how to practice and he's becoming more consistent.  He has great talent.  He's a young kid.  He could easily be a red shirt freshman, we played him a few snaps last year.  He's a second year guy.  His progress has been good.  He's playing solid football for us and continues to get better with a big upside.  He's getting to where we need him for this big 10 stretch.

Q.  The seniors are obviously getting a lot of accolades.  Is there a drop off between the four guys and then to him or is it a pretty good fivesome?
LUKE FICKELL:   It's a very good fivesome.

Q.  Is Chase working with you off the offensive line?
LUKE FICKELL:   He isn't yet.  We'll see where that goes with some of the injuries they've had over there he's been on the defensive line.  We'll see where we go when everything is healthy over there.

Q.  Coach Meyer said how well the offensive line played.  Is this the best up front you've played all year?
LUKE FICKELL:¬†¬† I would say yes.¬† Because of the consistency throughout the game, very aggressive physical approach and ‑‑ the grades are what they are.¬† They graded out high, but that was because they were consistent throughout the game and executed well.¬† So, yeah, I think collectively as a group of five guys put together there wasn't two or three guys played really well and a couple of guys played poorly or average, it was five guys played at a high level.

Q.  Talk about you run the video when you see Philly Brown making blocks downfield.  What does that do for the team and do you see a reaction when you see that?
LUKE FICKELL:   I think that's one of the reasons we continue to get better is the progress we're making across the board and the job description of a wide receiver at Ohio State is not to catch passes, it's to block first and then catch passes second.  That's a good thing.  And not in a negative way but just that those guys blocked their buts off out there.  Philly Brown, Evan Spencer, and we flex out, our tightened is obviously blocking out there, Devan, Chris Fields.  If you go in the game the expectation is whatever we ask you to do you'll do it well.
And because we're becoming balanced in terms of inside run and outside run, that's making us more of a threat to people.  And we've started to do a better job of that this season, perimeter run, and you can only perimeter run if your wide receivers can execute out there.  And they're doing a very good job at that.  That's helped our perimeter run tremendously.

Q.  Can you take us back to maybe right after the Buffalo game.  You talked about Taylor.  He had a hard time with Mack in that opener, and that guy is a great player?
LUKE FICKELL:   No. 3 ranked linebacker in the country on all the scouting boards.

Q.  Did you think, oh, no, this is not going the way we want?
LUKE FICKELL:   No, I've done this a long time.  You have to believe in the decisions you made, you have to believe in the talent you see and you have to know if you stay the course and you do things the right way usually they work out pretty well for you.  And I didn't have any doubt that at some point he would turn the corner and he did the next game and played very solid in the second game of the season and it's continued to just get better and better.  And a lot of that is just confidence.  When you're an offensive lineman and we see a lot of looks and people throw a lot of things at us, to try to get us out of rhythm.  And now he's confident.  He feels good about himself and so do we.  Things are good.

Q.  Do you worry about that confidence being shaken, he had such a tough matchup from the start or did you sense any disappointment?
LUKE FICKELL:   You worry about everything when you coach a guy.  But you're around him every day so it's the approach you use.  And if the approach you use is that I don't have confidence in you, they don't have confidence in themselves.  If the approach you use is the reason you're starting at Ohio State is because you're one of the best offensive linemen around and one of the best on our football team and you continue to preach that to them, then they've got to go out and do it obviously.  And that was the approach we used with him.  Not, wow, you let us down.  You disappointed us.  We're not happy with you.  What are you doing.  It was different.  And if you assess the game, it wasn't 20 bad plays in the game, it was three.  But three bad plays for a corner or three bad plays for a tackle, everybody knows about it.  They don't know about the other 65 that were pretty decent.

Q.  How would you describe Marcus Hall's play this year, and his development over the two years you've had him?
LUKE FICKELL:   The most improved guy we have right now on the offensive line in terms of this season.  I mean as a matter of fact we're watching Penn State and you watch them play Penn State last year and you go, wow, it was just very average.  And you watch them play this past week and it's a whole different guy.  And it's just, again, his confidence, his physical development, his understanding of the system and what we're doing.  And he's in a good place right now physically and mentally.  Is when people are in a good place physically and mentally, life is good and he's playing well, playing really hard and really physical.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
A.He's real quiet around me.¬† But I think around the team and the guys in the unit, he's good.¬† I think he's a pleasant change of pace for us, yeah.¬† But we have ‑‑ that whole group is a bunch of characters, there are five guys that are all like this, but they're all very different, very different (indicating.)
Q.Offensive line can be one of the positions where it seems every year it's either feast or famine to coach.  Is this an enjoyable season to be a line coach here because of how well you guys are playing?
LUKE FICKELL:   So far it's enjoyable, yeah.  It's very enjoyable.
Well, it's enjoyable because it takes a lot of work and a lot of cohesion and it's a slow process bringing offensive linemen along and it's step‑by‑step.¬† When they're in rhythm and they're all in sync and they're all coordinated then when you get that, really good things can happen for you.¬† And that takes a while.
But I thought we got into that rhythm last year, about the time we played Michigan State and I think we're starting to get into that rhythm now with that group, as well.  And that's part of it, too, is it doesn't happen as quickly as maybe some other things, but, yeah, it's enjoyable, first of all, to go in there with the attitude they have and to be around them and to watch them work, and they don't go out to practice, like yesterday, they didn't go out to practice and pat themselves on the back, they worked.  And it was good.
And so when you're around guys that are willing to work hard, take coaching, and have talent and they enjoy what they do.  It's funny, too, because they all want to get better, still.  Every one of them is talking about what do I have to do to get better.  You've got to keep them motivated.  We keep them on edge a little bit.

Q.  Bill O'Brien came from Penn State with some tough situations.  He still did well on the recruiting trail.  What have you seen about the pay Penn State has been able to carry themselves, and how do you think they'll be able to be a player in the game?
LUKE FICKELL:   Well, I just think that he's doing a good job overall, considering all the circumstances that have been presented to him.  He's done a good job of preparing his team.  He's doing a good job of recruiting and selling his vision for his program.  And when you do those things and you're a good person, and obviously he wouldn't have gotten that job if he wasn't a good person, a good football mind.  So people can relate to him, I'm sure, and people probably like him.  They have a football tradition there, too.
All things put together, I think he's focusing on what positives he can sell and what they're doing well and what their future is and not focusing on the things he can't control that came before he got there.¬† That combination ‑‑ I think ‑‑ and then their proximity to a lot of players on the east coast helps them as well.¬† And they recruit hard.¬† They don't just hope you come.¬† They recruit guys.¬† They go after them and recruit them hard.¬† People want to be loved and liked and recruited.¬† So they're doing that, too.

Q.  We all know that this offensive line is playing well.  Can you give some context in your career dealing with offensive lines how often you have a group with this experience or how often you have a group of this kind of cohesion?  Does that happen a lot to you or is this kind of rare?
LUKE FICKELL:¬†¬† It happens some.¬† I don't know that it's rare.¬† I hope in my case to say it would be rare ‑‑ you know, I think it's happened the last stop it was at I know it happened.¬† I know it happened at the stop before that.¬† So every place I've been at some point we've had good offensive lines.¬† And I think that's what we strive to do.¬† I understand the importance of that.¬† If our offensive line plays well we have a really good chance to win a game.¬† If they don't play well there's a very slight chance that we can win a game.¬† It's my obligation to get an offensive line to play at a high level so we have a chance to win every game.¬† I take great pride in doing that. ¬†And if you have talent and you have players that will work hard and you have players that are coach abdominal, then you can put together a good offensive line, as long as it's based on fundamentals and effort.¬† We talk about technique and toughness for our offensive line.¬† Those are the two trademarks of what we want to be.¬† Good fundamentals and tough outfit.¬† And we practice that way.¬† Because we practice that way every day then things happen in the game, we're prepared to be in those kind of battles and play that way.¬† So it's fun when it does.¬† But I've been around it enough, because I've been doing this a long time, I guess, that I've been exposed to good O‑line play.¬† So that's my expectation.¬† That when my group jogs out on the field they're going to play good, be well coached and be ready to go and help us win games.¬† Anything less than that I'm not doing my job.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
LUKE FICKELL:¬†¬† They're competitive, but they are not competitive in that, why did he grade higher than me, why was he this, they're not that ‑‑ that's slightly selfish.¬† They're not that at all.¬† They couldn't be happier for Andrew Norwell being champion or Jack being co‑champion.¬† This guy first team, this guy second team.¬† And when we talked about Marcus having maybe his best game of the season, probably was for sure.¬† The first thing we did when we walked into the meeting room and I summarized the game before we watched the film, we're talking about the grades and talking about some corrections.¬† Somebody said I think we should have three claps for Marcus.¬† In our room when you get three claps, that's a big deal.¬† If somebody comes in, Coach Bruce comes in to visit, it's three claps for Coach Bruce, ready, set, go, we give them three claps, and it's all in unison.¬† When you do something really good that's how they acknowledge it.¬† So it's really a pretty good thing.¬† And they're proud of Taylor, too.
But it's a group that wants everybody to do well and doesn't care who gets the credit and that's the beautiful thing about offensive lines, when you can get that, that's when it's fun to coach them is when they don't care who gets the credit.

Q.  Penn State is pretty good?
LUKE FICKELL:   Yes, they are, they're very good.

Q.  Could you talk about what you might have to do against them?
LUKE FICKELL:   I think they're 17th in the country in rush defense.  And I think it's a trademark of their tradition there.  They've always tried to be a good run defense.  They've always had good line play and good linebacker play, and that combination with a physical approach, I mean, I think that they're offensive tries to run the ball, too.  So they practice against that.
But I think it's just the nature of the way they're coached.  Their defensive schemes are sound.  So it's hard to try to figure out schemes where you can out number them or take advantage of them.  You've got to out execute them and you've got to out block them and be more physical and that's your challenge.  So good fundamentals, very physical, well coached, good schemes and a lot of pride.  And you put that combination together you're going to have 117 yards a game rush defense.  And what are they, overall, something like 14th or something in the country?  Overall defense.  So they're a good defensive team that has had an extra week to get ready for us.  So another team has had two weeks, Iowa had two weeks, northwestern had two weeks.  Here we go again.  We've got to get ready.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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