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January 4, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
THE MODERATOR: We have with us offensive coordinator Gary Crowton and Jacob Hester and Matt Flynn. If we can start off with opening statements on the game and then we'll take questions.
Coach, we'll start with you.
COACH GARY CROWTON: I'm excited to be here, and this is where as a coach you want to be at this time of year. And our team has gone through a real tough schedule and a lot of real close games and we've had a lot of fun getting here.
We're looking forward to the game now that we're in our preparation. So it's been a fun ride so far, and we still have a lot of work ahead of us in our minds.
JACOB HESTER: Same as coach. I'm really happy to be here. It's a pleasure and honor to be able to play a team like Ohio State. So much tradition. It took a while to get here, a long time since we found out we were playing in this game, but we're finally here and putting a game plan in and just ready to play.
MATT FLYNN: On behalf of the team, we just feel real blessed to be here. We'll be blessed to be part of the game. I think it's two great programs with two great traditions going at it on Monday night. And it's going to be a lot of fun. And, you know, we prepared hard and done a lot to get here. So we're excited and we feel very fortunate for it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Gary, this is for you and Matt. From what I understand, last night, Gary, you were still watching tape until like 11:30 at night, the last guy looking at tape. It just seems like you never stop coaching. And I guess, Matt, what's that like having a guy that involved with you, where he never stops coaching, and, Gary, what's it like to never stop coaching?
COACH GARY CROWTON: For me, I love the coaching part of it. I'm very fortunate to be around some outstanding players who listen to me. And, I tell you, I want to do the best job I can in helping the players prepare so they can have the success that I think they deserve to have based on their work ethic. And it's been a lot of fun coaching all these guys. And Matt, as the quarterback, it's been a lot of fun.
We've watched a lot of tape and very much enjoyed it.
MATT FLYNN: I think it's a good thing to have a coach that does that all the time. It's one of the reasons we're here. If Coach Crowton didn't spend as much time coaching us and teaching us this year, because we installed a lot of new things this year offensively, we had a lot of young guys, I don't think we would be here today if it wasn't for that.
So it's a lot of fun, because it's a lot of fun to go in there and just talk football. Not even talking about game plan but just talking football and different defensive schemes. It's been helpful for me to grow as a quarterback this year.
Q. Can you guys just talk about having a running game where you have so many different talented backs, the pluses of that and also are there any minuses?
COACH GARY CROWTON: Well, we have a plethora of running backs, led by Jacob Hester. And the thing that Jacob does is he gives us great leadership. Where what I like and see in Jacob is he understands what we're trying to accomplish in the running game, not just using skill, which he has, and the good running back feel that he has, but he understands the scheme and the philosophy of each player that we're trying to present to him, which makes him a patient runner.
At the same time, he's very physical. When he gets through those holes, as you see on some of the highlights, you see him deliver some good blows, and then he's got enough speed and athleticism where he can have the big runs like you've seen also on the field.
Now, with the other backs around him -- they're outstanding backs also -- but what they've done is they give our backs a chance to stay healthy through a tough schedule. We play a lot of very physical defenses in this conference and outside the conference.
And now, as we're getting into this championship game, we have a healthy staple of running backs led by our veteran, Jacob Hester. So that's exciting.
JACOB HESTER: I agree with coach. To have five guys who can really exceed at this level is a great problem to have. Every guy brings something different to the table.
It's not only me. Keiland, he can rush for 100 yards. So could Charles, Richard, all of us. Just fortunate to be one of the leaders on the team and be able to bring those young guys up, but they're great running backs and I'm just honored to be in the same back field as those guys.
Q. Matt and Jacob, obviously it's been a crazy season. After you guys lost to Arkansas, how likely did you think it was that you would find yourself here, and with that in mind, that last week, how interesting or exciting did you find it when things sort of fell enough at least into place for you guys to make it here?
MATT FLYNN: After the Arkansas game, that was probably as hard of a loss that I've ever had to go through. It was one of those things we thought we had lost our opportunity to be able to play in this game. And I think everyone thought about that. And it was just funny how things worked out and what a difference a week can make. It's from the bottom to the top in a week. And we didn't really think it was that likely. And when we were hearing those scores on the plane ride back from Atlanta, me and Jacob were sitting by each other.
We were just -- we really couldn't believe -- we couldn't believe the scores. And we just -- we were just in shock, really. And we're excited and we feel very blessed to have this opportunity, because we knew it was a long shot to get in it.
JACOB HESTER: I know for me, you know, after we did lose, I knew that we still had a lot to play for an SEC championship. I knew there was still a small hope if a couple things happened and went our way and we won our game that we still had a shot. We went out there -- it was hard getting ready for the SEC championship, after you lose a game like that in overtime. And a lot of people think your national title dreams are gone.
But our coaches just kept preaching that we still had a shot. We needed to win our conference and everything else would take care of itself, and luckily it did. And I don't think anybody would have scripted it this way, but I'm just glad to be here and I'm glad everything happened the way it did.
Q. Gary, with Ryan in the offense, you want to try to keep him composed and make sure that he doesn't try to do too much. With Matt having sat out the SEC championship game, as a veteran, he knows all the offense. Is there a sense of trying to keep him within himself and perform the offense and run the offense and try not to do too much because the stage is so big?
COACH GARY CROWTON: Well, no. I want him to do everything in this game. I feel like the Arkansas game, the loss in that game in that triple overtime, I thought Matt played outstanding. As you look back, he separated his shoulder on the first touchdown run and had to get shots and had to get another shot in there to numb the pain a little bit in overtime.
I thought it was one of the most gutty performances I had ever seen, and, at the same time, I could see his development as a player that could make plays when under pressure. He came back. We scored twice on one series in that game when they called a timeout on the quarterback draw and then he came back with another play. Just the composure. And I feel like he's in a position right now at the end of his career where he's just playing great football.
So as he sat out that game at the Tennessee game, he tried to prepare -- he did everything he could to prepare for that game. So it wasn't like he mentally wasn't ready to prepare. And he probably could have played a little bit. We were afraid it would cause some permanent damage to the shoulder, and we didn't want to do that.
And I think that because of his preparation he's right on track to continue into this game and now that he's had the month off or how many days it's going to be, 38 days, without it being hit, the doctors tell me he's 100 percent. So I feel real good about going into this game with a veteran quarterback that's been in some really, really tight games.
And I feel very confident. At the same time, Ryan Perrilloux has had opportunities to really grow. He's had opportunities to play in the middle Tennessee game against a non-conference opponent and did well, and then he got back and played in the Tennessee game, a championship game.
That's kind of how Matt got started in the Peach Bowl, a few years back, where he got that opportunity and it was very vital in his growth. So now we have the ability to have two quarterbacks that have played and been in some stressful situations as a quarterback. And hopefully that will help us going into this game.
Q. Do you feel the need to stay within yourself?
MATT FLYNN: Yeah, I think one of the things going into this season that I wanted to do was really try to play within myself and try to not do things that I shouldn't do and try to make too many plays.
But I feel like I've grown as a quarterback this year. And I am going to stay within myself. I'm not going to try to make things happen. Because I've learned a lot this year about playing the quarterback position. And there's a couple times where I did try to make too much and bad things happened. So I've learned a lot.
I've learned to play smart, and I think that I feel like I'm going to go out there and try to play smart, play within myself, but also try to make plays and try to get my team in the best situation I can.
And that's one thing I've tried to do all year: I've tried to get the ball out quick and try to get it to play-makers. That's my main goal, and just really run the offense. Keep everybody calm. Put everybody in the right position. Get everyone, make sure everybody knows exactly what the play is, what the check is and try to get it off on time.
So that's my main goal going into this game.
Q. Matt, you touched on it a little bit. How did you remain so patient while waiting for your chance to start?
MATT FLYNN: It was tough. I grew a lot. I grew a lot as a person. I learned a lot about myself and a lot of patience. It was just one of those things that you gotta just keep preparing every week. You gotta just be mentally tough about it. And I just kept telling myself these past couple of years that I needed to keep working hard, keep preparing and good things will happen. And I was fortunate enough that I was able to have this last year, my fifth year.
And I've had a lot of fun. And it's been an incredible year. And I've just been happy to be a part of this great team and be with all these great guys this year and have the success we've had.
And I really truly wouldn't give up this year for four years starting anywhere else.
Q. A year ago the Saints sort of captivated this city in their return and what this city went through a little over two years ago. Do you guys still feel a sense of what's going on here and what it still looks like just a couple blocks from here?
JACOB HESTER: I know always coming down here for state championships, it's a city I love and I always want to be at. When that happened, it was definitely devastating to not only New Orleans but surrounding areas like Baton Rouge. Even last year when we came down for the Sugar Bowl you could tell just us being here brought some life to the city, and this is even a bigger stay. So us being down here, all the locals seem really excited. They seem happy that we're here. So hopefully us playing this game can bring some more life to the city and can help out in any way it can help.
Q. Matt and Jacob, your coach has earned the reputation of being a gambler, rolling the dice this year. Has anything he's done this season surprised you at all, a play call or going for it on 4th down?
MATT FLYNN: I think I speak for everyone on the team in saying we're not surprised at all. I think that you look at the Florida game, we went for it on 4th down a number of times, and I think if we would have gone to the sideline any one of those and Coach Miles would have called for the punt team, I think we would have looked at him like he was crazy.
It was just one of those things, the feeling of the game, it was late in the game and just a feeling of it. Everyone knew that we were going to go for it. So it was one of those things that just felt natural. And I don't think that anybody questions any calls that he's made and we're happy about it. We all know that it just makes the players feel good that he has confidence in us, confidence enough to let us go out there and make plays and really put the game on our shoulders.
JACOB HESTER: I just think we prepare so hard and so much -- Coach Miles loves to practice. That's his thing to do. He feels comfortable because he knows that all those fakes you see, trust me, we work on those for hours upon hours. I mean, they're not just something we throw together.
So he does feel comfortable in the fact that he can run fakes, and, you know, all those 4th downs, you can't do that without a great defense. And our defense being able to stop people in short field is really a pretty good reason for him to be able to call a fake or to go for it on 4th down. So not all the credit goes to the offense; the defense is a big reason why we can do that.
Q. Coach, can you talk about Ohio State's defense ranked number one in the country and what you've seen on film and tape of them?
COACH GARY CROWTON: They're really good. And like I said, I had a lot of time to watch film, and, I'll tell you, I have a great respect for what they do. Looking at them, they know when to gamble defensively and they know how to gamble. They disguise things well. They have straight coverages, zone coverages off of their blitz looks and vice versa. And so you really have to be sharp, and we've really worked hard on them. At the same time, their personnel is outstanding. They're big up front, strong, they have speed and size in the secondary.
So they're a very good defense. We give them a lot of strength. So we're trying to really prepare well and use our speed and our speed in decision-making because of recognition, so that we can throw on time, throw in rhythm, find their holes and execute quickly so that their defense is on their heels. That's kind of what we want to do, because they're an outstanding defense.
And we've got to focus on one play at a time, recognize what they're doing and then move to the next play without letting what happened in the past affect us as the game goes on. So that's kind of what I've been preaching as we study these guys.
If we went into all the specifics of each position defensively, we've watched them all, but, at the same time from a scheme and a philosophical standpoint, what we have to do is -- it's recognizing what they're doing and take advantage of the small holes and windows that they give us. And they're there. They're not big, but they're there. And I feel that our preparation has been very good.
Q. Just as fast as an SEC defense as you look at it?
COACH GARY CROWTON: Number one defense in the country right now statistically. And I think they're outstanding. As far as -- I don't know what all 40 times and all that, but they look really good on film. And I give them all the credit.
Q. Jacob, what are some of the things about playing in the dome that you like, going back to high school, just as a player?
JACOB HESTER: Well, being from Louisiana, your high school days, if you made it to the Superdome means you made to it the state championship means you were doing something good, it was always a big game. Any time you were in the Superdome for us in Louisiana, it's a big game no matter what the situation is. It's always special being down here. You always get a little jolt in the engine when you walk into the Superdome.
So it's definitely special to the whole team, but specially us guys from Louisiana.
Q. Matt, did you learn some stuff playing in the dome having played there earlier in the season or any adjustments?
MATT FLYNN: Yeah, this will be I think my fourth time to be here in the dome, counting the national championship in '03 and the Sugar Bowl last year and Tulane this year. It's just a special place to play. Like Jacob said, you get a jolt of energy a little bit. Even coming out here practicing. It just seems like there's a little more energy on the field when we're practicing. So coming from Texas, I really didn't know much about it. When I got down here, it was just one of those things that I could tell everyone just respects the opportunity to come here, play in the Superdome.
Q. Jacob, can you kind of just talk about being a high school nose guard to the starting tailback in a national title game and walking down and seeing guys with beer guts wearing No. 18? And, Matt, talk about seems like he's turned into a folk hero, if you would, kind of among the LSU fan base?
JACOB HESTER: Well, usually don't hear about nose guards switching to running back, but it was something that I have done my whole life was play running back. But in high school we really needed some defensive linemen. And we passed the ball so much having John David Booty as our quarterback, that running backs never got the ball.
But one game a couple guys got hurt. And my offensive coordinator, who is now my father-in-law, put me in the game at running back. I had 200 yards, and they told the defensive coordinator, I think our best player on offense is playing nose guard.
So they switched me over and I played everywhere. I like playing different positions. I played receiver my senior year. So I've been all over the field. It's something I enjoy just playing wherever they need me to play.
MATT FLYNN: Jacob Hester is the most popular guy I know (laughter). I think he's just become -- I don't know, everyone loves him. And I think around Baton Rouge there's been a bigger popularity of Elvis this year, too. I think everyone is starting to listen to it because of No. 18.
Q. Matt, can you talk about obviously you and Jacob are good friends, seems like you hang out all the time, things along those lines, can you talk about what he means to you being in the back field knowing you've got such a special player back there any time you hand the ball off or do whatever Jacob needs to do that you've got faith in him that he's going to get the job done?
MATT FLYNN: I think having Jacob in the back field, he's played a lot of football in his four years here. And having him back there, you know, he's such a secure player. You know nothing bad's going to happen when he's back there. We're always going to get in the right situation.
Just feels good as a quarterback to have that security back there, and just whenever things are getting out of hand or things are getting crazy in a game, I think me and Jacob, we do a good job of just getting everyone calmed down and getting in the right situation.
Q. Jacob, could you just comment, you've seen Matt sit back and back up JaMarcus, and before that back up the backup, and he's been in the shadows for a while and he finally got his opportunity, but you get to see it from another perspective, as another set of eyes, could you comment on that?
JACOB HESTER: What Matt's been able to do, a lot of guys couldn't do it. It shows what kind of character Matt has for him to have so much talent and behind so many good quarterbacks. I mean, he was behind the number one draft pick last year. But it was a battle even for that. He battled for that job and barely lost that job. So everybody knows he has so much talent. He could have transferred so many different times or been hateful to the coaches or not wanting to play, but Matt's never had that attitude. He always came to work every day. Prepared like he was a starter.
When he got his shot he proved to everybody why he waited around and what all the coaches saw in him. So I don't think anybody else in the country could have done what Matt did. It takes a lot of character and shows what kind of person he is to do what he did.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
We have Ciron Black, Brett Helms, and Early Doucet. Gentlemen, if you could make an opening statement on the upcoming game with Ohio State.
And we'll start on the end with Ciron.
CIRON BLACK: I'm happy to be here. It's going to be a big game. It's going to be very electrifying. They're a great team. I can't take anything lightly, especially with this team. They're great.
I mean, they wouldn't be number one if they didn't deserve to be here. So we gotta come out and play.
BRETT HELMS: Like Ciron said, they're a very good team. We'll have to play our A game to beat them. As offensive line we take pride in blocking them, so we're going to have to do a very good job at our job, especially -- whether or not -- just I got to give something to him; he's a very good player and we're going to have to play our A game to beat them.
EARLY DOUCET: We're honored to be here playing in the national championship game. We're looking forward to getting out there. It's been a long wait. We've been practicing real hard and we're just waiting on our opportunity to get out there with the healthy football team and just show America what we have to offer.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Are you guys kind of maybe in awe, is that the first ever opening statement to a press conference you guys ever do? Talk about this week, the way things have been organized, the hoopla with a bowl game like this?
CIRON BLACK: I mean, it's crazy. Me, myself, I've never been in a situation like this. As a kid you grow up dreaming about stuff like this. You can never see yourself playing in a game like this. And now that it's here, I mean, it's kind of like a dream. But at the same time, you gotta wake up because you gotta play. Once the ball snaps, it's time to play.
BRETT HELMS: It's really a business trip, that's what it is. There's some fun early in the week and going out to eat at restaurants and all the BCS stuff. But when it comes down to it, it's about a football game and you gotta be prepared. And it's a business trip.
Q. Early, continuing on that injury theme we talked about next door, would you talk about the ways you are limited when you were coming back and what you couldn't do? Obviously you could run, but what kind of things could you not do and how hard was that to get through?
EARLY DOUCET: Well, I was kind of limited in running deep, stretching the field. I wasn't able to just open up and run like I wanted to, but more the underneath routes, that's some of the things that I was able to do. So I felt that I still could go out there and give my best effort and do the best that I could with those types of routes.
Q. Brett, you've seen Matt Flynn in the past couple of years sit behind JaMarcus Russell and wait and wait his turn. What have you seen from him? Obviously Jacob was just saying he doesn't think a lot of players could have done that, just sat there and wait, just being in the shadows?
BRETT HELMS: He was very patient. Very patient. And that's what I got a lot of respect for the guy for sitting there for so long and just buying his time.
Every year he was here that Jamarcus played, he was just getting mental reps. He came out, even though he hadn't been a starter until this year, I think he really was a leader and jumped in really quick and had a head start on a guy who hadn't had the mental work.
Q. Can you guys speak specifically about just what kind of problems a guy like James Laurinaitis causes for you guys? I know you can't tell me how you're going to block him or anything, but what kind of problems does a guy like that cause for you guys?
CIRON BLACK: Well, he's just a great linebacker. He's very fast, and he has strength, too. We just have to take our proper techniques and our proper steps. We have to know exactly what we're doing, because if we mess up, you know, he can hurt us. We just really have to know what we're doing, to be honest with you.
Q. Is he compared to anybody you've seen?
CIRON BLACK: I don't think so. I think that he has unbelievable speed and strength. And you go block him, and you're watching film on him, he gets all blocks. That's the thing that he does very well. It's hard to block him for a long period of time. He sheds blocks. That's what we're going to have to do, we're going to have to stay on him and cover him up.
Q. I believe they're third in the country in sacks. When you watch him, is it from just the pressure they're able to get with four or are they pretty complicated with blitzes, what were you guys able to see on how they're able to get so much pressure?
CIRON BLACK: Well, they do bring pressure as far as blitzes are concerned. But straight pass rush they're very good with that. They're very good with their hands, they're strong and fast. They're basically all-around great defensive lines. We really have to be on our Ps and Qs.
BRETT HELMS: They do mix it up. But watching film and watching their games, they've gotten a lot of sacks with four-man rushes. That's going to be big for us. We have to do our job and step up. If they only bring four, we should have time.
Q. Early, was there a time in your life when you thought you were going to play basketball mainly, be a college star and maybe NBA, and what made you focus on football?
EARLY DOUCET: Well, definitely all growing up, basketball was my sport. I really didn't start playing football until I got to high school. And I kind of hit my growth spurt real early. So everyone thought I was going to be six-five and go to the NBA and all that kind of good stuff.
But I got introduced to football in high school. Started hitting the weight room a little bit. My shot kind of got off and I kind of stopped growing. So I sat down with my high school coach and we kind of looked at the options I had. And football was the option that I went with, and I'm very pleased with my decision. I don't really have no regrets.
Q. And your sister raised you for the most part. What does she and her husband mean to you?
EARLY DOUCET: Oh, a lot. They've mentored me throughout my high school career, college career, and I think I've learned a lot from them. They just taught me be humble and thank God for everything that you got and just be a great all-around person.
I think it's not all about the sports. If you're a great person, then people will like you, and just be a great all-around guy.
Q. If all three of you could answer this. Your coach has been quite the risk-taker this year going for it on 4th down, trick plays, unconventional calls. Has anything he has done this year, has it surprised you at all?
BRETT HELMS: I don't think so. I think going back to the Florida game, you know, all the 4th downs we had. As the offensive line, you hate punting the ball. We always want to go for it. When he called those in the game, I don't think we were surprised at all. And that's what we wanted to happen.
EARLY DOUCET: Yeah, I think it just goes with him having confidence in his players. You know, if you feel that your players can go out and execute, you shouldn't have any problem making those calls on 4th down or any situation in the game. That's why you go out to practice and practice on those plays and execute them and do them day in, day out. And that way, when it's called in the game, it's like nothing.
CIRON BLACK: Just what Early said. Every day we practice and Coach tells us, I have faith in you, which says a lot about him because he has faith in us to do it. Every day we come out and we practice and we say, if we get put in this situation and we need to go for it, we have trust that you'll get it done.
We take that into account how Coach trusts us to go out there and do our jobs.
Q. Ciron and Brett, could you talk about Jacob? And obviously you guys have talented running backs out there, but there's a reason he gets the rock more than the rest of them. Just talk about his character and your all's confidence in him in carrying the ball?
BRETT HELMS: The guy's a workhorse. And as offensive line, that's the type of guy you like to see. He never takes plays off, gives it his all, has great vision, hardly ever misses cuts. Just his style of play, I think that's what all the offensive line likes to see when he's in there, is the physical play that doesn't run out of bounds. Tries to lower his shoulder, run people over. That's why he gets the rock like he does.
CIRON BLACK: You said about his character. He really does have a lot of character. He's the type of guy you want to be around off the field as well as on the field. I mean, he's married, stuff like that. He's a leader on our team. A lot of young guys look up to him.
As far as on the field, his actions speak for themselves. I mean, he runs the ball hard. Every single play, hurt, anything, whatever the coach asks him to do, he does it. You have to respect that about him.
Q. Early, you talked about the injury. How difficult was it to miss almost five games? And second part, what was the toughest part about the rehab process?
EARLY DOUCET: Well, I mean, I like to work hard anyway. So I don't think that was a problem. Just the fact that it was my senior year and I set some individual goals for myself and being out five games kind of limited me from reaching those goals. But at the same time I looked at it in a positive way where we had some young guys that needed the game experience, so it gave them an opportunity to grow and to help the team grow as a whole.
So that time off, it just allowed those young guys to get in there and just get better, which would make the whole team better.
Q. For all three of you guys, it's been a crazy season, for you guys in particular, but throughout all of college football. After you lost to Arkansas, how likely did you think it would be that you would make it here to the title game, and what do you think it says about college football that you guys are here?
BRETT HELMS: You know, I think some of the dreams were shattered and some people thought that we weren't going to get here. But with that being said, we had the SEC championship coming up, and that's what we set our sights on at the beginning of the season to win.
So, you know, some people think our shots were shattered and we're down, but in reality you wake up the next morning, look, we've got a chance to win the SEC championship, and we knew some things could happen where we could be back in it. And they did.
But our mind-set was on the championship game after the loss.
CIRON BLACK: You know, it goes to show you if you work hard you can really get the things you really, really want. After the loss, you know, everybody hurt and you're in the locker room, everybody is down, everybody is feeling like everything is lost, when in reality it's really not because we have an SEC championship to play for, in my opinion, as really something to play for.
So we talked amongst ourselves and we talked, we said, hey, we gotta play, you know, because Tennessee is going to come in here ready to kick our butts. If we don't play, they're going to roll over us. So that's what we had to do.
EARLY DOUCET: I mean, we kind of had the national championship hopes still in the back of our mind. We always knew it was a possibility, but we were kind of down on the loss for just that moment. But when Monday came, you know, we were back focusing, just wanted to prepare for Tennessee and go out and play a great SEC championship game. Because the last time we were there, we got embarrassed by Georgia. So we knew going into that game we didn't want that to happen again.
Q. Early, some of your teammates talked about the Superdome, how it's a magical and exciting place for them to play. Jacob Hester talked about state championships. I know at Saint Martinville you guys never quite got there. But was that a place that you dreamed about playing in and is it an exciting place for you to play?
EARLY DOUCET: Definitely. You know, growing up, I was unfortunate to get here in a state championship in high school, but last year I got an opportunity to play in the Sugar Bowl. It was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had. So just to come back here again, you know, you kind of know and you feel comfortable here. You know, it's kind of like your second home outside of Tiger Stadium. I think it's a great feeling for all of us to be here again.
Q. Guys, obviously one more point than them accomplishes the goal that you're here for. But what in your eyes would be a good offensive performance? What are you looking to accomplish out there?
EARLY DOUCET: Well, I think eliminating some of the mistakes that we made early on throughout the season, the pre-snap penalties and just limiting those things.
And I think the team that makes the less mistakes will be the team that's victorious.
BRETT HELMS: Yeah, I think as offensive line, we can't give any sacks up. Can't have negative plays like that. Puts you in 2nd and 15, 2nd and, you know, long yardage. And like you said, you gotta cut out the pre-snap penalties if you're going to beat a team like Ohio State. You can't have any.
CIRON BLACK: Also, as far as missed assignments and stuff like that, that's something we can control. There's no physical involvement in that. Missed assignments are key. If you miss an assignment, somebody is really going to pay for that. It can really hurt us going from 2nd and 5 to 2nd and 15. So if we eliminate missed assignments and stuff like that, I think we'll be fine. We just have to not take anything lightly, just go in there and play our game.
Q. Brett and Ciron, what's the difference in blocking for five different running backs? Is there anything you do play to play, subtle differences you have to do for each one of the guys coming in? And the other thing is have you guys ever been in a situation where you're at the bottom of the pile and you kind of look around and you go, oh, dude I didn't even know he was in the game carrying the ball, because they just kind of run in like that?
CIRON BLACK: That's very true. Half the time, to be honest, I really don't know who is in the game, because, you know, most time all I see is their helmets anyway because they're short. As far as -- it doesn't really make a difference until I see their backs, see them running down the field like the big run Jacob had, stuff like that. So that's what you want to see all the time.
But as far as who is in the game, when you see little Trindon in the game, you know he's going to scoot.
BRETT HELMS: Yeah, I don't think there's -- from play to play with the different guys in the back field, we don't block it any different. Like he said, we hardly know. We've got so many packages and personnel we hardly know who's in the game at any given time. So we go out there, block the play regardless of who is back there.
Q. Brett and Ciron, is there any explanation that you all have found in reviewing the season as to the pre-snap problems with the penalties?
BRETT HELMS: I think it's -- when you have those penalties, all it is is lack of focus. And I don't think there's much you can do about that except for being more disciplined. And I don't think there's any solution to it. You just gotta go out there, have your head on and get your head in the game and you can't have them.
CIRON BLACK: Right. It's really on the player, you know, as far as who it is. It's up to that person. He can have so much going on in the back of his mind about what he's about to do, who he's about to get, calls he has to make, and a snap count is the last thing that comes into mind. But that's probably the most important. And there's some things that some people forget. I forgot myself sometimes. So that's one thing we really have to work on, have to be strong about.
Q. Brett, looking at Ohio State on film, especially their fronts, the different looks that they give you, do they compare to anybody you played this year, are they more versatile or more basic?
BRETT HELMS: I don't know if I'd compare them to another defense we've played. They do a lot of things. They do a good job of disguising of when they're blitzing and when they're not, with their front four, like I said earlier, they get a lot of pressure with just four. And with that being said, the linebackers can drop and coverage and pass, which is tough to pass on, if you're getting pressure with four. So I don't know if I would really compare them to a defense we played against.
Q. Early, you kind of alluded to it earlier, the Georgia game where you guys were embarrassed. Obviously Ohio State, that's the theme this week, that they were embarrassed in last year's national championship game. You know they'll be fired up. As a player you know what it's like to try to get that behind you how do you match that intensity and how do you sustain it, I guess, because you know they're going to come right out of the gates hot?
EARLY DOUCET: It's a national championship game. It pretty much speaks for itself. You don't want to go out in one of the biggest games of your life and not bring your best foot forward. So I think as a whole team we're going to take that as our motivation and come out on Monday and play a great football game.
BRETT HELMS: Yeah, there's not much you can say. It's a national championship. And if you need motivation to get motivated right now, you're already in trouble. So I think that the national championship game, that just speaks for itself and I think we're going to come out ready to play from the opening kick-off.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts