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December 29, 2002

Mark Dantonio

Michael Doss

Donnie Nickey


Q. Mark, can you talk about how difficult it is to defend Miami, a team that's so balanced?

MARK DANTONIO: Well, yeah, I think that, you know, they obviously have a lot of weapons. They run the ball effectively and they also throw effectively. It will present a challenge to us and we're looking forward to it.

Q. Coach, talk about the match-up between Gamble and Andre Johnson against each other one-on-one; talk about that match-up?

MARK DANTONIO: I think it's a good match-up I think that, you know, we've seen good receivers in our conference. We see it every week. You know, it will be a great match-up, and a challenge for us. He's a good football player. It will be run after catch. How we contain him after the catch will be the important thing.

Q. Do you feel like Gamble could wear down late in the game?

MARK DANTONIO: He had 130 plays against somebody.

MIKE DOSS: Penn State.

MARK DANTONIO: So I think he'll be okay.

Q. Coach, have you faced a team this year that's able to do what Miami did?

MARK DANTONIO: Probably not yet. Nobody's run the ball very effectively against us. Thus far I think Penn State coming into our game was pretty effective on run and pass. So, we try to make the game one dimensional. We have been successful so far.

Q. Mike, is this the best offense you have seen? Tell me what makes this seem so special?

MIKE DOSS: I know they are the best team we will face as far as offensively they have a lot of speed and talent. Definitely it can cause a problem out there. We're working hard and coming out with a good game plan to contain the speed they have and the talent, but we're looking forward to the game, working hard all week and can't wait until Friday.

Q. Mike and Donnie, can you guys talk about their apparent advantage in the speed category?

MIKE DOSS: I don't know about seeing it as an advantage. Florida is a speed state but we have some athletes that are from Florida. I think we can match up everyone as far as skilled position. The difference will probably have to be in the trenches on both teams.

DONNIE NICKEY: I don't think there is a big advantage. I think that's something you guys create and naturally Florida gets the speed and I don't think so. I think we've got athletes that can match up.

Q. Coach, can you comment what makes Chris Gamble a shut-down corner?

MARK DANTONIO: I think he plays with tremendous confidence and tremendous deep-ball judgment. He's very aware, and that gives him an advantage. He's also been a receiver, so he knows that end of the game a little bit, what people are trying to do against him. He's a competitor and he plays with great poise.

Q. Coach, you're talking about how you have been successful in stopping team. Is that hard to do against Miami?

MARK DANTONIO: I think to be successful defensively you have to stop the run. If they're able to run the football on us, then they're able to pass the ball more effectively. When we have had our greatest success we've stopped the run, made it one-dimensional. We were also able to affect the quarterback and eliminate the big play. That will be the key to our game.

Q. Mike and Donnie, you're recent history in Bowl games hasn't been that good. Do you even worry about that right now. Do you think maybe beating Michigan has erased some of that?

DONNIE NICKEY: I think we have come a long way from even last year. We took some momentum out of last year's Bowl game. I think this game is all we're focused on.

MIKE DOSS: Exactly. You know, this is the game we're focused on. We can't worry about the past. This is a new present for the Buckeyes and we're trying to relish that and take advantage of the opportunity we have.

Q. All three of you, if you could talk about the momentum you take from the second half?

MIKE DOSS: Definitely that shows the type of heart here at Ohio State we have and the type of program we're going to be. We continued through the season working hard. As it went on, we got through 13 games and here we are. We're looking forward to Friday evening. Hopefully we can continue that.

MARK DANTONIO: I think we talk all the time about handling adversity, and the what we have been able to do last year in the second half is come back and handle the adversity. We have been able to respond offensively, defensively and special teams. That's why we're here today.

DONNIE NICKEY: I think we realized we could play that well if we believed in each other and didn't look for somebody to make the play and believed in yourself.

Q. Guys, you have been very successful. This is the first time you've placed two Heismann candidates in the same game. What kind of challenge is that for you?

MARK DANTONIO: I think it's exciting when you come to Ohio State like these guys have. You come to play against the best. You come to play in the Big 10 conference, play against the best teams every week, and so it's expected to be able to play against the best players what you people and we think are the best players. That's expected and a great challenge for us. We look forward to that. The thing I have experienced since being here is we play with great confidence. We're very competitive. Are you afraid?

MIKE DOSS: Not at all.

MARK DANTONIO: I think so. We're ready to go.

Q. Is it earlier in the morning or are your game faces already firmly planted on?

MIKE DOSS: It's early in the morning. We're just here to enjoy this. This is definitely business and that's what we want it to be. We want to take care of all our opportunities and make the best of it.

DONNIE NICKEY: I think we've got our game faces on a little bit. I know, when we get around the media and practice we're all business. We get to enjoy ourselves and the great atmosphere out of practice and out of uniform.

Q. Coach, you faced some pretty good running backs this year+ can you talk about what McGahee does differently and the challenge of stopping him?

MARK DANTONIO: He's a cut-back runner. He's created the plays. He cuts back, makes a play, makes people miss, so, he's a great running back. Great vision. He can accelerate. He's a difference-maker for them.

Q. Mike, going back to the "game face" thing, we don't see you in sunglasses is that because of the early hours?

MIKE DOSS: It's because of the lights. It's real early and that's why I wear the visor.

Q. Coach, talk a little bit about the lay-off you guys have had.

MARK DANTONIO: We've talked about it. The biggest difference is when you haven't played in a while, which both teams have not. I think the biggest difference is how well are you going to be able to tackle their skill. That's one thing we constantly emphasize. We're going to have to adjust to the speed of the game on Friday. That will be a big factor for us.

Q. Do you think the lay-off has hurt you guys or was an advantage?

MARK DANTONIO: We started earlier than they did so maybe it's better. We were the earliest game playing and now we're the latest. We have gotten healthy, continued to practice. We needed to get healthy in certain positions. It was a good situation for us.

Q. Can you talk about Willis, watching a tape of him and what you see?

MIKE DOSS: As coach said, he's a difference-maker for those guys. Has great speed. He can catch the ball at the back field. He gets in the open. Once he gets in the open field and gets past the secondary, he's gone. Definitely he's a great athlete, Heismann Trophy candidate.

DONNIE NICKEY: Great speed, runs hard, never see him get knocked back. Reminds me a lot of Maurice Clarett. We practice against him every day, so I think we'll be prepared.

Q. What comparisons do you see between the two of them?

DONNIE NICKEY: Big body, hard running style. Big body type, strong runner.

Q. What have you seen from Andre Johnson on film that impresses you?

MIKE DOSS: His size. He's almost like a linebacker; not a receiver. He's powerful and goes up for the ball. He's very athletic. It's going to be a challenge for Chris Gamble. He's from Florida, so he's looking forward to playing against the Florida guys. He wants to have a lot of fun. On offense, it's business; but defense, it's just having fun.

DONNIE NICKEY: The biggest thing about Johnson is his strength and straight line speed, his ability to make the play on a deep ball.

Q. Mike, can you talk about there was a lot made about the fact that Miami has been to a national championship before, maybe knows how to handle the press, schedule, et cetera. Is there something to be said for that or are you not having a problem?

MIKE DOSS: Not at all. Columbus media covers us every day. We have big press conferences with our local media. This is the biggest game of them all. We're looking to it and to enjoy it all.

Q. What is the most challenging thing about the Miami Dolphins?

MARK DANTONIO: I think it's the fact that they run and throw equally as well. They're a very disciplined football team and they have great players, but the thing that makes them good is they play hard every day. They're very sound. That's a great question.

Q. What are you going to do about the size of Andre and Gamble's match-up?

MARK DANTONIO: We're going to play big.

Q. Back on what you said about being in Columbus, do you guys realize what an opportunity this is for your fans and the whole school? They haven't won a championship since '68; are you relishing this chance?

MIKE DOSS: I think the fans are. We're embracing it as players. We look forward to the fans, that we worked hard this season. They have been behind us. Every home game has been a sold-out capacity stadium. We're enjoying it as well.

DONNIE NICKEY: Coming out here people line the airport and you can see it in their faces knowing how much it means to them. We play for each other and that's what has got us this far. We realize the impact though, too.

Q. I would guess if you guys look at your rolls as underdogs do you use it as motivational; anybody who wants to jump on it?

MARK DANTONIO: We expect to win. You guys make us the underdogs. You know, we go into every game expecting to win, and, you know, you one play at a time offensively, defensively, special teams and you're successful in that play. That will allow you to be successful throughout the game. As I said before, when you're at a program so deep in electricity like this, Miami and Ohio State, you go into every game expecting to win.

Q. This is for Mike and Mark. Chris Gamble said kind of the genesis of his going two ways was kind of a day in practice him messing around with you and Mark; what kind of gave you the idea he could be offensive?

MIKE DOSS: We were having fun out there. We switched it up for one period. Chris was guarding me and he jammed me pretty hard. The coach said maybe you could do that a little more. Here he is playing in the national championship starting both ways.

MARK DANTONIO: I actually saw him play a little defensive back last year at this time at the Outback Bowl. He was a great player. There was no doubt in my mind given the opportunity he could play that position. It's been a gradual process and he kept making a couple more plays here and there. The decision was finally made to move him over there and let him play on a constant basis.

End of FastScripts...

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