From the Transcript…
REPORTER: Anything about Arkansas?
COACH TRESSEL: You know, the thing I’ve been impressed with, and I haven’t watched as much film as the staff has, we’ve been in and out of the office recruiting, which really starting today we’ll be back in the office primarily, but excellent quickness. There are teams with great speed and there are teams that have the quickness that goes along with it. They just look to me to be exceptionally quick.
Obviously on the offensive side, that quarterback, Ryan, has got — he’s got a lightning-quick release, spins the ball as well as anyone we’ve seen. He’s got great weapons to go with him. I just think the quickness of their football team. They are a quick, tough, football team and they’re battle tested. Look at the people they’ve played and gone toe-to-toe with, everyone on their schedule, and it will be a great challenge, of course.
REPORTER: Are there any similarities between what they do and anyone you’ve faced this year?
COACH TRESSEL: Oh, you know, in this day and age, everyone does so many of the same concepts. Defensively they’re going to play base defense and play zone, but they’re also going to zone blitz you. They’re going to come after you and play some man, not unlike most everyone. Offensively, they probably — we haven’t faced anyone that’s thrown for however many yards that is per game, 300 plus yards per game, so they may throw it a little bit more, but they’ve still got a 1000-yard back and you better not just go double team every receiver or they’ll be scorching you down the field in the run.
They don’t run a bunch of options, which some teams we’ve faced were option teams. But when you have a four-week time period you better expect some unexpected. Primarily we will face what they do well, but we’ll get some unexpected, so it’s a good opportunity for us to go back to the fundamentals and work on ourselves, get some young people some work, develop our own plans based upon what we think has been a part of our evolution on both sides of the ball and special teams and then get some wrinkles ready to see if we can apply a little bit more pressure in each area, but I don’t think they’re exactly like anyone we’ve played, no.
REPORTER: Jim, can you use Ohio State’s record against the SEC in bowls as motivation just that this team could end that drought?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, I think you have to be a little bit careful of what you major in because the thing we’ve got to do, really focus in on, is what it’s going to take to play Arkansas who we didn’t play in any bowl games in our history and not get too caught up in irrelevant things. But on the other hand, you do like to accomplish things and a great performance in a bowl game the magnitude of this against a team who’s very, very good and happens to be in a very, very good conference, of course you use that as a tremendous goal.
REPORTER: On the flip side of Ryan being a less than mobile quarterback, there’s five Razorbacks with 500 yards, six that have scored four touchdowns this season, how are you inclined to approach this team defensively?
COACH TRESSEL: They do a good job of getting a feel of how you are going after them defensively and then because of their versatility, they can say, okay, they’re trying to stop this and we’ll go to that. And they do spread the ball around. Ryan is a veteran guy.
I think just systematically, and I’ve watched probably more of their offense so far in this early time than I have of their defense, systematically, I think they do a great job of knowing what you’re trying to do and attacking you with the thing they know hurts those coverages or those deployments or so on and so forth. You better not go in there with just one thought because they’ll figure it out and they’ll adjust and they’ll stall you pretty good. So you better, in my mind, have a lot of different things ready to go and then get in the midst of that chess match. And what’s fun about games is some games you’re out there and you’re always a step ahead of them and then there’s other games that, man, it seems like they’re always a step ahead of us, and that’s football. You want to be the one applying the pressure and the indecision and those kinds of things. And our defense does a wonderful job of that, so I would expect them to have that ready to go.
REPORTER: Have you ever seen personally any of those pig snout hats the fans wear or ever heard thousands of people yelling —
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, the hats? I mentioned that to the group. We went and visited when Coach Holtz was there and Coach Pagac, Sr., bought one and the whole way home on the bus he was wearing one and we were passing people by and he’d be standing in his window with his hat on and people almost getting into wrecks and that’s the only time I’ve seen it. But one thing, the little bit I was there for two or three days, they love their football and they love having fun.
REPORTER: It’s quite a thing when thousands of people are making that chant.
COACH TRESSEL: It’s awesome.
REPORTER: Is there such a thing as when you turn on a tape you see a team and you know they’re from the Southeastern Conference the way they play and does Arkansas kind of fit that bill?
COACH TRESSEL: Most of the films we’ve turned on with Arkansas, they’re playing each other, and there’s two teams whacking each other, running fast, and great football, and I think everyone in America knows that’s a great brand of football, but you turn on a great Big Ten game and they’re whacking each other. So I haven’t watched too many game copies yet, I’ve just looked at some cut-ups so far, and what I like to do once I get off the road and start watching is I like to watch the continuous game and get a flavor, a flow, for what’s this team about. So I could probably answer that better after I have a better handle it on, but there’s no doubt, the SEC teams we’ve played against, I don’t remember South Carolina that well because that was 100 years ago, but the Florida team we played was great athletes, a lot of them still playing, and the LSU team we played, I mean, I loved their make-up, they had all those fifth-year seniors and fought the fight, lost a couple games and still were there hanging at the end, never going to put their guard down. Thus far what I see about Arkansas is that they’ve been that kind of team that’s just been a battler and you can’t end up 10-2 in that league without being battlers.
REPORTER: You look at some of the players and it’s hard to believe that Darren McFadden and Felix Jones were all in the same —
COACH TRESSEL: Glad they’re not now, although nice, and all those guys are pretty good. Arkansas historically, you go back to Frank Broyles, they’ve had great teams. They always will. They have a proud tradition for the state of Arkansas, just as proud as we do for the state of Ohio. And as someone asked earlier, is it unusual that we’ve never played them in all these hundred years of football, and it really is, because we’ve been to a lot of bowl games, more so from the ’70s on because of the rule change, but I think it will be an exciting thing. I think that’s why there’s a lot of interest in the game from our fans and their fans. I think that’s why New Orleans was interested in having those two teams in there, because there’s a heck of a lot of tradition when you look at those two teams.
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, Taylor and Kenny, they’re both wearing his number and so forth. I was just watching a little bit of that Auburn game and some cut-ups and I saw No. 8 played a lot and looked good, too.
REPORTER: Yeah, Mallett got hurt.
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, he threw it like 32 times and looked pretty good too. We’ll use both those guys.
REPORTER: With Petrino, coaches after a while develop a reputation, you know he’s going to come out probably winging it.
COACH TRESSEL: Oh, sure.
REPORTER: What sets him apart as you think about Bobby Petrino offensively?
COACH TRESSEL: Well, as I think back to his good teams at Louisville, which we saw a little bit more, is that, yeah, he was going to throw it and conceptually you could see they were very well schooled, he was going to run it, had that big old No. 10 Bush or whatever his number was, they had some guys that could run it. So he’s going to do what the defense dictates, and he’s going to do what he can to put pressure on your defense and they’ve got the comprehensive package. So they’re good at it, they’re very well schooled and I haven’t watched them that much to be able to say, here’s what they do against this or that, but they’ve got answers.
You always talk about good offensive coaches. I think good offensive coaches are ones that have answers and good defenses are ones that make the offenses guess when to use those answers and that’s the fun of the chess match.
REPORTER: Do you know him at all?
COACH TRESSEL: I really don’t. No, I really don’t. I think we’ve got all of our seniors stopping in today and then we’ve got all kinds of — I just had to turn in all kinds of — there’s a lot of availability once we get into the bowl thing, like six guys this day, that day. You’re going to end up interviewing our water guys by the end of the week. So we’ll have all the seniors. Make sure you guys get plenty of rest and have good holidays and can’t wait to get to New Orleans.