Sept. 24, 1996
Off The Practice Field…Coach Lou Holtz
JOHN HEISLER: Coach Holtz will make some opening remarks; then we willtake some questions.
COACH HOLTZ: On the injury situation, we think Melvin Dansby willbe able to play. We are hopeful. It appears Peter Chryplewicz will beable to play although neither one of them will be able to practicetoday. A’Jani Sanders is not going to need surgery. He will be out fourto six weeks. He could possibly be back for the Navy game. Jamie Spenceris probably out of this game with a sprained ankle. Other than that, losing two starters, or two possible starters in Jamie Spencer andA’Jani Sanders, we are pleased that it appears Dansby and Chryplewiczwill be able to play.
Looking at our football team I don’t know how goodwe are. I really don’t. I wish I could tell you. We played pretty wellin certain segments of the game and other times we didn’t. We are not adominating team in any stretch of the imagination. Looking at OhioState, if you look at the statistics, they are very, very impressive. Ofcourse, defensively, they have almost everybody back from last year’sfootball team and Vrabel is an outstanding player. Of course ShawnSprings is probably as good a cover man as you will find and defensivelythey are playing awfully, awfully well.
I am not going to bother to go into many things about Ohio State. When you see a team put up 70, 72 points you figurethere’s got to be a lot of turnovers, a lot of fumbles, interceptions,etcetera, but that hasn’t been the case. I think Pittsburgh had threeturnovers. I don’t think Rice had any against them. But what Ohio State does have is a great kicking game in addition to outstanding defense andoutstanding offense. When you look at it theykick it off, they get you backed up and they hold you there. Youdon’t move the ball out; then you punt. They either rush the punt andforce a bad punt, get an excellent return or usually start around their45, 50 yard line on their drives.
In their first two ballgames they had 29 first downs in one game and 27 in the other. Conversely, in our first three games, I thinkwe have gone 27, 28 and 27, something likethat. So we are probably getting more first downs than ever before. But the points and the yardage is completely different.They have a lot of people make a lot of big plays. They have two finequarterbacks in Jackson and Germaine. Jackson is taking the ball and puttingit in the end zone every time. Pepe Pearson is a very, very finerunningback. Of course they have fine receivers, especially Tillman. They have thebig-play freshman, so they are just an excellent football team. I don’tlabor on the misconception they haven’t played anybody becausethey are playing the best team in the country in practice when they goagainst one another. Our players have a tremendous attitude. We welcomethe challenge. I figured Ohio State would be a very, very good footballteam but I did not anticipate them being as awesome as they are in everyphase of the game. I hope it is an excitingfootball game. We are going to have to play awfully, awfully well in allphases of the game to beat them.
The thing that scares me the most is the kickinggame. The punt and the punt return. We have had a big discrepancy and itis not our punter. Our punter has done a tremendous job, but we justhave not been able to get down there and to cover punts as well as we would like and we have not been able to get a good return. Yetthere was a time Saturday when we punted and they did nothave a defensive man across the line of scrimmage when the ball waskicked. Our guys did a nice job. We just could not handle the speed atwideout. So that is one of the major concerns that I have in addition to offense and defense. But this is exciting. This is what it is all about. The players are excited and I am never very, very optimistic at this stage. But, we will just go from here and see.
I have no idea what you might want me to talk about. I know you don’twant to me to talk about our team and Ohio State, so I don’t know.
Q. Are you planning any personnel switches to offset the loss of Sanders?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, Deke Cooper is a strong safety and the startingstrong safety will be Benny Guilbeaux or possibly Deke Cooper. We aregoing to give Deke Cooper a very, very good look here. That would be themain personnel switch.
Q. I wonder if you could talk about Kinder’s first game back and whatyou expect him to contribute this week?
COACH HOLTZ: What we have to remember is that Randy Kinder had notplayed since he performed against Air Force. Prior to Air Force he wasout for five weeks with an injury. So going into last Saturday, Randyhad had live contact work only one time since last October. You arelooking at almost a complete year. He did have a couple of shortscrimmages this fall. He missed all the spring practice. But this fall Ithink he only carried the ball maybe 6 or 7 times. So he has only carried it maybe 12 times in the last year. I really didn’t know what to expect whenRandy got into the ballgame down there but I did feel we would play him.He did miss an awful lot of work and there are a lot of otherthings that a tailback has to do besides carrying the ball. I reallylike what I saw. He has gone on to take on a greater role. We don’t wantto have Autry Denson carrying 30 times a game but I think Randy Kinderis in a position to help us win. I think he has got excellent speed.He gives us good explosiveness, and he will take on a stronger role. Withthe loss of Jamie Spencer we are playing Robert Farmer more at fullback. I think our tailbacks will be Denson and Kinder and our fullbackswill be Marc Edwards and Robert Farmer.
Q. I have heard you say before that everybody’s big game is Notre Dame.I wonder if there are games for Notre Dame other than Bowl games thatyour players get up for a little bit more. Does Ohio Statefit into that profile this week since it’s first game your guys have played that feature two top-five teams since the Florida State matchup in ’93?
COACH HOLTZ: I find it difficult to find a lot of different between the number 6 team and the number 5 team.We don’t really get up for any football team. But as coaches, we felt that the Texas and Ohio State games were going to be really critical. We felt the best thing we could do for our seasonwas to win our first two games and then win on the road at Texas. So we really spent a lot of time studying Texas. But every game, I think is important.Yes, our football players understands it is important but I don’t think it hasmuch to do with the 1935 game or last year’s game. It has to do withwhat you mentioned before, we are playing a top 5 footballteam. But they are like us.They have a long road ahead of them. Ohio State plays PennState the following week and they haveto play Michigan. We have got many hurdles as well.
This is a verybig ballgame. All you have to do is come to our practice to see theintensity in our players. They are starting midterms, which isnot the best thing in the world. But this morning I walked out of thestaff meeting and some of our players were looking at film onOhio State, so I think that gives you good indication they realize howbig a game this is.
Q. With the Nebraska loss and the fact that Florida State and Florida are going tobe playing each other, does that make this game that much more importantfor the chase for No. 1?
COACH HOLTZ: I have always believed this but I don’t even think you think about a NationalChampionship until you get into your 9th or 10th game. I think you arejust kidding yourself. You get into the 9 or 10 game of the season.I understand why you allwould do that in the media. It makes great readingand I have got to be honest, if I read something about what you allwrite, I read it because it is interesting. But I don’t think much aboutit when I talk to our football team because it means nothing. It meansabsolutely nothing at this stage of the year. Maybe even 25 could winthe National Championship.
Q. Do you think that even this early in the season positioning suddenlybecomes far more important because of the fact that severalteams are not going to move up or down that fast as theweeks continue along?
COACH HOLTZ: I agree with you in this respect. But with Nebraska’s and Southern Cal’s loss, there have been more big teams losingearly in the year that I can recall. Tennessee and Texas have alsolost. Saturday Notre Dame or OhioState is going to have a loss. So one time when it looked like therewould be 4, 5 teams having a chance go undefeated and you could be sittingthere undefeated and not have a chance to play for it. You know,all I want to do is to be 4 and 0. I will tell you this, we will not face a tougher challenge. But getting back to yourquestion, yeah, the fact is some have lostmeans that you go undefeated there is a good chance you are going to beplaying in the Sugar Bowl.
Q. And that magnifies this game?
COACH HOLTZ: It is hard to magnify itmuch bigger than we got it now because we want to be 4 and0. We don’t have a conference you know. If this was our lastconference game you say, okay, let us win this, but if we don’t okay letus now regroup and go to the Rose Bowl. But we can’t do that. On theother hand, you know, we knew they are on our schedule and I did notexpect them to be as outstanding as they are. I got to be honest I don’tthink anybody else did.
Q. First of all, I wanted your lasting impression from last year’s OhioState game and also what confidence it does for your team beating Texaslast week, especially on the road?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, what I rememberwell about the Ohio State game last year is I didn’t feel real good, felt worseafter the game. I remember the crowd and the excitement. I rememberseeing the players down there I am talking about former players thatwere there at Ohio State when I coached. They brought all the greatathletes back and put them in the tunnel before the game and theexcitement of the crowd and the enthusiasm. I remember the game beingvery loud, I remember it being a back and forth game. I remember comingout the second half and driving down and getting forced to kick a fieldgoal. Kicking off and holding them and them punting. We are up at thatstage, I think 19-13. Despite the big plays that they had in the firsthalf, when they punted, I really felt if we could take this downand that was critical. Critical to get ahead by two scores in the secondhalf. It’s really critical with your team. Next thing, you know, we fumble thepunt, then they go in and score. Okay now we will comeback and kick it off deep and pin us in the corner we get out to the 20,okay, now we are I think we are down by point or two. Let us take itback down then we fumbled the snap. They go in and score and go up thenby a score of, I guess, 28 to 19. I remember themkicking off now in the fourth quarter. I remember taking the balland driving it down. Randy Kinder running the sweep and running in fromabout the 26 yard line and we went for 2. I remember vividly MikeRosenthal having a missed assignment on it and we didn’t make it. Butwe are still in the ballgame within ascore. I thought that drive was critical. We kickoff and on the firstplay Eddie George goes about 70 yards. I remember then they hit Glen ona curve he goes 80 and Allen Rossum couldn’t catch him and Allen Rossumis pretty fast.
I remember it being a game with so many playsback and forth. But I have never seen one teamhave as many big plays on a team as Ohio State did. Ihave never in my entire life seen that many big plays, which wasa tribute to Ohio State. It wasn’t anything we did. We double covered Glenwhen he went 80 yards. But they arevery well coached. I don’t think John Cooper gets near enough credit forthe coaching job he and his staff does, very well coached very welldrilled. They do a good job, but that is what I remember, then afterthe game getting home and not feeling very good.
Q. When you look at the way other teams use their fullbacks as comparedto the way you use the fullback position, do you see more and more teamsgetting away from the traditional use of the fullback and why do youthink that is if you do?
COACH HOLTZ: I think more and more teams aregetting away from the fullback because it is hard to find a goodfullback in high school. But what more and more teams are doingis taking tightends and making them what you call an H-back. We takeour fullback and we make them a tight end. They take a tight end andmake them a fullback. We have a tailback oriented offenseand fullback oriented offense and most people would rather just have atailback oriented offense and there is some good logic it too. There isn’t an all right or an all wrong. If your tailbackis the best runner then maybe you ought to get him the ball 40 times agame. But I think we use the fullback in the old conventional style andwe use it a little bit more like Woody Hayes does. We have beensuccessful with it, but I can see why teams move to it.
Q. Why are they so difficult to find?
COACH HOLTZ: I think number1 that good defensive linemen and pass rushers are difficult to findcoming out of high school. You know what is really amazing and Ithink that coaches do a good job in high school, but you get a guy incollege today and so many of them don’t know how to throw downfield. You have seen this where we look like we have a screen already to go andthen all of a sudden we don’t throw well but you are not allowed tothrow in high school. But I don’t know. I don’t think as many people areparticipating in sports today that take an awful lot of discipline. Idon’t know, that might not be true. But they are just more difficult tofind. They really are.
Q. Could you compare John Cooper or contrast him with Woody Hayes andsecondly, even though Cooper has had a fine record, is he destined to beunder appreciated until he gets to a Rose Bowl or maybe even a NationalChampionship?
COACH HOLTZ: John has been to a Rose Bowl hasn’t he?
Q. I mean at Ohio State?
COACH HOLTZ: You can’t compare anybody withWoody. I mean, there is no way to compare — I know John Cooper and Ithink his teams have some of the same characteristics that Woody’s have had.His teams are very well drilled fundamental. Histeams have always been very solid defensively. When he was in Tulsa, histeams were exceptionally well coached. Offensively he throws the ballmore than Woody Hayes does but that is also the style. I think that hehas more speed. I think his kicking games are more dangerous. CoachHayes’ teams beat you up. I mean they just beat youphysically and mentally and everything else. Coach Cooper’s teams arevery tough and they still will run the ball with that same Ohio Statevengence, but they just throw the ball and they are a big-play team,which really creates some problems. They have kept the good things atOhio State then they added the big-play capabilities of wide receiver.As far as being underappreciated, I think that most people areunderappreciated while they are there. I think that you know, you aregoing to have certain levels during a 7 year cycle. You make amistake recruiting, etcetera then the program comes back, I know Iappreciate John Cooper and I think people will appreciate him. No matterwhat he does he has got an excellent chance to go to aRose Bowl with this team. I think they play Michigan at home this yearthey play Penn State at home, but this is an excellent football team.The best job you know, the most overappreciated position in the countryis second string quarterback at Notre Dame. He can’t do anything wrongand everybody loves him.
Q. Give us your thoughts on Orlando Pace and also whether you think theOhio State running game has lost a step with the loss of Eddie George?
COACH HOLTZ: I think Orlando Pace, and I made this comment to our team,I think Orlando Pace is one of the best tackles in footballtoday. I didn’t say college football. I said football. He is a dominatingblocker, a great pass protecter. That is the other thing, they protectthe passer so well and with the speed they have and of course Jacksonhas great elusiveness but they protect the passer well. I think OrlandoPace is just a dominating player. I felt Renaldo Wynn played very, verywell against Orlando Pace last year. Now, I was very impressed withOrlando Pace before the game and equally impressed with Orlando Paceafter the game but I thought Renaldo played well. Melvin Dansbywill be lining up on Orlando Pace this year because we don’t want toswitch Renaldo’s stance plus it is going to be a tremendous challenge becausethey run the ball as well. Yeah they appear to be running the ball everybit as well this year as last year. Pepe Pearson is a very explosiverunner with tremendous speed. George had great power. They don’t need asbig a hole for Pepe Pearson as they did for George, but the line giveshim movement. He finds a crease. He has got tremendous peripheralvision. He finds a hole and runs exceptionally well. I think he is anoutstanding back. Make no mistake about it. George was a great backbut there is not much of a drop off if any when Pepe Pearson is backthere.
Q. Two questions. First of all, can you evaluate Stanley Jackson becausethe one question about Ohio State coming into the year was replacingHoying at quarterback and secondly do you feel that your team hassomewhat of an advantage having played a game where you have come upagainst some adversity where Ohio State has really cruised through itsfirst two games?
COACH HOLTZ: I think Stanley Jackson really isdeveloping into an excellent quarterback. I understand he has led histeam to a touchdown every time he has been the quarterback. Now they dorotate Germaine in there, but it is obvious Jackson is the startingquarterback. He throws the ball well. He runs the team very, very well.I am surprised that Ohio State could replace theirquarterback and the one wide receiver and have the consistency and thecohesiveness that they have. If I didn’t know better and I didn’t knowOhio State I’d say they have been practicing since they lost the Citrus Bowllast year. They have got unbelievable execution and perfection. I mean,they give you that impression that that is how long they have beengoing. It is at the end of year. I have never seen a football team havethe precision and the sharpness that Ohio State has exhibited this earlyin the year. Once again, I know they operate by the rules. It is acredit to their staff and to their players that they do this so well.
Yeah, I think we have an advantage being in a close game. I don’t thinkthere is any doubt about it. But that is an advantage only if we make ita close game with Ohio State, but I know our players are going to playhard. I think we are going to play intelligently. You know, Pittsburghgives scholarships, Rice gives scholarships, they have a full-time staff.I didn’t think anybody could put 46 points and 52 points on the boardin a half as easily as they did. But as I said, they didn’t do itbecause the other team self-distructed. You know, Pepe played WestVirginia pretty well for a short period of time, but their confidencelevel I am sure is very, very high and justifiably so. They arean excellent football team. I didn’t get a chance to seethem on ESPN, but I know the people that have seen them have beenimpressed with them. If the other team had 9fumbles and 6 turnovers and dropped snaps and had penalties and had longruns called back or something but that wasn’t the case. I mean, this was asthorough a whipping as you would ever find without the other teamhelping them. That is what is shocking to me.
Q. I was wondering John Cooper has chance to win his 150th gameSaturday. Do you remember milestones like that or is that for laterafter things have all settled down to dwell on things like that? COACHHOLTZ: I have no idea what 150 was. I couldn’t even tell you I guess Iwas here nobody ever said anything. It didn’t mean a milestone for me. Iwas trying to think where I was when I got 100, I don’t know. Wasn’t anybig deal. I think it was in Minnesota must have been. Those milestonesdon’t mean much to me and I don’t think they mean much to Coach Cooper.I think when you are done, the 200 meant something to me, because 200seemed to be a breakoff where that is just longevity and Coach Cooperwill reach 200 and 200 plus. He is a young man and looks like he isgoing to have a good team years to come. But I don’t think 150 teamsanything. It didn’t to me and beating Ohio State means more to me than200. But I don’t — I just don’t think that would mean a whole lot.
Q. Coach Holtz, Coach Cooper talked a lot pretty much all seasonsuring up his defensive front especially with what happened with the Michigan andTennessee games last season. Adding the young freshman Katzenmoyer tothe middle and putting Winfield Garnett in the middle being a 6’6′, 305pound kid. But they really haven’t been tested against Rice or testedagainst Pittsburgh. Is this a week that you think those young kids will betested up front?
COACH HOLTZ: I think this a much different defensive football team than whatwe saw last year. I felt that going into last year that we would be ableto move the ball well. I felt that. Garnett makes a big difference.You put a 305 pounder, he looks like the frig when youlook at him from the back. He has got tremendous lower bodystrength. Andy Katzenmoyer is probablyas good a freshman linebacker as I have ever seen. I remember seeing himin high school and he committed to Ohio State so early and I thought hewould be a great football player. He is a great football player and theyhave taken Bellisari and moved him from middle to outside linebacker andthey have helped themselves there. They have changed their scheme. They are far moreaggressive, play more man-coverage and that scares you. With Howard andShawn Springs out there on the corner and their safety, Kelly, I think they are just much stronger up front. And ayear ago I felt, yeah, they are a big-play offensive football team butmaybe we can control the football; maybe we can frustrate them. I am notsure we can run the football on them. I am not sure that we can’t. Butthey are much, much improved up front and total defense this year overlast year. I expected them to be. I really didn’t expect them tochange their scheme, but I did expect them to be awfully good on defensebecause they had so many starters coming back from last year greatplayers, Matt Finkes and of course, Mike Vrable. Then you put Garnett inthere, you put Bellisari and Howard in, you put in Shawn Springs, theyare good. I am not sure they would be as good if they had not changedtheir scheme.
Q. You mentioned earlier about speed. This is obviously a much fasterteam overall than what Ohio State had last year. How big andhow important is speed when it compares to this particular game onSaturday?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, do you think speed is important in track?You know I am talking about the dashes. That is all football is, adash. It is not a hammer throw contest. Ohio State has speed andsize. This is probably the fastest Ohio State team I have ever seen onboth sides of the football, speed at wide receiver and Pepe Pearson thetailback and of course Jackson even has great speed. Of course thereis speed on defense but I think you have to be able to run. Football isa game of movement, if people could run they are going to play thebest everything else being equal. One of the problems we have is thelack of speed at wide receiver and lack of speed in the secondary. Ithurts us in a lot of areas. It hurts us covering kicks. It hurts us inour kick return trying to chase people down to get a block on the puntreturn. I think one of the reasons that their kicking game is sooutstanding is because of the tremendous speed that they have overall.And you see signs all over, I don’t know if they are still up but itsaid speed kills. They were referring to driving but it also will kill youif you play against speed. I told our players yesterday when they arewarming up and I always joke with them but I wasn’t joking when I said Iwant to tell you something. We better tackle the small numbers on theiruniform. If we are looking at the big numbers, we aren’t going to be ableto tackle them. They just have too much speed.
Q. Your team is 3 and 0 and you looked defeat right inthe eyes two out of three games so far. Is this a different type ofsenior class or leadership on this team that has made a commitment tosay, even though we are down in these games, we are going to find a way towin? Do you see a stronger effort or a stronger will than maybethe last couple of years?
COACH HOLTZ: I don’t think that you can saythe players here didn’t try and I think last year’s football team, which wonnine football games in the regular season and weas 6th in the country whenthe season ended wasn’t a very good football team. But there was a lot ofcharacter on that football team last year and the year before we lostsome senior leadership. But Idon’t think there is any doubt that the players’ resolve is very good. Ithink the attitude of this football team, the closeness of it, is very,very good. And I think we are a good solid football team that hascompeted very, very well and made plays when we had to. We are not agreat football team.
Q. Late week you made the change at left guard with Jeremy Akers. Are youstill solid with that? What is the situation at that position?
COACH HOLTZ: Well there is good chance Jerry Wisne could start this week. Iknow you’re wondering what goes through our minds. Jeremy Akers played verywell. Jeremy Akers stepped in there, did an excellent job. A lot of itdepends upon practice and how well people adjust to what we are doing,but I think you will see both of them. I think it is safe to saythat they will both play.
Q. What was your evaluation about how Benny Guilbeaux played at strongsafety and what is Deke Cooper doing that is allowing him to challengefor that spot despite no previous experience?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, Bennystepped in and did a nice job. He did get us a 15 yard penalty, which didnot help our cause, but he played pretty well. I think Deke Cooperdoes some good things and moves well and at practice I thought Benny Guilbeaux had maybe thebest day he had since he has been here at Notre Dame. He didn’t looklike the same Benny Guilbeaux in practice. Nowif he continues at that level, I think it would be very difficult forDeke Cooper to start ahead of him. I tell you this, I think Deke Cooper isa winner and competitor. We put Deke Cooper out there doesn’t have greatspeed. We put him out there on Texas wideouts on the punt and heprobably did the best job that we had done in a year and half on it. Weput him as a sprinter and he did the best job as a sprinter. The problemis we need couple of more people like Deke Cooper but the thing thatkeeps getting your eye here is a guy that isn’t real quick or isn’t realfast but the guy is effective and I just say that if a guy does thatmaybe you need to see if he is in the plays he can be on the field.
Q. In watching film about Orlando Pace, can you give us an idea ofa percentage how many times they go to his side on running plays?
COACH HOLTZ: I have not broken it down on how many times they go toOrlando Pace’s side. They seem to go far when they go to his side. Buthe is a big, strong wide body. I mean I would call him double body. Heis twice as wide as I am. But he is an excellent athlete. He is nimble.He has great feet, he has balance. He also has good football instincts.
Q. Big game after a big game and by that obviously they are allimportant because if you lose one, — but playing highly ranked teamright after playing a highly ranked team, are there any advantages tothat or is it mostly disadvantages?
COACH HOLTZ: I think it is adisadvantage in this respect. You come off of a win like that and peoplewant to talk about it, enjoy it. Now you got to comeback, you got to get yourself focused and mentally prepared. Plus it is avery physical game. It was a very hot game. Starting the second half, Imean, the sun was out as bright as could be and the temperature on thefield was a little bit over 100 degrees. That game takes so much out ofout of you, the emotional stress, the heat stress and then thephysical contact. We have had more people on our injury list than wehave had for a while. Can it be done? Yeah. Is it easy, absolutelynot.
JOHN HEISLER: This is the fourth time in history that Notre Damehas played top 10 teams on back-to-back Saturdays. Happened in 41, 43,actually four straight Saturdays in 43 and only other time was ’89.
COACH HOLTZ: Who did we play?
JOHN HEISLER: USC and Pitt. Beat them both.
Q. How much does consistency of Hunter Smith’s punting and Jim Samson’skickoffs help your defense? By the same token, how much has the returngame helped your offense in terms of field position in a kind of hit andyardage.
COACH HOLTZ: Our kickoff return has been very good, I think. Wehaven’t returned many of them. We aren’t going to winthe national statistics on kickoff return because we have always beenleading the country, then everybody stops kicking to us. Now what Texasdid, Texas either kicked the ball out of the end zone with the wind orkick the ball at about the 30 against the wind. What hurt was wefumbled one kickoff, dropped it, then we got a penalty on the other one.And so our kickoff coverage has been pretty good. So I’d say ourkickoff and our kickoff return have been solid. Hunter Smith has done anexcellent job punting the football. What we haven’t done is a good job ofcovering. On the return game we have let the punt bounce far too manytimes. We have gotten penalties. Consequently we put our offense in atremendous disadvantage by losing field position that maybe the defensesgained. We can’t afford to give up field position like we havein the first three got football games against a team like Ohio State.
Q. It’s only Tuesday, yet you can start to feel the excitement as the weekwears on. Obviously the hype is going to build. Is that more of adisadvantage for the home team? Is that a concern and how do you combatsomething like that?
COACH HOLTZ: Yeah, it is a concern. I love playinga top ranked team but I don’t like playing them at home and I mentionedthat to the football team last Thursday. I said one good thing aboutthis is that we are going on the road to play this big game. All thereporters are down there. I had a press conference and there wasn’t anybody here.We had sandwiches left over. We could have had seconds on soup. They wereall down in Austin Texas, so all the fanfare and excitement and thenewspaper and the interviews and everything else, was somewhere else. Ifelt that was a tremendous asset we had in 1988 when we went out to playSouthern Cal, 11th game of the year. We were 1; they were 2. We were hereover Thanksgiving and no one was there. Nobody cared. You thought youwould have to look in the paper to see who won the game. Now you get outthere, you could feel it. When you start feeling it early here, it is adisadvantage because of all the distractions people come to the game.Your families come to the game. People want tickets. Interviews, I had astack of radio stations wanting to interview me and I couldn’t get tothem.
Q. You said that you don’t want to look too far ahead but you have gotsome of your seniors saying this is a bigger game for them than theFlorida State game was in 93. How do you temper that and not let themlook beyond it as what the game could mean?
COACH HOLTZ: I canunderstand why they say it is a bigger game than Florida State because they werewatching it. They are playing in this one. I don’t remember any of themplaying in that game. This is the thing that I have said to theplayers and I mean it. This is a big game for one reason. We won atVanderbilt. We won at Purdue and we won at Texas. That is why it is abig game. Every time you win, the next game becomes bigger. This is a biggame for Ohio State. The Penn State game will be bigger for Ohio Stateif they win this game. Every time you win, the next game is bigger. Weplayed Florida State at night didn’t we? I would like to play this oneat night.
Q. My photographer said — they just radioed us to tell us at his pressconference, John Cooper said he thinks Notre Dame has a good shot at theNational Championship. He might be sandbagging, but we would like yourreaction to that?
COACH HOLTZ: I hope he is right. I tell you, I trust hisjudgment more than I would mine. I don’t think anybody has a chance in theNational Championship. I just hope we have a chance in this ballgame.And I don’t – when I say have a chance, I am not down-playing ourfootball team or anything else, but I don’t know how good we are. Ithink we are going to play awfully, awfully well. Ohio State is going tomeet a very solid football team and we are going to play our best gameon Saturday.
Q. You have talked about your team attitude and its resolve andmaturity. How much do your players feed off of that, like MarcEdwards?
COACH HOLTZ: Marc Edwards is one of our captains. He is likeLaRon Cobbins. He loves the game of football. I think that the one thingabout this team is that everybody keeps trying to figure out what isdifferent about this team, what is unique about this team. You can tellthere is something different about our football team. This is a team.There is no one-upmanship. Nobody sending their own message, whether itbe for towels, tape or socks. It is a team. The seniors have made acommittment that this is going to be just a complete and total team andI think that comes from people like Cobbins; certainly from MarcEdwards. I wasn’t going to play Marc Edwards last week. I was not goingto play him. He had missed too much of practice and it has been myexperience people don’t play well when they miss practice. But I have never seen anybody wantto play as much as Marc Edwards. When Jamie Spencer hurt his ankle afterseven plays, we played Marc Edwards early in the game, but after Spencergot injured he had to play an awful lot. Then we to play Farmer some atfullback, but Marc Edwards played better than anybody I have had with a limited amount of practice. I mean from now on when I sayI have never had a player play miss practice, I will put an asterisk”exception Marc Edwards.”