Penn State 20, Ohio State 14: Fickell's Postgame Comments
COACH FICKELL: Obviously it started off again down 10‑0. Not the way we had planned it. We have to do a better job out the gate. I think that's where it really ended up putting us in a little bit of a bind. Obviously two turnovers to one turnover, it's always a determining factor in a game like this.
And when you don't come out on top of the turnover margin you don't have a great chance of winning. Especially if you don't win the explosive gains.
All in all, obviously to fall 10‑0 again like we've done I think in the last three games, you know, not that you didn't see a fight from the guys and they battled, that's just not good enough. We've got to do better.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Just how difficult was the tail end of this week just preparing hearing all the rumors going around about the job situation and all that stuff, was it a distraction to you or your team or your coaches or anything?
COACH FICKELL: No, no, we're not going to use any excuses. If you don't turn the TV on, you don't listen, you don't pay attention to those things, you stay focused on your guys; you give them everything you've got.
And that's the way we've gone about it. And I can't speak for everybody. But you know that's what we preach to them. That's what we try to tell them, try to focus on the things they can control and let those other things take care of themselves.
Q. Coming out of the half, what was the plan offensively? You guys had some points obviously at the break but were unable to get some things. But you had some turnovers. The wildcat thing, you had the turnover there with the exchange. What was the plan coming out in the second half offensively, and how did you feel like it was executed?
COACH FICKELL: I think the plan was very similar to the first half. I thought the first half we didn't give them enough possessions. We didn't make them punt. We got one turnover on defense, it was turned into a score. So we didn't do a great job on third down on getting them off the field.
They had some momentum. Our offense did in the first half. And we gotta do a better job both sides of the ball getting the ball back and especially when they're playing well. So that's why it's a team sport.
Q. The goal line stand you made, shame to waste that as you look ahead, I know this is Penn State, but what would a win next week salvage considering all the stuff this team has gone through?
COACH FICKELL: We know, we know it's from here on out it's a one‑game season. And Michigan has always been that way. It will never change. Greatest rivalry in all of sports. And we're going to make sure those guys understand that.
And they obviously are down and feel bad, and the key is how do you get back up, how do you step up and realize and understand that this is something that you'll remember forever the, this next week. So that's what we've got to make sure we focus on and make sure they stay focused on.
Q. The goal line stand, did you think that would propel you?
COACH FICKELL: That's what you hope. And we did a great job at making the plays there when we needed it. We started moving the football offensively after that goal line stand. We got the crowd, got the stadium into the game. But just not quite enough.
Q. To have three straight weeks of the 10‑0 start, do you feel like something has been taken out of the guy over the course of the season just with everything that's happened the way it's unfolded, that maybe they don't quite have the energy you're looking for?
COACH FICKELL: You know, we're not going to use anything for an excuse. We go hard every week. We push them. They do everything we ask them to do. You know, I don't know. It's not something that's an exact science. You make a play here or there and something happens the other way, and those kinds of momentum things can change in a football game.
But we know we've got to do a much better job. We have to come out. We finally won the coin toss. Didn't do a good job stopping and getting our offense positioned to have the ball. But those kinds of things we can't look around to try and look for excuses.
Q. In hindsight, easy to second‑guess these things, but the hand off from Hall to Herron, was that something you second‑guessed?
COACH FICKELL: No, that's something we have done, not that we've handed it off a ton. But you've seen them do it. We do it in practice. It's just something that's an execution thing. And those are little things, when it comes down to a good game and a close game, those are the things if you don't execute, they're going to cost you.
Q. Posey was back. Did you guys try to throw more to get him involved early on?
COACH FICKELL: Pardon me?
Q. Posey was back today. How big was it to try to get him involved early on?
COACH FICKELL: I mean, we still had a game plan. Obviously it gave him some confidence, and we know he can make a lot of plays in that situation. I think his first catch was a scramble and a broken play. And he obviously did what you expect him to do and goes deep when he's a shallow guy and Braxton finds him.
So I think we had an idea that to be able to move it around and get it to him a few more times. But when you get down 10 and some of the situations we are in and the running game is working, you don't have to change ‑‑ you don't want to change a ton.
Q. What's your thought on the wildcat, because Miller's back there making plays, too; he gets less touches that way?
COACH FICKELL: Well, you still gotta have some self‑preservation for your quarterback. And so those are just some of those little things.
Obviously you see that it worked very well for them. And we didn't do a great job at stopping that. So that's one of those situations that you gotta ‑‑ you have a bunch of those guys back there you think can handle the football, Jordan and Boom and Carlos Hyde, and you find ways to get the ball in their hands. And that was one of the ideas for us.
Q. Obviously Mike had some problems with the snaps, and some of that exchange, some of that on Braxton, I'm sure as well J.B. with the false start as well. What was going on with the communication up front where you had some lapses there?
COACH FICKELL: You gotta give them some credit, too. Their front puts a lot of pressure on you. Sometimes that's the most difficult thing. You know when you have a guy head up over you or speed guy off the edge some of those situations. I'm not condoning them. Obviously we've got to get better at them. You can't be successful if you can't get the ball, a good snap at the quarterback. And if you jump offsides. You can't be successful if you don't stop the run also. There's a lot of areas we've got to get a lot better at.
Q. How much did their wildcat surprise you guys? Tom Bradley said he thought it catch you off guard, how much they used it, and them using it in general?
COACH FICKELL: They're obviously going to continue to use it because it's working well. Not something we see had seen them do. But we see it every week, seen it the last few weeks and we'll continue to see it. I don't know it's something that caught you by surprise.
Just we gotta do a better job at stopping it. And some different plays out of it, but it's just part of fundamentals and playing what you see. You got a good idea what's going on, we've got to do a better job.
Q. ESPN.com had a report today that OSU has talked to Urban Meyer. I'm wondering, what's your personal sense about your job situation?
COACH FICKELL: I don't talk about it. I don't think this is the time nor the place. We're talking about the game, and we're going to move on and talk about Michigan. And when that comes a point in time, then those are things that are out of my control. Like I told you, I don't turn the TV on a whole lot. I don't open up the Internet other than the recruiting side of things. Those are the things that I have no control over. So I'm not going to waste a whole lot of my energy on it.
SOURCE: Ohio State University Athletics