Penn State Football Press Conference
October 23, 2012
No. 47 - Jordan Hill, Senior, Defensive Tackle
Q: You said on the call this morning that this was the biggest game of your career. Can you elaborate on why that is and what makes this game so special after some of the big games that you've played in?
A: First, for all of our seniors, it's our last WhiteOut. It's our last time to go out here in front of the WhiteOut crowd. It's our last time playing Ohio State. In the situation that we're both in, and how good of a season we're both having, it's the biggest game for us.
Q: Do coaches coach differently in a big game?
A: Not really. You can't change up what you're doing. They might get more quickly fired up, might be a little more rowdy.
Q: After everything that happened this summer, did you ever envision that you would be playing in a big game like this?
A: When you come to Penn State, yeah. Even with everything we've been through, we knew if we still played football, there were still going to be big games. In the Big Ten, there's always going to be big games.
Q: Talk about the importance of containing Braxton Miller, to get a push or whatever from your position.
A: He's an elusive player, one of the best in the country. It won't be easy to stop him, but we've had a lot of practice going against running quarterbacks this year. We have Geno (Eugene) Lewis running as Braxton Miller, he's doing a pretty good job. We've only had Monday's practice, but he did a good job with scramble drills and stuff like that. As long as we keep our containment and do our jobs, we should be able to make plays.
Q: Obviously Ohio State is a big game, but does it mean more to you that the winner could be considered the best team in the Big Ten?
A: Even after this game, we still have to play four more Big Ten games. You never know what happens after that, who will emerge after that. You can't jump ahead that quickly.
Q: Watching tape, how is this year's Braxton Miller different from last year's?
A: The offense that Coach Meyer brought is the style that Tim Tebow used to do. It's more designated runs. He has a year under his belt, so when a play breaks down, he's great at making a play and turning it into positive yardage for them.
Q: Penn State's the only team in the nation with two players on the Butkus Award list. What's it like playing with Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges?
A: It's great when you have those two. They're crazy back there, they have all the energy in the world. They have a motor that's crazy. I wish I had a motor like that one. It seems like they're going full speed every single play. Even when they're talking, they're going full speed. It's just fun having them back there behind me.
Q: When you have those guys playing at the level they are right now, how does that help you? Are there different things that you can do up front that you couldn't without them?
A: Not differently, but you feel more comfortable. In passing situations, we might take a chance on certain things because you have those two guys back there. Glenn Carson is a good linebacker, too. You feel more comfortable doing certain things, with those guys back there covering for you.
Q: Why do you think (Glenn) Carson gets overlooked a little behind Mauti and Hodges? What does Carson bring to the defense?
A: With Gerald having a big year last year and continuing into this year and Mauti, you know how Mauti is. You can get overlooked easily, but he's the middle linebacker. He's making a lot of the calls for us. He's the guy behind the scenes. At the same time, he's out there making plays, too. It's just that some guys names will be called, some guys won't.
Q: Iowa's center James Ferentz is an excellent center, but you had your way with him a lot of times. What does that do for your confidence moving forward?
A: It just helps the whole defensive line, knowing that we can do that. We knew we had a challenge ahead of us with that offensive line. I knew I did with Ferentz. Him and I had a good battle last year when it was here. He said something to me, got me a little riled up, gave me a little fire before the game.
Q: You mentioned that early in the season, you might have been doing too much. What have you done since then to make sure that you're not doing too much? Is that something that you feel like all of the seniors have done?
A: In the first couple of games, I thought 'Alright, I'm a senior, I only have 12 games left, I have to try to make every play I possibly can.' That's not the way I've ever played and that's not the way you should play. You should play within yourself and know what you can do and go do it. I'm done with trying to do the extra stuff, I'm just playing the game I know how to and it will speak for itself.
Q: What would beating Ohio State mean to the progression of the season? Is there more of a buzz this week on campus?
A: It would mean a lot, because it's the best team that we've played up to this date this season. They're undefeated, it's Ohio State, it's a rivalry for us. Especially for me, I'm a Pennsylvania kid, a Big 33 kid, Pa. vs. Ohio. You always get going for that one. It's a different feel; a lot of students are ready for the game. They're saying, 'I can't wait for Saturday, I wish it was tomorrow, I wish it was today'. All of the campers at Nittanyville, it's a record over there and it's good to see those things continue.
Q: Urban Meyer in his press conference said that he wasn't going to do anything differently to prepare for the crowd noise. Do you think he's going to regret that?
A: After Saturday, I hope he does. It's more of the fans, I want the student section to hear that. We need them. They're just as important as us, because when they get into the game, we get more into it. They're a big part of it.
No. 6 - Gerald Hodges, Senior, Linebacker
Q. How would you compare your personality with Michael Mauti? Are you two very similar or very different?
A. On the field, we're basically the same exact person with the same exact intensity and thought process when it comes to playing football. Off the field, Mauti can't sit still. He always has to be moving around even before the game. I am very laid back type of person but when it comes to being on the field, we have the same mentality and force when we are on the field.
Q. Coach O'Brien said that the kids who stayed on this team deserve to play in a game of this magnitude. Do you agree with that?
A. Absolutely. We went through Hell's Kitchen this entire offseason. Since the coaches been here, we have been working out in the springtime, working out in the summertime, and running on the hills in the hot sun. I don't care if you're a freshman or this is your last year, everyone deserves to play in this game just because of the excitement that the fans and stadium bring. I think everyone deserves it because everyone has put in so much time and the walk-on's that knew they weren't going to play and still stuck it out with each other and that is where the whole "One Team" comes in. I believe because of that right there that everyone deserves to play in this game.
Q. How important is it having somebody or a group of people spying on Braxton Miller to make sure he is doing with the ball first?
A. It is definitely important because he is a big threat not just in the Big Ten but also in the whole country as a quarterback. We did a great job of containing him last year but obviously as you can see, he has become a great quarterback both running and passing so we are definitely are going to have to make a big emphasis on making sure someone is there as a quarterback spy for the whole game. They have other playmakers at wide receiver and running back so we can't just put the whole game around him because they do have other playmakers. Miller is a great athlete and a great quarterback but we are going to have to focus on playing the whole Ohio State team and not just Braxton Miller.
Q. Do you do anything different on the field or this week of practice since it's a big game this week?
A. No. Like I said, everyone on the team comes out each week with the same intensity to get the job done. It's nothing that we do extra because that means that you were holding back games before, so we just go out there everyday and try to get better each and everyday.
Q. How has Mike Hull factored into this defense?
A. Coach O'Brien always puts an emphasis on player roles and he gave each and every player a role. Mike Hull's role is to come in and make plays and since the season's started, that's what he has been doing. He is always making a big play whether it is a fumble recovery or an interception or a sack or a knockdown in a big situation. He is just playing his role and is being a playmaker every single game.
Q. What do you think the guys who left the program are missing out on right now?
A. I wouldn't say they are missing out on anything. If anything, they are missing out on a tight family with a lot of love in it. That's all that is. Congratulations on what those guys have done and good luck to what they are doing but we have been focused on who stuck it out and is on that "One Team" with us.
Q. How do you make sure as seniors that you guys aren't trying to do too much and just play your game?
A. We just go out there and it plays a big part with out coaches being able to take positive and negative criticism. As a senior, you definitely think you have to be that savior but if we all just go out there and play our role, we will be fine.
Q. When you first saw the schedule, did this game jump out at you?
A. You don't want to look past any teams but Ohio State is a game where you know it's going to be a hard fought game, similar to Iowa. It's going to be a dogfight to the end because you know they are not going to give up. Like I said, you don't want to look past any teams but now that they are here, we are itching to play them again just to show the world that we are not your average team and we can play with the best of them.
Q. How much does Mauti motivate you to become better and vise versa?
A. Each and every practice and game, we motivate each other. It's not one of those things like "he tells me his stats and I get mad", but instead we just do things to motivate each other. We both have been playing well and every time he makes a play, I am the first one there to tell him "that's a good job and now it's my turn". It's nothing but friendly competition to make us better and help the team win.
Q. What goes through your mind when you see an interception opportunity?
A. Its repetition between practice and watching film and coaches working on plays after plays after plays so come game time, we know that certain route comes up, we can just anticipate it. It's all about anticipation and breaking on a route and studying it in on film. That's what practice is for. We can fix our mistakes and capitalize from them. When I see a play coming up, I just try and anticipate it.
Q. Do you feel like you took your eye off the ball last week?
A. I think I did. I thought I could have grabbed it with two hands after I was watching it but it was one of the mistakes I have to fix this week for next week.
Q. Did you get a sense of the NASCAR offense could do a lot more than Big Ten teams could expect?
A. Oh, yeah. When you look at Coach O'Brien, he is a mastermind when it comes to offense. He is smart and breaks it down and we have offensive players that can get it done. Every game he surprises me and putting up that many points on Iowa definitely meant he is a mastermind when it comes to this type of offense.
Q. How difficult was it last year with the coaching transition during the season to this year with the stability of Coach O'Brien and his staff?
A. It's a different type of offense and in past years, it wasn't a spread offense and this year it is. We are passing more than we are running the ball and that is about it. It's a different type of offense that we aren't used to running in the past.
Q. What happened in those first two games with the third down defense and what have you guys changed since then?
A. Just the intensity and it's mostly about pride and establishing a backbone for us. It's more of a pride and want to more than a have to.
Q. How much more third down tape has the defense been watching?
A. We watch that a lot because we know third downs are going to come up and they are very critical. We put an emphasis on stopping the offense on third down and give our offense a chance to go back on the field and make plays.
Q. Have you given any thought on the next step and going to the NFL?
A. I have just been trying to finish out this year strong and what comes comes. I can't say what's going to come and I can't say what's going to happen so I just want to finish these games out strong and do the best I can do for my team.
No. 9 - Michael Zordich, Senior, Running Back
Q. How fortunate do you guys feel being in this position right now at 5 and 2 with winning five in a row and having an undefeated team come here this weekend?
A. We are extremely excited to be playing in these types of games. This is a big game being at night under the lights and it being a WhiteOut but we also feel like we worked to get here. I wouldn't call it luck, we feel fortunate and we earned this spot and we are looking forward to playing in it.
Q. When you guys were 0-2, from a seniors prospective, how did you turn this team around?
A. There were a lot of things that went into it. We had a lot of young guys playing who are very talented but haven't been in a game situation at Penn State before. We had the new offense and the new coaches so everyone had to blend together. We didn't freak out. We knew we couldn't lose again nor did we want to lose again. We put it all together and just went out and played and luckily we have been able to put something together.
Q. How important is Matt McGloin to this team and where do you think this team would be without him as your starting quarterback?
A. Matt obviously plays a key role on offense and on the team. He has put in a whole lot of work and has studied a lot of film as well as spending a lot of time in the meeting room with the coach and he understands the offense and how to read defenses. All of his hard work in the film room and the weight room and in the off-season is paying off for him and its something I love to see out of him.
Q. What has it been like for you to be playing under many different coaches in your career and what has Coach O'Brien done to stabilize this environment?
A. Personally, it is a great experience. It's new life with new faces around and you can't say enough about Coach O'Brien, not only what he does on Saturdays but every day in the building and with the team. He is an honest guy and tells it like it is and he is always going to be real with you as a player so that is something that plays a huge role in his success and our relationship with him as our coach and a lot of guys in that room have a whole lot of respect for him.
Q. Offensively, do you guys feel like you've taken the conference by surprise with all of the NASCAR stuff and teams haven't figured out what you are trying to do yet?
A. I mean anytime you get a new offense and a new scheme going it's going to surprise people. There is a lot of game film out there now so teams are ready for it and preparing for it so they know what to expect, but it's a new style that people aren't used to playing at Penn State. It might be new to the other teams, but I wouldn't say that it surprises them anymore. It is definitely a lot of fun to play in.
Q. What do you think a win against Ohio State will do for the future of the program, not just for recruiting but also in terms of how Penn State will be viewed again in the national spotlight?
A. Playing Ohio State, a wins a win. That is going to do a whole lot. There are many things that will filter in to but we have to concentrate on just the game and not think about the effects of a win or a loss because we are sticking to what we have been doing which is go out every Saturday and beat the team that is across from you. That is how we are looking at it even though this is a really big game. There could be a lot riding on it so we have to stay focused and stay concentrated on just going out and playing.
Q. Can you talk about what you have seen from Bill Belton in practice and how he has changed from week one till now?
A. He has natural talent. He is very swift with the ball and making people miss and he is gifted. He can run the ball and he should know that, but early in the season, instead of being decisive, he would try to make a huge play. But you can't blame him for that since he was the potential to do that every play. Coach has been working really with all of us in just being decisive, making one cut and going. Billy has really taken that to heart and it goes to show on Saturday and the rest of the season as well.
Q. What have you noticed from Jordan Hill's presence over the course of the season helping the defense shut down opponents?
A. Did you watch the game Saturday? (Laughs) Because he was all over the field. He has the hands, the feet, and the hips. He is a very difficult defensive lineman to play against because he is extremely strong and quick. He really has everything he wants and before, I heard him say something about Mauti and Gerald's drive and how they have that presence out there. He carries the same presence with him. I know he was being humble about it but he has that same presence out there and has that same motor. He makes just as many plays.
Q. With the NASCAR offense, did you or any of the guys have to study the playbook after practice to get it down?
A. It's a whole new class and is like having an extracurricular added to your schedule. It's fun and I love it. It is all X's and O's and its something I'm personally interested in and you definitely have to spend some time reading over the playbook and looking over the game plans because its quick with everything you have to react to and everything you have to think about with responsibilities.
Q. Are you still looking at it after practices now and still trying to get a grip on it?
A. Yes. We will always be throwing in a few wrinkles here and there so there is always stuff to look.
Q. Mauti said that Saturday was one of the funnest games he ever had playing football. Could you notice that and are all of you guys having fun playing football?
A. I think that that is one of the most important things of our success lately is that we are having fun. You can see it on the faces on Saturday and every emotion you could have came out during that game. That is why we play the game and that's why we love it and is one of the huge factors of why we have be able to do what we have been doing.
Q. Can you evaluate McGloin's ability with running the ball since Coach O'Brien jokingly said McGloin is a dual threat quarterback?
A. That is debatable, that last comment, but we mess around with him because we always say he is not that athletic but he is very good at getting out of the pocket and avoiding pressure. It is really impressive and he always finds a way to extend the play by spinning out and doing what he can. It surprises you but once you see it a couple of times, you learn to realize he knows what he is doing and he can get that done.
Q. With Ohio State also facing a bowl ban this season, do you feel any sympathy for these players knowing that these players had nothing to do with the sanctions that they are facing right now?
A. I have friends that played at Ohio State and yes, there's always that because you can say we are in the same situation. There are two totally different reasoning's behind it but it is what it is and were both here so that's what makes this game so important because both of these teams are playing just for Saturdays. Each Saturday is the only one they have. There is no postseason and that is why Ohio State has been able to get where they are at with an undefeated season so far and that is why we have been able for us to turn it on lately and that will be a big factor going into Saturday's game.
Q. In your five years here, heading into a game has there been this much hype and excitement before?
A. Yes there has been a couple but not for me personally. There has been a lot going on this season and I can remember the Notre Dame game, the Michigan State game and Iowa a couple of years ago. There have been so many big games that have been played here but this one is going to be a lot of fun for me personally.
Q. When was the last time you were back home?
A. Probably right before camp started.
Q. How much excitement is there with Urban Meyer being their head coach? What kind of buzz is there in the state of Ohio?
A. There definitely very excited and they should be. Urban Meyer is a great coach and has proven that in Florida and everywhere else he has been. He gets the job done and it has been working out for Ohio State so far. They have every right to be excited and Ohio feels very strongly about Ohio State and that is always going to be that way so you hear a whole lot of it.
Q. Being an Ohio kid, what's it like coming here on this stage playing against Ohio State?
A. It is fun and I have a lot of fried playing on Ohio State and at the same time, my family is from Penn State being that they went here. It's a game that we have to go out and win and I look more forward to it because I know guys on the other team and my friends care about them.
Q. Did you hear the rumors about Urban Meyer coming here and what did you think about that?
A. We all heard rumors but we have Coach O'Brien here now and we are very happy with him as our coach so we really do not think too much besides that. He is our coach so there is really no point in even thinking about Coach Meyer being our coach.