Fickell Presser Notes: Nebraska Week

By DJ Byrnes on October 4, 2011 at 1:20p
Where'd you learn to tackle like that, son? Ohio State?Nebraska comes in licking their wounds as well.

This Saturday at 8:00 PM, Ohio State will make its first visit to Lincoln, Nebraska. Both teams are coming off games where they were embarrassed, despite the different margins of loss. Nebraska was gutted by Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, who put up 280 total yards (and three touchdowns) on the Huskers. Ohio State was ground into a 10-7 loss at home to the Michigan State Spartans. It was a game which the offense saw half of its plays net zero yards or move backwards.

With fresh suspensions behind cast down and his team desperately needing to get the season back on track, Luke Fickell once again took the the podium in the Fawcett Center's Alumni Lounge this afternoon to answer the assembled media's questions.

With the  new wave of turmoil having washed over the program, I figured today's conference had a chance of being special, despite Fickell's obvious unwillingness to divulge anything of substance to the media.

I ended up being wrong. It was the typical Luke Fickell presser, but here's what Ol' Fick had to say...

… Communications Director Jerry Emig started the presser by declaring that today wasn’t the time to ask Coach Fickell about “summer work programs or boosters.” He said since Gene Smith answered questions yesterday, questions today should stick to Nebraska and football.

… Fickell doesn’t know about Philly Brown's or Nathan Williams’ status. He said they’d have to see how Philly “runs around at practice” and called Williams’ status “doubtful.”

… “We’re going to focus on what we have, not what we don’t have,” is what Fickell said in regards to the newest wave of suspensions.

… DeVier Posey and Boom Herron are still on the team, and Fickell said he hasn’t given thought to kicking them off the team as “it’s still under investigation.”

… Verlon Reed has torn his ACL and “everything [else] in his knee” so he will be out for the year.

… Fickell says the offense has to “put itself in situations to help itself.” He said the difficulties are a “combination of everything,”  but he said the offense “needs to find out what it does well.”

… Fickell admitted the team needs to get better with its adjustments on both sides of the ball.

… Braxton Miller is listed as the starter this week, but Fickell declined to say he would have a quicker hook this week. “Braxton is our starting quarterback.” He doesn’t want Braxton to think he’s on a short leash.

… The offensive line struggles “are a combination of things,” said Fickell, noting sometimes it’s due to the defense just bringing more men than they have blockers. Mike Adams should bring some confidence to the mix up front, Fickell said.

… Fickell said, if he did get upset with the offensive staff, he wouldn’t come into the presser and detail how he went about it. He did acknowledge that they know “there are areas where they can get better.”  He then brought up technique and toughness  as something that he was looking for.

… Bo Pelini and Fickell “don’t know each other that well,” but "they are Buckeyes so they do have a connection." He doesn’t expect Nebraska to change who they are or what they do in the wake of last week’s debacle in Madison. Fickell also expects them to come after Braxton much like Michigan State did.

… “If you can’t get ready to play for a game like this… then you’re in the wrong place,” Fickell said when asked about getting his players ready for a night game in Lincoln. He said his players will be ready to play.

… Fickell said they’ve talked with people who have played in Lincoln and did some research into it this summer, but he admitted that it can’t be replicated until game time.

… “Just because they’re young, doesn’t mean we can make excuses for them,” Fickell offered when talking about his approach with his team. The coaches won’t allow excuses and it “starts at the top.”

… Fickell hasn’t been out to Nebraska (besides for wrestling), but he couldn’t offer anything to the idea that Cornhuskers fans have turned “nasty” since the Callahan era. (I have always heard of Nebraska's legendary cordiality).

… The team is still together, Fickell said. “That’s what we see and that’s what we preach.” The coaching staff doesn’t tolerate excuses. “You stay together, you win together, you lose together.”

… The lack of ability to throw on first down is a problem, Fickell acknowledged. He also stressed the need for balance, and he also said getting second-and-short and third-and-short is important as well.

… Taylor Martinez “provides a lot of challenges” for a defense. “Again, it starts up front with them. When they get guys pulling, they can string you out on the edges.”  But, Fickell noted, “you can’t just focus on [Martinez].”

... Fickell said the suspensions have helped the coaching staff develop guys. (He also slyly noted “we’ve got a couple weeks until Michigan.”) He noted the lack of a fourth year quarterback or a fourth year middle linebacker “who can check us out of some things,” but said the suspensions have helped the coaches get back to fundamentals and toughness.

… Fickell said he “doesn’t go into hypothetical situations” when asked about the possibility of getting Boom Herron back for Nebraska.

… While Ohio State hasn’t seen Nebraska, Fickell didn’t seem to concerned with the prospect. “You do it every year,” Fickell said.

… When asked if potentially being the first B1G team to lose to Nebraska being a potential tool for motivation, Fickell said “I don’t know if the prospect of not losing is a tool you want to use.”

… When asked if Solomon Thomas will work himself into playing time this week, Fickell said, “We hope so,” but acknowledged Solomon has been dinged up as well.

… As for the lack of screens against Michigan State, Fickell said when you have a running quarterback, it’s tougher to throw screens, due to defenders on the edge who are there simply to contain the edges. He also noted that while it may have looked like a sack, some screens were called.

… Fickell admitted there does need to be some offensive adjustments, but also noted “some plays need to be made.”

… “We all don’t like where we are,” Fickell said when asked about what he’d say to those criticizing Jim Bollman. “If we sit and worry about all the people criticizing us, we wouldn’t do what we need to do. We can’t let that affect us.”

… The team has bought into what they’ve been asked to do, according to Fickell. “There’s no fragmentation.” Fickell said that adversity has a way of “drawing the circle closer.”

… When asked about improvements from week one, Fickell offered “our confidence level… our tackling has gotten a lot better… our young guys are getting better.”

[video uploaded later today when I'm out of class]


Comments Show All Comments

L-TownNut11's picture

fick says the offense has to "put itself in situations to help itself" how the hell can they do that with the pee wee playcalling happening....and said the offense needs to find out what is does well..........week 6............dude its week 6 ..... 

Maestro's picture

Seriously, what is the play call for a false start?

The offense put itself in terrible situations with penalties and missed blocks on 1st down plays all game against MSU. Execute on 1st and Miller has a chance. Otherwise...........dead.

vacuuming sucks

Rooster Buckburn's picture

Off the top of my head the offensive line could help itself a ton just by blocking the guys wearing the other uniforms

Scott's picture

“You stay together, you win together, you lose together.”



Class of 2008

theDuke's picture

Second that, brother. 


BuckeyeCrew's picture

I live in Omaha, NE.  My wife's boss had extra tickets, so we are going.  (Wife is a Husker.. one of her very few flaws)

I personally am not so worried about winning this game.  I AM anxious to see if we improve on offense.

Improvement is all I care about.  No mistakes on offense. (missed blocks, dumb false starts etc...) 

NYC Buckeye's picture

Yea I feel the same way... Im heading to the game also, and after being at the Miami debacle earlier this year, I just want to see them make the game competitive, namely by improving on offense (ex. scoring a TD or maybe even 2!)...  

Being that we seem to be losing players faster than we are getting them back, I am afraid this one might get ugly though...

BrewstersMillions's picture

"Braxton is our Quarterback"-Luke Fickell

"Rex is our Quarterback"-Lovie Smith.


Any Bears fans out there? That QB comment should have made you vomit uncontrollably...

Buckeyejason's picture

Besides Fickell being an ex Buckeye player, and great Linebacking coach...there's nothing attractive about him as a head coach at this point.

There's no improvements, says the same old stuff, guess that's what happens when you're one of Tressell's yes men.

How is Soloman Thomas "dinged up" the guy hasn't played a game since the sugar bowl?

Nathan Williams doubtful? The gift that keeps on giving. It seems like he's out huge chunks of the season every year for some reason.

Sorry to be so pessimistic, but it seems like all there is is bad news this year: injuries, suspensions, etc.


Tommy's picture

You underestimate Fickell's recruiting reputation.  Supposedly even when Tress was the head man, Fick was "the closer".

JLP36's picture

Keep in mind that he was left without an offensive staff.  Tress was QB coach, Offensive Coordinator and play caller.  Hazell was his main help in calling plays.  Tress had no involvement with the D.  Fickell should have brought in an offensive mind instead of Vrabel.  That sucks, but he only got one hire.


Maestro's picture

All the suspended players have been practicing all season.

vacuuming sucks

JLP36's picture

Fickell added that instead of Jim Bollman calling plays this week that he was going to pick plays out of a hat before each play.  They might also change the snap count, but only by quarter because "JB has a lot of trouble with that".


JoshAlum's picture

He just sounds clueless regarding the offense. On defense, he talks specifics. It's sad. I stick by my Mike Leach for OC statement. 

Maestro's picture

Anybody know if Adam Homan is hurt or did David Durham just beat him out for the back up fullback spot?

I thought Durham would be a defensive surprise player after watching his high school tape, but I am glad to see that he is working his way onto the 2-deep. Kid is high energy and loves to hit.

vacuuming sucks

Buckeyejason's picture

He had to get surgery I believe.


RBuck's picture

Just from memory (shaky) Homan's been hurt for a few weeks.

Long live the southend.

Maestro's picture

Thanks folks

vacuuming sucks

Buckeyejason's picture

I can't understand Shugarts and his ability to consistently false start.

The guy is a 3 years starter. Does he day dream during the games? Is he brain dead?

Just another highly rated recruit that was mediocre on the o-line in his career.

Stick Norwell over there for goodness sakes, can't take false start shugarts and his 10 year old face anymore.


ArTbkward's picture

Hm, just googled "ad hominem".  I'm not up on my Latin apparently.

I am more optimistic that the defense picks off Martinez for a score rather than the offensive actually getting the ball into the endzone.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to the trip to Nebraska this week.  As a friend and travel companion eloquently said, "I’m going to support TOSU.  The team may benefit from my presence but I probably won’t benefit from theirs."   I hope that's wrong.

Go Bucks

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

theDuke's picture

If only the defense would score 14 points a game, we'd be pretty darn good. 


baddogmaine's picture

Fickell said the offense “needs to find out what it does well.”

Uh, isn't that the coaches' responsibility? Isn't that what the offensive coaches were supposed to have been doing since spring ball? Isn't the complete lack of an effective offensive identity the responsibility of the HC? How does a school as football-friendly as tOSU rank in the bottom 10% nationally in offense? Even with as much as we've lost through suspensions and departures we should have players who can at least move the chains if the coaches give them ways to do it. How few points must we score against NE before the Fickell/ Bollman train has no passengers?

Bucksfan's picture

It's a conundrum because the offense isn't doing anything well.  They don't seal off backside pressure on runs, the O-line isn't blowing anyone off the ball, the RBs aren't seeing cut-back lanes, the timing of the running plays between the O-line and RBs is often off, the QBs can't find open guys, the pass protection is not great, receivers are dropping balls left and right...

Couple that with an inability to deal with blitz packages, either at the QB level or at the playcalling level, shows that the team just isn't good.  Can it get better?  I don't know.  Maybe the guys they recruited just aren't very good.

SouthPlainfieldNut's picture

“I don’t know if the prospect of not losing is a tool you want to use.”

I like that response, I'll say that much.

Ultrabuckeyehomer's picture

I'll say this, I don't know what people really want him to say at this point.  I wouldn't get too worked up over quotes or positions he takes. 

I am in the camp that does not put too much blame the HC for the offensive woes ... he inherited this mess and is not the offensive guy.  He inherited a team with NO proven playmakers at any spot.  Basically, he got a center and that is it.  Everyone else needed time to adjust and improve ... you know, how it used to be before the scandals took hold of the program.

However, this is Ohio State we are talking about. The players most certainly can produce better than this.  We are in New Mexico St. or Akron territory of futility.  I don't care about being one of the best teams in the country this year, but for crying out loud, with the talent that is no doubt on this team, we have to be better than one of the worst teams (offensively), right?  I have no idea how a team is this inept on offense with the talent available. 

SouthPlainfieldNut's picture

I have a good feeling about Saturday. Don't ask me why, or how. I just do.

sfgoody's picture

I have the same strange feeling about Saturday.  We have nothing to lose, which NEVER happens in columbus, so I'm hoping we just cut loose and play fast.  No one really expects us to compete, and if there is any heart beating in those young inexperienced chests, this would be a perfect place to showcase it.  We are zero dimensional on offense, granted, but Neb is merely 1 dimensional, and I think their defense is vastly over rated.  If we can contain their running game, we're in it.  i expect another ugly slugfest ala msu, but, we have to get better.....right?


Brutus's picture

We will win. And yes, I am completely sober.

AeroBuckeye2001's picture


The Ohio State University Class of 2001

BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

DJ Byrnes's picture

I am the guy who said we'd go 11-1, but yes, I too have a jangling in my bones.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

bucknut24's picture

The defense is solid as long as they replace Howard with Clarke and they will keep us in the game I just don't think there is gonna be much change in the play calling from last week.  As conservative as Bollman is, I don't think he is going to add anything new or mix it up but just have them focus on execution so we'll see how that goes.

German Buckeye's picture

Never thought of Mike Leach for OC, but that doesn't sound too bad. As long as we dont have any equipment sheds on the grounds though....