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TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL: KANSAS STATE v OHIO STATE

January 2, 2004

Thomas Houchin Nick Leckey Bill Snyder

TEMPE, ARIZONA

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please, for the student athletes.

Q. Tell us about the last play. Seemed like the linemen were concentrating on their jobs. What was going through your mind on that last play as a linemen?

NICK LECKEY: I was hoping one of our guys would have brought it down and put it in the end zone. I was really thinking to do my job, hold up my end of the bargain, because we weren't throughout the game. I was just trying to add something to this game. Just hoping that one of them would catch it.

Q. Can you talk about the team's frame of mind, how you handled distractions the last 24 hours?

THOMAS HOUCHIN: Well, it's kind of hard to go either way and say, you know, that it was a thing that hurt this thing or a thing that helped this team. By no means it probably helped. We got players on this team that are very mature. We got coaches that are very mature. The way that we handled this was I think better than any team or any university could have handled it. We came into this game just as prepared mentally and physically as we have for any ballgame. We just didn't get it done the way we usually have been getting it done. All the distractions, like I say, we have such great people in this program from the top all the way down to the bottom, before the game, I don't think that had any control on the aspect of the game.

NICK LECKEY: I echo what Thomas said. We've been really mature. Everything was handled as best as possibly could. I think we handled adversity all season long. It was another bump on the road, something that really needed to try to get this team together, just try to play as one. That's what we've been trying to do all season, just play as one. So it just drew us even closer.

Q. How many new things did you see out of Ohio State's offense tonight, things you didn't expect?

THOMAS HOUCHIN: Actually, they didn't show a whole lot of new things. They gave us a couple new formations, threw the ball up a little more than we expected them to. They more or less did the things they've been doing for two years now. They played the field position game, wasn't making many mistakes. They got players that make big plays, they did that. They found ways to win offensively; they did that. They threw the ball to No. 12, let him get one-on-one, so our rush couldn't get there. When they had to, they ran the ball and ran it well. It wasn't more of what they did but more of what we did, not able to stop it.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. We'll let you go. Questions for coach Snyder.

Q. Your decision to start Roberson?

COACH SNYDER: What about it? Was it my decision?

Q. Yes.

COACH SNYDER: Yes.

Q. Why did you decide to do it? What did it come down to?

COACH SNYDER: Making that decision? Why did I make that decision?

Q. Yes.

COACH SNYDER: Well, a great deal of work, a great deal of, what do you want to call it, investigation by our administration gave me information that led us to believe that Ell Roberson was not guilty of what he was charged of. He hasn't been charged. What he was seemingly implicated in. Considering that, it was my decision to allow him to play in the ballgame. That doesn't mean that there is not some discipline to take place, but not because of what you allude to, but because of some other issues as it relates to team rules or discipline.

Q. Can you talk about how -- team rules, you're talking about team curfew, I assume, that is for you defined as being on the premises or players have to be in their rooms?

COACH SNYDER: I apologize for maybe not making myself clear. Anything that happens within the confines of our program, it has been our policy for whatever that is now, 15 years, to keep it in-house. Indeed, I will always do that. So whatever has taken place, obviously some of the issues or an issue was made public, so, you know, I've addressed that to a certain degree. But, you know, anything that would lend itself to discipline issues or problems of any sort in our program, they will always remain in our program. I'm not going to discuss those with the media or outside the confines of our family. I would always probably allude to the fact that I think each of you would probably not be too excited about sharing some information about you and your family with the media if it were somewhat distasteful. That's just our policy, so...

Q. A couple of things. Could you talk about perhaps your disappointment that a senior and a captain would be put in a compromising position, perhaps? Also, could you evaluate Ell's play tonight?

COACH SNYDER: Well, I'm disappointed that we were in the situation that we were in. I'm disappointed that anything took place to take away from the preparation for this ballgame, to take away from the assessment of a young man's character. I mean, there's a lot of things that I am very disappointed in. How did Ell play? Not very well. I thought he played -- you saw in the second half, he was a very competitive young man. Collectively over the course of the ballgame, probably didn't play real well.

Q. Were the two connected? Was it a distraction prior to the game? Did you see that carrying over into game time for him or any of your players?

COACH SNYDER: I think that's probably the case. But that can be an excuse. I don't mean for it. Ohio State beat Kansas State University, and they did it because they were the better football team tonight and they played very well. They need to be proud of that. I'm sure they are. Did we play as well as we're capable of? No, we didn't. Would that have changed the outcome? I don't know that for a fact either.

Q. Can you talk about Ohio State's offense? Did they show you some different things, how your defense played against that offense?

COACH SNYDER: Well, we were just inconsistent. I think we played well at times and not so well at other times. We gave up some throws at times that we really needed some field position and let them off the hook. On third down, they were better on third down than we hoped they would be. They were far better than we were on third down. Even though the score, no one probably would have projected that many points would have been scored in this ballgame, nevertheless, it did happen. You know, I think as you go back and look at the ballgame, it truly became a field position ballgame. Special teams had a big implication in that. The fact that they could get off the hook on third down, third down had a lot to do with it, as well.

Q. Tell us about trying for the field goal in the fourth quarter.

COACH SNYDER: I mean, it doesn't add up. Mathematically it's probably not a good decision other than the fact you're so far away from the goal line. When we got the penalty, unnecessary penalty, all we wanted to do at that time was get some points on the board and come back and see if we couldn't play some defense. You know, eventually it was either going to be if you did what you needed to do, it was to go for 2, or go into overtime. They don't lose overtime games, so I'm not sure I would have taken it into overtime. We were just in between a rock and a hard place at that particular point of time. No scientific reason for it.

Q. Talk about the blocked punt in the first quarter, what broke down there.

COACH SNYDER: Well, I mean, it was a great effort on their part. It was poor protection on our part. We had one of our protectors who got caught off on an inside rusher, an outside rusher came off the edge on the right side and blocked the punt. A major play in the ballgame - as was an interception that we had shortly after that coming off our own goal line, set up a quick score for them. That was 14 points with their defense and their special teams. That's what they're so good at. You make those kind of mistakes in the kicking game, make those kind of mistakes with turnovers, you're inviting defeat. That's exactly what we did.

Q. I know we're real close to having the last game of the season over, but can you talk about next year, the fact you're losing so many talented seniors, the challenge of just replacing those guys?

COACH SNYDER: I think that's a challenge every year. You know, you go back, we have had very few years in which we haven't turned over, you know, somewhere in the vicinity of 20 to 27, 28 players. This is no different. Now, that doesn't mean there weren't exceptions to those years. But by and large, that's somewhat the same. I know Ohio is going to turnover approximately the same number. We do have a lot of talented players. I think we had a lot of younger guys as well. Do we have everybody at the right spots? Probably not at this point in time. But that's part of the recruiting process as well, and part of the development stage for young people in our program. So, you know, we'll have to utilize the players that we have in the best way we possibly can, and as we intend to do year in and year out, you got some positions that you just have to improve at. Hopefully all your players will get better, and you have some at some positions that might be a little more critical than others.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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