Simonton Meets The Press
Oct. 9, 2001
(OSU's three losses are to teams with a combined 14-0 record, does the next stretch of games look a little different than that?) 'Going into each week, the view doesn't change. We stand on the same hill and look at that same horizon you're talking about, and it doesn't change until somebody smacks you in the eyeballs. We've just got to come out and fight back. It's no different preparing for Arizona than it was for Washington State, personally, I'm more concerned with a team like Arizona who is struggling a little bit than a team like Arizona State who's got a little confidence. You don't want to be the team they get it together against.'
(How frustrating has this season been for you?) 'I love wins and losses, but that's not really the whole story. It's how you play. I've been more frustrated with how we've played, not that we've lost. I can deal with getting beat, but when you don't go out and fight, it's just like watching two kids on the playground and one's getting swung in a circle getting punched - it's like, 'Man, fight back. You're already getting hit. What's it going to cost you to swing back?' That's been kind of the most frustrating part for me, guys on my side of the ball - we just look soft on offense, all 11 of us.'
(Did you get a little of the 'fight back' feeling in the second half at Washington State when OSU's defense created some turnovers?) 'The last three weeks, our defense has played well enough for us to win the game, so my focus isn't on the defense. They've got to come up with some leadership and get their own thing going, we are the same team, but we can't worry about each other. The defense has to pull itself together, the last three weeks, they've been good enough for us to win. We're just not doing anything on offense. Yeah, I get excited watching the defense start to find itself, but what good is that if we're not doing it on offense? We've scored 14 points in two games, so my concern is with my side of the ball.'
(What are the most critical changes in the offense from last season to this season?) 'The way we're playing. I don't know if it's lack of leadership, if we're not leading, if they're not following, or if we just lack heart. I don't know what the story is, but I know when I watch us on film, we just look soft. We're not fighting for each other. I think one of the biggest differences was the commitment this summer. We had so many guys who wanted to go home and show off their new rings, so ... we learned how to come together, but it's during the season. You'd like to figure some of these things out during the summer.'
(Compare the summer of 2000 to the summer of 2001) 'Just the commitment to stay. I was one of those guys who didn't really like staying up here, it was kind of forced on me, but the one thing I realize was that my line needed to see me out here. Even if I came back in great shape, that's fine and dandy, but you want to get a feel for each other. This team is so new, we're still getting a feel for each other, we're still learning what to say, when to say it. (Quarterback) Jonathan Smith is dealing with that - we talked about it after the game, you know, 'I'm not sure when I should say something to so-and-so.' Those are the things that need to be ironed out during the summer. It's not a matter of they didn't go home and do anything, it's a matter that we need to be together a little more. There are too many new faces to try to learn the ropes, and that's what we're doing. We've just got to learn to put it together now.'
(You, Jonathan Smith and the seniors have seen the whole range of OSU's successes and failures - how frustrating is it for you to see the program take a little bit of a step back?) 'It's the fifth game of the season, so I can't say it's taking a step backward. It's right where it should be. All things are for a reason. Last season, we lost one game because it was meant to be that way. This year is going how it was meant to go. It may not be how we planned it, but this is just the nature of a program. You can maybe name two or three programs that are able to stay consistent with a certain level of dominance, and I don't really question their conferences. Like Florida State - how good can a conference be if a team is 72-1 or 73-1? This is just the nature of the game. You can't say it's a horrible step for the program, it's just a natural process. These guys are learning a valuable lesson that we've had to learn, as well - learn how to be underdogs. They inherited a championship legacy, but it was only a one-year legacy. So if they wan to retain that, they've got to earn that. It's going to be a great lesson for them to learn.
(What did you do over the summer, and what was your mindset going into the season?) 'Personally, I had a lot of stuff going on over the summer but I just tried to keep myself limber as possible - a lot of stretching, trying to more running, I did more lifting coming out of the spring and summertime I didn't do as much. I just tried to concentrate on my running and keeping my legs fresh. That was pretty much it - I didn't try to change too much from my regimen.'
(With defenses stacking the line of scrimmage to focus on stopping you, has that caused problems for OSU's running game?) 'I have respect for every defense I face, but other than watching film I don't really pay attention to what they do and how many they bring in the box - they just give me the ball, and if we do our job, it works, if we don't, it doesn't. I don't really pay attention to what the defense is trying to do to stop me, I'm just trying to get the ball in my hands and make a play when I do.'
(What type of leadership role do you have on this team? Do you need to say something?) 'I don't know - sometimes there's a need for something to be said, if I feel compelled to say it, I do, but I'm not going to sit out here and get into a yelling match. We've got a lot of guys who just haven't been here, and you don't learn any other way but a trial by fire - it's just the nature of the game. They're going to have to learn from mistakes, going through it. I try not to put too much on their head by yelling and screaming at them, I just try to encourage them and challenge them when I see fit. But right now, as an offensive unit, we're just facing that challenge together, so I can't do too much yelling because I'm not doing anything.'
(Sum up your emotions after the loss at Fresno State?) 'Well, considering the commitment we made this summer, it wasn't that big of a shock to me. I was hoping it wouldn't have been in Fresno on live TV like that, but it wasn't much of a shock. We needed to be humbled, now we need to learn how to fight. I can't say that I was that shocked.'