Q&As with Vernon Carey, Ken Dorsey and Brett Romberg
Dec. 30, 2002
Q From what you’ve seen on tape, do you think Andre can overpower him with his bigger physical stature?
KEN DORSEY: I don’t know. I think we have certain opportunities that we feel like we can take advantage of, but I think if you ask Gamble, he’s going to say, no. We’re just going to go out and play the best game we can; just try to execute our game plan. If that means Andre is matched up on Gamble, we’re still going to try to execute.
Q With him playing both ways , do you see him becoming more vulnerable as the game progresses to third and fourth quarters?
KEN DORSEY: Again, I don’t know. I think, you know, naturally they do a great job of keeping him fresh. I don’t think he’s going to play both ways every single snap. You know, so I’m sure by the time the third and the fourth quarter rolls around, he’s going to be fine. They’re going to rotate him enough so he’ll be in great shape by the end of the fourth quarter.
Q Ken, is Ohio State’s defense at least one of the best you’ve seen all year?
KEN DORSEY: Definitely they’ve got not only a great scheme, but probably not many weak links on that defense. They’ve got 11 guys that are all great players. That makes them tough with the scheme they throw out at you.
Q On those lines, Ken, what aspect of that defense concerns you the most because of their potential to disrupt your game?
KEN DORSEY: I think they just try to throw a lot of different looks at you. I think when you’re facing them not too many times are they going to run the same look more than once. They’ve got a lot of different ^ways ^ weighs to get to those looks. Naturally, it’s going to be hard. They do a very good job in disguising things and moving around a little bit. You’ve got to be extremely prepared.
Q Brett, the strength on that team is their defensive front. Have you had a chance to study them?
BRETT ROMBERG: I think they’re a fully fundamentally sound football team. In terms of their line backers, they are great run stoppers; their defensive front; they’re great football players. They work well as a unit. They’re not spectacular, but they work well as a unit.
Q We’ll start with Brett, McGahee, coming out of last year, he was a third stringer. Are you surprised at all at the kind of success he’s had? Now looking back, it’s easy to say maybe not. Did you imagine he was going to have that kind of year?
BRETT ROMBERG: He pretty much dominated the spring football practice and then all of a sudden he got put back in the shadows a little bit, whether with an injury or Portis or Gore being the new deal on the table. He’s a hard working, hard?nosed football player who likes to get the job done. I think the last few running backs we have had have been that way.
KEN DORSEY: Well, I think as a team we always kind of knew how good Willis can be. That’s why we had so much faith in him coming into the season. We didn’t have any doubts that he wasn’t going to perform. We saw a glimpse of that. The spring ball where he was healthy, and actually last season, he was our second string running back until he got hurt. That was a very tough injury for him I think. I think the funny part about it is in the spring ball, coming into this year, he was our No. 1 running back and they were just fighting for the job. He was always the No. 1 guy.
VERNON CAREY: I had full confidence in him, just like Dorsey and the rest of the team did. We knew he had full capability to come in and do what he did this year. We’re just happy that he did.
Q Brett, how would you describeAndre Johnson’s athletic ability?
BRETT ROMBERG: Inhuman. He’s 6″4′, 230 pounds. His back has veins in it for God’s sake. He’s a genetic freak. I have never seen anybody like him. It’s like me, Willis and Andre Johnson were benching and they were all benching .. not floating my boat or anything, but it was a lot of weight. Andre Johnson’s ability is you can’t put a lid on them. He executes whatever he has to do to the best of his abilities.
Q Can that strength manhandle a corner?
A He can manhandle a whole line. It’s scary. It’s definitely not human. If they want to clone him, that would definitely be a good clone if you guys want to clone people.
Q Can you talk about the challenge of trying to run the football?
BRETT ROMBERG: It’s going to be a matter of us executing what our coach tells us to do. We’ve studied film together and stayed late, which we have been doing lately. It’s just a matter of who wants to get their nose a little more bloodier than the other guy and finishing your block; if they’re not good in their technique, which they are, they’re going to outwork you. They’ve made it clear on film they do not stop until the whistle blows.
Q Vernon, how strong do you think Ohio State’s defensive line is?
VERNON CAREY: They’re very strong. It’s very technically sound. They play until the whistle is blown, like Brett said.
Q Talk about your offensive line. As a group, you guys go out together all the time. Are you guys that close knit?
BRETT ROMBERG: That was a big question at the beginning of the year, especially with guys like Bibla, Joaquin and McKinnie that are in the NFL right now. I thought I was going to be the lone soldier left, because those are my compadres. But then I got Carey and those guys on the outside are freaks as well, and Chris Myers tries to emulate Martin Bibla, which is not bad. He’s an effort freak. He gives 100 percent. He might be a little light in the britches, but, you know. Then Sherko, who is the hairiest man alive, but he’s my bro. It’s a big family to tell you the truth. We knock each others moms and girlfriends and sisters. We can’t mess around with any other groups on the football team, but amongst offensive line, anything goes. As long as we’ve got that much respect for each other, you can’t match that. We’re trying to look for stories as we go through Arizona here to figure out ways to knock each other.
Like on the bus, the center seat is in the last seat and it’s usually the offensive team in the back of the bus, but for the Bowl, we sit in the front of the bus, and I’ll grab the microphone, you know. When we go to football games or practice, we do football things, but once football is over, it’s like play time. That’s what keeps us sane and playing well is the fact that when it’s away from football, we don’t have to discuss football. As long as we keep it like that, we’ll be fine.
Q What’s your favorite practical joke you guys play on one another?
BRETT ROMBERG: There is a lot about girlfriends going on, and it’s bad; whether if the girlfriend might have had a boyfriend before that might have played football. It gets wrong. There is nothing I could say that they could put on TV, but the most is our coach. He is the Devil. Coach Kehoe’s one of us. He might be able to play with us if he was 30 years younger and if you added about 13, 14 inches to him. I’m a big instigator but he’s definitely the biggest instigator. He likes to start right away. He was messing with one of our second team guys, telling him they were going to put a 1 in front of his jersey number because of his grade point average. He starts from the moment you walk into practice to the moment you leave.
Q Isn’t there something with a razor that you do with Sherko?
BRETT ROMBERG: Yeah, we paid $50 to Sherko to shave his whole body.
Q So, it’s ^1save ^ safe to say this is your favorite time of year?
BRETT ROMBERG: Oh, yes, especially when you’re playing for a national title, it’sbig and all that stuff, but, man, there is no other place that our football players and coaches would rather be right now than playing for a national title; me and Kenny especially as seniors. You can’t ask for anything else.
Q Have you ever stopped to think how much you deflect all the questions? These guys are just sitting listening to your stories.
BRETT ROMBERG: I say a lot of things I shouldn’t say.
Q Brett, you were saying how you don’t find a lot of Canadian guys that far south. Do you think you’ve really taken to South Florida? It seems like a good trip for you?
BRETT ROMBERG: Well, I always had my hair dyed blond. I was something crazy like that came out of the woodwork. Coming to Miami couldn’t have been a better place for me to go. It’s as far away as anyone could go from their hometown. I fit the Miami mold perfectly, and Ken Dorsey doesn’t. You figure a quarterback would be a good looking fellow who can definitely pick up a lady if he wants. He doesn’t care. He’s totally 100 percent focused on what the football team is supposed to do.
Q Ken, what’s this guy like in a huddle?
BRETT ROMBERG: Well, let’s just say I go to reach for the towel, but I don’t grab the towel.
KEN DORSEY: We’ll be in the huddle, and we’re down 13 points or something like that. He’ll start cracking jokes on me. I’m like, dude. It’s funny, you know. I think to display how well Brett fits into the University of Miami mold, I’ve heard stories about him when I was in high school that in between practices, people would be walking back from lunch and see this guy laying out on the turf field with no shirt on, getting sun. It’s like this guy is relaxing in the sun.
BRETT ROMBERG: I tan in a jock strap in between practice. Coach Davis would be saying, what the hell did I bring to Miami, you know.
Q How much of this sense of humor do we see during the game? Because that kind of wit could be very effective.
BRETT ROMBERG: The one that sticks out in my mind the most is Dan Klecko from Temple University. Me and Bibla used to pinch his … and tell him he’s got the prettiest eyes in the world. He would say, why you guys mess with me all the time, walking back to the huddle. That kind of personality I guess you don’t really come across it on the football field I guess.
Q Do you have any targets this week ?
BRETT ROMBERG: I’ll probably have to talk to Anderson, give him a few comments here and there to lighten the situation; laugh him to sleep. He’s a pretty good football player.
Q Does it have a tendency to (tick) guys off at all?
BRETT ROMBERG: Oh, you get called gay and the whole deal. I’ll do anything to make them not think about what they have to do.
Q Ken, somebody told me you like video games. What’s your favorite game?
KEN DORSEY: I’m a Madden Football player. I don’t have this year’s, but I have last year’s. Willis and I have a very spirited rivalry right now. I’m leading the series 4 to 3. I take a lot of pride in that; that I’m beating him right now in something at least. Q Are you expecting a high?scoring game?
KEN DORSEY: I don’t know. I think it depends on their game plan. I think with the great running game they have, I think they’re going to run the ball lots. It might be a quick game. I can tell you I don’t think it’s going to be like 40 to 38 or anything like that. It’s going to be a good game and we’re going to try to put points up on the board, as an offense. It’s hard to say.
Q Vernon, are you all right over there? You got anything to say?
VERNON CAREY: I’m TV shy.
Q Ken, what’s been the difference in terms of Andre sort of started out with a slow season and then it sort of changed?
KEN DORSEY: Naturally at the beginning of the year with Andre returning with the year he had last year, teams were going to try to take him away naturally. As the year progressed, I think, you know, we were, you know, trying to get the ball down field and open things up a little more. I think that’s where Andre started getting involved with the deep ball and Roscoe has become a very important part of that as well. As the year went out, we were trying to get the deep ball and trying to mix it up. I think just that balance of not only the short intermediate passes but throwing the long ball as well has really helped us and I think has been a key for our success.
Q If all of you could address your team’s role as a heavy favorite and what impact you think that has on preparations. You guys have to be careful not to get too fat and happy. Can you each address that?
KEN DORSEY: We’re favorites? Could have fooled me. You know, I think we’re going into this game knowing this it’s a one?game playoff. I think that’s what it comes down to. We know how good Ohio State is. We can’t come into this game laxidazical [ph]. I think if you can’t get up for the national championship game, you’re not going to be there in the first place, so that’s the way I think about it.
VERNON CAREY: Like Dorsey said, we watch films and it would be hard for me to tell that we were the favorite. They’ve got a good defense. We’re going to have to go out there and play hard.
BRETT ROMBERG: The fact that we’re favorites is kind of scary. Our preparation I think we’re probably the best prepared football team in America. Every trip we take is all business, especially flights. There is no goofing around at all. We noticed that when we went to the ABC shoot in Orlando, the guys from ABC and ESPN were commenting on the fact that how professional we were about what we did. We would go into this photo shoot where it’s muddy and rainy. We go in and do it and we leave. The guy was saying that other teams when they got in there, they were in awe of the rain, playing in the water, they were goofing around with the confetti that was on the floor. Everything we do I think is on a different scale. It’s professional. Our coaching staff handles us probably better than anyone in the country. We respect them as friends, and they’re our coaches.
Q Ken, it seemed like with only one loss over your career, you shouldn’t have to prove anything anymore. Every week people have been asking you to prove something. Do you care or not about that?
KEN DORSEY: I think it’s been a common theme throughout the year. I haven’t gone out thinking I have anything to prove. I have just been trying to win football games. The worst feeling I have ever had is when I feel like I let my teammates down. I didn’t want that feeling again. That’s been a motivator for me.
Q Ken, can you talk about Romberg’s role as a player on the football field; what he gives the team?
KEN DORSEY: He keeps that offensive line together. He keeps them on the same page. He’s one of the only guys I have been around that when you ask him on any play we run, what the guard does, what the tackle does, what the other guard or anybody else does, even the receivers, he knows exactly what they’re supposed to do. The football knowledge and the athletic ability he has, it’s very scary, and you know he’s the perfect fit for that group, let me tell you, so not only talent?wise but personality?wise, I think that’s why they’re very good. It’s because they don’t get uptight. They’re always very loose, always enjoying themselves. When it is time to focus, they get work done. That’s what impresses me the most about them.
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