CFI: How much does the return of Beanie Wells help as you enter conference play?
LAURINAITIS: Oh it is huge. I think he is a difference maker. Just having that back in the backfield makes people put a certain number of guys in the box and when he breaks one and gets into that secondary, it almost looks like guys don’t want to tackle him. He is a force and guy that when you hit him consistently in the game, you know he’s going to take a few years off your career. He is a big guy and it means a lot to this offense, confidence wise, to have him back. Boom Herron does a great job for us too. Having those guys as a one-two punch instead of having just one is something that will benefit our team.
CFI: Speaking of big backs, do you feel a little bit more worn down after taking on the Badgers…they have some bruising backs?
LAURINAITIS: Oh yeah, definitely. (Worn down) and sore. Their whole O-Line is about 315-330 pounds and they have a 255-pound fullback, and they have those big running backs (P.J. Hill & John Clay). They are a very physical team. It was a battle and we were just very happy to win the war.
CFI: Do you relish those games? That was a linebackers’ game, wasn’t it?
LAURINAITIS: Exactly. It’s power football, an old fashion Big Ten game. You just got to run the ball and play field position, you’ve got to like that as a linebacker. You’re getting action each play and you don’t have to run around and tackle those little tiny receivers each play.
CFI: Tell us about Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum…how does he compare to Dustin Keller?
LAURINAITIS: I think they are very similar. Travis, who just made some terrific catches in the game, I watched that film and how he holds on to the ball. He made two distinct catches that were pretty impressive and another one that was big over the middle. He is a guy who is impressive on film. He was good last year when we played and he is better this year. I think he is a guy who can be a dual threat, blocking and give depth at receiver as well.
CFI: You’re not the only tough guy in your family…your father, as everyone knows, was a pro wrestler—Road Warrior Animal of the “Legion of Doom”, your older brother is police officer, and your younger sister plays hockey. Who’s the toughest of the group?
LAURINAITIS: I’d have to say it is my mother. She is the one that had to endure throwing the football to me when my dad was out of town. We would wait at the bus stop when I was in kindergarten and she would throw me the ball in the blistering cold. I’d get mad at her if it wasn’t a perfect throw. I think she is the toughest one. My sister is a great athlete, my brother is a tough guy being in the army and now a police officer. Obviously my dad, (but) my mom runs the household. She is a tough woman who raised us all and handled a guy like my father.
CFI: What is the storybook ending for the Buckeyes this season?
LAURINAITIS: To just keep winning. Keep getting better as a team and play the best we can. We know there are going to be a lot of tough games with Purdue here, Michigan State on the road is going to be a tough one, and Penn State, Northwestern, Illinois, and Michigan. You know all these teams are going to be tough in the Big Ten. To just keep getting better and play the best football that we can and the rest will take care of itself. Whatever happens across the country we can’t control…we can just control what this team does.