Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel joined the weekly Big Ten teleconference today to talk with members of the national media. Tressel started out by revisiting Marshall and giving a salute to OSU kicker Mike Nugent.
"We had a heck of a ballgame this past weekend here at home against Marshall," Tressel said. "They played very well. At times, we played well. There's still a whole lot of lessons we need to learn, and we'll have to learn them fast, because we head down to Raleigh, North Carolina to play an outstanding N.C. State team. But you have to be excited the opportunity Mike Nugent had. He had a chance to win the game with two seconds to go from 55 yards, and he did it. It couldn't happen to a better guy and a guy that I think is one of the finest kickers in the country."
The game at North Carolina State will give OSU a tough, non-conference road game, which Tressel believes will prepare the team for conference play.
"I think it's good," Tressel said. "It's going to be a tough game. It's going to be in a hostile environment against very, very good athletes and coaches. They've had a lot of preparation time for us with an open date this week, so it's about as tough a scenario as you can possibly put us in. I think that's good, because if you're going to get ready to play in the Big Ten, you better be prepared."
Tressel also wouldn't mind if the game once again went to overtime.
"If it's a little overtime, then that means we were hanging in there, so I'm not opposed to overtimes," he said.
Last year's triple overtime game against N.C. State and the Sept. 11 game against Marshall were two of many games Tressel has coached over the past two years that have gone down to the wire. He was asked his thoughts on all the close games he has experienced and how he feels on the sidelines during those games.
"I like it when it's over," Tressel said. "While it's going on, it's working, so I don't even know that it's that wild and crazy. Football in this day and age -- I don't care if it's the NFL or college football -- teams are so well-schooled, so well-trained, they have such good athletes. Scholarship numbers are so different than they were even 15 years ago that you better expect to play in tight ball games. Everyone who comes into Ohio Stadium enjoys playing there because it's an extraordinary atmosphere, so we're going to get everyone's best shot. You have to battle to the end, and that's what we're there for."
OSU wide receiver Santonio Holmes had a career day on Saturday against Marshall, and Tressel was asked to discuss Holmes' development since coming to Ohio State.
"Santonio's a guy that really went to work as a freshman," Tressel said. "He was being redshirted. He went down on the practice field against a very good defense in 2002 and played hard every snap, each and every day to make sure he got better and they got better. Then last year, when his opportunities came up, he really did a great job. This year, hopefully he'll keep better and better, but he's special.
"As far as who is he like, he's not similar to Mike Jenkins although he makes plays like Mike did the last three years. Some of the old timers around here may compare him to the Terry Glenn-type style, Paul Warfield-style, I don't know. But he's a good one."
The running game continues to be an issue for Ohio State, and Tressel was asked about the outlook for Lydell Ross this year and whether or not the team has benefited from not having distractions brought about by Maurice Clarett.
"Well, I don't know," Tressel said. "We haven't talked about it much. We've got a lot of issues that we have to get better at. I guess we've been so engrossed in trying to get a young football team a little better day by day that we really haven't given that that much thought.
"We think Lydell needs to have a great year for us to have a great year. He had about 140 the first game and 90 or something the second game. Solid numbers -- I wouldn't call them breakout numbers. We have to get better up front. He has to get better at what he does. We've got to probably do a bit of a design improvement to shake him free a little bit. So we're working on all those things, and again, I'm still in hopes that he has one of those great, great years."
Tressel also weighed in with his thoughts on Big Ten instant replay to this point.
"From what I've seen so far, it's been fine," he said. "Our first game, we didn't have anything, so I have no reference point, nor do I think there were any that should have been looked at. This past game, we had one where they were wondering, 'Was our running back's progress stopped before he let loose of the ball?' As it turned out, it wasn't, and they were able to get a turnover. My feeling on those fumble-type things is if you don't hand it to the official at the end of the play, it was probably a fumble, and so I wasn't expecting it to be overturned, by any stretch of the imagination.
"I think if you're going to have a replay system, the one we have in place seems at this moment to make some sense. I'm not for a full-blown, coach throw-in-the-red-flag, sit-and-look-through-the-monitors type system, but so far, so good."
Tressel's reaction to instant replay seems to be mixed, and even though he doesn't seem to be a fan of replay, he has accepted the changes.
"I've bought into it because it's the rule," he said. "It so happens to be the way it's being done, so that's fine; let's go. Do I think it's wonderful? I don't know that I'm a huge instant replay guy because it's not comprehensive. It doesn't look at the holds or the clips on the kickoff returns or all those different things, so if you're only so if you're only going to look at some of our things, I don't know if you should do it that way. But again, we as a conference want to be leaders. We want to take a look at something and then assess, 'Will it be better for the game?' Obviously after two games, I don't know if any of us have enough data to have an informed decision."