Talkin' Tressel: Eastern Michigan Edition

Undefeated Ohio State is preparing to host winless Eastern Michigan this weekend, and head coach Jim Tressel met with reporters for the final time before kickoff. Read on for the latest on injuries and expectations for the game.

Ohio State's special teams figures to take another hit this weekend. At his final press conference before Saturday's home game against Eastern Michigan (3:30 p.m., ABC), head coach Jim Tressel said reserve linebacker and special teams standout Dorian Bell probably will not go after suffering an undisclosed injury during the second half of last week's victory against Ohio University.

Listed as the second-team weakside linebacker behind Ross Homan, Bell has distinguished himself on special teams. He forced a fumble during a season-opening win against Marshall and drew a block-in-the-back penalty against the Bobcats that negated a punt return for a touchdown.

"He's done well there," Tressel said. "Really he's done an excellent job on defense. You just hate to lose those reps. You have to practice to get better and to get game reps you have to utilize those well. We think Dorian is coming along."

In all, Bell has recorded five tackles this season. Tressel said he thinks he will be replaced on the special units by junior walk-on linebacker Tony Jackson. He has recorded six tackles this season.

Tressel said he does not anticipate that losing Bell will have a significant impact on the team's special teams.

"If the person that replaces him uses their technique, it will be fine," he said. "Dorian had a good feel for it and he's a big body that can run pretty well. Maybe we'll lose a little something but whoever is in their lane reading the scheme and doing what they're supposed to do, it will be fine."

As a team, OSU ranks 113th in the nation in punt return yardage defense by allowing 26.25 yards per return and 102nd in kick return yardage defense with an average of 24.47 yards allowed.

Like Bell, sophomore cornerback Travis Howard also will probably not play Saturday, Tressel said. He also suffered an injury in the team's victory against the Bobcats. Junior cornerback Donnie Evege will be out for "a while" after injuring his elbow in the game.

In addition, Tressel said freshman safety Chad Hagan underwent a surgery as fall camp began and subsequently has not seen action.

"He's been out," the coach said. "I don't think he's ever stepped foot on the field yet. He had a surgery right at the beginning of camp."

Wednesday night, running backs coach Dick Tressel said senior running back Brandon Saine had suffered a turf burn on his knee that had him wearing extra protective wrappings. The head coach said the injury occurred right where the knee bends but added that he will play against the Eagles.

"Tuesday he was not great," Tressel said. "Wednesday he was much better."

An overall positive both days was the team's focus in practice, he said.

"I was really pleased with (practice) Tuesday and Wednesday," Tressel said. "I had some concern going into Tuesday and Wednesday that, ‘OK, the Big Ten is a couple weeks away, it's another non-conference game, school is starting.' All that. Tuesday's practice was 91 degrees and they were very business-like and went after it.

"(Wednesday) I thought, ‘Well OK, here it comes. We're going to have one of those distracted days. (Wednesday) was another scorcher out there and then the wind started blowing and tornadoes started running through. We had to go inside and it was like they went from focused to being focused again."

Now Tressel said he hopes the team carries that focus over to Saturday's game in a contest where the Buckeyes host a team that has lost 15 consecutive games.

"Our mental stance is really a build-up of the entire week and perhaps a build-up of the entire season," he said. "Our talk is it's really about what we do. That's constantly discussed. It's really not about what they do, because if we do it right we're very capable and we have a chance to be successful."

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