Talkin' Tressel: Wisconsin Edition

It has been an interesting week for the Ohio State program. At his final press conference of the week, head coach Jim Tressel spoke on former wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the health of his team, how Andrew Sweat might impact this weekend's game against Wisconsin and more.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is not worried about a Sports Illustrated article claiming that former Buckeyes wideout Santonio Holmes may have been accepting gifts from an agent while in college, the coach told reporters Thursday.

In the article, an agent said he met with Holmes outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and approached him about becoming his agent. Holmes allegedly then replied that he had already been taking gifts for years and would not need his services. Tressel said he has not spoken with Holmes since the article was made public but that his wide receivers coach, Darrell Hazell, had.

Although the head coach said he was initially concerned when he heard the report, he has since been reassured.

"We wanted to get a hold of him right away," Tressel said. "He's made some statements, but even his statements to Darrell obviously put your mind at ease."

Tressel said he had not discussed the issue with his current team because he wants focus placed on this weekend's road contest against Wisconsin (7 p.m., ESPN). It should be a healthy OSU squad that takes the field this weekend at Wisconsin.

Sophomore tight end Jacob Stoneburner will be back in action after missing the last two weeks with a high ankle sprain.

"I don't know that he could go 60 plays, but I think he'll be able to give us some duty," Tressel said.

In four games, Stoneburner has caught nine passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. He was replaced by sophomore Reid Fragel, who has six catches for 60 yards but is more prominently featured as a blocker.

The Buckeyes will have their two starting offensive tackles as well. Left tackle Mike Adams has not missed anything save for some media obligations Tuesday morning as he has battled the flu, while right tackle J.B. Shugarts is battling a foot issue that kept him out of Tuesday's practice and most of Saturday's game against Indiana.

Tressel said that no one else on the team has come down with the virus that had hit Adams.

"I teased him a little bit on Tuesday afternoon when he was in our team meeting and at practice," Tressel said. "I said, ‘Wait a minute. You didn't get the most important part of your day: the press conference.' He practiced both days and he'll go today."

The Buckeyes have been hit by injuries in the defensive backfield, and as a result the coaches have moved redshirt freshman Corey Brown from cornerback to safety because of both the short- and long-term implications.

"We think long-term he's probably going to be able to help us there," Tressel said. "Short-term, we're thin in both places so he can be that versatile guy, that utility guy that can play corner if we need him and he can play safety if we need him. I think (safeties coach) Paul Haynes thinks long-term that's probably going to suit him well.

"He's got great range and is really smart. You have to do a lot of things when you're in there. I would say for this season he's going to be available for us for both but we'll see what happens down the road."

Brown had been serving as senior Chimdi Chekwa's backup and was viewed as the team's No. 4 cornerback. He has recorded five tackles this season.

The Buckeyes have talked all week about how they expect a physical game this weekend, and as a result they figure to use their base defense with more frequency than in past games. That means a bigger opportunity for junior linebacker Andrew Sweat, who has seen minimal action while OSU has primarily utilized its nickel defense.

"We've been facing all spread-out teams and very few two-back teams," Tressel said. "I'll bet you we've been in nickel more than 70 percent (of the time). He's got to step up."

As OSU looks to control the line of scrimmage, Tressel said a few running backs will likely get carries in this contest including reserves Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry.

"It wouldn't shock me if they got to carry the ball from the line of scrimmage in this game," the coach said.

Senior Brandon Saine has taken on more of a wide receiver role as the season has gone on and did not take any handoffs last weekend against the Hoosiers. As a reporter was pointing out that Saine's role as a running back was diminishing, Tressel said, "That's just a smokescreen, but go ahead."

In other news, Tressel confirmed that freshman running back Roderick Smith will take a redshirt this season after missing fall camp while waiting an NCAA ruling on his academic status.


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