"I've seen him just be a tough guy out there and really suck it up for the team knowing that we need him and that his experience and talent," Browning said. "He has really helped us out by him sucking up the pain when he can and performing to the best of his ability when he can."
When Shugarts' injury has forced him to the sidelines, he has been replaced by freshman Andrew Norwell. Browning said that adds a little to his plate but not much.
"Sometimes I have to maybe remind him of certain things," the senior said. "Most of the time he knows stuff anyways but I try to check with him. He's been studying hard and learning in practice and paying attention in meetings. Not much of a difference because he's obviously a great player."
A former right tackle himself, Browning moved to right guard last season and was twice named the team's offensive lineman of the week. This year, his first such honor did not come until last weekend's win against the Boilermakers.
Browning said that although he was glad to win the award, his lack of honors this season was not an accurate reflection of how he had been performing.
"(In) several weeks I feel it was probably a close call," he said. "Usually it's a percentage thing and the weeks I was up there I could see why the other guy got it as well because they had a great game too. I can't complain about it."
Who Steps In?: With the secondary in a state of flux, safeties coach Paul Haynes was asked who his next safety would be behind the three in action when OSU uses its nickel defense: Aaron Gant, Jermale Hines and Orhian Johnson.
"We've got (Zach Domicone), we've got Jamie Wood back there too and (Nate Ebner)," he said. "The thing about it is it just depends. All of them have about the same amount of experience. You would hope that Jamie and Domicone, since they've been repping a little bit more than Ebner, that they would be a little ahead of Ebner. Domicone and Jamie would be the guys who go in before Ebner."
Domicone is a sophomore who has primarily seen action on special teams, while Wood is a redshirt freshman and Ebner is a walk-on. Domicone and Ebner will be back in action this week after missing time with injuries. Haynes said they will have to be on red alert due to the injury situation in the secondary.
"They've got to be guys for us because of the numbers that we have," he said. "Those guys are one play from being injured. We're getting them reps and getting them ready to play."
In OSU's nickel defense, Hines moves to the star position that allows him to be closer to the line of scrimmage. It is a role the senior has filled before, and Haynes said Hines looked solid as he lined up there.
"Jermale is Jermale," the coach said. "He brings something where you don't necessarily worry about the bubble (screen) and all that stuff as much because he does a good job on those things. It's an easy thing for him just to go out and do those things. He played well."
Haynes said the team has benefited from the leadership displayed by Gant, who opted to continue his career despite his history of injury problems.
"I'm glad he still stuck it out and is still around, just with the injury situation we've got," he said. "You always like to see a senior who steps up and gets a chance and takes advantage of it. I'm happy for him."
Minnesota Ties: If the Buckeyes need a set of directions while visiting the Golden Gophers this weekend, they will be able to turn to running backs coach Dick Tressel. Now in his 10th season at OSU, the older brother of head coach Jim Tressel has spent more than a quarter of his life in the shadow of Minnesota's campus.
The elder Tressel spent 23 years as the head coach of Hamline University, a Division-III school located about 10 minutes southeast of Minnesota's campus. He continues to recruit the region for the Buckeyes.
"Our offices were a mile and a half from the coaching offices at the University of Minnesota, so we knew all those people really well," he said. "It's a great area with good people. It's a pro town, which makes it tough for the Gophers. They've got a battle on their hands for attention."
While he was at Hamline, Tressel said he worked camps along with the Gophers coaches. Former Minnesota head coach Glen Mason hired Tressel's youngest son, Luke, to be an assistant on his staff as well.
"(I have) a lot of ties with the Gophers," he said. "That makes it fun to compete with them."
And Finally … Junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor was allowed to speak with reporters Wednesday. Asked what he has seen out of the Gophers, Pryor said they look a lot more relaxed under interim head coach Jeff Horton.
"Not to say they're happy that their coach got fired but they're flying around and they're having fun," he said. "That was the biggest thing that coach put on the board was that there were a couple guys on defense saying they had fun. A reporter asked them if it was weird not having coach there and they said, ‘No, it was fun because we were flying around.' That hints that these guys are going to have fun. I guess the coach wasn't letting them play loose but it sounds like they (are now)."
This will mark Horton's second game as the replacement for the fired Tim Brewster.