Buckeyes Moving Forward Despite Strife

Ohio State continued spring practice Saturday with a scrimmage at cloudy Ohio Stadium. There, the Buckeyes -- along with five players and one head coach who will miss the first five games of the 2011 season -- continued their efforts while trying not to worry about what lies ahead.

The 2011 Ohio State football season will be unlike any other in program history, but spring football for now is business as usual for the Buckeyes.

That was the sentiment from a handful of upperclassmen following a scrimmage session in Ohio Stadium. When the season begins Sept. 3 against Akron, head coach Jim Tressel and six players will not be allowed in the stadium as they serve suspensions. One of those players will return the following week, but the coach and five others will remain out of action until the sixth game of the season kicks off Oct. 8 against Nebraska.

But on a cloudy Saturday morning in Columbus, the Buckeyes went through another spring practice while enjoying the services of all available players. When the offensive unit took the field, Mike Adams, Dan Herron and DeVier Posey were all in the lineup while injured quarterback Terrelle Pryor looked on.

Defensively, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas remained in the two-deep as he was last season. Each of the aforementioned players will sit out the first five games of the season, but Posey was one of the stars of the day with two touchdown passes.

Center Michael Brewster said that although he was happy to see the wideout turn in a few impressive plays, there was a momentary flash of recognition that the offense will look a whole lot different when the season starts without Posey.

"It is what it is, I guess," he said. "At this point we know it's five games. It's not going to go down and it's not going to go up. Other guys are going to have to make plays, but at Ohio State we count on guys stepping up. We lose big-name players every year, but you've got to have someone backing them up."

Herron said his focus has not yet turned ahead to his senior season.

"To be honest, I don't think it's really hit me yet," he said. "I really try not to think about it because that's going to be tough. But at the same time I'll have to go through it. I'm just trying to keep getting better every day. I can't let it bring me down. I just have to stay positive about it."

The day of practice served as a momentary reprieve from a scandal that has dominated the sports landscape for weeks. With rumors swirling that Tressel would be stepping down from his post as early as this spring, the coach spent a portion of his annual spring preview press conference March 30 answering several questions about his coaching future.

With an appeal process already underway for the five players facing suspensions, Tressel initially landed a two-game suspension and fine levied by the university for not reporting potential violations to his superiors. When the NCAA upheld the five-game suspensions, Tressel voluntarily extended his own to match the punishment facing his players.

Saturday marked the first time OSU's players had been made available for interviews since Tressel's suspension had been announced. Brewster said the way Tressel handled the situation furthered the team's trust in its coach.

"Coach Tress is always a step ahead of everybody," he said. "He's one of the smartest guys I've ever been around. I know he's a few steps ahead of what everyone else is thinking. We trust him. We know he's going to make the right decisions. In the end, he's going to make sure that he's going to put us in a position to be successful. That's why he's such a great coach."

When the player suspensions were announced prior to the team's Sugar Bowl contest with Arkansas, the players said the ensuing controversy helped unite the team as it approached its final contest of the season.

That appears to be ringing true again this time, but Herron said it is impossible to completely block it all out.

"Sometimes you see it on TV but you've just got to focus on what we're trying to do and that's get better every day," he said. "I just really try to stay focused on the team and our job. I think I still can be a role model for the team and a great leader. With us guys missing the first couple games I know guys will definitely step up and do a great job."

Brewster said the team is sticking to some words of wisdom offered by Tressel when news of his pending punishment first broke.

"He told us, ‘We're going to have some adverse times but I'm going to be here with you guys,' " the senior said. "We're really just trying to keep things moving and not look back. You can't change the past. We're just trying to get better every day now."

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