Tressel Meets The Media

With the season opener just four days away, OSU coach Jim Tressel conducted his weekly media luncheon. Maurice Clarett, the tailback situation and, of course, the Washington Huskies were on his mind.

Ohio State's season opener with Washington is just four days away, but one of the big topics of discussion at head coach Jim Tressel's Tuesday luncheon was on who won't be playing -- namely tailback Maurice Clarett, who will rejoined the team on Sunday but must still serve an undetermined multiple game suspension.

"Maurice won't dress Saturday," Tressel announced. "The only people dressing for the game will be the people who are eligible to play in it.

"Without question, as soon as it is determined, I think the facts and the truth are always good to know. I don't know if that will change the focus of anyone here. I hope everyone is focused on the Washington Huskies."

Tressel indicated he has not been involved with OSU athletic director Andy Geiger in any talks about the length of Clarett's suspension.

"I have not been involved in any of those discussions," he said. "I think they will be forthcoming. But you have to remember, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we've been working 16 or 17 hours a day on what needs to be worked on right now.

"I don't know if I will be a key part of the discussion."

Tressel discussed Clarett's presence at practice.

"Maurice was in helmet and shorts yesterday and he went through drills -- as much as he could since he wasn't in pads," the coach said. "He would be on the scout team now, once he gets into pads. I think he's happy to be with his teammates."

Tressel was asked if Clarett, a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, would take to working with the scout team until his status is determined.

"It is not nearly as big a drop as not being out there with his teammates," Tressel said. "It's probably a promotion."

Bring On The Huskies

Tressel discussed the opener with 17th-ranked Washington.

"I think as you looked at the 2003 schedule at any point time you had to be excited that someone like Washington was coming in to open the season at Ohio Stadium," he said.

"They have perenially a great program with great tradition and players. They are an outstanding group. It will be a tremendous challenge. Our guys have had that on their mind for quite some time."

But the Huskies are coming off a disappointing 7-6 season and an off-season where they lost their head coach, Rick Neuheisel, over gambling allegations.

"It was a tough year last year for them," Tressel said. "They have tough kids. It's been a tough off-season for them emotionally. I'm sure they can't wait to get out into a football game. That's probably not unlike our guys (last year).

"It's going to be a fun night."

Life Without Clarett

Tressel discussed his team's situation at tailback without Clarett.

"Mo Hall was a guy who was only going one practice a day for a while," Tressel said. "He had some irritation in his knee, but they tell me it was nothing serious. It was something the medical people felt we didn't want to overuse it.

"Lydell Ross, yesterday, looked better than he has the entire preseason.

"Ira Guilford was a guy we recruited to be more of a safety. But in the back of our minds, we knew if we got into a pinch he was an 1,800-yard guy in high school. He could play tailback if needed.

"Roshawn Parker is another guy who could carry the football. He has gotten bigger and stronger. He has a passion to carry the football in Ohio Stadium.

"I think if there was a game today, both Lydell and Mo Hall would see significant playing time, probably fairly equal. Who would start, I haven't had that type of discussion yet."

Also Notable

Other topics on the table Tuesday included:

* Tressel on the situation at free safety -- "We are going into the week with Brandon Mitchell and Nate Salley bracketed at safety. They are both going to play. I wouldn't be able to guess right now who is going to start. A lot of that depends on what personnel group they're in.

"If they go empty with five wide receivers, then Brandon Mitchell, Salley and Michael Doss would have to start," Tressel joked. "We'll have to see what they come out in.

"But they are both going to get a lot of balls thrown their way. It will be a great challenge for them."

* The injury status of defensive tackle Darrion Scott, who has limited action in the preseason -- "Darrion Scott is coming off off-season surgery," Tressel said. "Like Mo Hall, our medical people didn't think heavy volume was something he should do this preseason.

"Darrion Scott is a veteran. He knows our scheme and can be a force for us up front. Now will he play 70 plays on Saturday? No, probably not. Volume is still an issue for him. But Darrion should still be ready to go."

* The status of late arriving freshman DT Sian Cotton, who missed the first two weeks of camp while academic issues were settled -- "I think today will be his first day in pads," Tressel said. "He had two days in helmets and two days in shells. Our guys were impressed with him in drills. They thought he did a good job in practice."

* QB Craig Krenzel on his team's mind-set as it begins defense of the national championship -- "The biggest challenge for us is the challenge we put upon ourselves. We know we need to be a better team Saturday night than we were at this time a year ago if we want to have the success we want to have."

* Tressel on being a distant cousin of Carol James, the wife of former UW head coach Don James -- "She is a Tressel, maybe a cousin," he said. "She said the only time she would claim us is when we won the national championship at Youngstown State. We are somewhat distantly related. I have spoken to her when I've seen her at the coaches convention."

* Our staff is planning articles all week on the Buckeyes and Huskies. Stay tuned for more on this marquee match-up.

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