Skilly McRailnob: How much WR will gamble play (assuming these rumors are bunk)?
SteveHelwagen: I think Gamble will only play sparingly at WR. He has not practiced there much at all. Now if things get dicey and, as he says, players just need to make plays, then he'll be out there as much as possible.
LightningRod: I am getting conflicting weather reports. What is the latest weather report for gametime?
SteveHelwagen: Lightning, what a name to ask a weather ?? At any rate, last forecast I saw said cloudy with a high of 74, getting cool down to low 60s when sun goes down. Probably 30 percent chance of rain. Be prepared.
LightningRod: Do you see OSU opening with a 5 receiver set?
SteveHelwagen: Lightning, I doubt you'll see 5 wides on the first play, but you probably will see it 5-8 times all night.
bigtenbadboy: I am ready to see Drew Carter step up. That guy seems like he has all the tools to be a gamebreaker if he can put it all together.
SteveHelwagen: Yes, it's Carter's time to poop or get off the pot. Right now, he's on the all-promise team. Needs to show he can make tough catches or Holmes will pass him by.
Skilly McRailnob: Right now, whitner is a backup safety and yobouty a backup cb?
SteveHelwagen: Skilly, yes those two freshmen are in the mix and should play. Youboty is probably the fourth CB. Whitner has missed time. He'd probably be No. 5 at safety (behind Allen, Mitchell/Salley and Everett).
bigtenbadboy: Do you think JT's naming of Pagac as the starter at MLB is a motivational tool for other players or does he really our best option?
SteveHelwagen: bigten ... I think Pagac is getting the nod because he's the closest to full health. D'Andrea has been hobbled. They must like Pagac in there and Reynolds at OLB better than Reynolds at MLB and Carpenter at OLB.
bucknut13: Do you expect Whitner to play a lot Sat night and beyond? Has he been too banged up to play more because I had read he was really doing well throughout the spring?
SteveHelwagen: bucknut13, I think Whitner will play Sat., but I'm going off fact he didn't play in the last scrimmage. That has held him back a bit. He is a great football player who just needs some experience.
CincinnatiBuck: With the LB's being interchangable and different players playing the Mike position, can we excpect Reynolds to make defensive calls?
SteveHelwagen: Cincinnati Buck, I can't answer who makes the calls. If it is strictly the MLB (it may be) or if they have a veteran like Rob do it. They communicate quite a bit, so if, say, D'Andrea or somebody makes a wrong call, Rob can override it before the snap. Not a big concern.
buckeyefiddy: I know a year of experience is benificial but do you see the Offense having some trouble putting points on the board again this year? I'm worried we will just not be able to score any more points than last year especially without MoC.
SteveHelwagen: buckeyefiddy, No, I think this offense will do just fine. They may not run the ball at 5 yards a clip like they might with Reecie, but the passing game should do well. I think they may average, egads, over 200 yards a game passing this year. The line is solid and confident. They don't make mistakes.
bigtenbadboy: Is Kurt Lukens practicing at OLB or safety? Also, do you expect to see him play this year or will he take a redshirt?
SteveHelwagen: bigten ... I saw Lukens working at OLB. To me, he is a great sure-handed tackler. His name never came up on Tuesday when Tressel discussed freshmen who could play, so draw your own conclusions. I haven't seen any of the true freshmen who appear out of place (i.e., a Zahn), so that's good.
Skilly McRailnob: Will reggie williams be doubled most of the time? does wash have another solid wr?
SteveHelwagen: Skilly, no, not necessarily. Gamble will be on him solo most of the way, with some help from his friends as the situation dictates. They will play zone coverages as well. Washington also has Charles Frederick, but he is more of a possession guy. The rest of their WRs are untested.
buckeyefiddy: Steve, what is your biggest conern this season? What position will be our weakest link?
SteveHelwagen: buckeyefiddy, my biggest concerns are the young guys on defense and, to a lesser extent, B.J. Sander at punter. We all believe Hawk, D'Andrea, Fraser, Mitchell/Salley and the rest can play. But they have to stay healthy and stand the test of time. That's key to the team's success. Other guys like a Reynolds have to move from supporting to primary roles, too. Sander, last time we saw him, was shanking punts. A lot has changed since then, I think he'll be up to the task.
bucknut13: If Nick Mangold does really well when they move Step to guard (and I feel that he really will), do you think there is a good posibility they could make him the starter anytime this season?
SteveHelwagen: bucknut13, I guess it's possible, particularly if somebody gets hurt. But I think this is Bollman's way of keeping guys healthy and strong by rotating them. It's a nice luxury when you're able to do it. I think the lineup, barring injuries, will not change. Those guys seem pretty solid to me right now.
Skilly McRailnob: Other than Williams and Pickett, what should concern us about wash?
SteveHelwagen: Skilly, they play in a passing league. So they know how to move the sticks with the pass and they can certainly defend it. They have two absolute studs on defense with DT Terry Johnson and LB Marquis Cooper. Cooper will have 15 tackles, IMHO. This will be a fun game, not a 17-14 slugfest, in my mind.
buckeyefiddy: What is your feeling on Douglas and Coleman? How are they progressing? Will either see much PT this year or ever in their careers?
SteveHelwagen: buckeyefiddy, I assume you mean Datish and Coleman. Everybody seemed to have good feelings for them in the spring, then Bollman left them off the first two-deep. I have no idea if they've been shuffled off to the scout team or if they still rep in with the first 2 teams. They're young, so don't get down on them yet. A lot will change with those guys in the next year. I assume Bollman will get them and others ready to go for 2004 when 4 spots will be wide open.
bucknut13: It seems that Hartsock is going to play against Wash, but I have to believe we are going to see Irizarry quite a bit, even though he isn't the blocker Hartsock or Hamby are, I get the feeling after Sat game, he will be a regular fixture out there and I look for him to have quite a game Sat. Feelings?
SteveHelwagen: Yes, I agree. Louis has impressed the veterans with his athletic ability. He can make plays and extend defenses. I hope Krenzel looks his way 2 or 3 times so we can see what he can do. He can be a great weapon if he's used.
Skilly McRailnob: Predict OSU's starting qb for next season...
SteveHelwagen: Skilly, Justin Smith ... er Troy Zwick. (VBG). Seriously, if I had to guess, Zwick will be the opening day starter and Smith will be the change-up guy. The roles could and likely will change a lot over the next 3 years, but they have the makings of an incredible QB tandem. I hope nothing (i.e. the overzealous media who cover this team) make it into a big hassle, but I know they will.
SteveHelwagen: My main man Scoots, talked to Coach Boyages yesterday and he had only great things to say about Dials and Billings. Could be stars this year.
bucknut13: With the talk of rotating the LB's, is this something like Heacock's feelings with rotating the D-Line or is this because they don't feel as good about the LB's as in prior years. I realize these guys are young, but we have a lot of talent at that position and I think Carpenter solidifies a starting spot by years' end.
SteveHelwagen: bucknut13, I think much of this is being done out of necessity with D'Andrea and Pagac missing some practice time. I guess we just need to watch it closely and see how Snyder plays it. Remember, the LBs aren't going to be the focus tomorrow. In fact, they will probably go quite a bit of nickel with Fred coming off the field.
Scoots64: Any Malik news? Dials looks huge -- I saw a few times over the summer -- he has really pumped up!!!!!!!
SteveHelwagen: Scoots, theinsiders is reporting Malik now will be tripping to OSU next weekend, UCLA 9/12 and Kansas 9/19. That's 3 pretty good schools. Even though OSU is first, they still have a good shot. Kentucky and MSU are also strong in the running with UM also holding out hope (never discount Amaker).
Skilly McRailnob: Steve, any feelings on mo c.'s suspension? it would be huge to have him back for wisc
SteveHelwagen: Skilly, I think five or six is a nice round number, but I honestly can't say. I don't have the list of alleged violations and I don't have a file folder of similar NCAA case precedents/penalties to judge that. I am just hoping Geiger isn't of a mind of selling the kid out to "make a statement" or show OSU "has integrity." He should get the same penalty handed down in other cases, nothing more and nothing less. I would not count on him back for Wisconsin, BTW
bucknut13: Do you think Parker gets some carries or will Ira if they bring in a third back on Sat.?
SteveHelwagen: bucknut13, man that's tough. I don't have a strong feeling on that either way. I guess they would go to Ira first because he is a potential game breaker if something hits. Parker is a solid plugger. He puts his head in there and can get you some tough yards if need be. Maybe it would be determined by situation.
bucknut13: With Scott hobbled a little bit, do you expect to see Patterson get some action after Green & Pitcock get in?
SteveHelwagen: bucknut13, yes, JT's exact words were "David Patterson probably feels like he should play in the game on Saturday." I love the kid. He and Green are going to be getting after people (and also Pitcock) for years to come.
Skilly McRailnob: How is wash's Oline?
SteveHelwagen: Skilly, their OL is OK. Not the best at run blocking (they went nowhere against Michigan, for example, a year ago). But Newton, Dicks, Barnes and Bachert (hobbled and may not play) are all returning starters. Skilly, let me add on their OL. They are very good at pass pro, since that's what they emphasize. They've seen every possible blitz, stunt, twist and so on.
beatthehuskies: Who will be the starting tight end.
SteveHelwagen: beat... Starting TE will probably be Hartsock, but his plays probably will be limited. Hamby and Irizarry should play quite a bit. Hartsock will wear a pad to protect his knuckle.
MrBucknuts: Don't you think Tressel is doing his "senior thing" and simply listing Pug first - kinda like last year?
SteveHelwagen: Yes, it could be a way to light a fire under the young guys (D'Andrea and Carpenter). But I'm not sure Tressel is even that involved in making those decisions. I'd bet Dantonio and Snyder have autonomy on that. Besides, I don't think this game tomorrow will be won or lost by who plays MLB, especially since that player will be on the sidelines in lieu of the nickel quite a bit.
bucknut13: I think the media is totally overlooking AJ for any preseason accolades. I know he played a limited role last year, but if anyone watched the games he was in had to see he is a star in the making. I see Big Ten honors by the end of season, your feelings?
SteveHelwagen: bucknut13, Hawk has some great potential, no doubt. He is a great hitter and great tackler. He's a football player. Let him earn his kudos. He probably will.
bucknut13: Did you get to see Jordan, Gonzalez, or Hiley in practice this fall at all? If so, how do they look for the future? Gonzalez and Hiley defense or offense or both for the future?
SteveHelwagen: I never saw Jordan catch a ball in scrimmage situations, so I can't say too much about him ... other than I expect him to RS. Gonzalez is a football player. He could play WR, S or CB is need be. Probably good on special teams. Tressel seemed unclear whether he would play. Hiley is a nice play maker at WR already, especially when his boy, Troy Smith, is looking almost exclusively at him. It's too early to brand Gonzalez or Hiley as offense or defense for life. Time will tell.
Skilly McRailnob: What player(s) will surprise us by the end of the year? any sleepers?
SteveHelwagen: Brandon Mitchell and Santonio Holmes are the 2 guys nobody knows anything about who could easily end up on Sports Center with one great play. I think Lydell Ross is going to have a 1,000-yard season (does he count?). Marcus Green is an obvious one, too.
nat'l champs: M.C. is an exceptional back, but all you hear is that we will suffer greatly in the running game without him. Do you think the tandem of Hall/Ross will match his output?
SteveHelwagen: Well, the problem with that is, MC wasn't a one-man show last year. Hall/Ross have to match the output of MC/Hall/Ross from last year. Ross has had several games where he has made 20 or more carries. Not sure what Hall's career high in a single game is, but I bet he'll come close to it tomorrow night. We're talking uncharted territory for these 2. But they are juniors, they understand how to play, how to run, how to take care of themselves. I think they'll do fine.
nat'l champs: Whats up with Doug Datish? He was supposed to be the gem of the OL recruits last year yet Sims and Mangold play. Is he even in the two deep rotation for this year?
SteveHelwagen: Not sure why Datish hasn't progressed. My old friend Gary Housteau saw Doug in high school and believed it would take him a year or 2 before he made an impact at tOSU. This is year 2. Next year is when it will really count. Perhaps he will emerge. Perhaps this two-deep, which leaves off Downing, Datish and Coleman, is a message to those young OL.
SteveHelwagen: Glad we could all get together here today. I think we'll be back on Thursday next week, unless something comes up. I moved it this week because I went to Cleveland yesterday to be on WKNR. Tell your friends if you like our service.