Coach Reflects On 3 OT Win, Looks Toward BG

OSU head coach hits wide range of topics at weekly media luncheon, including the running game, the triple overtime win over N.C. State, injuries to key players and upcoming opponent Bowling Green.

OSU head coach Jim Tressel made his weekly media luncheon appearance on Tuesday. During the hourlong session, he touched on a wide range of topics.

First was the dramatic nature of OSU's 44-38 triple overtime win over N.C. State last Saturday.

"With a four hour, 17 minute game, in which a lot of guys played a lot of plays, our greatest pleasure was how hard they played and how long they fought," Tressel said. "Our greatest displeasure was giving a team like N.C. State an opportunity to have a chance on our own end of the field because of our own mistakes.

"To have five turnovers and still win the football game, you need to consider yourself very fortunate."

Tressel declared the nine defensive players and "six or seven" offensive players graded out to a winning performance. Only center Nick Mangold, replacing the injured Alex Stepanovich, and guard Adrien Clarke received such marks on the offensive line after OSU struggled to move the ball on the ground against the Wolfpack.

Tressel named Darrion Scott as the defensive player of the week, while Michael Jenkins had the offensive honors. Tight end Ben Hartsock (seven catches) was the offensive lineman of the week. Tim Anderson was the attack force player of the week. Curt Lukens, Andre Tyree and Sian Cotton all got scout team honors.

"We selected Ben Hartsock as the offensive lineman, for one thing, to remind him he is an offensive lineman and not strictly a pass catcher," Tressel said. "He blocked very well. Two other linemen graded a winning performance in Nick Mangold and Adrien Clarke.

"Now did we play as well as we need to up there as a unit? No, we did not."

In that vein, Tressel was asked to discuss the running game, where the Buckeyes netted just 44 yards on 32 attempts against N.C. State.

"There are some things we would say we should have designed differently," he said. "There are some things we should have done better up front. There are some things with the decisions we made with the ball. It's a shared situation.

"Of course, when it's going good, it's just not because Adrien Clarke blocked five guys up front. We've got to get better at all of these things. I can't say with any part of the running game that we're there. We need to get better."

The coach revealed that starting center Alex Stepanovich will likely miss another game due to an ankle sprain.

"I don't think he will make it back this week," he said. "I think he hopes to be back a week from now (for the Big Ten opener with Northwestern). When linemen are nose to nose with a 300-pound guy and they're pushing off, you want those ankles and feet to be strong.

"Nick Mangold did a good job. He had a missed assignment on the first play, but what I like about it is he didn't come unglued."

Tressel believes that Simon Fraser (leg) and Santonio Holmes (shoulder), each hobbled a bit, should be fine. He also hopes to have more of Lydell Ross (foot), who carried just four times against N.C. State.

"Lydell is in better shape right now," Tressel said. "It was good to see that he got in the game. He did an excellent job of blocking on some of those quarterback draws and put the ball into the end zone as well. I think Lydell will be healthier as we go."

Tressel revealed he has not be in contact with suspended running back Maurice Clarett since the announcement last Wednesday that Clarett would miss the season.

"No, I haven't (talked to him)," he said. "Andy Geiger has been handling that and talking to him."

Tressel was asked for his opinion on national stories that Clarett could ask the NFL for permission to enter the NFL draft a year early.

"What's my opinion?" he asked. "I don't have a strong opinion. There are a couple of guys here (Jenkins and Scott) who could have gone in to the draft last year if they liked. It's their decision and what's important to them.

"I think it may depend on employability and draft status. It's a personal decision.

"I guess the only opinion I do have is when I talk to pro coaches and pro scouts they are not in favor of guys coming in early. They would like them to be more seasoned and more mature and have the college degree. They want them to come in thinking they will play X number of years, and when that run is over to be prepared to live the rest of their life.

Tressel discussed the challenge of facing an in-state opponent, especially one like Bowling Green (3-0) with a win already this year over a Big Ten school in Purdue.

"I think the upside is you know it will be competitive," he said. "You also know it will be a game of great interest within our own state.

"But the downside is you also know how good they are. We say every week it is a privilege to play in Ohio Stadium. I imagine if you only get to play there once every four or five years, then I'm sure you would really be looking forward to it.

"I think it's good that we're doing it. There's nothing bad about it -- other than it's a tough one."

The coach was asked about rangy BGSU quarterback Josh Harris.

"I would say he compares to two guys I have coached against," he said. "I coached against Steve McNair when he was at Alcorn State and Daunte Culpepper when he was at Central Florida. Both of them threw it so well. But when nothing was there, they could also run it so well. They also had designed runs. They are all big, strong guys."

Tressel said the Buckeyes need to get back up for another tough game this weekend.

"It is a challenge each week," he said. "The formula is not complex, but you have to do it. I know for them you don't go to Purdue and win and go to Missouri and win and go to Northwestern and win unless you believe you can do it.

"I know they are going to come in here believing that."

Tressel brought seniors Jenkins, Scott and Sander with him to the luncheon. Here were their thoughts on the challenge posed by the Falcons:

* Jenkins -- "We have to worry about ourselves. We have to do the things we need to do to win the ballgame. We can't have turnovers and missed assignments. We have to put them away."

* Scott -- "Every team we play is going to come with the attitude that they can win. Last year, we had a lot of close games but we found a way to win. We just have to be confident in what we're doing."

* Sander -- "Since we're the defending national champions, if somebody can come in and beat us it will make their season. But if we take care of our responsibilities, I think we'll be pretty tough to beat."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories