Tressel: If Healthy, Krenzel Will Start At UW

OSU head coach Jim Tressel said he expects to see longtime starter Craig Krenzel back in the starting lineup when the Buckeyes venture to Wisconsin Oct. 11. Tressel addressed that topic and others at his weekly press luncheon.

OSU head coach Jim Tressel revealed at his weekly press luncheon today that Craig Krenzel, provided he is healthy, would start the team's Oct. 11 game at Wisconsin. Krenzel has missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury.

"Oh, sure," Tressel said when asked whether Krenzel would start. "Craig Krenzel? Yeah.

"If we had a game this week, Craig, in my mind, would be able to play. The doctors thought he was very nearly ready (last weekend). I am relatively certain he will be able to play. He threw a lot in the pregame. He probably made 50 or 60 good hard throws. On Sunday, he came in and watched films and said he was fine."

Tressel was asked if he expects Krenzel to be rusty, considering the fact he will have missed a full four weeks of action since suffering the injury Sept. 13 against N.C. State.

"Well, gosh, I don't have the answer to that," Tressel said. "But there's nothing we can do about it except have him practice like crazy. He played 14 games last year and played a lot of our first three games this year. I would sure hope he's not rusty."

Tressel was joined by seniors Tim Anderson and Ben Hartsock at the luncheon. The coach and players covered a wide variety of topics.

The coach said the team had Sunday and Monday off after Saturday's 20-0 win over Northwestern. Today, the team was to spend time in the film room, the weight room and briefly on the field in shorts before heavy practices the next three days. Tressel said the team would have the weekend off before resuming practice on Monday.

"We will work hard on ourselves and also work on Wisconsin," Tressel said. "We have to make sure we get better when we're not playing a game. Wisconsin gets better by playing Penn State. We have to make sure in these four days that we get our work done and that we improve in the areas we thing we need to make some improvement.

"We know there are areas where we need to accelerate the improvement to meet the challenge ahead of us in Madison, Wis. That will be a great atmosphere. Playing at night, it will even be more fun. We need to go to work today to meet that challenge."

Tressel updated the injury status of several other players.

"(Center) Alex Stepanovich is 90 to 95 percent," Tressel said. "He should be going this week. Darrion Scott, I don't think he'll practice a whole bunch this week. But we expect him to be ready.

"The trainers said today that (tailback) Lydell Ross looked great."

Tressel said Stepanovich's return should help OSU's much maligned offensive line.

"I see it getting deeper," he said. "I thing when you bring someone of Alex's experience back into the game it can only help. I have been really pleased with what Mike Kne has been able to do. He has played some tackle and guard for us. We are getting a little deeper experience-wise. Sometimes injuries make that happen."

The coach did not discuss a possible line rotation with Stepanovich returning. But he had nothing but praise for his backup, sophomore Nick Mangold, who was the team's lineman of the week for his play against NU.

"Nick continues to gain experience," Tressel said. "He is getting more experience at the center of the line, where a lot of things happen very quickly. He does a good job making the calls and making decisions. Thank goodness we have a guy of Nick Mangold's caliber when we lose a guy like Alex Stepanovich."

Tressel revealed that right tackle Shane Olivea, a fixture for two-plus years, did not start against NU due to a "coaching decision." Kne started the game in his place, although Olivea still played a great deal against the Wildcats.

Tressel was asked if he was embarrassed by OSU's 106th-place ranking nationally (out of 117 teams) in total offense.

"It's just like when you ask about (the winning streak), we don't think about winning 19 in a row," he said. "We don't think about being 117th or whatever it is in total offense. We think about what can I do today to get better. You are what you are, but you work hard to get better. That's what you do. Just like we don't have time to pound our chest about being 19-0, we don't have time to get embarrassed. We just have time to get to work."

Tressel did, however , have some praise for OSU's defense, which ranks 12th nationally overall and No. 1 against the run.

"It starts with the guys up front," he said. "I think our linebackers and secondary, whenever I've heard them speak, have been quick to point out the nine or 10 guys we rotate in up front are able to wreak some havoc and put pressure on the quarterbacks.

"Then, even though we are young at linebacker and in the secondary, I have not seen a lot of missed assignments."

Anderson discussed the defense's strong play.

"We have great coaches who prepare us for games," he said. "We have a good idea of what they're trying to do. They make great halftime adjustments to account for the things they had success with in the first half. Then, it's just down to us. When you see a tackle, there are usually four, five, six, seven guys right there making the tackle. Our practices are upbeat and (defensive coordinator Mark) Dantonio gets on guys when they're not running to the ball."

Tressel also confirmed that flanker Angelo Chattams' career is done due to a spine injury.

"This is something we've all been doing almost our entire lives," Anderson said. "I've been playing this game as long as I can remember. For all of a sudden a doctor to come in and say, `Well, you've got a career ending injury. Sorry, but you can't ever play again,' personally, I would be lost. I don't know what I would do. I would do some soul searching. I wouldn't know what to do without doing this every day."

Anderson discussed the challenge the Buckeyes face with their first road game.

"I don't think it really matters whether we played a road game in the non-conference or this our first road game," he said. "It's still a football game."

Anderson was asked about what he remembers about Madison.

"Probably the fact that they like to throw stuff at us," he joked. "I know on the road we've had stuff thrown at us. Specifically, if it happened at Wisconsin or not, I don't know. I like their stadium. It's a good time. We're looking forward to going up there and playing them.

"It's fun to play at home with your crowd, but I also like to go into other stadiums where they're booing you. They don't want you to win and everybody is against you. I think it adds some excitement to the game and makes it a little more fun."

Anderson said he was glad the team can rest this week.

"The rest is critical to let your body heal up and get your legs back," he said. "But at the same time, come Saturday, I'm going to be wishing I was playing."

Anderson praised outside linebacker A.J. Hawk, whose 13-tackle performance against NU has vaulted him out to first on the team in tackles with 47. Free safety Nate Salley is next with 30.

"I think he's having a heck of a year," Anderson said. "He's doing a great job of calling defenses, for a young guy, and basically getting his job done. He‘s a football player. He has a great nose for the ball. He flies around, he‘s quick, he really studies the game hard. He puts himself in position to make plays."

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