Olivea Livens Up Sleepy Luncheon Before IU

Offensive tackle Shane Olivea joined head coach Jim Tressel at his weekly luncheon today. The outspoken lineman had plenty to say regarding the state of the offense. Plus, Tressel discussed decisions on Craig Krenzel, Michael Jenkins as the punt returner, a special guest this weekend and the injury status of several key players.

The reporters covering Ohio State football got just what they needed Tuesday to liven things up as the Buckeyes prepare to face Indiana on Saturday (noon, ESPN) -- offensive tackle Shane Olivea.

The senior, known as one of the team's best talkers, shared his insight and opinions on a wide range of topics during and after Tuesday's weekly luncheon, hosted by OSU coach Jim Tressel.

Olivea was asked how members of the offense feel about being part of the nation's 114th (out of 117 teams) ranked offense.

"It is frustrating because we want to help out the defense," Olivea said. "We want to be able to put points on the board to take pressure off of them. It's any number of things -- a guy misses a block or we're unable to break away from one tackle. It's one thing after another.

"We go three-and-out and put the defense back on the field. They look at you like, 'Hey, help us out a little bit.' I think in the second half (against Iowa) we stuck with the run and took some time off the clock.

"We're at the point where we need to learn from our mistakes. We need to start helping out the rest of the team."

Olivea was asked if he felt the offense was contributing to the team's success.

"According to you guys, not much," Olivea said, eliciting laughter from the media.

He also took umbrage at criticism directed toward starting quarterback Craig Krenzel. Some have argued that Krenzel's inconsistency has hurt the passing game.

"He won a national championship and he's 19-2 as a starter and people want to replace him," Olivea said. "Whetever you do, people will second guess you. Whatever you do, it's not enough.

"I know I would rather be 6-1 with the way we're winning than 1-6, scoring 35 points and losing 50-35. A win is a win. We are 6-1 and we control our own destiny (in the Big Ten race).

"I don't think he's pressing. He holds the ball a long time for a quarterback. He's looking to make plays. There have been times when he steps up and does really well with that. More times than not he is going to make a smart decision for the offense."

Olivea was asked about Krenzel's fumble on a quarterback sneak that denied OSU a touchdown.

"He's never done that," Olivea said. "That was just one of those freak plays. That makes a big difference going into halftime up 17-3 instead of 10-3. That's a big swing."

Here's more from OSU's right tackle:

* On dealing with media scrutiny -- "It's a part of coming to a school like this. I'm from New York, so I know what it's like to be second guessed. You guys have a job to do and we understand that. It comes with the territory. In Columbus, you're going to get criticized no matter what you do. The numbers don't lie. We have to be more productive."

* On taking OSU's lack of production to heart -- "I can only try to do my best. I can only try to give Craig a little more time and give the backs somewhere to run. It's little things like that. We're definitely not as productive as last year. The numbers don't lie."

* On missing suspended running back Maurice Clarett in the running game -- "We definitely miss his production this year. It's unfortunate he's not here. But we've got to go with the guys who are here."

* On whether OSU's low scoring offense will be enough to win late-season showdowns with three of the league's best offenses (Michigan State, Purdue and Michigan) -- "I don't know. We're definitely going to have to step it up. We can't rely on our defense not letting anybody score for the rest of the season. The running game helps. In the third and fourth quarter, we got back to doing more things and staying with it.

"We chewed up a lot of clock, but we also had penalties. It's been the same system we've run since Coach Tressel has been here. There have been different things happen like a dropped ball or a penalty. There were a couple games this year where we've been ahead 24-7 and we've turned the ball over. That's a big swing from 31-7 to 24-14. We've put ourselves in tough situations. It's definitely been frustrating because we're better than our numbers show."

* On whether the team cares about being ranked sixth in the initial BCS rankings -- "Yeah, you care because you know if you win out ... We know it is hard to go undefeated. We found that out last year and Miami found that out as well. We just have to go out and take care of our business."

More From The Luncheon

Oh, yes, Tressel and senior linebacker Fred Pagac Jr. also appeared at the luncheon. Tressel was also pressed about the offense's lack of production.

"Our offense has got to improve dramatically," Tressel admitted. "There are several things we have to do. We have to take care of the football, move the football and create field position, and score points.

"We know we have a lot of work to do. But our guys have been more than willing to work and search and try to have the offense become part of a very successful football team."

Tressel was asked if he ever considered pulling Krenzel this past week.

"No," he said. "You make decisions based on what you think will be best for the team. I didn't think it would be best for the team to make any switches. Now, that is not because of a lack of confidence in Scott McMullen.

"I just think the team needed Craig to be in the game."

The coach was asked about execution in the passing game.

"I don't think we executed the passing game nearly as well as we would have liked to Saturday," he said. "Craig would be the first to tell you that. His feet did not allow him to deliver the ball the way he would like to at times. I think our receivers at times weren't where they needed to be to have a better opportunity for success."

Tressel was asked if he felt Krenzel, just two weeks removed from an elbow injury, was pressing.

"I think that could be a factor," he said. "When you're struggling and you're frustrated, you do press a little bit."

Here are more notables from Tuesday's session:

* Tressel on the play of freshman tailback Ira Guilford -- "I thought Ira came in and did a darn good job. He's an aggressive guy who gets better all the time. He is learning what he needs to learn."

Tressel said no thought has been given to whether Guilford will eventually return to defense.

"What lies down the road, I don't know," he said.

* Pagac discussed having his dad, former OSU player and defensive coordinator Fred Pagac Sr., back as this week's honorary captain (the elder Pagac has the weekend off with Oakland Raiders heading into a bye week) -- "I know he's pretty excited. Coach Tressel told me a while ago about this. I'm excited for him to come up to the game."

* Tressel discussed walking wounded like Darrion Scott, Alex Stepanovich and Branden Joe -- "Darrion played 20 plays (against Iowa) and he was not as effective as he is when he is 100 percent healthy. That's the same thing with Alex. He lined up next to Shane (at right guard) and played the whole game. The hopes are the guys who are banged up will all be able to get back in there.

"Branden played nine plays against somebody and kind of took a step back. He is still on the road to recovery. We are still waiting to hear from the doctors. I saw a list of who could practice today and he was on the non-contact list. As a fullback with no contact, I don't know what he's going to do."

* Tressel on keeping Michael Jenkins in the punt return role -- "It it was (a one-time thing), it probably won't be now. Based on what we wanted to do, he was the right guy to do it. I would say we would be well served to leave him back there and have Chris Gamble as the anti-sniper, the hold-up guy.

"Leadership is crucial. Michael Jenkins was selected by his teammates as a captain. He brings a certain something."

* Also, it was confirmed that OSU's Nov. 1 game at Penn State will be broadcast regionally by ABC at 3:30 p.m.

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