On a nice spring day, what could be better than a little football? OSU head coach Jim Tressel met with the media after yesterday's special teams scrimmage to discuss how things went.
Coach Tressel on the scrimmage:
"It was a nice and warm day, got a little sweat going – good situations."
What pleased you most?
"Well I think, as you watched it – you know when you lose punters like Andy Groom and then B.J. Sander, you say…"Are we even going to be able to punt?" I think as you look at it there, once the jitters were out, I think our guys hit the ball fairly well, and they will do nothing but get better. So, I was pleased with that. The other reality is you can't lose sight of the holder. It was the first time those guys were out there holding. Early it effected our kickers I thought, but in the second half it looked like they did a good job. So, that was pleasing, and I think Ashton Youboty showed he can help back there."
Is the punting the most satisfying in having competition?
"Yeah, we have good competition in kicking the ball and I think the most satisfying thing is that we have a chance at all the things to be solid. Now we've got to work like crazy, and you see Santonio back there with the ball in his hands and see good things can happen and some guys hustling and working on the return game real hard. Everything pleased us and the punting was part of it."
Is Branden Joe going to be on the sniper team now [after those hits]?
"Well, Branden made a great hit, and then his penalty turned the game around, so it will be a great lesson for us in that we can't have penalties. It might have been a questionable call…"
Was there a reason Kyle Turano got more work than the other punters?
"Well, it just turned out from a personnel standpoint where he was on the team that had the bulk of the reps because he was Mike's holder in practice leading up to things, and therefore, he was on that team as we flopped personnel. So, he did get more hits, but I think Josh and A.J. showed that they'll be in there."
Does Youboty have a certain flair to him?
"Ashton is a dependable guy. He is going to do what you need done. He is very talented. He knows what he is doing. He knows how to set up his blockers. He is smart – if you noticed on the ones near the end he knew he needed to get north-south because his team needed to get close enough for a field goal. He's just a good, solid football player."
You mentioned the holding – is this the area that needs the most work right now?
"When we have a field goal or extra point it is. Then the hold is crucial. We have a ways to go there, but when we are punting the punter is…I'm not sure we were as consistent in snapping into the window as we need to be, most especially with young guys. But, as you say, we need to on everything. It was great to see us get that work and we are pleased with the chance now to go back and review it."
Even with Mike Nugent missing that last field goal, he put on a show out there today. How comfortable are you with his range now?
"Wherever he needs to hit one from. The 62 yarder wasn't far off, and he hit a couple over 50 I believe. He had a chance on that 50 yarder at the end of the game. He didn't get it but you know Mike is as good as there is."
You mentioned the returns of Santonio and Ashton, what about their blockers?
"You know, they really worked hard on the return game. Both the kickoff return which I thought looked pretty solid and the punt returns. Coach Hazell has worked hard in both those areas. We kind of gave him a challenge as he came aboard. We said, ‘Hey, we need to put a little extra effort and research into what we can do best.' We have been pleased with some of the things he has worked with – he and Coach Conley on the kickoff return and he and Coach Snyder on the punt return, so there has been a lot of work and those guys are blocking well."
What does the winning team get besides bragging rights?
"The winning team gets to ride home on the bus. The losing team gets to walk. Other than that, we are just going to go back and grade film."
How important is Saturday?
"It's huge. We will get a lot of plays. They have done a lot of learning. Now they have to do it – every time you step into this stadium it's turned up a notch whether there are 100 people or 105,000. It was good for our kickers and punters to be able to do that, and now it will be good for our offense and defense to be able to do it."
How are your injuries this spring?
"I think our injuries are fine. The good thing about special teams is everything has to be above the waist or it is a penalty. Things are spread out. Usually guys get hurt in piles. There aren't as many piles in the special teams other than those field goal block scrums, but those are pretty low. Injury wise, we are in good shape."
Can you assess where the three punters are right now?
"I think A.J., Josh, and Kyle Turano right now are all in the hunt. We have a lot more reps until we kick one for real so I couldn't call it. If we had a game today, I'm not even sure – I might have to go with my staff and flip a coin."