If Justin Zwick is nervous about his first start at Ohio State, he is doing a good job of hiding it.
The sophomore quarterback appears confident heading into the season opener this Saturday against Cincinnati.
"I'm just excited to get back out there and finally have something to do with the game," Zwick said. "Just being in there with the guys and throwing the ball around and moving the ball down the field, I'm looking forward to getting out there."
Zwick is not an arrogant guy. Far from it. But every good quarterback has a little bit of cockiness in them and Zwick says he is no exception.
"I feel good about things," he said. "Growing up as a quarterback, that (cockiness) is one of the things that you always have with you and I've just been waiting to bring it back out and Saturday will be a chance to do that."
Zwick knows that Troy Smith is also slated to play Saturday, but it does not bother him.
"Yeah, we've been sharing reps since I can remember being here," Zwick said. "It's something that we're both accustomed to and we'll do that on Saturday and as long as we're putting points on the board, I don't think either of us will mind."
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Zwick says he will not be looking over his shoulder on Saturday. He is not worried about making a mistake and being pulled from the game. He knows Jim Tressel has more patience than that.
"You know, with that, we both know we're there pushing each other and that's one of the things that has made us progress as much as we have is knowing that we've got to work hard and get better every day," Zwick said. "You can't really worry about going out there and messing up because things are going to happen and that's part of being a quarterback. You can't really put too much pressure on yourself to make perfect plays every time."
All eyes will be on Zwick Saturday. Everyone wants to know how he'll perform. He is the present and future of the Buckeye offense, but takes it all in stride.
"When you sign up for quarterback you always have those eyes on you," he said. "You can't really worry about it, you just have to go out and play your game and whatever happens, happens."
In an expected move, Zwick was finally named the starter last week. But he wasn't the first to hear the news.
"I believe I was told after you guys were last week," he said with a laugh. "(Tressel) came into the meeting, we were just watching film and he was just talking to us and said I was going to start and Troy was going to play. You know, it wasn't anything big. Just kind of nonchalantly told us and that's how it went down."
Zwick says it is not a relief to finally have his role established as the starter. He doesn't feel any different since he's been running with the ones since spring ball anyway.
"It doesn't lift anything off my shoulders or anything," he said. "I'm still out here working hard, trying to get better every day and that's going to continue to happen no matter what. If I'm not playing, if I am playing, whatever."
Zwick admits his emotions will probably be running high prior to the game Saturday. He will never forget his first start in a Buckeye uniform.
"Right now, I'm just trying not to worry about it," he said. "I'm sure coming out of that tunnel on Saturday you'll get a little emotional, but right now I'm just trying to watch film and learn as much as I can going into the game and get ready.
"I've caught myself thinking about things a little bit at night when I'm at home, but for the most part, I've been here for a couple years, I know the offense, I know what we like to do and I'm just trying to stay confident with that and try not to worry about it too much."
Common sense tells you that if the Buckeyes ran a conservative offense last year, they might be even more conservative this season with a much younger offensive cast. But Zwick says that is not necessarily the case.
"We do everything that we have every day and whatever Coach Tressel feels like using, he is going to do," he said. "I have confidence in our offensive players. Whatever (UC) want(s) to do, we have guys that are prepared for that and have been working hard and will be able to do whatever.
"Not much is going to change with our offense. We do what we do and we work on that every day to do it well. We've got a lot of stuff in and a lot of guys that can do certain things and we're looking forward to getting out there."
Although Zwick says OSU's two-quarterback situation doesn't bother him, he does admit that he hopes to stay in the game long enough to get into a rhythm.
"Yeah, it's always important to get in there and kind of get into the game a little bit - get in a rhythm like you said - and hopefully we'll be able to do that early."
Zwick knows the Buckeyes are not in for an easy opener. He understands how close the last two games between OSU and UC have been and knows the Bearcats have some talented players.
"They've got a four year starter at quarterback and they know what the game was like two years ago and so do we," Zwick said. "We know it was a close one and we know we didn't play very well and we want to come out and make sure that hopefully we'll have a big game and we'll have the home stadium at our back and hopefully things will go well."
It will be odd for the Buckeye players to see so many of their ex-assistant coaches in enemy colors on Saturday.
"It will," Zwick said. "And all those guys (Mark Dantonio) took with him that were here like (Jeff) Uhlenhake, it will be weird to see all those guys on the other sidelines. But it will be fun to get out there and compete."
Zwick has a pretty good idea how to attack a Dantonio defense.
"I think our coaching staff here knows him pretty well and if all goes to plan and they run his stuff I think we'll be all right," he said. "But we're looking at both defenses. The new defensive coordinator at UC is from Miami (Pat Narduzzi) and we're getting a look at both of them so we'll be prepared."
* At Tuesday's interview session, former walk-on Kyle Turano told reporters he has been told he will start at punter. He apparently outkicked projected starter Josh Huston in a punt-off Tuesday and also during last week's kick scrimmage.
* Both Troy Smith and Anthony Schlegel said they would gladly accept their roles. Smith will open as Zwick's backup, while Mike D'Andrea is likely to start ahead of Schlegel at middle linebacker.
* Also, Schlegel told reporters he has never seen a game at Ohio Stadium. He did not attend any games last year while sitting out his transfer year.