Tressel Speaks On Game Issues

OSU head coach Jim Tressel met with the media today and discussed a variety of game issues. The coach talked about the status of fullback Branden Joe as well as the situation at punter and quarterback, and also gave some insight on playing other teams from Ohio. Click on the link for more.

Jim Tressel met briefly with the media following Wednesday's practice.

At quarterback, nothing has changed. Justin Zwick will start and Troy Smith will see action at some point.

"No new developments," Tressel said of the QB situation.

The coach was also quizzed about the battle at punter.

"Well, I think Kyle Turano worked more with the first unit today and so I would say - not making any proclamation, I wouldn't want to make a proclamation without talking to the kids and be accused of that - but he worked with the first unit today," Tressel said.

Tressel understands the importance of Ohio State playing in-state schools. The Buckeyes play one per season and Tressel would have liked to see Youngstown State on OSU's schedule a few years ago.

"I was one of the ones pushing for that 10 years ago when I was one of those in-state folks, so I think it would probably be out of order for me to say it's probably not a good idea," he said. "I think it's been good for our state. It's been a great opportunity for kids to compete against each other that did all through high school. It's a great financial thing for the other schools in our state and we're here to help each other. So, I'm for it."

Tressel actually came to Columbus to meet face-to-face with former OSU athletic director Jim Jones to try and get an OSU-YSU matchup.

"Begged, but to no avail," Tressel said.

Tressel was asked when he had last spoken to Cincinnati head coach Mark Dantonio and if the two were planning to go out for dinner after the game.

"I talked to him right before preseason," Tressel said. "No, I don't think I've ever gone out to dinner with any of our opponents in the past, so I don't think we'll do that."

With so many young players in the starting lineup for the Buckeyes, it could be a nervous time for a head coach - even the unflappable Tressel.

"Maybe it's more anxious," he said. "You're always nervous. I've been nervous every game I've ever gone into. But I may be a little more anxious this time because there's so many of the guys that I'm excited to see how they do. I think when you go in with a lot of returning starters you go in hoping that they will play up to their abilities and you know what those are. So, yeah, maybe a little more anxious because of the unknown."

With Zwick making his first start, Tressel wants to make sure the young quarterback is comfortable out on the field. The play calling might be even more conservative than usual.

"Well, I think you're sensitive to the fact that you're going to be nervous until he's hit," Tressel said. "Then once he's hit and he's got his first third down, he's got his first decision and so forth, it will be just like any other time. But, you're sensitive to trying to make things doable for him. And if I had the good fortune of knowing their first defense and I could name the first play that would be a wonderful thing for us, I would do that, but we can't, so you try and put guys in good situation, especially when they're young."

Although he's just a sophomore, Zwick is mature. Tressel knows there will be nerves from all of his young players, but thinks they will handle themselves just fine.

"You know how excited they are. This is what they've trained for," he said. "In Justin's case, he made some real tough decisions when he was young to get ready for days like this when he transferred and wanted to put himself in a situation like he did at Massillon under the gun. And you think about what Troy went through to get ready for this day… this is what they're here for."

Fullback Branden Joe - who has battled the injury bug his entire career - will likely miss the opener with an ankle sprain.

"Branden I would say is doubtful," Tressel said. "He's not 100 percent."

Cornerback E.J. Underwood is a player that a lot of people are excited about. He will replace Chris Gamble in the starting lineup this year and there was actually some talk about Underwood playing more last year until he went down with a hand injury and missed the rest of the season. The plan was for Gamble to play more on offense and have Underwood fill in defensively.

"E.J. was probably getting more reps prior to being hurt last year," Tressel said. "We were and still do think he's got a lot of ability and I don't know it was simply because we wanted to play Chris more on offense, it maybe could have opened up that opportunity, but I don't know that it was driven by that."

If starting tailback Lydell Ross gets banged up Saturday, or simply needs a rest, Tressel won't be afraid to insert one of the true freshmen in the game. But Maurice Hall is No. 2 on the depth chart and will likely get first crack off the bench.

"I think it depends on what we're doing," Tressel said. "Mo Hall can do a broader range of things. Tony Pittman is not limited - I don't mean to say that at all - but I would think we'll see Mo and Tony and perhaps even Erik (Haw) in the course of the game."

Tressel knows there is nothing like opening day. He sounds even more excited than the players.

"It's such a release," Tressel said. "You love the game and you haven't played it for so long and you've been practicing it forever and thinking about it forever, it's just kind of a neat release like, 'Hey, we're finally here.' It's time to tee it up and we know it's going to be a long grind. Game one is going to be a long grind and the season is going to be a long grind, but it's a neat release that, 'Hey, we're getting to do what we like to do,' and that's play the games."

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