Tressel Quotebook

OSU head coach Jim Tressel met with the media after today's practice and discused several topics, including what to expect from Marshall and what to look for from OSU at quarterback and offensive line. Dave Biddle has more.

Jim Tressel met with reporters after Wednesday's practice. He says nothing has changed in terms of the quarterback situation. Justin Zwick will start and Troy Smith will play off the bench.

"Yeah, we've done rep wise pretty much what we've done through preseason and the first week," Tressel said. "It's been fun to watch both of them, now that they've had some real game time that was real significant, to work on their technique. Experience is crucial."

Ohio State surprised many by coming out with four and five wide receivers at times against Cincinnati. It was a long way from the "max protect" the Buckeyes used so much of the last two years.

"It's part of what we do," Tressel said. "We feel as if, to be good, you've got to be able to do it all. Leave them all in to protect and only send two out, or send them all out and only protect with five. We think we have to be able to attack in every concept. Not only for our sake as an offense, but to attack our defense in practice so they're prepared for everything."

Against Marshall, Tressel says the Buckeyes will face a hard-hitting, athletic defense.

"They're a veteran defense and they're whole school of thought is founded upon being hitters," he said. "They run and they hit and they take great pride in that and have for years and years there. That's why they win championships is because they play great defense. I think they've got eight starters back and the whole secondary."

The Thundering Herd is coming off a 17-15 home loss to Troy State. Tressel came away impressed with both teams after watching the film.

"They and Troy State, when you watch that game, that's as fast a game as you'll see," he said. "Both teams flew around. They hit each other and it was a battle. Both made some mistakes, but boy, one mistake they didn't make was flying around and hitting each other. Both teams must have been sore Sunday."

Marshall's offense struggled against the Trojans, but the Herd will surely play much better against Ohio State. The group is led by quarterback Stan Hill, the latest in a recent group of excellent Marshall QBs. Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich are currently cashing NFL checks.

"I think they've done a good job of developing them," Tressel said of Marshall's quarterbacks. "The Pennington kid, the story I heard was that Tennessee wanted him to walk on. He's from Tennessee and they wanted him to walk on and Marshall said, 'No, we think we can develop him,' and they did. Leftwich, I don't know what his story is, but somehow he ends up becoming an NFL guy. Stan Hill is another one. They've done a good job with it."

Tressel is impressed with what Hill brings to the table.

"He knows what's going on," he said. "He's always going to know what you're in. He's going to check to the right things, he's been there, he's poised. Big run against Tennessee, he's smart, he pulled it down and ran for about 40 yards to make that game very interesting. He just makes good decisions."

One of the players that will be looking to slow down Hill will be OSU middle linebacker Mike D'Andrea. He gives the Bucks something they didn't have last year in the middle: a playmaker. In fact, OSU has two capable MLB's this year: D'Andrea and Anthony Schlegel.

"Well, knock on wood, it gives health," Tressel said. "(Last year) Freddie (Pagac) was banged up, Mike was banged up, Rob (Reynolds) had to go in there some during nickel. So, right now, it gives us two healthy guys with a lot of punch. Mike D'Andrea, when he hits you, it's a punch. And when Anthony Schlegel hits you, it's a punch. So, I think when you add both of those to the scene, it gives us a little more than we had simply because we weren't healthy in there."

Some might say that D'Andrea is finally living up to the hype after two tough years. But Tressel says it's not that simple. He says this is the first time D'Andrea has really been given a chance to perform.

"I don't know that Mike started slow," Tressel said. "Matt Wilhelm was our Mike and was the leader of that defense and got everyone lined up and Cie Grant was playing a new position and had some younger guys playing. Then, (D'Andrea) was coming along just fine until he was injured last year."

The Buckeyes aren't very deep on the offensive line, but they're still trying to rotate as many players as possible. Tressel touched on the O-line rotation.

"We would go in with the same lineup this week," he said. "I think Timmy Schafer played 65 percent of the time at right tackle and Kirk (Barton) played 35 percent. I could see it being similar. Mike Kne and T.J. (Downing) shared some time. We put Timmy Schafer over at left tackle a little bit and took out Rob (Sims). So, we hope in the early season that we have the poise about us as a coaching staff to make those substitutions because you have to get a whole team ready."

Barton and Downing are the first two players off the bench, giving the Bucks seven solid players to rotate in five spots.

"If it were a tackle, the next tackle in is Barton," Tressel said. "For a guard, the next guard would be T.J. You know, R.J. Coleman is getting a little more work this week I noticed. Center wise, Doug Datish would go over and you would bring in a guy like T.J., or maybe John Conroy, or R.J. So, I'm hoping we can get to eight or nine so we don't have those problems when we get an injury."

Nothing has changed at running back either. Erik Haw is still expected to play at some point this year and Branden Joe probably won't be back until N.C. State.

"Antonio Pittman had a bruised thigh, that's why he ended up going out of bounds, but he was moving around pretty good today," Tressel said. "Erik Haw is next and Roshawn (Parker) would be fifth.

"I'm still going to say - I don't remember what I said Tuesday for sure - but I'm still going to say Branden Joe is doubtful."
Santonio Holmes appears headed for a big season. He finished the 2003 season strong and has picked up right where he left off. It's a classic example of seizing an opportunity.

"He always showed a lot of ability," Tressel said. "We were very tempted to take his redshirt off throughout the whole course of 2002. We talked about it a lot, even going into the championship game. That's how talented he is and was. Sometimes when an older guy warrants it like we felt Drew (Carter) did, that's tough on a younger guy sometimes, but I think it's a good lesson for them. Santonio was always ready and when his opportunities came, he took advantage of them. I don't know if that's a light going on, or just good preparation. You know, 'OK, now it's my time.' Unfortunately Drew was hurt and boom, from that moment on, Santonio was lights out."

Although he's just a third-year sophomore, Holmes has taken on a leadership role.

"He and Bam are the veterans there," Tressel said. "And Johnny Hollins. But he and Bam have played more than Johnny. Sometimes it's easier to be a leader when you're out there. But there's no question, Santonio's driven to be really a good one. He's trained hard this summer. A couple times he had a chance to go home for a week or so, but didn't, those kind of things, because he's got some goals in mind. I think he is a leader."


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