Tressel Tackles Tough Questions During Bye Week

OSU coach Jim Tressel met with the media after Wednesday's practice to discuss his team's offensive performance at N.C. State. Plus, he discussed Lydell Ross' play at tailback and the progress of backup Antonio Pittman and fullback Branden Joe. Click this free link for all the details.

It is the off week for Ohio State football, but the Buckeyes do not have their feet up and they are not eating bon-bons.

Autumn quarter classes began Wednesday and the Buckeyes also got a bit of a refresher course on Ohio State football when they arrived at practice in the afternoon. They were greeted by a physical practice, one of three planned this week.

"That's what we're doing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," OSU coach Jim Tressel said after practice today. "Yesterday, all we did was watch the film of the N.C. State game. We broke a sweat in the weight room. Today, tomorrow and Friday, we will go back to fundamentals and, by the end of the week, get a little bit of a head start on Northwestern."

Tressel said the players were probably eager to begin classes.

"I don't know that it was planned this way, but having the open week when we have to shift gears a little bit is good," he said. "I think the guys were kind of anxious, to be quite honest with you. I think they were kind of tired of spending all day with us over here at the Woody Hayes with nowhere to go."

Here were more of Tressel's comments from Wednesday:

* On the conservative offensive game plan at N.C. State -- "I think we had to keep that in mind. That was going to be a different atmosphere. The defense we were facing was good. Our defense was going to face a group with umpteen different things because they hadn't had to show anything. It was good to go down there with real good focus and understand how important special teams were going to be and that mistakes were going to make the difference. We had to stay in it no matter what happened. We had a solid (offensive) package. I wouldn't call it limited.

"Once you get into the middle of the year, if teams have three or four of your films, the stuff you've been doing may work once against a good team. But you better have some adjustments. If you watch film in the league, you will see an evolution with each of them offensively and defensively over the course of the season."

* On the play of tailback Lydell Ross, held to 51 yards on 21 carries -- "I think we all deserve blame for whatever parts we didn't do as well as we could. We can't fumble and Lydell has had a couple of fumbles. Just like when you're the head coach and you don't win some games, you're going to take some heat. That's part of the deal. No one has been harder on Lydell than Lydell. He wants to do well for his teammates. They elected him captain. I'm sure it's an effect on him when he doesn't do as well as he would hope to.

"Number one, we can't fumble. We're not going to win if we fumble. Number two, he's got to keep believing in himself. That's the key to anything. You better first believe that you can do it, then go out and prove it."

* On freshman tailback Antonio Pittman, who logged two carries coming off an injury -- "Antonio has got a good future. We felt that way in the spring and then in the preseason. But then he got dinged up a little bit. You miss a lot of practice time. I wasn't thinking that the N.C. State game would be where he would get his rehearsal, especially with the flow of the game. Lydell had done a good job hanging on to the ball until the last time we carried it."

* On getting fullback Branden Joe healthy --"The hard thing is when you are a little dinged up with an ankle and you play a couple plays and then you sit out, you swell up a little bit and it's hard to get warmed up. I thought today in practice, he showed a little bit of stuff he hasn't showed since he rolled it. In fact, I was thinking as we were out there that it would be a nice bonus if we had him 100 percent. We missed him a lot last year. What did we have him last year? Two games?

"He can do some things – receiving, blocking and he can run the ball. I sure hope he can get back to 100 percent."

* On Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez -- "As you have watched their games so far, their quarterback has not had a lot of interceptions. You're not going to get any easy field position on a veteran (quarterback)."

* On the importance of kicker Mike Nugent -- "Last year, B.J. Sander got the third most votes for MVP, so he was very important. I've had great kickers over the years who have made huge differences. What I love about Mike Nugent is not only does everybody love him when he makes them, his teammates have so much respect for him. They know they can count on him and he delivers."

* On plans for Friday's Showtime scrimmage -- "We'll have a little scrimmaging toward the end of the week for some of the guys who have not played that much. We call that Showtime. They get a chance to show they have learned our schemes a little bit more than just holding the cards or playing on the scout team. That's part of the fun and the advantage of an open week."

* On whether there was trepidation in using Ashton Youboty to replace Dustin Fox --- "No, Ashton Youboty can fill anybody's role. Ashton's a good player. We liked having the fact that when we went nickel we would have Ashton and Dustin in the game together and that would make us a little stronger. As you lose a guy, though, you lose some depth. The guy I'm rooting for in the next month or so is Harlen Jacobs. He has hung in there and here he is in his fifth year. I hope he gets some opportunities to come through."

* On how the Buckeyes opened and ended the game -- "We wanted to seize the momentum and the tempo of the game. They kicked it off to us and we returned it past the 25. We moved it past midfield and punted it down there to the 8. We wanted to do at least that. We didn't want to go three-and-out, obviously. We would have liked to have gone on down and scored a touchdown or a field goal. But when you're in a slugging match against a good team, establishing field position of a championship bout is important. I thought we did a fairly decent job of that.

"At the end (when Ross fumbled), I don't know how we would be feeling if we had gone down and scored at the end and won 29-7. We'd probably be feeling too good about ourselves," he joked.

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