Tressel Previews Battle Against The Badgers

OSU head coach Jim Tressel met with the media after this evening's practice, and the biggest topic of conversation was this Saturday's opponent -- the Wisconsin Badgers. Dave Biddle has the report.

Jim Tressel met with reporters following Wednesday's practice. He is happy with the way his team is practicing this week following the loss to Northwestern.

"I thought they had a crisp one - especially yesterday," Tressel said. "I thought today was solid. You know, sometimes when you go through preseason and then you have an open week, I don't know, maybe you can get into a less-crisp mode. But it certainly seemed Tuesday that our guys are interested in being good."

Defensive tackle Marcus Green has been limited with an ankle sprain.

"Marcus is practicing," Tressel said. "He seems like he's good. He played three or four plays I think Saturday and probably wasn't 100 percent and in that type of game you need to be with as much running and chasing the quarterback and that kind of thing that was involved."

Wisconsin comes to Columbus equipped with one of the best defenses in the country. Much like the Buckeyes of the last two years, the defense is led by an outstanding front four.

"Well, you know, we've seen some good ones, but these seem like they're the next level," Tressel said of the Badgers' defensive line. "We remember Erasmus (James) from two years ago and he missed last year. The other three guys were all there. To answer your question, yeah, they remind me a lot of our group from a year ago. They know everything that you try to do to them. They know every protection; they know every trick play. They're very, very good."

With James and left tackle Anttaj Hawthorne lining up next to each other, Tressel was asked if he is planning on giving Mike Kne and Tim Schafer some help on that right side.

"Well, you know, it's hard to help on two guys," he said. "Sometimes you can do a little bit of help. You can nick a back on them, a tight end, or help a tackle and all those things that everyone does. But the hard deal is, two guys on one side, it will be hard to help on both of them."

Wisconsin's defense has been racking up tackles-for-loss so far this season.

"Well, what you have to do is really minimize your minus-yard plays because they really thrive on that," Tressel said. "I don't know how many sacks they have, but it seems like every film you turn on… plus they knock you backwards in your run game. You have to stay away from minus-yard plays. And like any game you have to have patience. You really have to make sure that you don't let them gain the momentum and head in the wrong direction."

Tressel was asked if the Buckeyes are planning to spread out the Badgers' defense, attempting to slow down the front four.

"We've got to try and come up with ways to attack on the ground and in the air, as always," Tressel said. "Spreading them out will be part of it."

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and the fact that Wisconsin runs the ball well each year. Tressel credits the Badgers' offensive line for the consistent success.

"I think the key to their running success - it's a given they've had great backs - but that offensive front, year in and year out, they know what they're doing, they're veterans and it starts there," he said.

Tressel was asked if Wisconsin just does a better job at producing offensive linemen and teaching the running game than most schools.

"They really do," he said. "I think it's their system. I think they've developed their system; they've built their system. They've had some success. They've had those periodic great years and other years are very solid years and they just keep building on what they believe and I'm sure with 18 or 19 seniors they're looking at this as one of those extraordinary years. They are so veteran and they've been healthy and they believe in what they do."

The one possible weakness on the Badgers' offense is their passing game. They have a first-year starting quarterback - sophomore John Stocco - who really hasn't been tested yet.

"They've been real smart with what they've done with him," Tressel said. "I haven't seen them ask him to run the option like they've traditionally asked their quarterback to do. So, who knows, that could be laying in the wings for us. They've asked him to do a job getting them into the right play. He's doing a good job of not turning it over and making the possession down throw that's available. They do a nice job with misdirection throws. But they have not overburdened him. I think they've brought him along at an excellent pace. They're running game and their defense and their special teams have given them that opportunity to groom him and I think he's done well."

Senior tailback Anthony Davis is one of the best backs in the country and the Buckeyes know they will need to contain him.

"He's a great player. He's a difference maker," Tressel said. "Not to minimize what those other guys did. They did fine. He's a four-year starter and he's one of the best they've had. He has great patience and he just waits for it to happen and then he's got a great burst."

Tressel was asked if he considers the Wisconsin game a must win for the Buckeyes.

"I think if you asked anyone in our locker room - coach or player - they would tell you every game is a must win at Ohio State," he said. "When you don't, you're not happy with yourself. We feel as though we're fortunate to have excellent personnel and everything we need to be successful is here for us and it's up to us. So, we consider every one of them must win and this one is no different."

One reporter said he got the feeling that some of OSU's defensive players are actually relieved to be going up against a traditional Big Ten offense, rather than a spread team.

"We'll see how relieved they are when the collisions start," Tressel quipped. "I think they are anxious to get back on the field, whether it's conventional or whatever. But, it will be a battle out there. There will be some smacking."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories