Smith Discusses His Chance To Play QB

With starting quarterback Justin Zwick hobbled by a shoulder injury and ineffective, Jim Tressel made the move to Troy Smith in the second half of Saturday's loss at Iowa. Click here for a look at how these events unfolded and for what Tressel had to say about the status of the quarterback position.

Troy Smith got his long awaited chance to play quarterback for Ohio State.

Smith entered OSU's 33-7 loss to Iowa with the Buckeyes trailing 17-0 with 12:22 left in the third quarter. He came on in relief of starter Justin Zwick, who had suffered a shoulder injury early in the game. Zwick threw an interception in the end zone to end an OSU scoring threat late in the first half, then was hit and fumbled the ball away two plays into the team's first possession of the second half.

When asked if the switch was due to Zwick's injury or performance, OSU coach Jim Tressel said, "Probably both. We were told his shoulder was banged. Probably, at the same time, we felt like we needed to look for other ways to get the ball moved."

Smith came on and finished the game. He hit on 8 of 12 passes for 76 yards. He hit freshman tight end Rory Nicol for a 23-yard touchdown to avert the shutout with 2:19 left in the game.

"He did the things we needed to move the ball," Tressel said. "He gave us a little spark there. He went in and did some good things."

Tressel did not announce whether Zwick or Smith would start next week's game with Indiana.

"We evaluate it constantly," Tressel said. "There's a lot of factors involved with that. One will be Justin's health. One will be what do we need to do to head in the right direction. One will be what we do early in the week and how people respond to the reality of where we are."

Obviously, the loss dimmed Smith's spirits, although he was glad to finally get a chance to play after watching Zwick go the route in the team's last three games.

"I leave here upset that we didn't get the victory, first and foremost," Smith said. "I leave here upset in myself. I had the ball in my hands. There was no one else I can blame for what happened.

"I should have done some things to bring my team back and I couldn't come through. Hopefully, if I get another chance I'll be able to do a better job."

Smith added, "I'd like to thank my offensive line for giving me some time to do the things I was able to do today and put some points on the board."

Smith was happy to lead OSU down to the late score. On that four-play drive, he completed passes of 19 yards to Ted Ginn Jr. and 18 yards to Santonio Holmes and also rushed for 13 yards to set up the toss to Nicol.

"That's a relief to not be shut out," Smith said. "But we still didn't come away with the win. It's a team thing. Those guys up front were blocking for me. Rory caught the pass. I didn't score. He did a great job of running his route."

OSU's struggling offense mustered just 177 yards total offense (27 rushing, 150 passing). When asked what the Buckeyes need to do, Smith said, "How do we fix that? Just day in and day out working hard."

Smith said Tressel tried to keep him in things mentally even when he wasn't playing.

"He always tells me to be ready and stay ready," Smith said. "Regardless if you're a starter or a backup, you have to be ready. He talks to me all the time about the fundamental things. He talks about leading my team and having the confidence in the things I can do. We lost today and that hurts. 0-and-3 in the Big Ten, that hurts."

Reporters asked Smith if he feels he should be in the running to start next week against Indiana.

"I don't know, man," he said. "I'm just looking forward to next week and breaking this film down. We need to get ready for Indiana."

Holmes, one of Smith's closest friends on the team, was glad to see him get a shot.

"He just really had to make the best of his opportunity because our quarterback was hurt," Holmes said. "We knew Justin wasn't coming back into the game, so it was his time to step up. Regardless of who's in the game, he has to be our leader and we have to follow no matter what."

Tough Game For Zwick

Zwick told reporters he was injured on OSU's first series. He was hit by Iowa's Abdul Hodge on a running attempt during that series. But he stayed in the game into the second half.

"I really didn't get the correct (medical) term from the doctors," said Zwick, who was 6 of 14 passing for 74 yards. "But it hurts. I went through it for a while, but at halftime it got a little stiff on me and that last hit …"

The last hit was the one Iowa defensive tackle Derreck Robinson put on him to force the fumble.

"That kind of tugged it a little bit," he said.

Zwick was asked if he expects to be ready for next week.

"I'm going to take care of it, get some ice on it and hopefully it will be all right," he said.

In regards to the offense, Zwick said, "We were just hoping to move the ball a lot better than we did and score some points. We definitely did not do that today. We knew coming in they ran a base defense and do what they do well. They didn't really surprise us. We just didn't get it done."

Regarding the interception – where he underthrew Bam Childress on a fade in the back right corner of the end zone and Marcus Paschal made the easy pick – Zwick said, "I didn't get that corner to bite on the under route. He was able to get back there and make a big play on me. He got me."

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