Tressel Gives The Latest On The Quarterbacks

It looks more and more like Troy Smith will be the man at quarterback for Ohio State this Saturday. OSU head coach Jim Tressel discussed that and much more in today's meeting with the media.

Jim Tressel met with reporters following Wednesday's practice.

Nothing has changed in terms of the quarterback situation. Troy Smith will likely start against Indiana and Todd Boeckman will be the backup. Justin Zwick is sidelined with a shoulder injury.

"If we were playing today, Troy and Todd would be our guys," Tressel said. "Troy would be our guy and Todd got all the second reps. Justin did a little work and as you listen to the doctors, it's a day-by-day thing."

Tressel said Smith had 80 percent of the reps on Wednesday and Boeckman had the others. He added that Zwick did some "very light" throwing.

There is a chance that Zwick could feel better Thursday and do even more throwing and could even be cleared to play this week.

"Well, that's the thing that you have to find out and we'll find that out tomorrow," Tressel said.

Tressel, who said Zwick would have to practice full-go Thursday in order to play Saturday, was asked to be specific about Zwick's injury. Is there a lot of pain and stiffness? Is movement hindered in the shoulder?

"Probably all those things," Tressel said. "It's not my injury, but I don't know that you would say excruciating pain. Maybe between acute and dull, I don't know, I'm not a doctor either. I would say it's just not 100 percent, but getting better all the time. I've seen a lot of guys where I hesitate to say how much a guy will do, or don't do, because I've seen a lot of guys on Thursday as the game gets near and the adrenaline starts flowing and the treatment starts sinking in and all of a sudden… Now, the thing you have to decide is has the guy had enough work to be on top of what we need done at his position."

Tressel said in his weekly press conference on Tuesday that Smith did some things in the Iowa game that winning quarterbacks cannot do. He was asked to elaborate on that statement.

"Most of our evaluation from that standpoint are decision-making," he said. "To us, the quarterback's No. 1 task is to be a great decision maker. Number two, make sure we eliminate turnovers, and three, make plays. He didn't have turnovers, he made some plays. In his performance, there were a couple decisions that could have been made better and in order to be what we need at that position, you have to make great decisions 100 percent of the time. A lot to ask, but that's what we shoot for."

Some of Ohio State's players have mentioned that Smith is very charismatic and is a natural leader.

"Well, you know, the first thing you have to do is sense that about yourself and I think (Smith) feels that about himself and that's the first step of being a leader - wanting to be one," Tressel said. "Then I think the second step is the tricky one. You have to do your task and produce before you can truly be a leader. You first have to want to be one, and he does. I think everyone here knows that. Had a lot of time spent with him and he wants to be a leader. Now produce and then you have a real good chance at becoming a leader."

With Smith likely making his first, Tressel admitted he might cut back on the playbook even more.

"It might shrink a little," he said. "Probably over the course of the first seven weeks of the season - six games and an open - Troy probably had at least a third or more of the (practice) snaps. I don't know that he was ever in an 80-20 situation, so he's perhaps had more than you think.

"But I think when you're talking about having two new guys who are going to play that position, I think you have to bring it down, and you might have to do that anyway. Contrary to some thought - come up with more and come up with more ideas - sometimes do a little less and do it better."

Tressel said there won't necessarily be more of an emphasis on the running game this week, even with an inexperienced quarterback at the helm.

"I would hope that we would seek the same goals from a run-pass balance," he said. "Obviously some of it has to do with how (Indiana is) lined up."

Tressel was asked to give the general mood of the team and if they have been able to forget about the Iowa debacle.

"Oh, I don't think (they've forgotten)," Tressel said. "I think the mood of the team is that they're working hard, they want to get better. Everyone looks at their own performance and I think they're focused on what they can do better at their particular task. So, I think the mood… you know, it's not that everyone's feeling like Christmas break is tomorrow or something, but they're honed in and focused in and working hard. That's a good mood I think."

The brief interview session then really heated up. Kirk Herbstreit is on record saying Tressel should hire an offensive coordinator from the outside and let him call the plays. Tressel was asked to give his reaction to Herbstreit's opinion - one that is shared by many fans.

"Didn't hear that," he said. "We like to listen to any constructive criticism and we'll take that to heart."

But will Tressel evaluate his staff at the end of the season? Will there be some changes if things don't improve immensely?

"Exactly who will I sit down and make those discussions with? Probably wouldn't be Kirk, but we might have those discussions," Tressel said.

Tressel next gave his thoughts on Indiana's opportunistic defense and how the Buckeyes might attack it.

"Where they are is near the top of the conference in takeaways," he said. "So, the thing that you better first do is protect the ball. That's why they've been in every ballgame and won some ballgames. They've gone against some people that have spread them out, they've gone against some people that have lined up tight. You've got to attack across a broad front. Where they've been good, I think, is if someone comes out and just does one thing. They've got veterans. They've seen a lot of the things and they adjust well as they go."

Indiana's offense has been inconsistent this year. You can't really call the Hoosiers a running team, or a passing team.

"At times they've been run oriented and pass a little," Tressel said. "And then another game they threw it 50 times. So, I think they seek balance."

Finally, Tressel gave a positive review of the job senior punter Kyle Turano has done so far this season.

"I think Kyle's doing a good job," he said. "Everyone talked about perhaps the biggest hole we had to fill going into 2004 was punter. Perhaps we had a little bit of experience back at some of those other big holes, but we didn't at punter. We had (Andy) Groom and then B.J. (Sander) and I think Kyle Turano has stepped up and done a very solid job in that role."


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