No Change In Quarterback Plans, Tressel Says

There has certainly been plenty of things to talk about in Buckeyeland the past few days. Tonight, OSU head coach Jim Tressel talked about the popular topics of discussion, including the decision to back off from the OSU/UM sponsorship, the latest injury news, Craig Krenzel's first start, and the latest on Lydell Ross.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel met with reporters following Wednesday's practice.

There is no change at the quarterback position. Troy Smith will get the start against Penn State. Justin Zwick is still nursing a shoulder injury.

"(Zwick's) done a little bit of light throwing, but he hasn't done any of the team work or any perimeter work," Tressel said. "Troy has gotten probably 80 percent of the reps and Todd (Boeckman) the rest."

Tressel knows it's a difficult time for Zwick. He played poorly prior to his injury and now is forced to watch from the sidelines for at least another week.

"It's hard enough - whether you're a team that's banged up, or an individual - if you haven't done as well as you know you would like to do, and can do, and will do," Tressel said. "So, I'm sure that makes it even harder for Justin. The last couple times he was out, we didn't succeed. No one wants to win more than he does, yet he can't do anything about it since he's banged up. He can't even work to get better - outside of his footwork things and film work things. So, you do have empathy for it and hope each day when the trainer comes in, he says, 'Hey, we're ready to let loose.' But we're not there yet."

Tressel is all about winning the field position battles, but with the best kicker in the nation in Mike Nugent, Tressel is willing to take more chances. He's willing to line up for a 52-yard field goal, when in the past he might have preferred a pooch punt from the 35.

"Mike is a dependable guy," Tressel said. "If he wasn't 15 of 17 this year we might feel different, but he will usually tell you before the game, 'Get it to a certain yard line.' Then during the course of the game all we do is look down at him and he nods his head, you know, the wind is still fine, he still feels that he can make it, and then you still have to make those field position decisions."

But Nugent has never shook his head no when the coaches look down at him.

"No, he hasn't," Tressel said. "I guess that's the funny thing about it. If you check with him, you better expect a yes. Just like in that Marshall game, I think he said just get to the 45, or get across the 45 or something, which is pretty far. But he's confident and the people on his unit are confident."

Michigan pulled out of the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic today. We asked Tressel for his reaction.

"Well, Dan (Wallenberg) just mentioned that, and I guess my reaction would be… I'm sure they have good reason behind it," he said. "I don't know. I haven't been part of any discussion one way or the other with them. So, you can't have a classic without two teams, I do know that much."

Tressel said there was some negative feedback that could have led to UM's decision. Both schools were to receive over $500K and that led some people to say that OSU and UM were "selling out."

"Well, we had a guy Tuesday - I didn't really know him - but he was pretty emotional when that subject was brought up and I understand that," Tressel said. "There's a lot of different ways that you could look at any of the things that we do. From evolving to going out in the yard and playing a pickup game, to where we are today, I'm sure there's a lot of things you could discuss as to, 'Is that the right direction,' and so forth. So, I understand."

Lydell Ross has been reinstated to the team, but don't look for him carrying the ball anytime soon.

"Lydell practiced all of Tuesday with the scout team," Tressel said. "Today, he did not practice because he's trying to - as quickly as he can - get ironed out what the situation is, and I don't know because I haven't seen him today. But no, no change."

Tressel was asked if he makes certain establishments - like strip clubs - off limits for his players.

"No, we don't have a list," he said. "I don't know if that's right or wrong, but we have a general statement that we make that we would like them to remember who they are and that they represent everyone around them. They represent their school. But I guess I stop short of saying where you ought to be, but I don't stop short of when you ought to be there.

"We typically - we don't have a curfew - but we tell them often that we haven't seen too many good things happen past 10 and certainly after the stroke of midnight, a lot of bad things happen. I'm sure you can find a lot of statistics about that.

"But I have never - I shouldn't say never - one time way back (at Youngstown State) there was a place having some problems and for the moment was made out of bounds, but not very often."

So, Tressel never tells his players they must be in before a certain time?

"No, but we do say, 'If there's problems past 1 o'clock, there are going to be bigger problems back here.' But, again, there are so many circumstance behind things and I get a little concerned sometimes to set hard and fast policies and hide behind them when you have to deal with individual situations," Tressel said.

Penn State has struggled the last few years, but the OSU-PSU game is still a big one.

"There's no question," Tressel said. "Penn State is one of two teams that we will always play. They have that rotation where people go off your schedule and in our case Michigan and Penn State will never go off our schedule because they should never be off our schedule. Those are the types of games that are the rivals.

"As time goes, a lot of these kids play against each other in the Big 33 game, they know each other very, very well. The two states are side-by-side with great pride in their football tradition. There's no question that Penn State is one of the great places, great programs, and that's what we aspire to be and so now we're teeing it up."

Tressel somewhat downplays his personal matchup against Joe Paterno.

"Well, I'm smart enough to know that it's not my wit necessarily that's being matched," he said. "It's my coaching staff against his coaching staff, and whatever little bit we both have into the input of it, that's one thing. But it is special coaching against Penn State and I'm sure part of it is because Joe Paterno is so legendary. We all grew up admiring him and still do. I suppose that makes it more special."

If Paterno does retire at the end of the season, or is fired, he would be going out on a downswing. Tressel was asked for his reaction on that situation.

"The only time I check transactions is to make sure I'm not in them," he quipped. "No, I haven't given that any thought."
With Zack Mills suffering from a concussion, Michael Robinson is expected to start at quarterback for the Nittany Lions this week. But Tressel doesn't think Penn State will do too much differently with Robinson at the controls.

"You have to prepare for their whole package," Tressel said. "I would think Robinson would be the guy and we've been preparing for what he does when he plays quarterback. We'll also prepare for the times when Robinson is not playing quarterback and they have Mills, or (Anthony) Morelli. So, it's the same schemes and I don't think we would change anything. I think you'd be inventing ghosts if you start guessing who's going to play and if this guy isn't here, maybe they'll do this. You'd be so busy thinking. Really, it's all going to come down to who wins the line of scrimmage, who makes plays and who creates turnovers."

The Buckeyes need two more wins to be bowl eligible. One of the most important aspects of being bowl eligible is the extra practice time that a team receives. It can really help prepare for the following season, but Tressel hasn't looked that far ahead.

"Well, we would obviously like the opportunity to go to a bowl," he said. "But I don't know that I've ever thought of it from the practice standpoint, to be honest with you. You just want to be amongst the top teams in the country and you want to reward your young people if they deserve to be rewarded. We haven't talked about it. I haven't heard any of the guys talk about it. The first time you usually hear it mentioned is when you get your sixth win. You hear people say, 'We're bowl eligible.' I've never heard it mentioned before that in the course of the season.

"In the beginning of the season you always talk about it. This particular year, you want to be in the Orange Bowl. If that doesn't work out, your second choice would be the Rose Bowl. And then, 'OK, let's go to work and see what we earn.'"

Former OSU quarterback and Chicago Bears rookie Craig Krenzel will make his first NFL start on national television Sunday night.

"Well, I had heard last week that he might make a start and I chatted with one of the writers from the Tribune and he asked, 'How could he possibly be ready?' I don't pretend to know who's ready to start in the NFL, but I know this: Craig knows how to win and he knows the things you have to do to win. I would say that's probably the reason that he's having this chance because they're pretty interested in getting a win," Tressel said.

The Buckeyes are dinged up at fullback. A freshman with a lot of "pep" could get the start this Saturday.

"Dionte Johnson got most of (the practice reps) so far this week," Tressel said. "Brandon Schnittker got a lot - he got a little banged, but I think he'll be fine. Branden Joe has gotten some. Stan (White) has been out."

Tressel gave a quick infirmary report on the Buckeyes.

"I would say Jay Richardson is probably questionable," he said. "Stan White is questionable. Donte (Whitner) I would say is questionable - probably didn't go today as much as I would have liked. But other than that, we're in pretty good shape."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories