Jim Tressel met with reporters following Wednesday's practice.
It rained all day in Columbus, so Ohio State practiced indoors at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. There is a 30 percent chance of rain for Saturday, so Tressel considered practicing in the rain a little bit today, but decided against it.
"We'd like to get some work in the rain," Tressel said. "I think we will here in the next day. But we didn't want to get two hours worth today, no."
As The Game gets closer, you can feel the buzz in Columbus. Tressel has noticed that his players are a little more tuned in this week.
"Yeah, I think there's a certain energy that you feel and a certain focus that you see," Tressel said. "Guys are coaching each other, even more than they typically do, and I think they do a good job with that. It's exciting and you can feel it."
"Yeah, I don't know of anyone that isn't going to try and make the bell and we'll see how they do," Tressel said. "Usually this game brings out pretty health."
Tressel was asked to elaborate on Whitner, who was originally expected to be held out until the bowl game with a knee injury.
"Donte looks great," he said. "He's been going through everything. We've had guys on scopes… the best I've seen is like eight days. We've seen a lot of them at about 10-12 and that's what this one would be."
Tressel was asked if the Buckeye secondary was equipped to handle Michigan's passing game.
"Well, you know, you better get a little pressure on the quarterback so he can't stand there all day," Tressel said. "And if we do that, I think we're equipped. I think if we allow the quarterback to have as long as he'd like, no one equipped to cover for too long. Those guys are good and they know what they're doing and they're not complicated, they just execute."
The Buckeyes enter play as an underdog, but Tressel doesn't think there are any true "upsets" in this rivalry.
"I don't think so," he said. "I think when both teams go out there they just smash into each other and whoever makes the least mistakes typically wins. Whoever makes the most big plays typically wins. I haven't studied the history of it from that standpoint, I've studied it more from the standpoint of, 'What did the winning teams do?' Not necessarily who was favored."
Tressel is impressed with the job Lloyd Carr has done this season.
"Absolutely," he said. "I thought he had a solid group coming back, along with some big question marks. I think the quarterback has done a good job and they've done a good job with their quarterback as to bringing him through their system. Obviously the tailback was not talked about lots and he is special. The people that needed to come through for them, did. I think their older group of guys really has stepped up and played well. They've won the tight games and have done the things you need to do to have an excellent season."
One thing in the Buckeyes' favor is that the game will be played in the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium. Tressel was asked of OSU's fans can make it difficult for a true freshman quarterback like Chad Henne.
"I think for any quarterback - whether he's a senior, or a freshman - in our place, it needs to be loud," Tressel said. "We need to make it very difficult to communicate. We need for them to feel that 12th man out there. I think that affects a guy at any age. I think both quarterbacks going into the game are going to be wound up and excited, but they're going to get smacked around and they'll both settle down. But, yeah, our home crowd, and the noise and the atmosphere, and the whole energy that's created here needs to make a difference."
Michigan's defense has played a lot of aggressive, man-to-man coverage this year. But Tressel says the Wolverines aren't afraid to mix it up.
"If you watch them play certain games, you say, 'The gameplan was man.' And then you watch other games and the gameplan was not man," Tressel said. "Sometimes it's been blitz with man, sometimes man with a free safety and an underneath guy. They have it all in their package. It will be interesting the first quarter as we deploy to see how they play. They play based on who you put out on the field and how they think they should defend that particular personnel grouping and formation. So, I think we'll get some man, but we'll get plenty of zone as well."
Tressel was asked if he has talked with his team - especially the players from Ohio - about the importance of winning this game for the people of Ohio.
"Well, you talk about that from day one," he said. "Just having the privilege to play here. And them when you get to day 11, you talk about the privilege of playing in this game for your school and your state. But, we also talked to Craig Krenzel hard last year and he was from Michigan. So, we talk to them all."
Some have said that the Buckeyes have nothing to lose this year. But the truth is they have plenty to lose. A win puts Tressel up 3-1 on UM and the players will have a lifelong of good memories if they win.
"You'll never forget your Ohio State-Michigan games," Tressel said. "If you're a senior, I promise you you'll never forget. I don't care how many of them that you've won or lost. Their group last year that was seniors, you could tell from their performance and their comments afterwards of what it meant to them. And they didn't care that they had lost a couple before that, that was all that mattered and that's all that matters this year."
Tressel was asked if any of the outside issues has affected his team.
"Not at all," he said. "Our guys, this is important to them. We set the week up such that they had their time with the media on Monday, and Tuesday on, it's nothing but Ohio State versus Michigan and they've been doing that."
Tressel was asked if he ever gives suggestions to OSU's defensive coaches. Like when Kyle Orton entered for Purdue last week, might he have suggested to scrap the soft zone?
"No," Tressel said. "I don't like to jump in with three minutes to go and all of a sudden be part of it. I wasn't sitting in their meeting rooms. You only have time to do a certain amount of things and I probably try to do too many already."
The Buckeyes have given up a lot of yardage underneath this season. Tressel was asked if he regrets that Purdue went down the field and scored on the soft zone.
"Oh, absolutely," he said. "They went down and drove and
scored and made the winning drive. But I don't regret not talking to our
defensive coaches or anything like that. Shoot, they've done pretty good work