Pittman Excited To Make First Start

Sophomore tailback Antonio Pittman told reporters earlier this week he is eager to get on the field as the starter. Pittman saw spot duty a year ago behind Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross. Also, junior Doug Datish talked about his chance to rejoin the starting lineup at left tackle for Saturday's opener against Miami (Ohio).

One Ohio State player who is counting the hours until the Buckeyes open with Miami (Ohio) on Saturday (noon, ABC) is sophomore tailback Antonio Pittman.

The 5-11, 195-pound Pittman spent last year behind seniors Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall. But he emerged from both spring practice and preseason camp as OSU's number one option at tailback and figures to start the season opener.

"I didn't start a game last year, but I did play in the first quarter of some of them," Pittman said. "I don't know that feels (to start), but I know it's going to be a great feeling.

"I just want to go out there and help the team win. I feel like a different guy. I've gotten bigger. I've learned more about the game. Finally getting a chance to start, that will be a big thing."

Pittman graduated from Akron (Ohio) Buchtel in December 2003 and enrolled in time for spring football in 2004. He played his way into the rotation last year, logging 73 carries for 381 yards. He scored one touchdown.

He played last year at 183, but has added roughly 12 pounds this off-season.

"I feel very solid," he said.

Pittman could be a factor for the offense, whether it operates out of the spread or out of the I.

"I feel like I'm a good fit for this offense," he said. "With so much emphasis on the two receivers, I think the running backs coming out of the backfield to catch balls will be a big thing for us. It will be a key part of the season. When we get the chance, we want to take advantage of it."

Pittman may not be an every down back just yet. OSU moved 240-pound senior Brandon Schittker from fullback to tailback. True freshman Maurice Wells and redshirt freshmen Erik Haw and Shaun Lane are also in the mix.

"You need backups," Pittman said. "The Big Ten is a long season. That takes a lot of pressure off me. I think it's good with me, Brandon, Mo Wells, Erik – it's a nice change of pace. Everybody brings something to the table, and that's what we need."

Pittman all but admits that Schnittker will be OSU's short yardage back.

"It's a big change of pace," Pittman said. "It will take a lot of pressure off everyone. Probably come third-and-1, he'll be back there. That's almost a guaranteed (first down) with a big guy like that at 250 pounds, running the ball with a big head of steam."

Pittman praised the play of OSU's offensive line during fall camp.

"I see a lot of good things with this offensive line," he said. "They open a lot of good holes. They're willing to block for me, and I respect them for that."

Pittman also said he has the utmost respect for Miami, despite its status as an MAC school.

"I respect MAC schools," he said. "I respect all of our opponents. Regardless of how they play on film, when they come to Ohio State it's a different kind of ballgame. Everybody plays us hard. With me coming from Akron and Akron U. right there and the type of season Charlie Frye had, it makes you respect the MAC."

Still, Pittman dreams of being able to break off a big play early to set the tone of the game and the season for the offense.

"You want to spark something big like that early in the game," he said. "That would give you a different perspective about the run game. That would spark the team a lot. To hit them off-guard early like that would help a lot. You know there will be so much attention on the receivers. That would maybe make them change their defensive scheme.

"The passing game and how they've talked about it, I feel like people have forgotten about the running game. Come Saturday, I want to get out there and get them for a couple hundred."

Datish Back In Lineup

Junior offensive lineman Doug Datish may feel a bit like a yo-yo right now. Datish left spring practice as the starting right guard. But when the Buckeyes convened for fall camp, Datish, who started 10 games last year, was the odd man out.

Offensive coordinator/line coach Jim Bollman had moved left guard T.J. Downing to right guard, moved left tackle Rob Sims to left guard and inserted Steve Rehring at left tackle.

But Datish didn't pout. He went to work and spent practice time at guard, tackle and center. His hard work paid off as Datish was announced earlier this week as the either/or starter with Rehring at left tackle.

"During the rehearsal scrimmage, (Bollman) came up and said, `Here's what we're going to do today,' " Datish said. "He said that was as of right now and he would let me know if anything changes. He hasn't said anything to me yet. I know I'm going to play, so it doesn't matter who's doing what.

"I think I had a good camp. With him telling me I would be running with the ones, that shows that I had a good camp. He also told me to get ready to play everywhere else. As versatile as I am, I think I can plug in anywhere and be fine."

Datish discussed the responsibility the left tackle has for protecting the quarterback's blind side.

"It's cool," he said. "It is a lot of responsibility because you're friends with all of these guys, especially the quarterbacks. You don't want them to get killed. I think I'm up to it."

Datish hopes his versatility – he still figures to rep some at guard and even in place of Nick Mangold as needed at center – could help him down the road as he pursues a pro career.

"I think that's really good," he said. "I can play both sides of the ball. I can play center, guard, tackle or whatever. I think teams could look at that. Coach Bolls said that is something that could help me out eventually."

Datish's 2004 season kind of tailed off – just as his weight did. Downing replaced him in the lineup late in the year.

"Last year, during the season I could not keep weight on to save my life," he said. "I lost 20 pounds. I was down to like 275 pounds by the end of the year. Now I'm on this diet where I eat until I can't eat anymore. I'm around 300. If I miss a meal, I lose a pound or two. They may have to put me in the hospital for eating too much."

Datish almost has to forcefeed himself to keep the weight on.

"I try to eat about 8,500 calories a day," he said. "If I don't, I lose it."

Datish believes the offensive line – with everybody but Mike Kne back -- will sustain the success it enjoyed at the end of last year.

"We felt we started the ball rolling with those last couple games," he said. "We want to continue that and this is a big game for us. The MAC is a good conference and this is supposedly the best team in the MAC. We just want to show what we can do."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories