Reporters stood four and five deep to hear junior quarterbacks Justin Zwick and Troy Smith discuss their current situation as the Buckeyes prepare to host No. 2-ranked Texas Saturday (8 p.m., ABC national telecast).
Earlier in the day, OSU head coach Jim Tressel stopped short of naming a starting quarterback for the game with Texas. Zwick started the season opener, a 34-14 win over Miami (Ohio) last Saturday, as Smith sat out the second of a two-game suspension for receiving illegal extra benefits from an OSU booster.
Each of the quarterbacks spent about 10 minutes meeting with the media. Neither of them have any inclination of who will start or when Tressel will make that decision.
Zwick Isn't Sure
Zwick completed 17 of 23 passes for 155 yards with one touchdown and one interception in 2-1/2 quarters of work in the win over Miami. He improved his record as a starting quarterback to 5-3. But he isn't sure if it was enough to hang on to the job.
"I'm not even sure if I will take that first (snap)," Zwick said. "But if that happens, I'll be ready to go. Hopefully, we'll start the game out like we did last week with a nice drive and get some points on the board.
"You definitely want to be out there for that first play – that first exciting play. But whatever happens happens."
Zwick said he'll go to practice each week and do what he has to do to get ready to play.
"I figure I'll find out when you guys do," he said. "You haven't heard and I haven't heard. I don't think we've ever had a situation like this before. I'm sure he'll tell us when he is good and ready.
"That's up to the coaches. We're both hard workers and we both do well when we're in there. That's just something that coaches are going to have to decide."
Reporters asked if Zwick had prepared himself for this day, when he would have to share the job with Smith.
"I didn't really think about Texas at all," he said. "I knew I had to focus on Miami. Now that that game is over, we'll focus on what comes next."
Zwick was asked if he gets fed up with all of the attention surrounding the quarterback position.
"There's a point where you want to say a lot of things," he said. "It's just one of those things as a quarterback that you grow up with. It's elevated here at a place like Ohio State. Along the way, you learn to not worry about that as much and not try and put so much pressure on yourself. You just try and make yourself better and make the team better.
"It's part of the deal with things. You have to go with the flow. If you start worrying about those things, you'll stop worrying about what you do on the field. You can't do that."
He was asked if he and Smith discuss their position battle "offline."
"We don't discuss those things," he said. "We just study our film and try to make the team better. That's all we worry about.
"As long as you prepare all week, whenever your number is called you have to be ready to go. You have to be ready to play. You never know when somebody will go down with an injury and somebody needs to step up."
Zwick was asked if he could handle a platoon situation.
"It doesn't matter if it's something I can live with," he said. "(Tressel) gets paid the big bucks to make those decisions and we roll with them."
Zwick talked about the gravity of Saturday's showdown with Texas.
"We're just excited to be out there in a big-time game like this," he said. "You come to Ohio State to play in a game like this. To have one so early in the season is fun because you're going to find out what you're made of. Hopefully, we'll be successful."
He was asked about facing Texas' defense.
"They are a tough defense," he said. "They're big guys. Their corners are big and so are their safeties. Up front, they have some big guys who are 6-5, 300 pounds. They're going to be tough. We're going to come at them and do some of the same things we've been doing – move the ball around and let our guys make plays. Hopefully, we'll be able to move the ball like we did last week.
"Last year, Oklahoma State was successful against them in the first half. Michigan was successful against them. They just didn't have any help on the other side, which is something that happens. Those teams just did simple things they did all year. We're hoping to do the same type of things.
"The biggest part will be if we're able to (spread it around) and then also have the rushing game. Those things will have to complement each other like they did last Saturday."
Smith Happy To Be Back
Since Smith was not eligible to play last week, he came out for interviews for the first time since the jersey scrimmage nearly three weeks ago.
"It feels good to be back here," he said, smiling. "I miss you guys."
Smith thanked his teammates for taking care of business against Miami.
"The guys are excited about this upcoming game," Smith said. "We handled business against Miami (Ohio). My hat is off to the guys for handling that. We're just getting ready for Texas.
"I was pulling for them in every way. It was hard, but it was relieving that we got the win and with the way the guys played. I was at my high school team's game, but my mother taped it. I got a chance to watch it and then I came back and watched it here."
Smith has not played since his masterful performance in last November's win over Michigan.
"That level of anxiety is off the scale," said Smith, who was 4-1 last year as a starter. "Being cool and calm will be one of the keys to everybody going out there and having success against Texas.
"Just having the jersey on again is a thrill for me. It's something big. You don't miss it until it's gone. I just want to lead the guys the best way I can in any way, shape or form, whether it is on the sideline or the field."
When asked if he'd prefer to start, Smith said, "It would mean a lot. To start any game would mean a lot. Being an Ohio State quarterback or an Ohio State player is a privilege that a lot of times guys take for granted.
"When I do get the chance, I just want to go out there and perform to the best of my ability."
Smith was asked if he can expect people to forgive and/or forget his past transgressions.
"I'm sure it's not forgotten, but then again we have to move on," he said. "It's a new day."
He was asked if he could handle a platoon situation.
"You have to," he said. "It's a win-win situation. We were spoiled coming in in 2002 and going to the big dance. We are the leaders now and we have to take these young guys to the big game. We just have to win.
"That's really out of my judgment. He'll decide what he wants to do. The focus today was making good decisions."
Smith was asked if he has fulfilled all of Tressel's requirements for reinstatement.
"He's sort of like Coach Ginn in that sense – they're never satisfied, no matter what you do," he said. "They're never satisfied."
Smith revealed that he is friends with Texas quarterback Vince Young.
"We talk from time to time," Smith said. "Vince is a good friend of mine, being that we were together at the Elite 11. Vince is a great guy. The other players around here would tell you that I'm the joker. Vince is the same way, so we hit it off all right. He's a great player on the field and great guy off the field."
Smith also discussed the Texas defense.
"They're fast," he said. "They have great athletes just like us. They're physical up front, similar to us. Both of their D-ends are rangy guys. Their safeties are tall and their corners are tall. They are similar to us. Everybody can run."
Smith said he realizes this is a win-or-else game for the Buckeyes.
"I think it makes the game a lot more breathtaking, a lot more urgent for both teams," he said. "It's the first time these two teams have met. That's huge."
Smith was asked how he'll guard from pressing in his return to action.
"Being humble, knowing that at one time I wasn't able to be out here with the guys," he said. "I will put everything into it – blood, sweat and tears – and just being out there with the guys will help me to be a great player."