Tressel Gives Wednesday Evening Update

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is still keeping his poker face in terms of not naming his starting quarterback for the Texas game this Saturday. Tressel also gave an update on OSU's injury situation and made a plead to Buckeye fans to be as loud as possible in the Horseshoe Saturday night.

Ohio State is putting the finishing touches on its game plan for Saturday's showdown with Texas and OSU head coach Jim Tressel met with reporters following Wednesday's practice.

Tressel says he has not made a final decision on whether Justin Zwick or Troy Smith will be the Buckeyes' starting quarterback.

"Well, no," Tressel said. "It will depend on what we're doing and so forth. And even if it were clarified, you know I wouldn't announce it. And truly, both guys are going to play."

Tressel thinks OSU's offense – led by Zwick and Smith – is having a productive week of practice.

"I think pretty solid," he said. "Tuesday and Wednesday you're looking at some things and it's kind of a three-pronged attack. You're further developing things maybe you haven't used yet; you're further developing things you used last week; and you're trying out some things that you think, ‘Well, based upon what we're seeing, we would like to add.' And so it's a little bit hard to get too much continuity in your execution until Thursday, because everything goes out the window Thursday and you say, ‘OK, here's what we're going to go into the game with.' So, it will be a little bit easier to talk about the consistency then."

Tressel is not concerned that playing two quarterbacks might negatively affect Zwick or Smith's psyche.

"You hope that the way they handle in from a psyche-standpoint is that every single snap that they get a chance to play, they're going to do two things: One, do a great job for their team, teammates and university. And two, make a statement that, you know what, you ought to play me more. And I hope that is their psyche and I would like to think in year number four for both of them that they've learned a little bit more – they're human still – but they've learned a little bit more to focus on what's happening this second and not worry about what lies down the road," Tressel said.

For Smith, it will be his first game of the season. He served the final game of a two-game suspension against Miami.

"You would prefer to have live snaps and live butterflies and all of those things, but that's not the case," Tressel said. "And as soon as he gets hit by one of those white helmets, all of that will be behind him and he'll be ready to go."

One major difference between college football and college basketball is that early season games actually mean something in football. In hoops, an early season loss to a top five team wouldn't matter in the grand scheme of things, as long as the team qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

But in football, still holding on to its prehistoric bowl system, the tournament starts this Saturday. A loss for the Buckeyes or Longhorns means they are basically eliminated from national championship contention. But Tressel is not ready to make that bold of a claim. "I think that's a little presumptuous for either of us to say, ‘Hey, the nine games after this are inconsequential, it's all about this game,' because that's not true," he said. "I just think it's a great game between two teams right now that are ranked (in the top 5), but really it's about game two and we need to do a great job in game two."

Ohio State will pay tribute to legendary coach Woody Hayes Saturday in a ceremony at halftime. Hayes' name will be placed in Ohio Stadium and appear on the east stadium facade below "C" deck. Hayes' grandchildren, Laura and Phillip, will be on the field for the presentation.

"It's a great game to honor Woody," Tressel said. "It's interesting that you've seen the evolution of stadiums go from the only place you saw a sign was under the hot dog stand under the concourse, to now there's signs all over the place in stadiums and so forth and so on. With that being said, we didn't have any signs of Woody Hayes. I think it's very appropriate and it's kind of neat that it is this game, because you know Woody would have loved to have been a part of this game."

Tressel was asked if he's worried that sixth-year senior kicker Josh Huston really hasn't been under the gun yet.

"He's been under the gun (four) years ago and then he was kind of on the shelf with injuries and with Nuge (Mike Nugent) here and so forth," Tressel said. "I'm very confident in Josh."

Like Nugent, Huston can get a touchback on kickoffs pretty much any time he wants one.

"Josh Huston's leg strength is every bit as good as Mike Nugent's," Tressel said. "Where Mike I think got ahead and stayed ahead was in his consistency. It's tough to get Lou Gehrig out of the linep when he's playing in 2,100 straight games and getting hits and all that. So, but no, Josh has got lots of leg."

Tressel also gave a quick injury update and it appears as though the Buckeyes are still in good shape health-wise for the most part.

"Marcus Freeman will be out," he said. "(As well as) Rory (Nicol) and Jimmy Cordle."

But OSU's defense might get some needed help on the edge. Sophomore defensive end Vernon Gholston had surgery on his hand during the preseason and is close to returning.

"Vernon is not definitely out," Tressel said. "We were to tell a little bit today on how he was able to handle it with the padding and extra protection. So, he's not definitely out."

With the game not beginning until 8 p.m., Saturday will be a long day for the Buckeye players. Tressel was asked how they will fill the time.

"Well, we'll let them sleep in a little longer than usual," he said. "You know, 9:30. Then we'll have some meetings in the morning and really once you hit the four hour mark, that's when you eat and head towards the stadium. So, just to get them to that four hour mark, we'll fill it a little bit; not too much though. We don't want to inundate them; we want them to relax and think about what they have to do."

Tressel has been pleased with the intensity and focus this week in practice. But that's what he's come to expect from this team.

"I think it's been good," he said. "But again, I think this group has been very matter-of-fact, whether it's in the weight room, or in the summertime, or in the preseason, or first game. I think they know what they have to do to be successful and they want to work hard on doing that. When things don't go exactly the way we hoped, they do a good job of learning from it and improving upon it."

Tressel always seems to be on an even keel emotionally. Even a big game like this doesn't get him extra excited.

"You think about the excitement and try to feel the electricity that will be there," he said. "But these types of games, you don't even have to think about how hyped you are. I get more nervous – quite honesty – in a non-conference game that we're supposedly supposed to win, than I do a 16-round heavyweight bout. You're getting ready to go every round. So, it's a good thing."

Tressel hopes that OSU's crowd will be a significant factor in the game. In fact, he is basically making a plead to the members of Buckeye Nation to yell their collective lungs out.

"Well, we need it to be a huge factor," he said. "We need it to truly make a difference. We need it to be noisy when it needs to be noisy and maybe not quite as noisy when we need to communicate. But, we need that crowd to give us energy and that crowd always has given us energy. I'm sure they'll be wired up. I don't even care as much about their execution. They can get wild and crazy and lose focus. I just want them loud."


Buckeye Sports Top Stories