Tressel Talk: Wednesday Evening Update

As he does every Wednesday following Ohio State's practice, head coach Jim Tressel met briefly with the media. The coach discussed Antonio Pittman's progress, hate e-mails to Ryan Hamby, OSU's injury situation, the quarterback situation and more.

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

First up, the coach discussed the progress of sophomore tailback Antonio Pittman.

"I think he's coming along," he said. "We've seen improvement in him nearly every day. And I think the thing – like anyone else – the test of time, you know, being that every down, every day back, is the kind of guy that ends up being a 1,500-yard guy and a difference-maker and so forth. We see signs of that with Antonio."

Pittman played the majority of the game against Texas. Senior Brandon Schnittker and freshman Maurice Wells did not receive carries.

"You know, it just didn't seem like the right time and the right situation for it," Tressel explained about the running back situation. "There was discussion of it: ‘Is this a good time? Is that a good time?' We thought that anytime Antonio was in the game there was a good, legitimate threat, something you had to be accountable for. Not that the others wouldn't be. But as it happens sometime when you plan on Antonio getting 75 percent of the work and Brandon and Mo getting 25 percent, sometimes it just doesn't happen that way."

The Buckeyes are still recovering from their 25-22 loss to Texas Saturday night. But the good news for the Bucks is that they are still in good shape health-wise.

"From the game, no," Tressel said when asked if any injuries have recently popped up. "Marcus Freeman from a couple weeks ago, he'll probably be the next one back – I would say he'll be back for Iowa. Probably through the open date and then for the next conference game – Penn State – I would guess that (Mike) D'Andrea would be back. I would think Rory Nicol would have a possibility there. Jimmy Cordle doesn't look like it will be anytime real soon. Vernon (Gholston) is back practicing, but it's just a preparation thing with him to get some more work. He's got to have a cast-type thing, so how much he'll play, we'll have to see."

Senior tight end Ryan Hamby informed reporters Tuesday evening that he had received "a couple hate e-mails" for dropping a touchdown pass against Texas. Tressel was asked for his reaction to that.

"Well, I struggle whether it's fans or anyone reacting a certain way about things," he said. "But that's not going to change. The rest of his life, there's going to be reactions that people have to actions that he makes. You've got to be able to see yourself through those things.

"It's disappointing that someone … you know, it's interesting. I had a number of e-mails and phone messages and so forth. But then I got a letter on Tuesday from someone who was just terribly upset that they had done it. This long letter and, ‘I can't believe I did that,' and so forth and so on. But, you know, there's been probably some good e-mails and letters to Ryan too, because I know a couple came through my e-mail."

The Buckeyes will host San Diego State Saturday at 3:30 and Tressel is expecting the unexpected from the Aztecs' offense.

"You have to," he said. "They're averaging over 400 yards a game and not with all the same plays. Yeah, that's one of those things that you just better react to what's there and play football, because if you think play recognition is going to be the key to that day, it won't."

Tressel thinks that his quarterbacks – led by starter Troy Smith – have performed well in practice so far this week.

"I think they've been solid," Tressel said. "Troy has gotten a lot more reps and I think he's been very solid. I think Justin has been just fine. Todd probably hasn't gotten as many reps as he's gotten all through spring and preseason and the first two games. But he's got to really focus on learning by observing."

Tressel was asked how Zwick is handling the demotion mentally.

"Well, the good thing about it is it's not the first time he's had to deal with it," he said. "Sometimes the first time you have to deal with it is more difficult. He's had, I think, to handle a lot of things. He was supposed to come in here and start as a freshman and it didn't happen. And then when it was his time to fight it out, he gets banged up. And so, I think he's had to handle some things and I think the more you've handled some things, the better you handle them. That's not to say you're not sensitive to how he feels, because, as I've said before, I wish everyone got to obtain the goals that they have personally. But I think he's handling it well."

There are a few specific things that Tressel wants to see from Smith this week.

"Consistency. Execution," he said. "And that's the key to really becoming good. As we said, sometimes it's harder to do that when you don't get as much preparation time."

Smith said the Texas game felt fast to him and that he had a difficult time of settling down.

"Yeah, that's experience," Tressel said. "You know, he hadn't played since November in a real game where you are all fired up and the electricity is out there. The whole key to playing any position is to slow the game down so you can make good decisions and that you feel like you're under control. Again, I think it's reps. Game reps."

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