Offensive Reaction: Ginn, Mangold, Pittman

In this offensive quotebook, we hear from Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr., Nick Mangold and Antonio Pittman. The Buckeyes are still smarting from their loss to Texas, but the offense took some positives away from the game. They are looking forward to trying to get back on the winning track Saturday against San Diego State.

Sophomore wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. is finally dealing with some adversity and criticism.

He became somewhat of a media darling after his breakout freshman campaign – everyone seemed to be praising him. But this year, everyone from Texas defensive backs, to sportswriters across the country are claiming Ginn doesn't run good routes. There were also people questioning his hands after two drops against the Longhorns.

"Well, I believe I run pretty good routes," Ginn said. "I ran some crisp routes in the (Texas) game. I kind of had a guy fall one time, but we just couldn't hook up. But, I think I did OK."

Ginn faced man-to-man coverage the majority of the time last season, but this year he is adjusting to being double-teamed on a regular basis.

"Well, yeah," he said. "A lot of guys double-teamed me in high school. I've already been through this before. Just go out and just play hard and let your other players play and then sometimes they might ease up on you and that one time you might get a big one."

If the grumblings are true that Ginn does not run crisp routes, there is no better person to teach him the finer points than Santonio Holmes. The OSU junior receiver is as polished as they come in terms of route running.

"Oh, Santonio is a great route runner," Ginn said. "Great hands; good speed. He's a great guy to try and pattern yourself after. He's a great receiver. He knows the receiver game and is a great guy to listen. He's a great upperclass role model that you can really pattern your game after."

Ginn did not run any fly patterns or other deep routes against Texas. He scored a touchdown in the opener against Miami on a deep inside-out pattern, but nothing like that was used against the Longhorns.

"No, not really. Not really," Ginn said. "I would say they were trying to get the ball to me as quick as possible."

Ginn was asked how he can explain only getting three touches in a big game like Texas.

"I don't know," he said. "All I can do is go out and play the game how it's played and just go out and play as hard as I can."

Ginn says he is not disappointed that he didn't get more opportunities to touch the ball against the Longhorns.

"It's not about me trying to touch the ball," he said. "The biggest thing is about us winning. Even though we fell short, I still think we (played well). Defense played hard, offense went out and did what we could do and that's how you can look at the game."

Ginn is not sure how the Buckeyes can solve their problems in the red zone. Settling for field goals arguably cost them the Texas game.

"I really don't know," Ginn said. "Just go with the offense that you put in and work the things to a T."

But as a former (and probably future) cornerback, Ginn understands that the defense has the advantage when the field shrinks.

"It's real easy to cover routes inside the 5-yard line, you only have that much to go," he said.

Ohio State used a lot of end-arounds and reverses to Ginn towards the end of the 2004 season. But we haven't seen much of that in the early stages of this season.

"Second week. Second week," Ginn said. "You can't come out with everything yet. We're just going to go week-by-week and put in play-by-play and just play hard."

Ginn was asked for his reaction when he learned that Troy Smith was named the Buckeyes' starting quarterback.

"Both quarterbacks are good and we can win with both of them," he said. "It's not really a big difference between him and Justin (Zwick). Just go out and play hard."

But Ginn and Smith grew up together in Cleveland and played one season of high school football together at Glenville. They're almost like brothers, which can only help on the field.

"I mean, yeah, it's a chemistry because we've played with each other for so long," Ginn said. "We both know each other and we both what both of us can do. Sometimes it's going to be a different kind of atmosphere between me and him. He's going to expect me to do things and I'm going to expect him to do things. It's just us growing up together and being teammates."

Mangold Says O-line Playing Well

Which unit on OSU's team played the best against Texas? OK, probably the linebackers. But a close second was the offensive line. It graded out higher than it did in the opener against Miami, or at any time last season.

"I thought we did real well," senior center/captain Nick Mangold said. "Coach Bolls (offensive line coach Jim Bollman) said we graded out the highest as a unit than we have in a long while. I think that just goes to show what our guys are doing up front – how much they've worked and how much we want to set ourselves as an offensive line that isn't the scapegoat. It's the leading guys. So, I think our guys are doing real well and have really come together."

Left tackle Doug Datish played the whole way against the Longhorns. Mangold was asked if Datish is close to locking down that job, or if other players like Steve Rehring and Alex Boone will rotate in.

"I think (Datish has) been doing real well with the opportunity that's been given to him," Mangold said. "But, you've got to keep your young guys fresh because if Doug goes down, you've got to have somebody ready to fill in who's not a drop-off. So, I think there's still a rotation going, but I think Doug has done real well at that position."

Mangold has been impressed with sophomore tailback Antonio Pittman's running style. And Mangold also appreciates the fact that Pittman goes out of his way to praise the O-line every time he meets with the media.

"Yeah, he's been doing real great and I wish that we could get him some more carries, for his sake," Mangold said. "He worked real hard in the offseason and he's really come out running. He has a lot of love for us guys up front making the holes for him. He says, ‘You know all I need is a crease and I'll get yards.' We take that as, ‘All he needs is a big hole and he gets touchdowns.' I'm real excited that he's working real hard and I can't wait to see him every game."

With the offensive line getting good push and with Pittman running well, it's hard to believe that OSU struggled as much in the red zone as it did against Texas. Mangold was asked if the offense needs to be more aggressive when it's in scoring position.

"Yeah. Aggressive, but also being smart as you go on," he said. "I think we sputtered because we had mishaps with communication and execution of different techniques and running and stuff. Came out in wrong formations and stuff like that. So, I think you have to be aggressive when you get down to the end zone, but you also have to be smart with the way you do it."

Ohio State has not won an outright Big Ten championship since 1984. With the national championship possibly off the table with the loss to Texas, the Buckeyes have now focused their attention on winning the Big Ten outright. A national championship can still be a part of that, but the Big Ten run will begin a week from Saturday with a huge game against Iowa in Columbus.

"You know, it's always one of our big goals and that's what we want to do," Mangold said. "To keep the goal as a national champion, we have to win out. To win out, we have to win the Big Ten. I think that is a goal, it's always a goal, but maybe there's more emphasis on it now, coming into the Big Ten next week and really getting after it in the Big Ten."

As for this week, Mangold knows that San Diego State is young and inexperienced defensively, but he is expecting a fight from the Aztec's defensive line.

"They don't have all the size that Texas did, but they've got a lot of fire within them," he said. "They've got a couple big guys on the inside. And their guys on the outside, even if they don't have the size, they make up for that with their strengths and their smarts and their quickness. So, they fight as crazy as they come to get to the ball and do real well with that."

Pittman Coming of Age

Head coach Jim Tressel seems impressed with Pittman, and why not? The young tailback does a lot of things well and seems headed for a 1,000-yard season.

And like Mangold eluded to, Pittman always seems to be talking-up OSU's offensive line.

"Oh yeah, without a doubt (they're playing well)," Pittman said. "I feel that they are doing their job. They're doing a great job. I give it all to them any day. Everything has been handled up front, so that's a good thing."

Pittman is the one offensive player who does not seem concerned about production in the red zone.

"Everybody likes to get touchdowns," he said. "But I look at is as three points is better than no points. I would really like to get six points, but it didn't happen that way."

Pittman carried the ball 17 times for 75 yards against Texas. He would like to have it 20-25 times per game and that will likely happen as the season progresses.

"I would like to run the ball more, but it's not my call," he said. "I don't take anything away from the coaches' decisions or anything. (Tressel) does what he feels is best."

Pittman was asked for his reaction to Smith being named the starting quarterback this week.

"I mean, it wasn't no different than with Justin being the quarterback," he said. "I feel that Troy is a great leader and that was a coaches' decision and I respect their decision and we're just ready to roll."

Pittman limped off the field at one point against Texas, but says it's nothing to be concerned about.

"I just banged my knee up," he said. "It's nothing serious; just got some ice on it right now. I'm ready to play. I felt all right after the play. I put a knee brace on. It's nothing serious."

Overall, Pittman thought he played well against a good Texas defense. He continues to show the slashing style that has Buckeye fans excited.

"I feel as if I played all right," he said. "It was just going out there and the game slowed down a lot for me. It's just getting out there and just playing football. Just trying to do what I know how to do."

Pittman is not giving up on reaching Pasadena this season, the site of the national championship game.

"You still want to keep hope alive, but you just have to go week-by-week," he said. "It's a long season and anybody could lose."

Although OSU lost, Pittman thinks the Texas game could be a major benefit for the Buckeyes the rest of the season. Instead of playing a pushover, they are now battle-tested for the Big Ten.

"To go out there and be in a battle this early in the season, you know, most teams wouldn't want to play a team like that later on down the season," Pittman said. "That way they know their offense is clicking, or their defense is ready. That's going to make us better. That goes to prove that our line – the offensive line – they did their job. And like all the magazines, Texas has the number one or number two D-line in the country and I feel that our line up front, they did their job throughout the game. So, that's confidence and that's going to better us down the line, throughout the Big Ten and everything."

So, Pittman feels that if the Buckeyes can run on Texas, they can run on anybody?

"I'm not saying it like that," he said. "But I feel as if my line can hold up to any team."

Pittman is not concerned that the Buckeyes will have a letdown this week against San Diego State.

"You just have to approach this week like any other week," he said. "Yes, the Texas game was a lot of hype surrounding that game. And we lost that game. You've got to take the loss and keep moving. Coming into this week is all about getting back on a good streak."

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