Mangold Ready To Get Back After It

Senior center Nick Mangold is hoping to avoid the post-bye week hangover that has affected Ohio State the previous two seasons. The Buckeyes are just 1-3 following bye weeks in the Jim Tressel era, but Mangold says OSU is focused and ready to get after it this Saturday at Penn State. We caught up with the senior center/captain for more.

Senior center Nick Mangold says Ohio State's bye week fell at a good time for him personally. Mangold's body was starting to feel a little banged up and he was glad to have the extra week to recover.

But for the Buckeyes as a whole, bye weeks have not been too kind in recent years. Ohio State is just 1-3 in the Jim Tressel era following bye weeks, including 0-3 on the road.

Ohio State heads to Penn State this Saturday night (7:45; ESPN) and the senior captains want to make sure that the Buckeyes do not lose the momentum that they picked up with their 31-6 romp over Iowa on Sept. 24.

"That was one of the big keys of last week was for us seniors to keep our team up," Mangold said. "Keep us going, keep the momentum that we had going from the Iowa game and keep that fresh in our minds and prepare as if we had a game Saturday. But we had our little break – which was good – and then we got back in on Sunday and right back where we left off as if we played Iowa the day before. So, it was a big challenge for us seniors and I think that so far we've been doing a good job of keeping our guys up."

Penn State's Beaver Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the Big Ten. In addition to over 100,000 rowdy fans, there is that roaring Nittany Lion recording which is blasted through the loudspeakers after nearly every play.

"I don't particularly care for the lion, but I love playing at Penn State," Mangold said. "They have a great stadium, some of the best fans in the Big Ten. They're out there yelling their heads off and they pack them in there too. Their stadium is weird because it just kind of goes straight up and everybody is just right on top of you. I've been real excited about getting back there – especially with it being at night – it's just a great atmosphere to play a college game."

At night tilt at Penn State would be a key game regardless of the circumstances. But the fact that PSU is 5-0 and ranked for the first time this season just adds to the intrigue.

"Yeah, they've been doing a great job this year," Mangold said. "Getting better every week and it just poses a great challenge for us to get out there and go against someone who's been building like they have been."

The game being played at night would seem to give PSU even more of an advantage. But Mangold doesn't quite look at it that way.

"Not really," he said. "I think just being a part of a night game is great. Haven't done so well lately in those away night games, but it's still a great atmosphere to be a part of and we're going out there to try and reverse our fortunes and get things going on the track we want to."

Mangold is also looking forward to facing PSU's legendary coach Joe Paterno for the final time in his career.

"It's crazy how much history is involved with him and Penn State and everything," Mangold said. "It's exciting to be out on the same field as him and to be able to go against one of his teams is just exciting and it's humbling to be out there on the same field with him.

"Being as young as I am, I don't know the full history of ‘JoePa' but it's great after hearing so many people saying that he should be done and everything and him coming out and doing such a great job with this team, I think it's definitely exciting for him."

Looking back a few weeks to Ohio State's 27-6 win over San Diego State, the coaching staff decided not to award an offensive player of the week, nor an offensive lineman of the week. Mangold was asked if OSU's offensive players used that as extra motivation going into the Iowa game.

"Yeah, I think we all did," he said. "I think that showed we weren't playing to our capabilities and that we needed to go out there and do everything right so that we lived up to what we needed to be. I think that also goes to show where our coaches think we need to be and where we have to be. We now know that and understand that and are ready to get after it and keep up to that level."

The Buckeyes piled up a season-high 530 yards of total offense against the Hawkeyes. Mangold was asked if that performance gives OSU confidence as it enters the Penn State game.

"I think that we have great confidence going into any game, but it definitely helps coming off a 300-yard rushing game," Mangold said. "We look forward to getting back out there and hopefully doing it again. We want to build off that. We always talk about taking steps in the right direction. It was a good step and we now need to get our left foot on the ground with another good step."

One of the emerging stars of the team this year is senior defensive end Mike Kudla. Mangold was asked why Kudla is playing so much better this season.

"I like the fact that I never have to go against him, because he's out at D-end and so it makes my life a little nicer," Mangold quipped. "But then again, I have to go against Quinn (Pitcock) every day which isn't too fun either. But Mike has been doing a great job. He worked real hard this summer getting bigger and getting stronger, which we all didn't think was possible, but he did. He's out there making plays. I don't know if he's as vocal of a leader as some of the others on the defense, but he definitely backs up his leadership with his play and he's been doing a great job and keeps going at it."

Ohio State seems to have found the reliable tailback that was missing the last two seasons. Sophomore Antonio Pittman is on pace for 1,000 yards and Mangold has noticed some differences in Pittman this year.

"It's a maturity level that he has," he said. "You can just tell that he understands his role and what he needs to do. Now that he's had the opportunity to get out there and run and make plays, you can tell that he wants to be out there. If he has a nagging injury, last year he might have taken Tuesday and Wednesday off and then maybe Thursday. This year, he takes that Monday off and then he's back at it going after it. So, I think it's definitely a maturity level with him."

Mangold hasn't blocked for a 1,000-yard back since his freshman year. But he thinks that will change this year.

"If Pit keeps going like he's going, it shouldn't be a problem at all," he said.

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