Carpenter Holding Out Hope He Can Play

OSU senior linebacker Bobby Carpenter told reporters at today's Fiesta Bowl media day at Sun Devil Stadium that he hopes his broken leg has mended enough so he can play in Monday's game against Notre Dame (5 p.m., ABC). But Carpenter and his coaches recognize they must do the right thing -- for him and the team. Click here for more.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, speaking at this morning's Fiesta Bowl media day, did not rule out the possibility that senior linebacker Bobby Carpenter may play in Monday's game against Notre Dame (5 p.m., ABC).

Carpenter suffered a broken leg on Michigan's first play from scrimmage in OSU's Nov. 19 win at Ann Arbor. The healing process was to take six to eight weeks, although Carpenter has started to do some light workouts.

"Bobby worked a little bit more yesterday," Tressel said. "It is still a few days before the game. I have seen guys on what would be a Wednesday practice, which would be what today is, make dramatic improvement to game day. The one thing we are going to make sure we do is not do anything to try and jeopardize Bobby's health.

"We want to make sure that if he plays, he plays at full medical health and that he can help us because we need to fly around out there."

Carpenter is holding out hope he can be cleared to play and, even more importantly, help the Buckeyes pull out a win in his final game.

"This is our third Fiesta Bowl and there are a lot of things to talk about," Carpenter said. "This game will be something special and something we can share for a long time."

But Carpenter knows he can't mortgage his future as a potential first-round NFL draft pick if the OSU medical personnel have concerns for his well being.

"If I have a choice, I'm going to go out there and play," said Carpenter, a third-team All-American who led the Buckeyes with eight sacks during the regular season. "But that's me being selfish because I want to finish my season the right way and play with the guys I care so much about.

"But I know I have to sit down with the medical trainers, the coaches and the doctors and decide. We need to know if I am going to be a liability out there in terms of what I can do."

Carpenter would like nothing better than a chance to match up against Notre Dame's top-10 ranked offense in his OSU swan song.

"It's going to be a unique situation," Carpenter said. "They run the ball real well. Their tailback is good and their O-line has come along really well. The biggest thing is we're going to have to affect Brady Quinn. He's a talented quarterback. He's a Columbus guy and an Ohio native. He's going to have something to prove. If we can affect him, he won't be able to get the ball to his talented wideouts."

A reporter asked if the OSU linebacker corps was one of college football's best over the last 10 years.

"That's a pretty bold statement to make," Carpenter said. "I like to think that we're up there with the best. Only time will tell that. The big thing is that people only seem to remember your last game."

Nine years ago, OSU linebackers coach Luke Fickell found himself in a similar situation as Carpenter. He played in OSU's 20-17 Rose Bowl win over Arizona State with a ripped pectoral muscle. Fickell said at some point common sense must prevail.

"I think he'll keep trying to see what he can do," Fickell said. "But the hard part will be when game time comes and the adrenaline is flowing. He'll probably feel like he can do a lot of different things. But you have to be smart and for him and his future. No matter what his future is you don't want to put a kid out there who can't defend himself."

If Carpenter can't go, Fickell has faith that true freshman James Laurinaitis will hold his own at outside linebacker in his place. Another true freshman, defensive end Lawrence Wilson, could be called upon to fill Carpenter's designated pass rushing duties in the nickel look.

"James has done everything we've ever asked," Fickell said. "The neat thing is he didn't bat an eye about it when we put him in against Michigan. Obviously, we had no other choice. He was probably less nervous than we were. That's just who he is. He's a confident kid. He's confident because he's prepared himself. He's been around things like this his whole life. It doesn't bother him. He's a smart, intelligent kid.

"Sometimes the hardest thing for a freshman is not only playing but coming back the next play and playing because you get worn out. But that shows how mature he is. Looking back, we probably should have tried to play him a little bit more earlier in the year. But those are things you always say in hindsight."

Senior defensive end Mike Kudla is among many OSU veterans who hope to see No. 42 play even a minor role in this game.

"For us, we've known each other the last six or seven years through recruiting and being here," Kudla said. "That's Bobby. You wouldn't think anything less. It means a lot to be a Buckeye and, to him, it means the world to him. We've been through a lot the last four years. This is kind of like the culmination here. You want to hang on to every minute of it. It means a lot for him to be out there and he is doing everything he can to be out there.

"Some of the things that happen here, you can't put a price tag on it. I wouldn't give anything back. Everything happens for the better. I hope Bobby can get out there. We're all pulling for him."


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