Campwatch 8/6

Dave Biddle was out at practice again today, and he has some observations along with some quotes from Coach Tressel and others.

The Buckeyes got a break from the heat today... the high temperature in Columbus was 79 degrees.

Wearing yellow jerseys at the afternoon session were Shane Olivea, Adrien Clarke and Brandon Schnittker. Richard McNutt did not take part in some drills, but was not wearing a yellow jersey. Donnie Nickey suffered a thigh injury early in the afternoon and had to miss the rest of practice (see Jim Tressel's comments below).


The starting offensive line lined up like this today: LT: Ivan Douglas, LG: Scott Kuhnhein, C: Alex Stepanovich, RG: Bryce Bishop, RT: Mike Stafford. The first-team O-Linemen are projected to be: LT: Olivea, LG: Clarke, C: Stepanovich, RG; Bishop, RT: Douglas .


All offensive linemen are wearing knee braces on both legs. This is just a precautionary move by Jim Bollman.


There is no news to report on Derek Morris.


Wednesday is the first day of full-pads, full-contact practice. It can't come soon enough for the players.

"We're just out there running around and it gets kind of boring," Stepanovich said. "It's tough not being able to hit anybody, so it will be good to get in the pads tomorrow and finally on the 24th being able to hit somebody different."


Linebacker Cie Grant agreed.


"After the morning practice, Coach Tressel was like, ‘Cie, you know tomorrow is pads,' and I was like, ‘Well, you know what kind of player I am, so you tell your guys (the offense) to get ready because I'm gonna be ready.' I'm just really excited to get out there and get the pads on and start hitting," Grant said.


Coach Tressel fielded some questions from the media after practice. I borrowed a question from Jerry Rudzinski and asked Tressel how he will find the ideal balance between too much hitting and not enough hitting (Jerry brought this up on the radio show last week).

"Well, our guys will be anxious to hit tomorrow," Tressel said. "We'll spend the normal two hours out here and most of it will have something to do with hitting because that's what we've been preparing ourselves for. So, there will be plenty of hitting going on and I'm sure it will be very spirited. Hitting is the realistic game. All this stuff in shorts and all that, it's good and we need to do it, but the only way you can train to play the game of football is to hit each other and the training begins tomorrow."

Tressel didn't really answer the question about finding a balance, but he sounded like a man who wants to see a lot of hitting these next two weeks.


Tressel on Donnie Nickey's injury:

"He got a knee to the thigh. That's the one down side to these rules. You're allowed to run around and immolate the game, but you're not allowed to wear thigh pads. Donnie just got a knee to the thigh, two guys going up for the ball. I think he'll be fine, but I'm sure he's going to miss a couple days of practice."


Has the hype surrounding the freshmen class "spiced things up" for the veterans?

"Well, I think a lot of you have helped with that. You've talked a lot about them and maybe you've created some of that spirit, which is fine, that's why we love you guys," Tressel quipped. "I think the freshmen are a good group and I've been real pleased with the way the upperclassmen have coached them up. They've done a great job working with them and encouraging them. All of the younger kids have an older roommate who plays their position and I think they've done a great job of developing relationships. Now, the line gets drawn when it's time to hit each other, but then you pick each other up. But I think there is no doubt the more competition there is, the better you become."


When will the team vote for captains?

"Don't know," Tressel said.


Tressel on the development of the offensive line.

"I think Alex Stepanovich is doing an excellent job leading them, I think he can be a very fine center. Bryce Bishop is a guy who has a lot of seasoning coming back. Shane Olivea is a guy who's coming back, obviously right now he's got a little bit of an injury, but I think he'll be back out there tomorrow. Ivan Douglas has been here a long time and I'd like to think that his day has come. So, I feel good about the way they are coming. We also have some young guys in there and the next few days are going to tell us who those eight or nine guys are going to be that fills the nucleus of the line."


One reporter compared freshman defensive lineman Joel Penton to former Buckeye Mike Vrabel.

"Well, I wasn't here when Mike Vrabel was, but if people are saying that, they are saying some great compliments. Joel is going to be a good player, there is no doubt. He is focused, he's bright and his motor is running all the time. I think he is going to be a good football player. We have high hopes for Joel, but you reserve judgment on the defensive linemen until we see them in pads."


Tressel on the Buckeye defensive backs going up against passing teams and spread offenses the first four games.

"They are going to have a great test. They are going to have to gear it up and keep coming and coming. Our defense in general is going to have a tremendous challenge with those offenses."


Who is going to emerge as the starter at running back?

"Well, we don't need a No.1 guy, we need a number of guys good enough to help us win. While I think we have a lot of talent, we have very little experience. What we need to do is get a bunch of those guys experience and let them grow up and see what pace they do that. And the only way we can get them reps right now is in practice and we are giving them plenty of those."


Tressel on how different things are now from a year ago.

"I think it's significantly different. Our staff has been together a full year and we know a little more what's expected of each other. We've been together with the players and now they saying, ‘OK, I know tomorrow, we are probably going to do this,' whereas last year it was always, ‘What are we going to do tomorrow?' I think, because they know a little bit about what we are going to be doing, it helps the tempo of practice, but we still have to keep a few surprises in there."


On the Buckeyes being ranked No. 12 in the country in the coaches poll despite their 7-5 record last year.

"To be honest with you, I think it's just respect for Ohio State as a whole. I think that's a real responsibility that we need to understand we have to live up to. Because I don't think it's anything any of us have done. It's just the respect Ohio State has earned over the years."


On how Troy Smith is being used in practice.

"He's probably getting 20 percent of the reps at quarterback with the third group and the rest of his reps at receiver." (Krenzel and McMullen are splitting reps with the ones and twos and Zwick is getting 80 percent of the reps with the third team.)


Look for another update tomorrow following the first day of full-contact practices.

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