Tressel: Thursday Evening Update

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel met with reporters following Thursday's practice. The top-ranked Buckeyes will host Bowling Green on Saturday in the final non-conference game of the regular season. Tressel gave injury updates, talked about the rotation on OSU's offensive line and much more.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel thinks the depth on the offensive line has been a luxury for the Buckeyes this season. They are at least 10 deep up front and at times have replaced all five linemen at once with the second unit. Against Iowa last week, OSU did not use such a drastic rotation up front, but Tressel says that was not necessarily by design.

"We didn't plan to scale it back," he said. "What happened was the first three times that we were going to go to that, it seemed the ball rolled down to the 10 or 11. We had made a commitment way back when if the ball was inside the 20 in either direction, we weren't going to change things up. And so, then all of a sudden in the second half we were in long drives, I think we only had two drives in the third quarter. Now you're in the fourth quarter of the game and you wonder if that would make good sense to make changes now. So, it wasn't by design, but things happen sometime."

The top-ranked Buckeyes will host Bowling Green on Saturday (3:40 p.m., ESPN Plus) and OSU continues to be in good shape health-wise, other than the season-ending injury to freshman safety Anderson Russell.

"Todd Boeckman jogged around today, but I wouldn't think he would be able to contribute in a game for another couple of weeks, but he's on the way back," Tressel said. "Roy Hall seems to be now 100 percent. Curtis Terry was gimping around a little bit. It was nothing that happened in a game or practice; it will be interesting to see how he comes along in the last 48 hours."

Tressel also gave a health update on assistant coaches Jim Bollman and Joe Daniels. Bollman had heart surgery over the summer and Daniels is battling stomach cancer.

"Jim Bollman has done a tremendous job staying with his fitness program," Tressel said. "Really says he has more energy and so forth than ever.

"Joe Daniels hasn't missed a day and has carried on his treatment schedule. He hasn't missed a practice. Well, he did miss when his mom passed. So, those guys have been unbelievable."

Boeckman probably won't play this week like Tressel said, but this could be a week where Tressel is able to get backup quarterbacks Justin Zwick and Rob Schoenhoft some extended action.

"Ideally," Tressel said. "You'd like to get all the guys in that worked hard all week long and have been training all year to have opportunities and it doesn't normally happen, but it's a great bonus if it does.

"The guy that has been getting virtually all the second snaps is Justin. I think his last couple weeks he's been especially sharp. I told him it was because he only goes to class two hours a week. He has a lot of energy to study that film and he's watched more film than I have and he's done a good job."

Zwick, the former starter, could have went either way mentally, but Tressel is impressed with the way he's handled the backup role.

"I am," he said. "I think Justin… let's face it, when you're a fifth-year guy and there's only one ball and you're not getting it, you could go any direction. And he's gone the direction of training extra and watching extra film and making sure that's he's ready. I've heard him refer to the days that Scott McMullen had to continue us on our way to have a chance to be conference champions. So, I think he's had the perfect approach to it."

Junior tailback Antonio Pittman has rushed for 567 yards, is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has scored five touchdowns. Yet, somehow he is often left out of the discussion when talking about the best running backs in the country.

"I think he's pretty perfect for what we do," Tressel said. "You know, I don't get too much into saying who is the best player in the country because you don't get to see everyone. When we refer to our two defensive tackles, you say, ‘Gosh, I don't know if there are two better ones in the country than that.' I don't know if there is a better group of backs than Antonio. He is certainly getting better and better all the time."

Tressel's career record at OSU is now 55-13. He is the fastest OSU coach in history to 55 wins.

"Well, we've played more games," Tressel said with humility.

But his winning percentage of .808 is also the best in school history among those that have coached for more than two seasons (Carroll Widdoes was 16-2 for a .889 winning percentage in 1944-45).

Tressel explained what it means for him to be at OSU and follow in the footsteps of great coaches like Woody Hayes.

"Obviously growing up in Ohio and watching what Woody meant to the university and the state, and having the chance first-hand to work for Earle (Bruce) you come to a place like this and you often wonder how places like this become like this," Tressel said. "And when you watch from afar Woody's contribution, and I think before that Paul Brown. Paul Brown got the ball rolling from a standpoint of really making this a place where the in-state guy really desires to be here. I know my dad (Lee Tressel) was one of them. It's good to be here."

There is an urban legend, or maybe an urban truth, that Hayes used to practice one day for Michigan each week of the season. Tressel was asked if he thinks that was true and if he could afford to do that in today's day and age.

"A coach could not afford to do that today," he said. "Do I know if it was done or not? I don't know if it was done, but I know this: we don't."

One of the reasons Tressel believes that OSU is off to such a good start is the leadership it has received from its captains and the rest of the seniors. A few of the younger players on the team have mentioned that they've been very impressed with the leadership on the team.

"I would echo that. I've been very impressed," Tressel said. "The other day in practice Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson were just coaching guys up. Doug Worthington, Ryan Williams, Rob Rose. Yelling at them making sure we are getting better.

"I was hoping, and I told you guys that one of our strengths ought to be that we've got 17 fifth-year guys. We have a lot of maturity and wisdom and I would like to think they could put that to use and I think they have. Everything hasn't gone perfect for us – we've had our share of good fortune, but everything hasn't been perfect for us. Whether it be renovations going on (at the WHAC) or weather in scrimmages, behind against whoever we're playing, those guys at every turn, at least from what I've seen, want to be leaders and they're doing a good job."

A new grass field was installed at Ohio Stadium last week and the Buckeyes will play on it for the first time on Saturday. Tressel has not seen the new field yet.

"I haven't," he said. "We were going to go over there today and then with last night's two inches of rain that happened in 20 minutes and all that, hail, which we had the field covered and it really didn't bother the playing part of the field, but the sidelines and all that got drenched pretty good, so we decided not to go over there. Our kickers and punters are going to go over there tomorrow when we're in meetings and then we're going to go over there and walk on it and hopefully say, ‘Wow, this is great.'

"Talking to (Iowa coach) Kirk Ferentz last week, he said they did last year what we've done (replace the field midseason) and he said you'll be surprised at how good it is."

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