Offensive Notebook: Datish, Gonzalez, Nicol

This offensive notebook talks about Ohio State's depth on the offensive line, an altercation during last week's win at Iowa, tight end Rory Nicol's first career touchdown reception, Anthony Gonzalez's pre-game routine, Troy Smith's scrambling skills and more.

Ohio State rotated several offensive linemen during Saturday's 35-7 win over visiting Bowling Green. It's something the Buckeyes have done a lot of this year, except for the Iowa game where the situations didn't call for it.

Senior center Doug Datish is an offensive captain and the leader of the men up front and believes the O-line rotation is a nice luxury for the Buckeyes this year.

"Usually when we go with the rotation we don't miss a beat and that's a credit to Coach Bolls (offensive coordinator Jim Bollman) and the rest of our staff," Datish said. "We've trained hard and we have a lot of good players up front."

The Buckeyes have always used a rotation on their defensive line, but this is really the first year of the Jim Tressel era that they have used a revolving door on the offensive line as well.

"Yeah, when I first got here we didn't do too much rotating," Datish said. "But this year, we decided, hey, we are going to roll a lot of guys in and try and wear down the defense. And our second group brings a lot of personality in the game. They go out and play hard and it's worked out well."

Against Bowling Green, starting right tackle Kirk Barton hobbled off the field early (Tressel said he had some type of foot procedure earlier in the week and wasn't expected to play much anyway). Senior Tim Schafer entered the game in his place and appeared to play well.

"Kirk is a starter, he's a great player, but at the same time, Schafe came in there, and he's been a starter in the past, started some this year, and we practice rolling guys in and out all the time," Datish said.

And we had to ask Datish about last week at Iowa. There were comments from wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez in the Columbus Dispatch that Datish's helmet was ripped off and he was punched in the face four times by Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King.

"Yep, that's accurate," Datish said.

Did the officials not see the altercation?

"No, he saw it, the ref saw it," Datish said. "He just told him to stop after he punched me in the face."

Datish's face did not appear to be swollen in the post-game interview room at Iowa.

"My lip was cut up pretty good," he said.

But Datish has already forgotten about the incident.

"We got them where it counted: on the scoreboard," he said.

Gonzo's Pre-game Routine

Gonzalez didn't become one of the nation's best receivers by accident. He is always one of the first players out of the locker room during pre-game warm-ups. He does several drills to get him ready, and one in particular is especially interesting. He stands about five feet across from a coach, who throws him a wide variety of bad balls to catch.

"Well, that is basically just a simple ball drill," Gonzalez said. "I think all of us do it. I know I do it a lot. Coach (P.J.) Fleck, he's the graduate assistant, he kind of brought that with him and it was something that we did in camp. It's really hard and what it does the most is just train your eyes to follow the ball because he's moving all around. It's basically just a hand-eye coordination drill to get your warmed up."

Fleck throws the ball high, low, hard, soft, everything you could imagine.

"Yeah, that's the point," Gonzalez said. "And I don't know if you saw the little knuckleballs he throws, but those things are terrible. Those are horrible to catch. It's really good."

Nicol Reaches Paydirt

Tight end Rory Nicol snatched his second career touchdown on a three-yard pass from Troy Smith.

"It felt good," Nicol said. "I want to go back, right now. No, it was fun. It was a play that we really run a lot in practice and we were just talking as a team that we haven't been in many goal-line situations this year. You go back to Texas and I think we were in one, and maybe NIU early, but we got in that situation today and we executed and maybe we'll run it again.

"The only thing I'll say is Troy did a phenomenal job with his eyes. I am the first read and I was covered and he kind of looked the linebacker off and let me run in the end zone and he hit me with it. That's how we draw it up."

Nicol says the Buckeyes have stressed getting off to good starts offensively. Against Bowling Green, they took the opening kickoff, had an impressive drive and scored a touchdown.

"That's what we wanted to do and that's what we needed to do," Nicol said. "We came out and put a solid drive together. For the second week in a row we took the ball and went down and scored."

Nicol was impressed with Smith's 34-yard scramble on a third-and-26 play. It looked like the Smith of two years ago.

"That's what Troy does," Nicol said. "He makes plays that normal human beings can't make. That's why he's the greatest quarterback in the country. It's exciting to see him on third and 26 get a first down."

Smith also commented on the long run and knew it was long overdue.

"It felt all right running like that," Smith said. "I haven't run like that in a long time, and I had a lot of guys joking with me when I got to the sideline, but stepping up and trying to make a play and keeping the drive going, that's what playing football here is all about, regardless if it's third and extra long or third and short. Anytime you get a chance to make a play for your team to keep us in it so that we can get touchdowns after touchdowns, that's our focus."

The other big play in the BGSU game was Smith's 57-yard touchdown bomb to Ted Ginn Jr. which accounted for the final points of the afternoon.

"Anytime that you can strike through the air from out deep, I was especially pleased with the last one because we had had a couple homerun opportunities in the last couple games and didn't connect," Tressel said. "We need people to know that we're going to go deep, and Troy threw the ball vertically and Teddy ran a good route, and people need to know that that's part of who we are and who we need to be."

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