Is Tressel Worried About Troy?

Phoenix, Arizona-A lot has been said about all of the awards Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith has won this season. A number of fans and analysts have expressed concern that all of the attention and time away from the team has hindered Smith's ability to prepare for the game, and ultimately lead Ohio State past the Florida Gators in the national title game on January 8th.

After leading the Buckeyes to three consecutive victories over rival Michigan, claiming MVP honors in a win against Notre Dame in last year's Fiesta Bowl, collecting Ohio State's seventh Heisman Trophy and guiding the Bucks to a spot in this year's championship game, a triumph over the Gators would surely cement the Cleveland native's face on the Mount Rushmore of Ohio State football -- if one existed.

It's only natural that someone who has accomplished so much during his time on campus would sit back, devourer the banquet circuit and let everyone tell him how great he is. However, according to Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel, that's not what his star QB has done the last several weeks. "I'm very confident he's dialed in," Tressel said while speaking outside of the Marriott Camelback Inn Tuesday morning. "He didn't miss much practice time." "That (receiving all of his awards) happened to be during our final exam time and so forth, and he's a graduate of Ohio State so he got a lot of his things done in advance," the coach said. Tressel added that Smith missed two practices after final exams and may have been absent for part of a third. "But he hasn't missed much time at all and I think Troy's done a nice job of staying with the task at hand and I've been very pleased with him."

It had been speculated that the Heisman Trophy winner was dealing with a hand injury from the Minnesota game on during the season. However, when asked about the health of the team heading into Monday night's game Tressel said the team is in good shape health wise. Asked specifically about starting cornerback Antonio Smith, who may have suffered a shoulder injury during bowl preparations prior to breaking for Christmas, Tressel said he anticipated the former walkon would play against the Gators.

Dave Rice will be covering the Ohio State Buckeyes for as a fully credentialed reporter throughout National Championship Week.

Rice has been working in the local and national media field for more than a decade. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Northern Arizona University and has been serving as a writer, editor and producer of sports and international news for a national wire service for nearly ten years.

Originally from the Cincinnati area, Dave is a lifelong Cincinnati Reds and Ohio State University fan. He enjoys spending time with his wife, young daughter and by watching high school and college sports.

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