As the Buckeyes prepare for their season-opening contest against Youngstown State, head coach Jim Tressel met with the media for his first weekly luncheon to discuss the upcoming season. As usual, Tressel spoke about his team's preparation, discussed the newest depth chart and gave an update on the injury situation.
When the Buckeyes take the field this Saturday, they will do so without sophomore wide receiver Ray Small, whose high ankle sprain has him out for the YSU game and questionable for the Akron game in week two.
"We'll be without Ray Small, which hopefully before the year is out he'll be a significant part of what happens out wide," Tressel said. "(The trainers) stopped at, ‘He won't be playing this week.' "
With both Small and junior Devon Lyons suffering from injuries, true freshmen Dane Sanzenbacher and Taurian Washington are now expected to get playing time as soon as Saturday. That appears to be par for the course in this freshman class, which could see at least nine players not use redshirts this season.
One player who will be 100 percent is tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells, who has been plagued by injuries during fall camp. After rushing for 576 yards and 7 touchdowns as a freshman, Wells will be ready to go as the season begins.
"He's set to go 100 percent," Tressel said. "I think he would play today if you'd let him. He would've played when we scrimmaged if we had let him."
In addition, the Buckeyes will use at least two more tailbacks in Maurice Wells and Brandon Saine. Tressel stopped short of saying Daniel "Boom" Herron would see playing time this season, describing him as being "on the bubble."
Tressel has said he plans to use at least eight freshman this season. Herron could become No. 9.
"Is he going to be number nine or whatever it happens to be, and he may, because he brings a little advantage on the special teams as well," Tressel said of Herron. "So I don't know that we know whether he's going to get in the game or not. I think we're still, because it's Tuesday at noon, I'm not sure we know."
While this is the first game for the Buckeyes since their 41-14 defeat at the hands of the Florida Gators in the BCS National Championship Game, Tressel and the team's captains downplayed the need to play on Saturday in order to get past the bad taste left by the loss to the Gators.
"Last time we had a chance to play, we didn't as well as we thought we were capable of, and we've had to wait this long to get a chance to get out and play a football game and now it's game week," Tressel said. "Our guys have worked extremely hard."
When they take the field on Saturday, the OSU offense will not look like it did one season ago. While the team's depth chart now features two spots for wide receivers – last year's had three wideouts listed – that likely means the Buckeyes will feature their tight ends more.
That position will show the biggest change from last year to this, Tressel said.
"I really feel good about our tight ends and we probably will be less percent of the time without a tight end in the game," he said. "If you remember back to last year, we were four wide, one back, or maybe even five wide, a significant amount of the time. I don't know if we'll be without a tight end that much. Beyond that, I'm not sure you'll see a great difference."