On the docket first are the Northwestern Wildcats, sporting a 2-1 record after a week three loss to Duke – snapping the Blue Devils' nation-high 22-game losing streak. While Tressel said his thoughts immediately turned toward the Wildcats as soon as the finishing touches were put on OSU's 33-14 victory over the Huskies on Saturday, there was a moment or two of satisfaction with the victory for a few different reasons.
Now, the focus can be on an opponent the Buckeyes are quite familiar with.
"I think there's a difference in familiarity," Tressel said at his weekly press luncheon. "When you've played against these guys, you remember Adam Kadela filling the hole and being as physical as can be and you remember this from Northwestern and that from Northwestern or whoever you're playing in the league because you play them year in and year out."
To this point in the season, the Buckeyes have substituted fairly liberally across the board. Players such as sophomore quarterback Robby Schoenhoft have been given opportunities to get game action in relevant situations aside from garbage time at the end of contests.
That will likely occur less and less from this point on, Tressel said, as rotation will start to happen now on more of a need by need basis.
"I don't know that we'll go into the game saying, ‘Ok, Robby's coming in at this time or Antonio (Henton) is coming in at this time," Tressel said. "I think philosophically, where we roll people we need to keep rolling them."
While the Washington game marked the season debut of the ballyhooed Ray Small at wide receiver and punt returner, it also saw another member of the wideout corps go down. Tressel said freshman Dane Sanzenbacher, who saw action early in the game, suffered an undisclosed injury.
In typical coaching terms, Tressel said Sanzenbacher both "got banged" and "was whacked." His immediate prognosis is unknown, but he is listed as the primary backup to junior Brian Robiskie on the latest depth chart.
As for Small, he had one catch for four yards and one punt return for 10 yards. Tressel said he is still adjusting to getting back on the field after missing most of fall camp with an ankle injury.
"He made a mistake on the alignment the one time when we hit Brian Hartline and he had an alignment problem," Tressel said. "You have to practice to be at your best. I think Ray will come along."
After spending lots of time in a spread offense with four wide receivers on the field in 2006, the Buckeyes have utilized more two-back and two-tight end sets this season. Tressel said OSU lined up for 25 plays with three wideouts and 24 times they had two backs and two wideouts.
"The next most-used was two tights and two wides," he said. "That's probably a little different than any year we've had. We were probably 25 percent last year four wides, and I don't know that we've been in it this year at all."
The victory over Washington marked Tressel's 200th career victory as a coach. While he downplayed the significance of the milestone, senior co-captain Dionte Johnson said the players gave the coach a little memento of the occasion in the locker room following the game.
"We got him a little ball everybody signed," Johnson said. "Everybody kind of wrote a little message congratulating him on his 200th. We knew going into it, and that was a little extra motivation to get the job done."
"He was a little giddy after the game, but right away he got us back into the right mind frame. He was like, ‘Northwestern is ready for us. It's the opening of the Big Ten, I know everybody is excited but it's over.' That's how quick the buzz died."
In addition, Tressel said three former walk-ons have been granted scholarships. They are senior offensive lineman Daniel Dye from Napoleon, Ohio, senior long snapper Dimitrios Makridis from Warren (Ohio) Harding and junior wide receiver David Lisko from Hilliard (Ohio) Darby.