Talkin' Tressel: Thursday Edition

It's two days before No. 4 Ohio State's meeting with No. 23 Purdue in West Lafayette, and the Buckeye head coach met with the media for the final time before kickoff Thursday afternoon. Popular topics included the health of tailback Brandon Saine and linebacker Ross Homan, the debut of Jermale Hines and what the Buckeyes are focusing on heading into the touted matchup.

Ohio State fans are lucky Saturday night is not Sunday night.

That's because this past Sunday, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was pretty sure that freshman running back Brandon Saine was not going to play thus upcoming Saturday night in the No. 4 Buckeyes nationally televised showdown with No. 23 Purdue. Now, five days later, Saine is expected to play and could have a major part in Ohio State's attack.

"I think Brandon's in pretty good shape. He'll definitely be going," Tressel said to the assembled beat media Thursday afternoon. "How much he'll play, we're not sure. It could be 10 plays, it could be 20. I would doubt if we would push it beyond because you get the fatigue factor when he hasn't had as much work over the last two weeks."

Just having the freshman speedster should help as he is expected to return to his backup role behind starter Chris "Beanie" Wells and Maurice Wells. Saine carried the ball 28 times for 153 yards (5.5 average) and two touchdowns during the first three games while splitting reps with Mo Wells.

The Piqua, Ohio, native underwent knee surgery shortly after the Washington game Sept. 15. Now, less than three weeks later, he should be ready to go as a complement to Wells and Wells.

"I think normally you have in mind what are the plays where you really think he knows the best, and he can maximize what we need," Tressel said of rationing Saine's plays. "You wouldn't just say, ‘Hey, go take five plays.' You might pinpoint what you want to do."

Despite Saine's expected return, fellow freshman tailback Boom Herron will be on Ohio State's travel squad for the 8 p.m. game in West Lafayette.

Making a road trip for the first time this year will be freshman linebacker Jermale Hines. The Cleveland Glenville product missed the first four games because of eligibility issues, then did not play a week ago at Minnesota because the ruling that he was able to play came down before there was time to prepare him for time. Now, with a full week of practice under his belt, Hines can expect to see time on special teams against Purdue but probably not on defense.

"He's going to travel and he'll be on a couple special teams," Tressel said. "He probably needs a little more work defensively to catch up."

Two players who have been ruled out for the trip include sophomore linebacker Ross Homan and senior linebacker Curtis Terry. The latter has not played this season and will not, as a preseason ankle injury will officially cause Terry to take a redshirt for the year.

As for Homan, a continued foot injury will keep him from traveling despite the fact that he did dress against Minnesota.

"He's just been a bit of a lingering thing and we have to get him healthy," Tressel said.

As for two players on his defensive front, Tressel updated the status of tackles Nader Abdallah and Todd Denlinger. Abdallah started against Minnesota but was not dressed during the second half because of a knee injury, while Denlinger has picked up an injury during practice.

"Abdallah left the game but he seems to be fine," Tressel said. "Todd got dinged a little bit in practice and he's been kind of day-to-day. He's traveling and everything. Abdallah's been practicing. He got whacked and I forget what they call it – some medical term that it's kind of dangerous. If it occurs it almost like needs an immediate surgery or it's just a trauma hit, and it ended up being a good thing. It had our guys a little scared."

As for Purdue, the Boilermakers enter at 5-0 and have not been severely tested in any of their five games. Tressel said he hopes his players get up for the challenge of facing a team featuring one of the best offenses in the country, but for the right reasons.

"They see Purdue and their excellence and that raises your level," Tressel said. "Are they thinking out grander and beyond that and the implications beyond that? Gosh, I hope not, but they certainly see the excellent things Purdue brings and the experience Purdue brings and just the way Purdue is playing."

To add difficulty to what will already be a tough trip – playing a ranked conference foe on the road at night in front of a crowd expected to wear all black – the Buckeyes will have to be checked out of their hotel Saturday afternoon when the game does not start until 8.

"I think it's a fairly new establishment," Tressel said of the hotel. "It is what it is. They're doing the best that they can to try to get us to consolidate down and give us some salons and give us a few rooms where we can have the guys kind of bunk up for and five together. It's just reality and no one meant for it to happen, and we're not mad at anyone for that."


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