Talkin' Tressel: Thursday Edition

It's homecoming week, and that means the Buckeyes will host their annual captain's breakfast as they get ready to host Michigan State. Prior to Thursday's practice, head coach Jim Tressel gave the latest on the state of the team and was there.

You can forgive Jim Tressel if his focus is a little divided this week. As it turns out, he has two teams chasing championships.

Meeting with reporters on Thursday afternoon before practice, the Ohio State head coach was sporting an authentic home Cleveland Indians jersey with his last name emblazoned on the back above the number one.

As the Indians try to wrap up an American League crown tonight in Cleveland, Tressel said that he is supporting the team even if he only has limited time to watch them.

"I haven't seen much at all," he said. "I have every confidence that they can do it without me, other than my vibes – I'll send my vibes out. We've been working, and when we work it's too late for me to stay up to watch the rest."

Not surprisingly, then, his primary focus is making sure his top-ranked Buckeyes are prepared for their tussle this weekend with visiting Michigan State. In the week following a 48-3 victory over non-conference foe Kent State, Tressel said the team has looked better in practice than they did a week ago.

However, that was not a diagnosis given by the coaching staff.

"Sometimes we're the last to really know, as coaches, because we're so caught up in every little thing that needs to be corrected," Tressel said.

The opinion, then, came from former Buckeye and current radio broadcaster Jim Lachey as he watched practice on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"He thought it was up a level," Tressel said. "I'll defer to his expertise. I don't think anything ever went as well as I'd like it, but from afar Jim thought the tempo was pretty good."

As the Buckeyes continue to battle the injury bug, two players who missed significant playing time last weekend against the Golden Flashes are fine to play this weekend. Sophomore safety Anderson Russell and junior linebacker James Laurinaitis both will play against the Spartans.

The prognosis is less positive for sophomore defensive tackle Todd Denlinger, who is battling an undisclosed leg injury.

"Todd Denlinger, I'm not sure that he's ready," Tressel said. "We'll know more today, but I'm going to call him doubtful."

Sophomore tailback Chris Wells, who goes by "Beanie," is apparently making progress rehabilitating a nagging injury to his left ankle. Tressel said he "has probably had as good of a week as I've seen."

This weekend's game is homecoming for the university, and several former Buckeyes will be on hand for the festivities. Tressel said the likes of A.J. Hawk, Nate Salley, Drew Carter, David Patterson and Ryan Pickett will all be on hand for the game.

Rather than be distracting, Tressel said the alumni know not to disrupt the flow of practice or the focus of the team.

"You hope the former players understand the focus that the guys need," he said. "I haven't seen our former players distract. A.J. Hawk was there at practice yesterday and I didn't see him grabbing players and chitchatting because he knew what they had to do.

"The same thing on the sideline. If anything, they would be kind of cheerleaders and encouragers if they were on the sideline as opposed to distracters."

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