Tressel Looking For OSU To 'Play Fast'

The 2008 Ohio State football team has not quite played up to preseason expectations to this point, but head coach Jim Tressel has a message for his players. He wants them to play faster, and a few young players could be part of that new directive for the Buckeyes.

Jim Tressel is still waiting for his team to break out, and this week he will likely see some help in that regard.

Coming off a week where the Ohio State head coach has been encouraging his players – especially his offensive linemen – to play faster, the Buckeyes will see the return of one of their fastest players into the fold.

Speaking with reporters for the last time before OSU kicks off against Minnesota (noon, Big Ten Network) in the conference opener for both teams, Tressel said tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells will be available for action against the Golden Gophers.

"He's ready to go," Tressel said. "He needs to pass protect better, I told him yesterday, but he looked good running the football."

However, fans looking for Wells to put up a performance similar to his 39-carry, 222-yard performance against Michigan last season might want to lower their expectations a bit.

"We haven't been 100 percent live and he has missed some practice, so I'm not sure he'd be a 30-carry Beanie, but I'd like to think he can help us."

In addition to Wells, redshirt freshman Dan Herron will be the team's other primary tailback.

He will not be the only young player who figures to see an important offensive role this weekend for the Buckeyes. After consulting with wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell, Tressel said the two have decided that too much has been asked of senior Brian Robiskie and junior Brian Hartline.

"(Hazell) thinks he's played his first two guys maybe too many snaps, and they haven't played as fresh," Tressel said. "He's really steeped up the competition for some more reps from some other guys and he's planning on rolling his receivers a little more."

As a result, they will see some of their snaps given to younger players such as freshmen DeVier Posey and Lamaar Thomas. Sophomore wideout Taurian Washington, who has emerged as a special teams player, could also be more in the mix.

After being almost completely held out of the lineup against Troy last week despite entering the game as the team's leading receiver and punt returner, junior Ray Small should be ready for action this week.

Asked if Small was facing any sort of disciplinary measures, Tressel said: "At this moment, no."

Senior left guard Steve Rehring is expected to return for next week's road contest against Wisconsin, and Tressel said he "drilled pretty good" during practice this week. The line will get a boost this week thanks to the return of senior guard Kyle Mitchum, who has returned after suffering an injury during fall camp.

Mitchum will immediately assume a spot on the team's second-string offensive line and should see playing time with his linemates during the third or fourth series of the game, Tressel said. However, sophomore Andy Miller was injured during Wednesday's practice and his status remains in doubt.

Speaking on his weekly radio show before meeting with reporters, Tressel said junior linebacker and special teams standout Austin Spitler will be out but that sophomore linebacker Tyler Moeller is back in the lineup. In addition, junior defensive tackle Todd Denlinger is back but still not 100 percent as he recovers from a high ankle sprain.

Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor remains the starter, but Tressel said he hopes to get senior Todd Boeckman a few more snaps than he did last week.

"I don't know exactly how that will go and what type of flow," he said. "When we brought him in during the second quarter, I felt a little bit bad that we had what we wanted and didn't hit it. You think to yourself, ‘Gosh, he hadn't been in in 15 snaps.' Maybe you need to say, ‘You're going in next series, so throw on the sidelines a little bit.' "

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