Jard Work: Minnesota Notebook

Alex Boone's performance this season has led him to a sit-down meeting with head coach Jim Tressel. Dick Tressel breaks down the shoes his players should -- and shouldn't -- wear. Classes bring a sigh of relief to the football team. All this and more in this week's edition of Jard Work.

Although he claims to have graded out with winning performances in three of the team's first four games, Alex Boone is not happy.

The senior left tackle for Ohio State has been critical of his own performance throughout the 2008 season, as have fans drawing their own evaluations of the Buckeyes. As Boone has struggled to fulfill his own expectations, an hour-long, closed-door meeting with head coach Jim Tressel might have helped him to turn the page and move forward for the rest of the season.

"I think it was more just a conversation that we had to have," Boone said. "I can't really explain that much into it because it was a closed-door conversation, but it helped me realize why he's on us so much and what the concept behind it was. I'm fully in agreement."

Asked what he might have needed to discuss with Boone, Tressel shed a little light on the situation.

"I think it's the standard of which he's holding himself to," Tressel said. "He wants to be the best he can be. He wants to be the best. I didn't sit down and talk with him about pass protection though, because the only thing I know is to keep your numbers square. That's the limit of my ability. He wants to be good and he wants this team to be good. If he misses one time, he's disappointed."

Fall Quarter Arrives: As classes began this past week at OSU, the Buckeyes have seen new responsibilities return to their plates. Now, instead of simply practicing, studying film and working out all day, the football team is tasked with returning to classes.

While that might be seen by many as the least enjoyable aspect of the college experience – actually going to class – for some members of the team, classes bring a welcome reprieve to their daily routines.

"It's exciting to start school again," junior offensive lineman Jim Cordle said. "Until school starts, it's like there's no limit on how long they can hold you and how long they can practice. We've been at the Woody (Hayes Athletic Center) from about 9 to 7 and now we get to go to class and get away. A lot of guys have been living here so it's fun to get school started and get school work going."

No Hoops For Heyward: As he was being recruited by the Buckeyes, Cameron Heyward listed his desire to play both basketball and football in college as one thing he was looking for in a school.

In fact, when OSU defensive coordinator and line coach Jim Heacock traveled to Suwanee, Ga., to pay Heyward an in-home visit, he first took in one of the recruit's basketball games.

The plan was for him to join the OSU men's basketball team sometime after the conclusion of his football season, but that never came to fruition as the rigors of a full football season took their toll on Heyward. But when former Buckeye Michael Redd was honored at halftime of the football team's game against Ohio University, it was Heyward who got a hug and a pat on the behind from head basketball coach Thad Matta as he exited the field.

Don't look for Heyward to suit up on the hardwood this season, however.

"We really haven't had a chance to talk at all," Heyward said of Matta. "We've been busy. I'm mostly just focused on football."

There are few opportunities to shoot hoops during football season, Heyward said, but that has not stopped him from taking part in team-wide tournaments during the offseason. When the Buckeyes do hoop it up, he has plenty of competition on the court.

"We've got a couple good guys on the team," he said. "Donald Washington, Doug Worthington's pretty good. Thaddeus (Gibson) thinks he can shoot, but we know he can't."

A New Shoe: The OSU offense figures to receive a boost this weekend when junior tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells returns to action. Although he will be limited and won't be able to tote the football 30 times, Wells should provide a spark to a struggling offensive unit.

His return is aided by a special shoe designed to help better distribute stress placed on his injured right big toe. Asked to get into the specifics of it, head coach Jim Tressel said he could not but drew an analogy to wearing a hiking boot instead of a shoe designed for speed.

Later in the week, running backs coach Dick Tressel downplayed the significance of the new shoe.

"It won't hinder him," he said. "It's a normal shoe rather than a light shoe. It's a normal, football shoe. He's got an extra support piece, but nothing outlandish. It's not like his foot is locked up or anything."

Wells' previous shoe did not have a spring poke through the bottom and puncture his foot, Dick Tressel said, extinguishing one rumor. The type of shoe the tailback was wearing had no effect on the injury, he said.

Still, the coaches do try and convince the players to wear durable shoes on the field although they have not outlawed any shoe models.

"We encourage our linemen because their world is about style and the latest equipment opportunities and options," he said. "For big, strong guys, you've got to be sensible about the shoes you're putting on."

How To Yell: Different players respond to different forms of coaching. Some prefer to have coaches show them how to do things with little talking. Some prefer to receive constructive criticism that helps them improve without being insulted.

Some, like Boone, simply like being yelled at.

"I personally love it when they yell at me because it makes me player better but some of the guys are different," he said. "Some of the guys don't like to be yelled at, but when Coach Tress comes down and yells at you, believe me you're moving. There's no ifs, ands or butts."

Further questioned on the topic, Boone asked if any of the surrounding reporters wanted to yell at him.

One TV personality took the bait, saying: "Dude, you're terrible."

Not missing a beat, Boone responded.

"That's not yelling, that's just insulting," he said. "Don't you know the difference?"

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