Tressel, Buckeyes Looking For Improvement

It was a hard-fought football game at Wisconsin, but Ohio State came out on the positive side on the scoreboard. In the injury department, however, a few players are still working their way back to health. Find out what head coach Jim Tressel thinks of his team's situation as the Buckeyes get ready for Purdue this weekend.

A slightly battered and bruised Ohio State football team got back to business Sunday following a road win against Wisconsin.

Now the focus is on getting healthy and improving on a game that took some good fortune, as head coach Jim Tressel put it, for the Buckeyes to emerge with the victory.

"We also know that we've got to play a lot better than that if we're going to have a chance here in the Big Ten," an under-the-weather head coach told reporters at his weekly press luncheon.

Tressel's comments referred to the fact that, although OSU defeated the Badgers by a 20-17 margin, it did so while fumbling the ball four times and turning the ball over twice. In addition, the team's offensive unit put together drives that resulted in touchdowns just twice: on the first and last series of the game.

But now, at 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes return home to host Purdue (3:30, ABC) this Saturday. They will do so with a team that had six players grade out with winning performances against the Badgers – three on each side of the ball.

One of them was senior defensive lineman Nader Abdallah, who graded out with a 92 percent rating. Senior left tackle Alex Boone graded out as the top offensive lineman while blocking for Chris "Beanie" Wells, the team's offensive player of the week.

According to Tressel, the coaches were not sure how much Wells would be able to handle in his second game back in action after missing three games with a foot/toe injury.

"I wasn't 100 percent sure how much he could play because he'd only carried it a dozen times the week before," Tressel said. "For him to step up after (Dan Herron) got hurt and carry it over 20 times was a real plus for us. To me, he looked healthier than he's looked since the preseason."

Tressel added that Wells was sore after the game but has since bounced back well.

Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who led the game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes of the game, suffered what Tressel termed a "goose knob" on his right (throwing) hand. The injury is not serious, and Pryor did not miss any action because of it.

Herron was one of two players to suffer a concussion during the contest. Both he and sophomore wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher are out for the Purdue game as they recover. The recovery time for a head injury is typically about eight days, Tressel said. Tressel said the coaches had submitted the play where Herron was injured for the Big Ten to review as part of their weekly process.

Sanzenbacher and Herron are not the only two players unavailable for this week's game. Freshman right tackle J.B. Shugarts is out, as are senior tight end Rory Nicol and junior linebacker Austin Spitler. All three are expected to be available for the team's Oct. 18 road trip to Michigan State.

Redshirt freshman defensive back Donnie Evege is continuing to rehab an undisclosed injury along with players coming off of surgery such as Andre Amos, but Tressel did not say Evege had undergone a medical procedure.

Senior offensive lineman Steve Rehring returned to the lineup after being injured against USC in the third week of the season but missed two long drives while he was in the bathroom, Tressel said. The status of the team's offensive line, where freshman Michael Brewster has taken over at center and pushed former starter Jim Cordle to Rehring's vacated left guard spot, remains in flux.

Had he not missed a few assignments during the final drive of the Wisconsin game, Brewster would have graded out with a winning performance, Tressel said. It was his third start at center.

Junior defensive tackle Todd Denlinger saw just a few plays of action against the Badgers as he continues to battle his way back from an ankle injury, but Tressel was encouraged with what he saw.

"He only got in a couple or three plays this game, but they were the couple or best three plays he's had in a month," Tressel said. "The problem with those ankles is that you feel better but then you hit a plateau and you don't get any better until you hit a certain point.

"I think he hit that point where he's on the upward. He made a couple of really good-looking plays. I think he's turned the corner."


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