Offense Searching For 'Breakout' Game

While that appears to be what the Ohio State offense needs to do -- break out -- head coach Jim Tressel stopped short of saying that is what he is looking for this weekend as the Buckeyes head north to face Michigan State in a key Big Ten battle.

Throughout the week, Ohio State fans have wanted to know one thing: Will the team's offense be ready?

As the No. 11/12 Buckeyes have prepared to head north to take on No. 18/20 Michigan State (3:30 p.m., ABC), Tressel said he hopes fans expect more productivity from the team's offense. Whether that will materialize or not remains to be seen.

"I hope that people are anxious for more productivity," Tressel said. "I hope they see some of the things that we've been able to do and maybe a little bit more of the things we haven't done as well as we'd like, but I sure hope people expect that"

The offense will see a now fully healthy Chris Wells – at least from an illness standpoint. Last week, the junior tailback known as "Beanie" missed practice Tuesday and Thursday and was sick during the weekend as well.

"That was a tough one," Tressel said. "It was one of those that hung on, but you could tell this week in practice that he finally shook it."

Not expected to contribute is redshirt freshman tailback Dan Herron, who suffered a concussion against Wisconsin and did not play against Purdue.

"He's going to go with us, but I think it would be a real stretch to put him in the game," Tressel said. "To put it the way we feel, we don't want his first live contact or even semi-live contact to be in a game after he's had that significant injury."

In his place, senior Maurice Wells will be the team's No. 2 running back with sophomore Brandon Saine behind him. Tressel said the two have practiced well this week.

Herron's loss is also felt on the kickoff return team, where he had been serving as a starter. Freshman Lamaar Thomas will spend his second consecutive week as one of the starters on that unit alongside with Maurice Wells.

Tressel said that two of the team's freshmen offensive linemen have been lost for the season. Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts, who had been working at left and right tackle, respectively, will miss the rest of the season due to injuries. Adams has injured his foot, while Shugarts has a shoulder injury.

Neither of the two qualifies for a medical redshirt, he said.

"It's really disappointing for us, but part of the world we live in," Tressel said. "Andrew Miller and Andrew Moses are going to have to step up because they were probably Nos. 8 and 9 and all of a sudden you've got to move it up.

"I feel bad because those two young guys (Adams and Shugarts) spent a year … but the value of them understanding – J.B. has been out there in the Coliseum against Southern Cal and Mike in the Horseshoe against Big Ten teams – is real."

In addition, junior defensive end Lawrence Wilson will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee. Tressel said junior Rob Rose and a host of younger players will have to fill the void in Wilson's absence.

Facing a MSU team that is looking for a signature game that would signify that the Spartans are legitimate contenders for the Big Ten crown, Tressel said he is aware of the type of environment the Buckeyes will be invading.

The hope is that this will be a breakout game for the offense, although the head coach stopped short of saying that.

"I don't know that you ever start assuming that you're ready for a breakout because you have to do the things that you have to do to be consistent and successful," he said. "Our hope is that the things that we've been doing very well and have contributed to victories, that they continue and the things that have contributed to field goals instead of touchdowns that those things can be better."

Tressel did announce a change in the team's field goal kicking duties on his weekly call-in show. Senior Ryan Pretorius will kick when the drive stalls inside the 20-yard line, while junior Aaron Pettrey will handle kicks for drives that end outside the 20.


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