As Ohio State rests up during its open week after absorbing a 13-6 loss to Penn State on Oct. 25, there is work to be done from an offensive standpoint. Although the Buckeyes put up 45 points against Michigan State one week prior, the game against the Spartans has been sandwiched by contests where the OSU offense has failed to cross the goal line. The Buckeyes are ranked 95th in the country in total offense, averaging 318.33 yards per game.
Only Michigan is worse within the Big Ten at 285.5 yards per game, good for 111th-best in the nation.
Speaking with local reporters for the first time since immediately after the loss to PSU, Tressel said there is plenty of blame to go around.
"We need to block people better, we need to make better play selections, we need to throw it better, we need to read the defenses better, we need to run routes better and we need to be better," Tressel said. "We need to get better on offense, no question about it."
That need to get better extends to the team's coaching staff as well. While speaking on a radio show Monday evening, Tressel intimated that changes could be coming to the offensive coaching staff but that they would not occur mid-season.
Although the head coach said he could not imagine himself not being an active part in the play-calling process, Tressel did say he is always evaluating the situation from a coaching standpoint.
"If you're willing to decide which players are in the right position, you certainly better be willing to think about which coaches are in the right position and are you doing the right things," he said. "Are you doing the schemes that your players are capable of doing and are you teaching them and then are you utilizing them at the right times?"
Any solution to the problem would not likely be an offensive guru – a word Tressel consistently referenced throughout the press conference – brought in from an outside tree to overhaul the existing system, Tressel said.
"I don't know that I buy into we need a tree that's the hot tree for the day," Tressel said. "I've read about those guys that have shredders in their offense because they're genius, they don't want anyone to ever see it. "I haven't met one, and most of them I've read about are either selling insurance or commentating."
Although the Buckeyes have an offensive coordinator in Jim Bollman, he has said this season that Tressel has the final say in the play-calling duties, most of which are drawn up and decided during the week leading up to a game. Tressel said he frequently takes the advice of his coaches and allows them to run plays during games, adding that he also takes input from players at times.
Getting the offense to start firing on all cylinders is not as simple as replacing one player, Tressel said.
"If it was, you'd remove one player a week and find out who's the culprit," Tressel said.
Rather, Tressel emphasized the importance of the group rather than the individual on offense, particularly in the coaching game. He described his position coaches as being very involved with how to best utilize their respective players.
However, at the end of the day, the veto power rests with the head man.
"I have an input on every decision," Tressel said. "I can certainly say, ‘No, we're not running that lead draw. I don't think that's a good idea.' "
The open week has given Tressel the opportunity to sit back and more thoroughly evaluate his own team – a rarity during the season, he said. In particular, Tressel said he examined each designed pass play called for original starter Todd Boeckman and current starter Terrelle Pryor.
The freshman has had 141 called pass plays and made "eight or nine" misreads, Tressel said. In contrast, Boeckman has had 96 called pass plays and had "a handful" of misreads. Pryor is continuing to grow from a passing standpoint, Tressel said.
"You do see a progression that's pretty good," he said. "The thing that I thought was interesting … there weren't very many (throws) that weren't carefully thrown, that were just poor decisions as to putting the ball in harm's way. For a guy at that experience level, that's a bit unusual."
Tressel said he did not insert Boeckman for the final drive against the Nittany Lions because doing so would not have been fair to Pryor or to Boeckman, who has not thrown a pass since the Minnesota game in week five. Had Boeckman seen action earlier in the game against PSU, Tressel said he still would have sent Pryor out for the final series.
During the open week, the Buckeyes had Sunday and Monday off before watching film Tuesday and practicing Wednesday and Thursday. Friday's practice will be light, and the players will not have to be back for action until a Sunday night meeting.