Following the team's first open weekend in three seasons, the Ohio State Buckeyes are now preparing to face off against a 7-2 Northwestern team (noon Eastern, ESPN2). Meeting with reporters on election day, the team's head coach said he is feeling the energy from the presidential election rubbing off on his players.
"It was fun being in the locker room and the weight room yesterday listening to all the guys with their infinite wisdom talking about what should occur today in the national scene," Tressel said. "They feel that this is a most important day, which it certainly is. I also feel similar type of excitement and energy for them getting back on the field."
The last time out, the Buckeyes dropped a 13-6 decision to visiting Penn State in front of an Ohio Stadium record crowd of 105,711. This time, they will hit the road to face a resurgent Wildcat team that has lost three straight to the Buckeyes by more than 41 points in each contest.
But as OSU struggles to become a more consistent football team particularly on the offensive side of the ball, it has enjoyed having an extra week to try and examine what needs to be improved upon. According to Tressel, though, fans should not be expecting any sort of wholesale changes from the Buckeyes this weekend.
"I don't know that we found out anything that we didn't know," Tressel said. "You get reaffirmed when you study it further that you need to be more consistent and then you have a chance if you do that. I don't know that we had any startling revelation that, ‘Oh, we found the exact issue' or anything like that that we can do better and that's going to have us take off."
In the loss to the Nittany Lions, junior tailback Chris Wells was held to a season-low 55 yards. The player known as "Beanie" had missed some practice time in the week leading up to the game as he has continued to recover from suffering an injury to his right foot in the first week of the season, but that has not been the case since the PSU game.
Wells has taken part in every drill since the team's last game.
"He probably got more practice last week than he's had in the three weeks leading up to that, and you'd like to think that will serve us very well," Tressel said.
The team's first full practice after the PSU game came the following Wednesday, and the focus for the week was on fundamentals more than anything else. The Buckeyes did not start working to prepare for the Wildcats until Friday, and even then the amount of game preparation was described by Tressel as not being a tremendous amount.
The team has had to shuffle a few more players around due to injury in the aftermath of the PSU game. Senior right guard Ben Person was an unexpected scratch from the lineup and did not dress for the game, and Tressel said he might have to undergo an undisclosed injury within the next few days.
On the other side of the spectrum, freshman right tackle J.B. Shugarts did dress after Tressel had classified him as being out for the season just a few weeks prior. The two could be headed in opposite directions on the injury report in the coming weeks.
"Ben Person … I would not expect him to be ready," Tressel said. "J.B. Shugarts seems to be a little bit more ready. I don't know if he could go in and give you 60 snaps. I don't know if he's that far back, but I think he could be there and spell for a bit."
In addition, sophomore Connor Smith suffered an undisclosed injury during last week's practices and his status is unknown going forward, Tressel said.
Despite that, the overall mood of the team is positive after suffering a loss that crippled both the team's conference and national championship hopes, Tressel said.
"How quickly you move back to what you need to be doing is the key," he said. "I don't sense anybody that's just wallowing in disappointment, but yet I would not feel good at all if there wasn't a little bit of an edge to all of us, because we would like to be better off than we are now. Every team that's got losses would like to have no losses."