Tressel: Offense Must Adjust More Quickly

The most-pressing topic of Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel's weekly press luncheon was not surprising in the least bit to anyone who saw the Buckeyes' last game, a 31-13 victory over Wisconsin last Saturday. While beating the Badgers, the Buckeyes gained just 184 total yards.

Jim Tressel led right into the question himself with the conclusion of his opening statement at the Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus.

"Offensively, I think our guys have done a good job of preparing," the Ohio State head coach said. "Where I really think we need to get better preparing from an offensive standpoint is understanding that what we study and prepare for all week long may not be what you're going to get and then adjusting in the midst of the flow, and that's why it's disappointing when you only get 30-some snaps, to make those adjustments and learn those lessons and so forth, but it is what it is, and we've got to improve from that standpoint in my opinion."

Asked who specifically needed to improve, he said everyone involved, including players and the coaching staff.

Making needed adjustments was hindered by the sheer level of lack of success the Buckeyes were able to manage to start the game.

They gained one first down and ran a total of 18 plays on their first five drives of the game. The dearth of plays made deciphering the Badgers' defensive strategy and conjuring a response all the more difficult to do.

"They played a lot more people up in the box and played us a little bit different in the secondary, which allowed them to shift their linebackers, when you drop a guy in the box, (and) they did a good job," Tressel said, noting the Badgers paid extra attention to the threat of quarterback Terrelle Pryor as a runner.

"Most people are going to have two people on the quarterback when you're doing some of the things we do - they had about two and a half," Tressel said. "They were not going to allow the quarterback to get outside and hurt him and so forth. And they did a good job, I thought, of allowing their ends to freelance a little bit because they had an extra guy in the box if he would lose contain, there was always a guy behind him."

When they did get things figured out, the results were better, including a touchdown on the last possession of the first half, but chances to capitalize on what they had learned or build any momentum were dissipated by a pair of return touchdowns that kept the Buckeye offense on the sideline until late in the third quarter.

"Outside of (two scoring drives), we didn't put the pressure on their defense, then all of a sudden you have the game that's the score that it was (31-13) and you have to make those decisions as to what is it you want to do, practice or win the game?" Tressel said. "And we're always, I hope, going to err on the side of trying to win the game."

The Buckeyes' final three drives were two three-and-outs and a final call to simply kneel on the ball to run out the final seconds.

Pryor ran once and performed the kneel down, while the other five plays were all Brandon Saine rushes.

Saine, a junior tailback, figures to get plenty of opportunities again this week as Tressel said Dan Herron could be out for a week or two with an ankle injury aggravated against the Badgers. Behind Saine will be freshman Jordan Hall as well as redshirt freshman Jermil Martin.

Martin got most of his practice reps last week with the scout team mimicking Wisconsin running back John Clay, but Tressel said the offense and scout team will share the Cleveland Glenville grad this week.

The coach said he continues to hold out hope true freshman Jaamal Berry will be healthy enough to earn his first playing time soon, but he gave no indication this would be the week that happens.

Defensive lineman Dexter Larimore (knee) is out again this week as well.

On the plus side, offensive linemen Jim Cordle and Andy Miller are both expected to practice Tuesday and will likely be available when Ohio State travels to West Lafayette to take on Purdue at noon Saturday.

Cordle missed the past four games after suffering an ankle injury Sept. 12 against USC, and Miller was out the past two weeks with the flu.

While the flu was a problem last week that knocked several players out of practice, Tressel said only one unidentified player would miss the afternoon practice, and the coach sounded optimistic the worst was behind them.

"Most of the Big Ten schools are semesters (unlike Ohio State), so their flu started about two to three weeks before our flu started, and they're finding on college campuses both with the general student body and the student athlete population is that there's a spike early in the term and then it gradually goes down," Tressel said.


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