Tressel: Focus Lacked Prior To Purdue

Among the myriad reasons his Ohio State football team lost 26-18 at Purdue last Saturday afternoon, head coach Jim Tressel pointed to a failure on his part to instill in his players the quality of the opponent. That and personnel updates can be found in this recap of his weekly press luncheon.

The way Jim Tressel told the tale Tuesday at his weekly press luncheon at the Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus, not many people outside of his own Ohio State coaching meetings were too concerned about the Boilermakers, who entered the contest on a five-game losing streak.

"There were really three groups that I felt a little bit concerned last week when I stood in front of," Tressel said. "There's the quarterback club over there that meets every Tuesday. I was talking to them about Purdue and (they acted like), ‘Yeah, right, uh-huh.' And then there's this group (of reporters) that was not all that interested with our upcoming opponent and, those two groups really have nothing to do with what we can do, but then there's the third group. I wasn't totally convinced that I was getting across to the group that we're going to line up on the field the extent of the challenge, and that's our job (as coaches)."

Perhaps as a result, the Buckeyes committed too many breakdowns to emerge victorious. Tressel attributed everything from the team's five turnovers to a multitude of pre-snap offensive penalties to inconsistent kickoff coverage to a lack of focus.

"Obviously, every position individually has to know that the three-inch step makes a difference, this gap makes a difference, this zone makes a difference, whatever it happens to be," Tressel said. "So as you reflect on what you can do better from a coaching standpoint, we've got to do a better job of making sure that, A, we understand what it takes, and I think too, I think we've got to do a good job of understanding the difficulty of the challenges that you're taking on."

The challenge this week is preparation for Minnesota, a 4-3 squad that will play at Ohio Stadium (noon, ESPN) for the second season in a row.

Tressel was hopeful two of his veteran offensive linemen who have contended with different kinds of health issues recently can help the team more this week.

Senior Jim Cordle appeared briefly and struggled at left tackle against the Boilermakers.

"We tried to get him into the game Saturday and he just isn't quite ready," Tressel said. "It's one thing being able to be able to go through a practice tempo and it's another thing to be able to do it on a Saturday."

On the bright side, Cordle did nothing to further aggravate the ankle injury from which he was trying to return, so Tressel hopes he will be ready for more work this week.

Also potentially returning this week is junior Andy Miller, the starter at left tackle to open the season but a bystander the past three games because of the flu and its after effects.

"Andrew has practiced a little bit and I hope he can contribute," Tressel said. "This will be an important week of practice to see if he can get some weight back on and get some strength back and so forth."

The return of one or both of those veterans could bolster an offensive line group the struggled as a whole against the Boilermakers.

Also failing to put his best foot forward last week was quarterback Terrelle Pryor, but Tressel said there have so far been no discussions about possibly replacing him with backup Joe Bauserman.

"I don't believe at this moment that that would be the best thing for the team," Tressel said. "Ultimately, you make all your decisions based upon what the group needs, and so at this moment - we've got a lot of practice and a lot of work to do - but at this moment, I wouldn't say we would."

Though Pryor has been the subject of much criticism from fans and media after committing four turnovers in West Lafayette, Tressel seemed upbeat about his sophomore signal caller.

"From the film grade standpoint, he probably had less minus plays than he did in the past couple weeks," Tressel said. "Now, that's the good news. Here's the bad news. The minuses that we had were those triple minuses... so his total grade didn't end up better, but the numbers of plays where he had positive grades were higher than they've been and that's the reality and the beauty of what we do is that you can have 72 great plays at corner and you get beat over top and you probably didn't have a very good game. You didn't have a game good enough to win."

In addition to those personnel updates, Tressel told reporters on the Big Ten teleconference that running back Dan Herron is questionable for this week. The sophomore missed the Purdue game with a sprained ankle he aggravated one week earlier against Wisconsin.


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