Jard Work: Sticks And Stones...

If you want to know what it is really like for an Ohio State football player when the Buckeyes play Penn State, we've got you covered. In this edition of 'Jard Work,' senior offensive lineman Jim Cordle offers a first-hand view of what his teammates can expect Saturday. Read on for other notes including Etienne Sabino's status and Jim Tressel's throughts on OSU's new alternate uniforms.

Penn State is apparently a scary place if you are an Ohio State football player.

Throughout the week, we have heard stories from various Buckeyes talking about how the team is treated on each trip to Happy Valley. I think senior offensive lineman Jim Cordle summed it up best.

It's a serious quote. Forgive the triple-stacked quote.

"It starts out when you get out of the hotel and get on the bus and you're going through campus," Cordle said. "Big Ten campuses are hostile toward the opposing team. There's a stretch by the stadium where you're coming down and you see the stadium there and everybody is walking to the game and tailgating and the street is lined with students.

"They're rocking the bus, so the bus is rocking and then you have beer cans thrown at you from every which way. That was really cool. It was the first time anything like that ever happened to me. A lot of guys have never been there so that will be exciting for them.

"Then you go into the locker room and coming out, walking underneath the stadium where the fans are, cussing and spitting at you. Then running out on the field and getting booed. Then the Zombie Nation and the whiteout. It's just from the time you leave the hotel, it's a wild atmosphere."

It begs the question of what is worse, the cursing or the spitting.

"It depends if you get hit by the spitting," Cordle said with a laugh.

On the flip side, senior linebacker Austin Spitler admitted that OSU fans are not necessarily angels, either.

"I don't know what our fans are like," he said. "I'm sure our fans are pretty relentless as well on our opponents. Let them have fun with it. I'm sure the cops will be on patrol making sure it doesn't get out of hand."

Asked if he has ever heard words of encouragement while playing on the road, junior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher deadpanned, "I've never gone into an away stadium where people are petting us on the back."

What New Uniforms?
At his final press conference of the week, OSU head coach Jim Tressel was not in the mood to discuss the new uniforms his team will wear against Michigan in the final regular-season game of the year.

The option to wear an alternate uniform was first given to the Buckeyes months ago, Tressel said.

"Nike came to us and said they're doing this around the country with Nike partners," he said. "I'm one of those old-fashioned guys who said, ‘I don't know about that. We'll leave this up to the players and the young coaches.' That was done some time ago."

Tressel added that he has never seen the university contract with Nike.

The question was then asked if OSU will wear white helmets, as has been rumored. The coach then tried to steer the topic of conversation back to his team's upcoming game.

"Penn State will be wearing white helmets," he said. "That's the game I'm concerned with."

Asked to describe the uniforms, Tressel said, "They'll be dark blue with no names on the back, white pants, white helmets with a stripe," referencing the Nittany Lion jerseys.

Less than two minutes later, Tressel cut the press conference short by about five minutes.

Where's Sabino?
One of the most-asked questions of the season on our premium message board has been where sophomore linebacker Etienne Sabino has been.

Fickell said Sabino is currently the primary backup at all three linebacker positions and is, in essence, the fourth linebacker on the roster.

"That's the tough thing but that's what you're getting at this time of the year," he said. "There's a lot of things that are happening and you've got to get guys ready and roll. That maturity level you can get to by this time of the season, that's what you're counting on."

The position coach described him as a cerebral kid.

"He's a cerebral guy. He just needs to be able to relax and play football. Everybody is a little bit different. Some guys play fine when they don't know exactly what they're doing and some guys just want to know everything and they don't feel comfortable unless they know everything.

"In this game and the way things change, you're not going to know everything. You've got to have that ability to relax and do what you do best and that's play with your vision and run."

Behind Sabino on the depth chart are freshmen Storm Klein and Jonathan Newsome and sophomore Tony Jackson.

Sweating Out His Decision:
Although no official word has been given on the reason, OSU sophomore linebacker Andrew Sweat will miss the remainder of the season. Spitler said the situation has been tough on the younger Buckeye but added that he was proactive in dealing with his future.

"He's going through a difficult time but he's handling it well," the senior said. "I think it's better that he knows what it is and went ahead with the surgery and can get back on the rehab so he'll be ready to go next year and in the spring hopefully. We didn't know it was such a significant injury, but it's good that he got it out of the way and he can move on."

Spitler added that it was a knee injury and that Sweat was unsure when he first suffered the injury.

"I don't even think he knows," he said. "It just started bothering him and I think he woke up one morning and it was pretty stiff. It's weird – injuries can happen like that where you don't really know when it happens."

Back In Action: After OSU's thrashing of visiting New Mexico State, Tressel termed running back Dan Herron as being about 90 percent healthy in his return to the lineup.

Three days later, Herron said he was glad to simply get back in the lineup after watching the majority of three of the previous four games from the sideline with an ankle injury.

"It felt good to be back out there," he said. "It was tough sitting out. They were doing a great job running the ball. I just knew it was time for me to get healthy."

After the game, Herron said he had never heard the name "Wally Pip" mentioned while he was on the sideline.

As for the running back situation as a whole, Tressel said the coaches are planning on using Herron, junior Brandon Saine and freshman Jordan Hall equally this weekend.

"If someone gets hot, you might not pull them," the coach said. "None of those three are in a situation where, ‘If it's this play we have to have this guy.' We're now to the point where all three can do the full package."

Run Vs. Pass:
When presented with a few facts, OSU co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell urged reporters to look beyond the black and white when it comes to the Nittany Lions.

Penn State enters Saturday's game averaging 247.1 passing yards and 182.0 rushing yards per contest, but Fickell said those numbers do not represent a change in the offensive attack philosophy for the Nittany Lions.

"There's a fine line between reality and perception," the OSU assistant coach said. "Yes, numbers-wise, they are (throwing more), but Penn State is still Penn State. They do a great job of running the football. You've got to prepare for everything, but you know that Penn State is going to run the football and that's where it's going to start."

The Shooter:
On Wednesday, quarterback Terrelle Pryor told reporters his primary goal growing up was to play basketball for North Carolina. That dream went by the wayside partially because football came calling and partially because, as Pryor put it, he never developed much of a jump shot.

Asked who has the best jumper on the team, Pryor issued a warning to his teammates.

"They haven't met Jordan Hall yet on the basketball court, but I'd have to go with Andre Amos," he said. "Jordan Hall can light it up."

During his senior year at Jeannette, Pa., Pryor helped lead his basketball team to a state title along with Hall, who was then in his junior year.


Buckeye Sports Top Stories