Tressel: Focus Should Be Fine This Week

With much on the line Saturday when No. 10 Ohio State plays host to No. 15 Iowa at Ohio Stadium, someone asked Buckeye coach Jim Tressel if he is worried about distractions this week. For his answer to that question and updates on the Buckeyes' health, read on.

Could the Ohio State football team lose focus with the events of senior week or the immensity of playing Iowa on Saturday for a share of another Big Ten championship and the program's first Rose Bowl berth in more than a decade? What about basking too long in the emotional, hard-hitting 24-7 victory earned last week at Penn State or the season-ending titanic tilt with Michigan set for Nov. 21?

Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel did not seem to think so.

"Either that or it's a good week to get focused because only two of the things you named are relevant," Tressel said. "The other, I'm not sure that that's relevant right now because that's 10 days from now (actually 11) and the picture is very clear. You're playing against a good team with a lot at stake. The fact is, the seniors are playing their last ball game here and their last two in their whole career, regular seasonwise, so to me it's maybe even less distracting than sometimes. When there's more time out there, there's more mind wandering. When you get a little closer to the edge of the diving board it becomes more apparent that there's the water."

Representing the water in this case are the 9-1 Hawkeyes who share first place in the Big Ten with the Buckeyes (8-2). Both have identical 5-1 conference records after Iowa suffered its first loss of the season last week at home against Northwestern, a game in which the Hawkeyes also lost starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi to an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out this week.

Tressel said they will approach the pregame preparation the same way regardless.

"If indeed they do change quarterbacks, they're still going to be who they are," Tressel said. "That's what, in our estimation, has made Iowa such a solid program is that they know what they believe in, they know what they teach, their young people do a good job of learning what they teach, so I don't know that they'll change dramatically if indeed they have a difference at quarterback."

As for his own injury front, Tressel said Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor "seemed to be doing great" when he talked to him yesterday, but he has not seen him work on the field to know how healthy he is as he contends with a sore ankle.  

Right tackle J.B. Shugarts, who suffered a leg injury at Penn State, figures to practice lightly today, and the medical staff hopes he will react positively to that and be able to practice fully tomorrow and be available for the game.  

In addition, part-time starting lineman Mike Adams has been cleared to return to practice after knee surgery in mid-October.

"Adams comes back this week probably with limited volume, probably maybe a third of today's practice, and then see how he handles it," Tressel said of the sophomore who started four games at left tackle in the middle of the season before being hurt. "It would be a heck of a bonus for us if all of a sudden he got back to the point where he could help us on Saturday."

With Shugarts limited today, Tressel said Jim Cordle, Andy Miller and Marcus Hall would all share the reps at the two tackle positions.

On the defensive side, lineman Dexter Larimore took part in a handful of plays at Penn State, and the staff expects him to be able to do more this week as he returns from his own knee injury that kept him out of four games.

Running back Dan Herron left the Penn State game prematurely with what looked like an ankle injury, but Tressel said he seemed to be fine.

"He didn't show up on the medical report about a guy having an injury," Tressel said. "He's on that long list of guys that are nursing things because we get constant rehab and constant treatment on things even if they don't keep you from the game, but he just showed up on that ‘All you others' list."

In a tradition that started in 2006, Ohio State will not hold a press luncheon for Tressel nor individual player interviews on Tuesday or assistant coach availability on Wednesday next week but instead have all media availability on the Monday before The Game between Ohio State and Michigan.


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