Talkin' Tressel: Title On The Line

With two days remaining until his team's showdown with visiting Iowa, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel gave the latest on his team Thursday afternoon. Get the latest on the health of the offensive line, who will be carrying the ball this weekend and if Tressel is worried about a letdown after a big win against Penn State a week ago.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said he expects to play as many as eight offensive linemen in his team's game this weekend against Iowa.

The Buckeyes have struggled to keep members of their line consistently healthy throughout the course of the season, but with a Big Ten title on the line Tressel has his largest well of players to draw from since the beginning of the season. Included in that mix are sophomores Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts.

"Both of those guys practiced, Adams all the time and Shugarts probably half to two-thirds of the time," Tressel said at his final press conference of the week. "Today there aren't that many reps, so I'll assume he'll do all the reps he's asked to do. Then we'll have to see how it unfolds on Saturday."

It has been a rocky season for Adams, who missed the first two games of the season for undisclosed reasons and saw action in the next five games, starting the final four, before undergoing an undisclosed medial procedure and sitting out the next three. A left tackle, he was replaced in the starting lineup by senior Jim Cordle, who began the year at right tackle.

Adams does not appear ticketed to start, however.

"I don't know if he's ready to play 60 plays," Tressel said. "I would say this: He'll play. Exactly how we do the rotation, (I don't know)."

Tressel said to expect two or more guys to play at each of the tackle spots. That figure would include Shugarts, who missed part of last week's win against Penn State after suffering what appeared to be a lower leg injury.

Shugarts began the season working at both tackle spots but has started the last eight games at right tackle. He replaced Cordle after the senior suffered an injury in week two against USC.

Also in the mix at both spots are junior Andy Miller and freshman Marcus Hall. Miller started the first three games at left tackle and the New Mexico State game at left guard while Hall has been limited strictly to right tackle.

"I would think a guy like Andrew Miller could help both inside and out," Tressel said. "I'd like to think we'll play eight linemen. We've got more guys ready to go (than in other weeks). They're available. That's a good thing, especially against what they're about to face."

It is possible that Cordle could shift back to right tackle while Miller mans the left tackle spot. If the interior spots remain the same, it would mean a reprisal of the team's opening-game lineup.

Who will be the first running back to tote the ball behind the line is uncertain. The team's depth chart lists junior Brandon Saine as the starter with sophomore Dan Herron as the backup, but Tressel said he does not know who will take the first snap at the spot.

Against the Nittany Lions, Saine led all rushers with 20 carries for 68 yards while Herron added 58 yards on 16 carries. It marked Herron's second game back in action after suffering an ankle injury and he appeared to have tweaked the injury last weekend.

Both figure to get ample playing time against the Hawkeyes (3:30 p.m., ABC) with freshman Jordan Hall waiting in the wings.

"I don't know who we will play the first play," Tressel said. "Brandon will play, (Herron) will play and Jordan Hall will be ready. We have three available, and Jermil (Martin) is the lefty in the bullpen."

They will be going against an Iowa front that features junior defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who leads the team with 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks this season. Simulating him in practice this week has been sophomore Keith Wells, a player Tressel said the Buckeyes are planning on redshirting this year after he saw limited action a season ago.

A win would give the Buckeyes at least a share of their fifth consecutive Big Ten title. To get there, they have to not get complacent after scoring a big win one week prior.

"Consistency is the thing that really shows you that you've matured," Tressel said. "That doesn't mean a veteran team could have a setback in their execution and so forth. We'll find out on Saturday."

Asked about his team's mind set this week, though, the head coach said he has no worries about a letdown.

"I feel good this week," he said.


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