OSU Practice Notebook -- Keeping It In The Family
Tressels don't normally tip their hand, and that's become a bit of a problem in the last few weeks because of the implications surrounding this Saturday's Ohio State-Cincinnati game at the Horseshoe.
OSU has head coach Jim Tressel and running backs coach Dick "Doc" Tressel while the Bearcats have Mike Tressel, Dick's son, serving as linebackers and special teams coach. There have understandably been a few awkward moments over the summer when talk turned to the game, but everyone's put on their best face.
"I wish I knew what they were going to do (defensively)," Doc Tressel said on Thursday. "We've all put a little bit of the ante in and the poker game continues. It's a bit of a strange situation, but we haven't been worrying so much about what Cincinnati is going to do as much as we are thinking about what the Buckeyes have brought to the game."
Doc Tressel said part of the problem is not knowing how much or how little UC head man Mark Dantonio -- formerly OSU's defensive coordinator -- will be involved with the Bearcats defense.
"He has some tried and proven methods, so there are a number of reasons he would have his hands over there," Tressel said. "But at the same time, there's so much more to do as a head coach that it might be difficult to really put all of your energy into that. That's a great question, really, and one that I don't think we'll know the answer to until Saturday."
OSU secondary coach Mel Tucker believes the Bearcats will attempt to show a measure of balance, and that's probably not a bad strategy considering they have veterans at both the quarterback and running back positions.
"They're going to try to keep us guessing," Tucker said. "You can get a feel for what they're doing as the game goes on, but when we first get out there I'm sure there will be a few surprises. We'll have to adjust on the fly and try to guess if they'll want to pass it 70 times or if they'll want to try to power it past us with the run."
A few revelations were made on Thursday, though hardly any of the earth-shaking variety --
* Branden Joe has been officially ruled out of the game, with Doc Tressel saying, "He hasn't gotten any reps at all this week. He doesn't want to go out there and slog through, he wants to be full speed when he plays. So he's out this week."
In Joe's place will be Brandon Schnittker and Stan White Jr., both of whom can do the same things.
"They can both catch the ball well," Tressel said. "They're reliable blockers, too, and they're going to do a lot of what Ben Hartsock did last year, that H-back kind of thing."
* Tucker said Donte Whitner and Ashton Youboty will both rotate in at the nickel position.
"We want to get as many as eight guys in there, and both of them have shown they can play," Tucker said. "If Cincinnati throws as many passes as they did last time (52) we're going to need as many bodies back there as we can get."
* Lydell Ross is the unquestioned starter at tailback, and Maurice Hall is listed as the second-teamer. Tressel said, however, that Hall has missed a little bit of time this fall, which means both Tony Pittman and Erik Haw could see action.
"We have not put a redshirt on Erik Haw," Tressel said. "We're going to need all of those guys because they can all do different things."
* Tucker would like to see his secondary return to the physical unit Ohio State had in the 1990s when Antoine Winfield manned one corner spot.
"We've worked on getting more physical at the corners, and we've played the run a little more this fall," Tucker said. "You can be in great position and line up the right way in your scheme, but it's all going to come down to tackling. Who can make the tackle and stop the other team?"
One player Tucker said has stood out in that aspect is freshman Shaun Lane.
"He's a freshman who goes out of his way to look for contact," Tucker said. "You don't see that a lot. It's too early to know what his role might be this year, but guys like that usually find their way onto the field."
* Tressel said he doesn't know how much Ted Ginn Jr. will play this weekend, but there are certain plays in the offense that utilize his abilities.
"I see him sometimes and just say `Wow' with how fast he runs and how it looks like he's not giving any effort," Tressel said. "He comes back after a big run and he's not breathing hard. He definitely has some special qualities."