“Physical” was the word of the day for Jim Tressel when Ohio State’s head coach held his weekly press luncheon Tuesday in Columbus.
He used the word 11 times while talking about the top-ranked Buckeyes’ preparations for No. 18 Wisconsin in a game set for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday in Madison.
The trip represents Ohio State’s second prime-time appearance at Camp Randall Stadium, where the Badgers have won 25 of their last 28 under the lights.
The Buckeyes dropped a 17-10 decision there in 2003 and rallied for a 20-17 win in 2008.
“The first time there I would describe as rainy and wet but physical and tough and electric,” Tressel said. “Then the second time we were there was a little bit earlier in the season and it was electric. You could just feel the energy in the place, but on the field there was a lot of hitting going on.
“I guess regardless of the weather, it’s a physical place.”
As far as the health of his team, Tressel had mostly good news.
Tight end Jake Stoneburner is probable with a high-ankle sprain that has kept him out of the last two games, and right tackle J.B. Shugarts is expected to be able to play after missing the second half of last week's 38-10 defeat of Indiana because of a sore foot.
Stoneburner did individual drills with the team Sunday night.
“I’m told he’s probable, but that was said cautiously until we see how he does banging into people today,” Tressel said. “I think we’ll have a better idea after today.”
Shugarts has had continual foot problems throughout his three-year career, and the problem will continue to bother him the rest of this season.
“He’s got bad feet, and I don’t mean movement-wise,” Tressel said. “His feet bothered him all of last year, and I don’t know if it’s the makeup of him or what. When you’re down there in the trenches, your feet get tromped on all the time. So he’ll be fighting that battle all year.”
Highly regarded freshman Andrew Norwell replaced Shugarts last week, and Tressel was happy to get him meaningful snaps in case he is needed in a larger role in the near future.
“I’m sure (Shugarts) could have gone in last week, but we thought it was a good opportunity to get Andrew Norwell 30-plus snaps. We think very highly of Andrew, but you need experience to be ready. Hopefully, while it may linger, it won’t change J.B.’s effectiveness.”
Starting left tackle Mike Adams was scheduled to speak with reporters after being named Jim Parker offensive lineman of the week for the second time this season, but the junior was told to stay home because of something a team spokesperson called a stomach ailment.
“He was supposed to be here with all of you today, but he got a little case of the sniffles or whatever,” Tressel said.
Tressel did not seem to think the junior's status for Saturday was in jeopardy, and he said quarterback Terrelle Pryor will be able to go full speed this week after avoiding running against the Hoosiers.
In regards to being ranked No. 1 this week, Tressel said he did not expect that to add to the intensity of the game because that is already high every time the Buckeyes take on the Badgers.
“Well, they were going to be ready if we were 15th,” he said. “I don’t know that that will change their readiness. What’s most critical is our readiness - our preparation and then how we handle the adversity. How we handle the situation there.
“I’m not sure that anything in terms of the rankings is going to change anything.”