As Jim Tressel met with the Columbus media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Ohio State football team’s bowl prep for the Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl vs. No. 8 Arkansas, it was clear not much had been done.
Blame finals and recruiting. With the football team members working on exams until last Thursday and the coaches in and out of the office while making visits to high schools around the country, simply not much could be done.
However, that work will start to heat up this week as the sixth-ranked Buckeyes will practice up until Dec. 21 before splitting for Christmas break.
“Starting tomorrow, we're going to write the practice schedules for the time through the 21st,” Tressel said. “I'm guessing we'll move a little bit more into the game-planning mode than we have been in these first four (practices) I guess we've had. These have really been fundamental practices and we've maybe spent 10 minutes each day in any type of game-play mode.
“We'll probably move into that maybe as early as Thursday, maybe Friday at the latest. And then when we get done the 21st, we'll want to have a good bit of our thinking or game planning done, and then when we come back after Christmas and spend two practices here, we'll want those really to be rehearsal, game-plan, get-the-holidays-out-of-us-type practices, so when we hit the bowl site, we can just really just try to fine tune.”
With finals over, the Buckeyes also are free of academic responsibilities, giving them more time to spend as part of the football family. Tressel pointed out the team is also doing work outside of the football realm, such as a trip tomorrow to volunteer at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
“We like to add some things to it with our kids going out to hospitals and the food bank we're going to tomorrow and doing some different things,” he said. “We've had the military in every day, various military folks. And today, this morning before practice, we did shout-outs to send overseas for the holidays, so you just try to fix everything in there.”
When in practice, Ohio State has the use of freshman defensive back Christian Bryant, who is back at full-go after missing the last five games with a foot infection.
“He was back there practicing 100 percent,” Tressel said. “He was scrimmaging. He's back a little quicker than I thought he might have been. So his Twitter might have been right that I missed.”
That was the only major injury update, though Tressel said that quarterback Terrelle Pryor recently told him that he’s back doing upper-body weightlifting exercises for the first time since November. Pryor suffered a dinged-up shoulder late in the season that affected him in wins vs. Iowa and Michigan.
Pryor’s name was also up for discussion when Tressel was asked which of his juniors have submitted paperwork to find out where they might be chosen in the upcoming NFL draft should they go pro.
Though Tressel said he’s sent in paperwork for four juniors and had the form for a fifth on his desk, he would not say whether Pryor was one of the five.
“I just don't feel like it,” Tressel reasoned. “I don't know. I can't bring myself to, how's that?”
Tressel also was asked about Pryor’s reaction to not being chosen as an All-Big Ten quarterback, saying his junior was deserving along with Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien.
“The two guys I thought that deserved recognition in Big Ten at quarterback were Tolzien and Pryor,” he said. “You can't leave (Michigan State’s Kirk) Cousins too far behind.”
In other quarterback news, Tressel noted that the job of playing record-setting Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett in practices has fallen to backups Taylor Graham and Kenny Guiton.