Jim Tressel’s final meeting of the week with the media yielded a few immediate certainties but left several questions for future such gatherings.
Without a doubt, when No. 13 Ohio State faces Troy at Ohio Stadium Saturday, at least two starters will be different from opening day.
Star tailback Chris Wells will not play as he continues to recover from a right foot injury and left guard Steve Rehring is out with a sprained foot.
“I thought Beanie’s practice yesterday was much better than the one he had after he (practiced hard) last week,” Tressel said, referring to Wells by his nickname. “He felt better. He won’t get much work today because today is a game-plan day and he won’t be the one in the game, but I think he’s making progress.”
Tressel was unwilling to put a time frame on Wells’ return.
“I can’t promise exactly when he would be back, but I felt a little bit better after yesterday than I felt at the end of last week,” Tressel said.
Whether or not the starting quarterback will be opening day choice Todd Boeckman or fast-rising freshman Terrelle Pryor remains to be seen. Tressel said that would be determined after the coaching staff evaluated Thursday’s practice.
He estimated that Pryor has gotten about 60 percent of the repetitions in practice this week, which is close to the number the coach predicted on Tuesday.
He still expects them to share reps in the game Saturday.
“As we go into today’s practice, I think we’re still in the thought process that it will be about equal,” Tressel said. “As long as today goes as the last two days have gone, which is I think pretty good. Both of them have done well.”
Just as he was not willing to offer a guess about when Wells would return to health, Tressel refused to say how long he thinks the quarterback competition will go on. The battle between Pryor and Boeckman has an indefinite length but will eventually have a decisive conclusion.
“That’s as hard to predict as, ‘When will Beanie be back?’ ” Tressel said. “When it’s functional (to pick one over the other), we’ll do that.”
The decision will come down to the same things they always do when Tressel picks a quarterback.
“Our expectations above all others are these: Make big plays. Make great decisions. Don’t turn the ball over. That’s how you’ll be evaluated above all other things,” Tressel said. “Now, we’re going to evaluate your footwork. We’re going to evaluate your how you carry out your fakes. We’re going to evaluate every little things but not like what we call the big three.”
Rehring is out for more than just this week, although Tressel was not specific on how long that might be.
The replacement for Rehring has not been decided upon, either, but there are at least three options.
This week Ohio State has tried simply inserting Andy Miller in Rehring’s spot with Alex Boone at left tackle, Jim Cordle at center, Ben Person at right guard and Bryant Browning at right tackle. Another lineup has Browning at left guard with J.B. Shugarts at right tackle and yet a third potential move would involve Cordle sliding to guard with Michael Brewster taking his spot at center.
Shugarts and Brewster are both true freshmen who were five-star recruits in high school.
Dan "Boom" Herron started in place of Wells last week and ran 11 times for 51 yards.
In additional injury news, defensive tackle Todd Denlinger is expected to play his usual allotment of minutes while reserve safety/linebacker Tyler Moeller is out.