As Ohio State prepared to take the field for an open night practice, head coach Jim Tressel met with reporters to address the state of the team. Here are highlights of what the head coach said from the home locker room at Ohio Stadium.
Injuries Tressel gave his most comprehensive injury update of the spring and said that the host of injured Buckeyes are expected to all be ready to go when the season starts Sept. 5 against Navy.
“Right now, knock on wood, I don’t think we have anyone that you’re sitting there saying, ‘Gosh, I don’t think we’re going to have them this fall.”
That includes offensive lineman Justin Boren, who suffered a sprained MCL during practice. Tressel said he expects him back in action as soon as this week. The Buckeyes have six or seven practices left, and Tressel said Boren will stay out of some group work to make sure he is not re-injured.
“I’d like to see him get a good number of them,” Tressel said. “I’d like to think that by the middle of the week he’ll be rolling.”
The same prognosis goes for linebacker Austin Spitler.
Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward suffered a nasty-looking ankle injury during the team’s jersey scrimmage Saturday, but Tressel said he will soon be back to health.
“Cameron won’t work tonight but he’s moving around pretty well,” he said. “He’ll not be suited up but he’ll probably be in a boot, which they make those guys with the ankles wear for a couple days. For the most part, most of the other guys will at least be out there in uniform.”
Cornerback Travis Howard rolled an ankle and is supposed to be back soon, Tressel said. The road will be tougher for Lawrence Wilson, who has suffered back-to-back season-ending surgeries coming into this season.
“I think he’s getting a little bit of pressure,” Tressel said. “Sometimes the training when you’re coming off the major surgeries causes as much (pressure).”
Tressel said freshman Melvin Fellows has been held back by an off-season surgery and added that he is now behind his fellow defensive linemen. He now appears likely to redshirt, as Tressel said he would question whether he would be ready for the opening game.
In addition, tight end Jacob Stoneburner was a player singled out by Tressel as a disappointment from an injury standpoint. A stress fracture in his shin knocked him out of fall camp last season and led to a redshirt, and now a hamstring injury is keeping him from practice.
Standouts Tressel said a few players have caught his eye this fall, particularly after the team’s jersey scrimmage.
Asked to name one player who has surprised him the most, Tressel pointed to fullback Zach Boren, who had missed spring practice due to injury after entering OSU as a linebacker.
“I thought Zach really did a good job of showing that he could step in and do that,” Tressel said. “I think he could be a real good contributor at fullback, and I wouldn’t have known that this summer.”
He also singled out junior wide receiver Taurian Washington and freshmen running back Jordan Hall, offensive lineman Corey Linsley and Duron Carter as players who caught his eye.
Positions The left tackle position remains up for grabs, although two players have apparently risen to the top of the battle. Heading into practice, Tressel said Andrew Miller and J.B. Shugarts were even with each other for the right to start at the position.
“They are both going to get pretty similar reps,” Tressel said. “I think there’s an ongoing battle going on.”
Tressel said senior Andrew Moses has played at both guard and center and showed that he can be in the two-deep. With Boren’s absence due to injury, Tressel said he has been happy with the reps being distributed to young players like Linsley.
Of the five spots on the line, Tressel said two players have been solid enough to nail down their spots and demonstrate leadership: center Michael Brewster and right guard Bryant Browning.
When Boren returns, Tressel said he feels the former Michigan Wolverine can add to that.
Concerning the running back position, Tressel said he feels he has more depth at that position than at any other point during his OSU tenure. Freshmen Jamaal Berry and Hall have looked solid, he said, although Berry has been limited to one practice a day after coming off a spring surgery.