With the preseason work nearly finished, Jim Tressel said Tuesday his team is anxious to hit someone else this Saturday when Navy pays a visit to Ohio Stadium (Noon, ESPN). That much is true at the start of every regular season, but this time around the Ohio State head coach noted some differences when he met with local reporters for the first time this season at the Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus.
“There's a whole bunch of excitement, I think, and you folks can feel it as well as we can, energy and electricity about the United States Naval Academy coming here,” he said. “Everyone knows about their successes... They’ve been very, very successful and they have good consistency going on, which I think consistency is the key to any operation.”
Adding to the difference in lead up to a unique contest is the fact the Midshipmen will bring with them an unusual offense, the triple option.
On top of that, a large group of freshmen and redshirt freshmen figure to get their first live minutes on the Ohio Stadium turf.
“Our guys are keenly aware as you study the film, it's very unique for our defense and it's an opening game, so you can see as we move each day closer, the younger guys, you can tell they get even more looks in their eyes like 'here it comes,' and they're excited to get out there for the first time.”
Not every Buckeye will be in action this weekend, however.
Tressel declared several players out “for one reason or the other, perhaps doghouse reasons or injury reasons or whatever.”
Along with Tyler Moeller, a junior linebacker previously declared out for the season as he recovers from surgery and an alleged assault in July, offensive lineman Mike Adams, defensive lineman Melvin Fellows, safety Orhian Johnson and tailback Jermil Martin will all miss the season opener.
Earlier in the day, Tressel told reporters on the Big Ten coaches teleconference Fellows could face surgery for an undisclosed injury, but he did not identify what would keep out any of the other players.
Johnson and Martin, both redshirt freshmen, are believed to be injured, while the status of Adams, a sophomore, is less clear.
Tressel was asked if Adams has been suspended but declined to go into specifics, saying only, “He won’t be with us this week. I can’t really talk much more about it.”
The coach said Adams’ availability for the Sept. 12 home game against USC had not been determined yet.
Otherwise, he declared his team “pretty healthy,” indicating that other players who had missed time during camp, including likely starters offensive lineman Justin Boren, defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and linebacker Austin Spitler, were back to full speed during a full-pads practice Monday.
In other personnel matters, he identified a slew of true freshmen who would probably play: cornerback C.J. Barnett, linebackers Dorian Bell and Storm Klein, defensive lineman Johnny Simon, offensive lineman Corey Linsley, tight end Reid Fragel, receiver Duron Carter, running backs Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry as well as fullbacks Justin Boren and Adam Homan.
He also identified safety Jamie Wood, linebacker Jordan Whiting, defensive back Corey Brown, linebacker/defensive lineman Jonathan Newsome and offensive linemen Marcus Hall and Jack Mewhort as “on the bubble”.
With Navy coming to town, Tressel said to expect “a neat atmosphere.”
“(Director of athletics) Gene Smith just told me this morning that there's been as much or more interest in Navy tickets as any game on our schedule and perhaps we may have a record crowd here on the fifth of September, which is an exciting thing, and flyovers planned, and it's a special weekend in all of college football. The American College Football Coaches Association and the NCAA has deemed this Sportsmanship Weekend and a big overlying theme about the good things and sportsmanship in the game of football. And football's the most visible game we have in the NCAA, so there are some special things going on in terms of that. And John Glenn coming in to dot the ‘i’ and the alumni band is back and all those things, so it's exciting.”
Tressel also was asked about the controversy going on at Michigan, where the university is investigating a newspaper report that second-year head coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff has flouted NCAA rules regarding limits on practice time and supervised offseason workouts.
Tressel said he has never heard complaints that he was working a team too hard but that in his previous experiences with taking over a program from a previous regime, as Rodriguez did in 2008, the message that often comes from the players is that more discipline and hard work than existed before is necessary.
“What makes it difficult is how good these kids want to be,” Tressel said. “Sometimes you have to chain the doors of the Woody Hayes (Athletic) Center, you know, to get them out of there. You have to act like you're cleaning the floor of the weight room or something because these kids want to be good. They want to train. They want to get their buddies in there and throw the ball around, those kinds of things.”