When not fielding questions about a game that took place nearly eight years ago, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel told reporters at his weekly press luncheon he expects to field a healthy football team when No. 13 Miami (Fla.) pays a visit to Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
Defensive end Nathan Williams, who sat out the Buckeyes' 45-7 season-opening defeat of Marshall last week while still recovering from a knee injury, practiced Sunday and is expected to be ready to face the Hurricanes.
“He'll practice today,” Tressel said. “I think the thing that you have to be careful with is guys that miss some training camp and all of a sudden if you think they can go out there and play 50-some snaps, I think you're risking a little bit. So what we have to figure out in the course of this week is just how many snaps is he ready to go. He seems to be ready to go. He’s excited and he says he’s ready to go. And now we’ll see how it goes this afternoon and Wednesday and Thursday.”
Also back to 100 percent is Orhian Johnson, a safety who entered preseason as a perceived starter before giving way to fellow sophomore C.J. Barnett because of a leg injury that knocked him out of much of preseason camp. Barnett is still expected to start Saturday.
Tressel confirmed earlier rumors Etienne Sabino is aiming for a redshirt this season after losing a preseason training camp battle with fellow junior Andrew Sweat for the starting Sam linebacker spot.
The coach cited Sabino's youth as a reason for the move.
“Right now, day-by-day we’re kind of redshirting him, but redshirting is a day-by-day thing, so he's got no injury issues (and) nothing outside of football is a reason for him not playing," Tressel said. "So for this moment, he's redshirting and if everyone's healthy going into the ball game, we'll probably hold him from the ball game. He was 17 when he came here and we needed him (as a freshman in 2008) because we were just so thin at some things.”
Tressel also said the team will get back sophomore linebacker Storm Klein, a special teams contributor and defensive backup who missed the Marshall game with an unidentified injury.
As far as the Hurricanes go, Tressel said he expects a team with some familiar traits.
“Someone on the Big Ten call just asked me if I thought it'd be something unique that they might bring that maybe we don't normally see and, in my mind, the thing is they’re not unique. They're tough. They're fast. They don't do a million different things. The good teams usually don't. They play good, hard, fundamental football,” Tressel said.
He pointed out head coach Randy Shannon’s team is a veteran group with juniors and seniors throughout the depth chart.
“There are guys that are starting for their third year, so it's a very veteran team and they are who they are and they do it very, very well and they make you play toe to toe,” Tressel said. “So it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for our guys. Our guys are excited about it and we're looking forward to Saturday afternoon.”
As for the historical aspect, Tressel was not much interested in discussing the last time the Buckeyes faced the Hurricanes, a heart-stopping double-overtime Fiesta Bowl his team won 31-24 in January 2003.
“That was a long time ago. We felt like going into every game we played in 2002 all the way up to today that if we do what you're supposed to do, the things that it takes to win football games, we're going to win football games. The same will be true on Saturday.”