October 9, 2008

Buckeyes shifting things around

Halfway through the season the buckeyes have been plagued by the injury bug as much as anyone. No injury might be larger than the toe of Chris Wells in the first game of the season but even with Beanie back in business there are still other positions that are seeing some jockeying around to get healthy bodies in to replace wounded players.

Dan Herron went down during the first half of the Wisconsin game and will not return to the lineup this week after suffering a possible concussion. That will mean the light has to shine brighter on Ohio State's other running backs with Beanie still not able to carry all of the load with a bad toe.

"Both Maurice Wells and Brandon Saine have to really step up this week," Tressel said. "Chris Wells I think is getting healthier and I thought that was the healthiest he looked (on) Saturday night. (Wells) had a little bout with the flu this week so hopefully maybe that day's rest because of the flu helps the foot even more. But with Beanie we are hoping that now we are back in the shape where he is a 20-plus carry guy that would be a goal. But Mo and Brandon, particularly this week, need to be ready to go."

Herron's absence will also mean a little bit of a different rotation on kickoff returns.

"We have three guys that we are going to rotate back there," Tressel said. "Brandon Saine, Mo Wells and Laamar Thomas."

Thomas and fellow freshman receiver DeVier Posey have shed the redshirt and have been making great progress through the season, even with limited playing time.

"I think they are both coming along, I really do," Tressel said. "With Dane Sanzenbacher banged up and Ray Small being questionable, he tweaked his knee a little bit and we will find out (Thursday) if we get limited snaps from Ray, then those guys are significantly… they are going to get a lot more opportunity."

Posey has been on the field more than Flash Thomas at this point but the staff feels that the speedster is starting to put it all together.

"He has been very steady… learning, learning, learning. (He is) very attentive and I think he is coming along." Tressel said.

The offensive line has been in a bit of a state of flux after injury forced Jim Bollman to shake things up. Now with the line being back to full strength the Bucks are looking to find the best parts to put into the game.

"We would like Steve Rehring, Bryant Browning and Ben Personto kind of hold up that rght side," Tressel said. "Between the three of them just keep working to see what's our best combination and maybe our best combination is all three of them."

With all the moves true freshman Michael Brewster has held down the center spot and seen former starter Jim Cordle move to left guard.

"Michael Brewster keeps rolling along at center and getting better and better," Tressel said. "Jim Cordle I think is improving as he goes. Alex Boone at left tackle and Mike Adams is backing him up over there, has a ways to go but it has been a good experience for him there. Kyle Mitchum has been the guy that has gotten the most snaps over there on the left guard side. I think we have a plan and now we have to execute."

Did Tressel ever think he would have a first year player handling the center responsibilities?

"You probably wouldn't have thought maybe that a true freshman was going to be the guy for that spot because of all that it entails," Tressel said. "But he has done a pretty solid job."

Freshman fullback Jermil Martin almost took his redshirt off to the chagrin of the coaches during the Wisconsin game. Martin ran onto the field and immediately ran off almost as quickly. Just how close was he to burning that redshirt?

"Well he almost burned it (laugh)," Tressel joked. "We needed to have him there in case we had a fullback problem because Brandon Smith being a tight end band aid for the moment with Rory Nicol out. Then when you are on the road you only have so much for your back-up special teams so he was on a back-up special team."

Tressel knows that his freshman fullback desperately wants to play but just wasn't ready for him to be out there and start his eligibility clock.

"I don't know the whole story of how he got out there but they went storming out there and I almost burned a timeout to get him off the field," Tressel said. "He is a kid that loves to play and he will do anything that the team needs. Who knows, he may have gone up to Andrew Sweat and said, 'Hey, let me take this one'."

A couple of players are close to making a return but doubtful to answer the call.

"Austin Spitler probably won't make it and hopefully will be back next week," Tressel said. "Nicol will dress and has been practicing but has just not been ready to take on a 290-pound defensive end quite yet. Sanzenbacher and Herron will be out."


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