Tuesday, October 6, 2009

BUCKEYES BATTLING THE FLU; TRESSEL TALKS RUNNING BACKS

Mike Adams photo by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

COLUMBUS — The flu bug has bitten the Buckeyes.

During Jim Tressel's weekly press luncheon Tuesday in Columbus, the Ohio State coach stated that quite a few of his players are battling the illness and may not be available for Saturday's showdown with unbeaten Wisconsin.

Tressel didn't have a full report on all of the players who are affected, but he did mention a few, including both of his left tackles, Mike Adams and Andy Miller.

"(Michael) Brewster was out for two days last week. Adams, I think, has got the flu," Tressel said. "Miller's out. I don't have a report with me, but there are at least five or six names."

If Adams can't go Saturday, look for sophomore J.B. Shugarts to move to the left tackle spot and true freshman, Marcus Hall, to get the call on the right side.

Many teams across the country — most notably Florida and Wisconsin — have been hammered hard by the flu this season, and Tressel stated that in order for his guys to keep this problem from turning into an epidemic, his players must continue to use preventative measures, like the "elbow bump" — alternative to shaking hands — that he introduced a few weeks back.

"I don't think it's under control," Tressel said of the flu. "Because the problem is it's not under control with the general population. You're sitting in a lecture hall and the class before someone (may have been infected).

"So, you try to get your rest and try to take care of yourself and wash your hands as much as you can. They didn't take my elbow bump thing, I mean, they must have been shaking hands."

RUNNING BACKS A PLENTY — After being sidelined last week due to a sprained ankle, Dan "Boom" Herron should be good to go this week against the Badgers.

However, the player who filled in for Herron last week in his absence, — junior Brandon Saine — performed at a star-level, running for a career-high 113 yards on 17 carries (6.6 avg.) in the 33-14 win at Indiana. Saine is averaging 2.4 yards more a carry than Herron has this season, forcing the question — will Herron get his starting job back?

Tressel gave his best Eric Mangini impersonation when answering.

"Saine/Herron, however you want to call it," Tressel said. "Herron/Saine, doesn't matter."

Another tailback that has been out due to injury, true freshman Jaamal Berry, seems to be ready for action after missing the first five games of the season. In fact, Tressel said that Berry could've been called upon in last week's game against the Hoosiers.

However, with Saine, Herron and another true freshman, Jordan Hall, all healthy and playing well, there doesn't appear to be much of a spot in the backfield for the highly touted runner out of Miami.

But don't expect a red-shirt for Berry, just yet.

"(Berry) was probably at 90, 95 percent and we took him, and had we gotten banged a little bit at tailback in the course of the game, he was probably the next guy to go in the game," Tressel said. "He got (Monday) off, so I'm hoping that he's above 95 percent today.

"As far as our thinking with him from a red-shirting and all that standpoint, we try not to think about that a whole bunch with tailbacks because you can be thinking for a moment that you're just fine and two turned ankles later, you're not so fine, so we want (Berry) preparing as if he's got to be ready to play."

LARIMORE OUT — Junior defensive tackle, Dexter Larimore will not play this week against Wisconsin, after suffering a knee injury last Saturday night at Indiana.

Tressel did say, though, that it was "a little bit of a sprain" and that he will not need surgery.

Senior Todd Denlinger will fill-in for Larimore while he is out. Denlinger has recorded two sacks and an interception this season for the Buckeyes.