Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BUCKEYES READY TO BOUNCE BACK

(The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
COLUMBUS — Although the Ohio State Buckeyes fell flat in a losing effort to No. 13 Wisconsin, Head Coach Jim Tressel believes his players have a great opportunity to learn from their mistakes with the Purdue Boilermakers coming to Columbus this week.

"I think, as we've always talked about leadership and maturity that it's not really tested until those adverse moments," Tressel said. "So I think you'll see a good demonstration of our level of maturity and leadership and so forth and I have confidence we have the right kind of people."
With Ohio State's 12-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Badgers, the No. 10 Buckeyes, who haven't experienced back-to-back losses since 2004, now host a Purdue team that pulled its very own upset over OSU a season ago. Tressel said that even with his team coming off a difficult loss, everyone's attention is now focused on the Boilermakers.

Purdue (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) has certainly dealt with issues of its own through the first two months of the season. The Boilermakers have lost starting quarterback Robert Marve, tailback Ralph Bolden and No. 1 receiver Keith Smith to season-ending knee injuries. But, instead of calling the season a wash, Purdue is tied for first atop the Big Ten conference.

"To their credit, (Purdue) just rolled up their sleeves and have gotten better and better and better," Tressel said.

With the injuries to Purdue's offensive skill players, the Boilermakers have relied heavily on redshirt freshman quarterback Rob Henry. Henry has proven his dual-threat capabilities with 443 passing yards,  356 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

"The (Purdue) staff, I think, is doing a great job with that young quarterback," Tressel said. "He's a very, very good runner and a very good passer. I think they're doing the things that conceptually he understands and keep adding a little bit as he goes, and in terms of our situation, Purdue doesn't really care about our adversities. They've dealt with their own. They just care about getting better."

The Buckeyes will have to deal with a few of their own injuries this week, as well, mainly with linebacker Ross Homan. Homan injured his foot against Wisconsin and Tressel said the senior will likely be out for a couple of weeks. True freshman defensive back Christian Bryant is also expected to miss Saturday's contest due to an undisclosed infection.

Tressel said he doesn't have an answer for who will replace Bryant in the defensive backfield.

"I do know this, if we were playing Purdue of yesteryear, you would have had a nickel guy in the game every snap," he said. "Now, they do a lot of different things. So you're going to have your base people in the game a decent amount, but you're going to have your nickel situations as well. Without having sat in the defensive room and talked about it with them, you have a couple different ways you can go."

Tressel mentioned that safety Jermale Hines and defensive back Nate Oliver could see some looks at nickelback.

(TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
With the Boilermakers in town, quarterback Terrelle Pryor has an opportunity to wash away any memories of last season's debacle in West Lafayette. In the 26-18 loss, Pryor turned the ball over a career-high four times in his ugliest start as a Buckeye. The junior has been exceptional at taking care of the ball this season throwing 15 touchdowns to only four interceptions.

Tressel said he sees a much more refined quarterback now than the one that was seen a year ago.

"(Pryor) has methodically been moving along and with every new adventure comes a new amount of information you gain and experience you gain and he's a competitive guy now."

Tressel said the reality of where Ohio State is as a football program will always bring out the best in its opponents.

"They're going to play better than they ever have. We told our guys countless times that there are 10 teams that want one thing for sure and that's for Ohio State not to be the Big Ten champions, and that's real."