Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ARKANSAS FANS E-MAILS FIRING UP BUCKEYES; CHRISTIAN BRYANT BACK

Brian Rolle (The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
COLUMBUS — Apparently some Arkansas fans have been sending Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel some discouraging e-mails and letters about the prospects of his Buckeyes winning against a squad from the Southeastern Conference.

The No. 6 Buckeyes (11-1) — who will face No. 8 Arkansas (10-2) next month in the Sugar Bowl — are 0-9 all-time against the SEC in bowl games.

Basically the emails eluded to Ohio State's lack of success against the SEC, and even went on further labeling Ohio State as an overrated team with inferior talent.

Well, if the Razorbacks/SEC fans were wanting to provide the Buckeyes with a little bulletin board material, then well done ... mission accomplished!

"That's the biggest reason," Ohio State senior linebacker Brian Rolle said, when asked if the lack of respect for the Buckeyes was a reason to be motivated. "People downplay us, we haven't played too good against SEC teams. Some guy actually sent something in the mail about, you know, Ohio State being so bad and whatever.

"That motivates me as a captain, as a senior and a starter here. I'm going let guys know that this outing is going to be a lot different than the past."

Ohio State senior wide receiver and team most valuable player, Dane Sanzenbacher, agreed with Rolle's sentiments and stated that the Buckeyes will get their chance to respond on January 4 in New Orleans.

"It's all bulletin board material," Sanzenbacher said about the emails. "But we know when it all comes down to it, we'll get our shot to prove them wrong."

Sanzenbacher said that no matter whom the Buckeyes play, it's all about winning the game.

"I don't know if it's something that — as a group — really changed our mindset," Sanzenbacher said. "We already know what the perception is and we know regardless, whether it's an SEC team, a Big 10 team, a Big 12 team, our goal is to win this bowl game. So we really can't worry what's being said before it."

Rolle said he'll be taking a different approach.

"It was something a lot of guys may have shrugged off, but me, I took it personally," Rolle said of the e-mails. "Having been here in 2007 and not faring so well against LSU, I'm taking it to heart. I'm going to play with a chip on my shoulder."

Asked whether he kept the e-mail addresses on file to reply to after the game, Rolle just chuckled ...

"No," Rolle laughed. "We don't do too much responding to what people say (in e-mails), because people that talk about it are — the majority of the time — ones that can't do it. So that's why they talk about it."

BRYANT SHOULD BE GOOD TO GO ... Ohio State freshman defensive back Christian Bryant, who has missed six games with a foot infection, is back at practice and should be able to play against Arkansas and its high-powered offense in the Sugar Bowl.

"He is back practicing a hundred percent," Tressel said of Bryant. "He was scrimmaging. He's back. Back a little quicker than I thought he might have been."

The original thought was that Bryant would be shelved for the rest of the season.

"Christian, man, he's just so excited to get back on that field," OSU senior linebacker Ross Homan said. "He had kind of a freak accident with his foot, but he's out there flying around. He just can't wait to get on the field again."

The true freshman from Cleveland made a mark early in the season as a nickelback — especially after Tyler Moeller was lost for the season — recording 10 tackles in six games this season.