Tuesday, October 4, 2011

TUESDAY ROUNDUP: FICKELL NOT WHINING, NOT MAKING EXCUSES

Luke Fickell
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Ohio State interim head coach Luke Fickell is taking a page out of the coaching philosophy of John Wooden.

"We probably went ahead with our three points of wisdom from John Wooden: 'Don't whine, don't complain and don't make excuses,' " Fickell said, quoting the legendary college basketball coach. "And I think that's what we've got to be able to do. And I think it starts from the top-down with all of us as coaches."

Ohio State, who is coming off an atrocious offensive performance for the second time in three weeks, is heading to Nebraska on Saturday as it faces the Cornhuskers for the first time since 1956. The Buckeyes offensive line gave up nine sacks to Michigan State last week as Ohio State fell 10-7.

Fickell suggested the struggles of the offense is connected to more aspects than just the offensive line, but rather a combination of issues that must be addressed.

"We've got to put ourselves in those situations that we can give ourselves a little more help," he said.

"It's a whole. You can't point a finger saying 'Well, it was the quarterback. Well, it was the offensive line. Well, it was the wideouts not getting open. Well, it was the call,' " Fickell said. "It's a combination of everything. But it still comes down to we've got to figure out what it is we do well and continue to do those things and find out how to do it better."

This would certainly be a fitting time to find out what it is the offense can do. Even though the 14th-ranked Cornhuskers fell to Wisconsin in their Big 10 debut, Nebraska possess plenty of offensive firepower. The Cornhuskers are averaging 37.7 points per game behind multi-talented quarterback Taylor Martinez.

Martinez, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound sophomore, has passed for 823 yards and ran for 482 while scoring a total of 12 touchdowns through Nebraska's first five games. Fickell said Martinez is going to provide a lot of challenges for an Ohio State defense ranked 13th nationally.

"It starts up front for (Nebraska)," he said. "They do a very good job and, obviously, (Martinez) can run. I'm not sure there's anybody on their team who's faster than he is."

ADAMS SET TO START ... Senior Mike Adams is listed as the starter at left tackle this week, while Andrew Norwell moves to left guard and Jack Mewhort shifts to right guard. Getting Adams, who was a 2010 All-Big Ten selection at tackle, back from his five-game suspension should inject some attitude into an experienced offensive line that looked putrid in the loss to Michigan State.

"One thing that Mike will bring to us too is some confidence," Fickell said. "He's a guy that is a good leader. He's a guy that plays with that confidence level. As he gets back into the mix, he'll do nothing but help us up front. Obviously, he's a very good football player ... Those guys have all seen him battle, fight and how he's handled this whole situation and I think it will be a boost for us."

Fickell said he wants his seniors on the line to take more responsibility in how the front-five protect.

"We know we've got to do a better job," Fickell said. "The only reason I say that we know we've got to a greater job upfront is because those are the guys we've got to count on. Those are the seniors. Those are the guys that have got to take a little more weight on their shoulders."

ON THE INJURY FRONT ... Three injuries specifically mentioned by Fickell were those of receivers Verlon Reed and Corey "Philly" Brown and defensive end Nathan Williams. Reed suffered a torn anterior crutical ligament in his right knee against Michigan State and is out for the season. Fickell said he's hopeful Brown will be able to suit up for this Saturdays contest at Nebraska.

"We'll see how (Brown) runs around out there today," Fickell said. "Hopefully, he'll be alright. That's what we were expecting is a Nebraska return. We don't know for sure on that."

Williams, who is still recovering from knee surgery, is considered doubtful.

"Things can change in the next two days, but (Williams) doesn't look good and Philly will hopefully be alright," Fickell said.