Tressel chimes in:
Talking offense, Tressel defensive
Ohio State coach takes the heat for struggling Buckeyes
By Marla Ridenour
Beacon Journal sports writer
COLUMBUS - Ohio State is 3-2, the same record it held at this point last season, and the heat is on in Columbus.
So what else is new?
But those expecting coach Jim Tressel to eventually become less involved in the offense will be sorely disappointed. In his fifth year, Tressel took a stance that sounded like the resolute Marty Schottenheimer in his final days in Cleveland.
Asked if he could ever see himself as an overseer instead of virtually the offensive coordinator, Tressel said, ``That's a discussion you have at times, but I'm not sure that that would interest me. Now, you know, we'll see, but I like being involved.''
Fans are in an uproar over Saturday night's 17-10 loss at Penn State that ended the No. 15 Buckeyes' chances for a national title. Radio analyst Jim Lachey suggested on Monday night's Buckeye Roundtable that fellow St. Henry High School product Todd Boeckman should start at quarterback in Saturday's home game against No. 16 Michigan State and Troy Smith should be moved to tailback. Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman is under fire, even though his input is perceived as little.
Tressel started his media day Tuesday fielding questions about the use of OSU's offensive personnel on the Big Ten Conference call. When he showed up at the team meeting room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, he took a condescending tone.
Asked about expectations for a high-powered offense, he told a newspaper reporter-turned-radio talk show host, ``I don't know the superlatives that you're using, you have to talk so much more now that you've been reading the dictionary... ''
When pointing out that the Buckeyes' seven takeaways are the second-fewest in the conference behind Illinois with six, he said, ``No one brings up that we lead the league in time of possession, you know, but we're last in whatever. Let me tell you what the important one is, if you have your pencils out. We're last in the league in turnover margin. Don't talk to me about the rest.''
Actually Illinois is last at minus-4 and OSU is tied for ninth with Indiana at minus-2 (seven takeaways, nine giveaways).
But Tressel didn't hesitate when asked if he was contemplating a change in quarterback against MSU, which ranks second in the nation in total offense and is averaging 45.4 points per game. (OSU is averaging 24.8.)
``No,'' he shot back.
Tressel went out of his way to defend Smith, who turned the ball over twice at Penn State on an interception that led to a touchdown and a fumble on OSU's final play.
``If you analyze his performance, you'd have to start making the list of the factors,'' Tressel said. ``One might be Penn State. One might be maybe what we didn't design properly for them or it wasn't the right thing. Maybe we didn't rep something enough. Maybe he allowed himself to be distracted. Maybe the protection... ''
His toughest criticism, in reference to the final sack and forced fumble by Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali, is that Smith needs to ``feel the rush.''
Even with perceived offensive firepower in receivers Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall, Tressel still sees the offense as merely a third of the total picture.
OSU's offense has never been ranked higher than eighth in the Big Ten under Tressel. The Buckeyes were 10th during the national championship season of 2002.
``We've found that if we can score 24 points and our defense can reach their goal of 14 points or less, we have a good chance to win,'' Tressel said. ``Our goal isn't to be knighted as prolific. I don't know that we've ever sought that, we just want to do our part to help the team win.''
Senior linebacker A.J. Hawk didn't seem too upset about the criticism going around town.
``It's like that in most places,'' Hawk said. ``In Columbus, it's magnified a little bit. But we want people to expect us to win. When we lose, obviously something is wrong.''
Tressel said the criticism he's taking hasn't been that unusual.
``The guy cleaning the locker room wasn't too nice to me on Sunday, but (it's been) no more or less than normal,'' he said. ``You hear plenty. Whoever invented the Internet, the e-mail, my poor deleted-items box is in trouble. But you guys get the same thing when you write an article, you get 54 opinions. That's life.''