Presser Notes: Illinois Week

By Chris Lauderback on November 12, 2008 at 7:00a
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JT Money flows like GZA (via Tressel's World)

In yesterday's presser, Coach Tressel didn't spend any time reflecting on the pasting of Northwestern in his opening statement instead jumping right into Saturday's tilt in Champaign while touching on a Veteran's Day field trip to the Statehouse.

You know, we spend so much time focusing only on W's, L's, X's and O's, it's easy to overlook the things Tressel does to positively impact his players and expose them to real life outside of the program.

When asked about the field trip, Tressel expanded on why they went to the Statehouse and on the program's relationship/connection with family and members of Lima Company, a Columbus based part of the Third Battalion, 25th Marines, Fourth Marine Division:

We went down to the Statehouse, and being Veteran's Day, today was the last day that that display was up in the rotunda of the Lima Company, and it just so happened that we didn't plan it or know it, but the artist who did all the portraits was there because it was the last day and they were packing it up and moving it to the next city and it was really special for our guys because a lot of the Lima Company have come through here over the last few years and some of their families of the lost have come into practice, so we've had a little connection with that over the years. Remember A.J. Hawk carried their flag on senior day and carried it with him in the Michigan game, carried it with him in the bowl game. So we have a connection with that, so we thought it was -- since we didn't have school today that we'd go to the Statehouse and it was neat. The artist was there. There was one of the Company there that, again, we didn't plan that and it was pretty neat for our guys.
Good stuff, right there...

Of course, Tressel's efforts to teach his players about what real life is truly about in an effort to mold them into upstanding citizens doesn't always pan out as evidenced by the laundry list of felony charges facing former crazed lineman, T.J. Downing. As Tressel notes, transitioning to real life can be a hard chore after years in the Buckeye limelight:

Those things hurt, you know, and I haven't had a chance to talk with him and I don't know, I'm not judge and jury, I don't know what allegedly is the case or not the case, but anytime you hear of something as disappointing, even if it's alleged, that puts a knot in your stomach and it just reminds you that it's a difficult transition. Look at all these cameras and all this stuff and then two years later, there aren't all this cameras and all this stuff and that's not an easy transition and it's just a reminder that we've got to keep working hard to -- I don't want to get on the pulpit, but there's a bigger difference between what you do and who you are. Sometimes, I hate to say it, because of all this and because of aunts and uncles and everyone else telling us we're out of this world, we start thinking that what we do is what gives us our value and we've just got to keep working on helping ourselves understand that it's who we are that really is important, but it hurts. I guess a shorter answer to a tough question, it hurts.
For all the double-talk usually coming from Tressel, particularly in his presser's, you gotta love the comment "there's a bigger difference between what you do and who you are."

Okay, with all the serious and non-football stuff covered, Tressel talked about Illinois, particularly the dymanic duo of Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn:

Juice Williams is coming along such that when I thought early in the year when I first saw him again that he was throwing the ball with a lot more velocity, a lot more assurance. He's had a couple balls bounce off hands into the other folks and those things that happen when you throw it a little bit more. But obviously he runs the ball extremely well and you better keep it away from Number 9 because if you let Number 9 have it, whether it's in the pass game, the run game, don't punt to him, don't kick off to him, because he can make it happen, so we've got a great challenge ahead of us in terms of when they're trying to move the football.
After watching Illy run out the clock last year with The Drive That Grayed My Hair, solving Juice is clearly the key Saturday.

Tressel downplayed any revenge factor after the Illini punched OSU in the mouth then flicked their sack by dancing on the O, but you gotta think the players haven't forgotten:

I haven't heard it brought up. I remember being out in the middle of the field. My take on it was that they were excited that that was a heck of a win against a good team because I thought we were a good team. I didn't take it as if it was any demonstration of -- now, the league did, obviously, because the league looked at it and said that neither team, in their opinion, handled the post game as well as it could be handled, but it was in and out and we were on to the next game. It wasn't talked about for even 24 hours here.
Considering the Buckeyes haven't lost a conference road game in nearly three and a half years, I hope they brought their dancin' shoes. I'm not a fan of showing a lack of class, but I'll be glad to excuse it against Zook.

One last thing slighty related to Illinois. When asked about the Big Ten Network's running documentary on the Illini program and whether or not he'd ever approve that at Ohio State, the answer you knew was coming, well, came:

Anything that could distract what we're trying to do, I don't think helps. So most of the time I try to keep things we do toward how can it help us and I don't know as I analyze, maybe longterm something like that could help us because more exposure and all that, but I think about what's going on here now and what's the best thing for us today so I probably wouldn't, but I'm old-fashioned, everyone knows that.
That's probably for the best. I don't think most of could handle watching locker room shots of Rehring and Bollman partaking in a gravy chugging contest with Saine repeatedly, unwittingly, walking directly into various defensive players milling about in the background.

Back to serious topics, Tressel had some nice things to say about Pryor after his strong showing in windy Evanston. As we noted in the recaps, Pryor threw the ball with more confidence and velocity which Tressel largely attributed to improved footwork:

Well, his feet were much improved, which that was our goal, and if your feet are with you, it doesn't matter what sport it is, if your feet are right, you have a chance to do the best you can do and I thought his feet were much better. Now, when you have good protection, it's a lot easier to have good feet. The one that he threw early to Brian Hartline down the field, great job by Mike Brewster coming back and cutting that guy after he delivered to the right guard, another guy, but that guy was tumbling through the air and landing at Terrelle's feet and Terrelle's feet were still good, which I thought was a great sign because some people, when bodies are flying, all of a sudden their feet start getting nervous and so I think his feet was the biggest thing.
I think all of us are interested in seeing two of the most dynamic QB's in the conference (I know, big whoop) square off.

On the injury front, a flurry of updates were given:

REPORTER: Do you have an injury update, Denlinger, Hines? COACH TRESSEL: Denlinger worked today. Jermale didn't work much today, but you never know couple days after. I'll be more worried if he doesn't work tomorrow. Mo Wells didn't work today. I'm trying to think who else. REPORTER: Gibson? COACH TRESSEL: Thaddeus worked a lot more today than he did last Tuesday, yeah, that was good to see. REPORTER: Ben Person? COACH TRESSEL: Ben Person, we think, can get back for the bowl game, which a week or so ago, we weren't sure, but he seems to be doing better than some thought he might. REPORTER: Did he have his surgical procedure? COACH TRESSEL: Yeah, he did.

As expected, Tressel noted OSU will be without the services of Ray Small but other than that, he would only say Small has a chance to work himself back in. After last week's media smack down, the reporters opted not to ask any other questions on the topic.

Real quick before I finish up, I liked Tressel's explanation as to why OSU likes to take the ball if they win the toss:

We didn't start doing that until last year and that was because kicking from the 30, we thought that you have a chance even with an average return to be out to the 25. When the ball was being kicked from the 35 and so many balls were going as touchbacks, we didn't necessarily think that that's an advantage starting on the 20, so we thought, well, let's begin the game with some field position. We've won the toss a lot this year. It's amazing.
Makes sense to me. Of course, it would make more sense if guys like Flash were in there all season instead of watching Saine seek tacklers or Rasta chest bump kickoffs out of bounds.

Anyway, that's the big chunks except a subtle yet funny exchange in which Tressel appears to not understand the word "ostensibly " as used in reporter's question, only to then use the term in his responses throughout the rest of the presser. You know he was telling Ellen about it later. I love it.

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