Presser Notes: Wisconsin Week

By Chris Lauderback on October 1, 2008 at 7:00 am
DJ Tressel gettin' loose (via the late Tressel's World)

Without question, the highlight of yesterday's presser was the revelation that one Terrelle Pryor was nominated for the Jack Tatum hit of the week award thanks to his pasting of gum-running Minnesota LB Rex Sharpe.

Etienne Sabino won the award, which was a no brainer after he knocked out a Minnesota defender on kick coverage. Sabino also picked up Special Teams player of the week honors. Well deserved. Dude brings the wood.

When asked how he felt about TP dishing out the pain and if he was worried about defenders targeting him after such a blow, Tressel broke it down:

That's good, I'd rather have him be there than on their Tatum list. He likes to play football. I'm sure they're going to be looking for him reprisal or not, but he likes to play the game.

More on Pryor..When asked about TP's recent response addressing Mark May's comments about whether or not the freshman could handle the big stage, Tressel again backed his QB and his veteran-like demeanor:

I know this much about Terrelle and maybe some of our guys that don't get a chance to be interviewed as much, they're anxious to compete, and Terrelle's the kind of guy that, someone asked me on the Big Ten call, do you like that maybe he's a calm guy out there and that's all I've seen. Whether it was the first scrimmage, he was calm. He lined up against the first defense, he was calm. First game, Ohio Stadium, he was calm. Now, maybe inside he was dying, who knows, but outwardly and performance-wise, he was calm. I thought at the Coliseum, he had command. Has he been perfect? No. Has he executed everything exactly right? Absolutely not. Every experience is going to be a valuable one for him and this is up another notch.
Can it be any more clear that Tressel is amazed at the kid's moxie? Or that there's no question as to which QB on the roster should be leading this team?

Moving to the status of the offensive line, Tress shared some info on whether or not Rehring will be back this week and confirmed Brewster should be the starting center Saturday but stopped short of naming him as the long term solution:

We were told this morning in the medical report that we thought that Steve could probably go this week, that we should be a little bit careful about the volume and practice today, especially until we see just how good -- you know, today's really the hardest workday of the week, so what I envision is getting a little help from Steve exactly where and what, I think, is going to be determined how he looks. Steve is a guy that has the ability to play both guard and tackle. (On Brewster) There's nothing from here on out, we've been through that, but today's practice, he'll be working with the first group.
That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of Brewster, which I can understand after last week but Tress obviously sees the potential in Brewster or he'd likely move Cordle back and plug in Rehring at guard. Personally, I'm just glad to hear him at least pretend he's evaluating those linemen week to week. Expect Rehring to see limited action this week.

It sounds as Beanie suffered no ill effects from the Minny game and was refreshing to hear Tress speak mostly of Beanie the running back instead of Beanie the patient:

Beanie has great vision. When his shoulders are square to the line of scrimmage, his ability to cut laterally for a man his size is, I think, outstanding, and then he's hard to tackle. A lot of times, you can ask Anderson that, I'm sure Anderson is, in scrimmages or whatever, all of a sudden he sees this hole and here comes this guy through the hole and it's like, okay, what do I do? Do I go after his ankles? Do I go after his thighs? Do I go after him up top? You know, what is it? So he adds that dimension, but he's not a guy that will just run straight at you and run you over. He's got excellent lateral quickness. He can go sideways and accelerate for a man his size about as well as I've seen.
I know what I'd do. If Beanie was coming through the hole toward me, I'd start running in circles like a 4th grade girl. So good to have #28 back in the fold.

Of course, if you fumble on a Tressel coached team you're gonna miss some snaps. When asked if Beanie missed the series following the fumble due to the running back rotation or as punishment for the turnover, the Vest offered this witty retort:

Maybe both. I can't remember. But say the message, because we can't fumble.

On the subject of playing everyone with shoulder pads and the subsequent illegal substitution penalties, I got the feeling Tressel wasn't overly worried about it. At first, I wasn't a fan of his response but it's obviously logical to expect the liberal subs won't be as frequent in a tight game though rotating the wideouts and backs is definitely a good idea if the talent warrants the playing time:

Well, we're going to have to do it better than we did it, because not only did we get two penalties, we were warned, hey, you know, you've got like 15 guys out there at a time. And I told the ref, I said, obviously it's not to deceive them, because we're deceived, we're not even sure who's supposed to be out there, but we'll just have to see.

Though large chunks of the fanbase and some media types agree Laurinaitis isn't exactly setting the world on fire this season, Tressel is certainly singing a different tune:

Oh, he's definitely playing as well as he's ever played. He's so disciplined. He's so instinctive. He's right where you want him to be. It's hard to double and triple team, whether you're double and triple teaming a linebacker, that means about three other guys are killing the linebacker. Guys have said why don't you double and triple team Minnesota because they don't throw it as well. It's not that easy because those other guys, I imagine if no one's around, they'll throw it to them. So I don't know that James is getting -- now, maybe people are real anxious to block him. If I was an offensive lineman wanting to scoop up, if I can get after 33, I'm going to get noticed or whatever. James is playing extremely well. Leading extremely well. Preparing extremely well. He and Malcolm, everyone talked about those were the two that might have left and all that stuff and sometimes you wonder, gosh, I hope they're even half as good as they were before, they're both preparing and practicing and playing even better than they've ever been and it's great to see.
I'm not sure I fully agree however I do think the scheme and lack of great defensive tackles has to be considered when evaluating his play.

On the Saine front, I was astonished to hear Tressel indicate he's pleased with what Saine has shown in the return game though he did admit finding him carries at tailback would be difficult with the emergence of Herron as Beanie's primary backup:

Brandon lost some reps because Danny Herron got all of a sudden ahold of the ball and Brandon was on the sideline for 20 some practices and it's hard at that position. If you don't get your rhythm and get rolling and get opportunities and so forth. I thought Brandon did a good job bringing kicks back on Saturday. He got in a little bit on the offensive side. We continue to talk about how we can utilize him, but right now with all of a sudden Beanie getting back, and Boom, I think, doing very well, the tailback reps become even more rare.

I think my favorite response of the day occurred when Tressel was asked whether his squad is back in the national title picture after all the upsets last Saturday:

That's probably why there are upsets because people talk in September about whether they're in the National Championship picture. You better be in the picture that's in that frame right now and the one that's in the frame right now is Wisconsin.
How true is that? Just an example of why there shouldn't be rankings of any kind released until at least 4 games into the season. Sure, this is typical coach speak but there's no doubt this team isn't good enough to do anything but concentrate on the current week's opponent.

That pretty much covers the main topics. On the injury front, Nicol and Spitler won't play this week and Andre Amos is done for the year. Meanwhile, Rehring, Moeller, Jamario and Rasta will be ready if called upon.