Sept. 5, 2005

Transcript of Press Luncheon
Player Quotes
Depth Chart
Top 25 Polls

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The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Texas Longhorns meet for the first time this week in a game that ranks as one of the most anticipated matchups in the history of either school. The game, circled in red by Longhorn and Buckeye fans alike and long since sold out, will have stately old Ohio Stadium (cap. 102,329) bulging at the seams. ABC will attempt to appease those fans without tickets with a national telecast that gets underway at 8:08 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. Additionally, ESPN College GameDay will set up just north of the Stadium for a full day of college football updates, as will ESPN Radio’s version of the same program. The early season clash of titans has generated so much interest the ABC halftime show, which normally originates in-studio in New York, will be on location in Columbus.

Both teams enter the game with 1-0 records. The sixth-ranked Buckeyes opened the season Saturday afternoon with a convincing 34-14 victory over Miami (Ohio). The second-ranked Longhorns got off on the right foot later in the day with 60-3 stampede over visiting Louisiana-Lafayette.

Ohio State enters the game with a modest three-game winning streak, while Texas has reeled off eight-consecutive wins. The two teams do have a pair of common foes in those winning streaks. Both played Michigan and Oklahoma State last year. The Buckeyes defeated Michigan 37-21 and Oklahoma State 33-7, while the Longhorns were 56-35 victors over the Cowboys and 38-37 winners over Michigan.

Ohio State has won 36-consecutive non-conference games in Ohio Stadium, last losing a home tilt in 1990 against the University of Southern California.

Including the bowl win over Michigan, the Longhorns have won five-consecutive road games.

“This is one of those games that coaches and players look forward to. Shoot, we can’t wait and I am sure they feel the same way. It matches two great research universities, two great football programs and two states that really support their teams against one another. Everyone has been talking about it since the end of last season. I know this; it won’t be hard to get our players’ attention this week,” Tressel said.

Former Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes will be honored at halftime of the Texas game. A sign recognizing Hayes’ accomplishments during his 28 years with the Buckeyes will be unveiled on the west façade in Ohio Stadium and will be on permanent display in tribute to the late coach, who to this day remains one of the icons of his profession. Hayes’ grandchildren, Laura Hayes and Phillip Hayes, will be at the game.

The Buckeyes employed a variety of sets and personnel on offense in the opener, rushing for 160 yards and passing for 222 more. Four different players caught five passes and sophomore Antonio Pittman fueled the running game with an even 100 yards on 14 carries. The OSU defense was nearly flawless and did not allow a score until substituting liberally late in the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes wanted to set the tone early, and did, scoring on their first two possessions to take a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Miami punted four times and threw an interception (which OSU returned for a touchdown) on its five first-half possessions.

The Buckeyes’ offense features the speedy receiving trio of split end Santonio Holmes, flanker Ted Ginn Jr. and slot back Anthony Gonzales, all of whom had five receptions in the opener (as did Roy Hall). Up front, All-America candidate Nick Mangold and left guard Robbie Sims are the wheel horses of a veteran offensive line.

In the win over Miami, starting quarterback Justin Zwick and backup Todd Boeckman combined to complete 22 of 30 passes for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This week, the Buckeyes will have three signal callers in the mix with the return of junior Troy Smith, who has missed the past two games because of an NCAA suspension.

Smith led the Buckeyes to wins in four of the last five regular-season games last year and accounted for 386 yards in total offense in the win over Michigan.

Defensively, the Buckeyes are led by one of the best groups of linebackers in the school’s history in seniors A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel. That trio combined for 18 tackles and three sacks in the win over Miami.

Cornerback Ashton Youboty had eight tackles against Miami, including a tackle-for-loss, and defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock had 1.5 tackles-for-loss to keep the RedHawks guessing.

Eight Ohio State players are listed on the various postseason awards watch lists: linebacker A.J. Hawk (Butkus, Lombardi, Lott, Bednarik, Walter Camp), center Nick Mangold (Rimington, Lombardi), split end Santonio Holmes (Biletnikoff, Walter Camp), linebacker Bobby Carpenter (Butkus), safety Nate Salley (Thorpe), cornerback Ashton Youboty (Thorpe), tight end Ryan Hamby (Mackey) and flanker Ted Ginn Jr. (Walter Camp, Biletnikoff).

The Buckeyes have played under the lights 33 times in history. Ohio State is 25-8 overall, including bowl games, in games played at night. At Ohio Stadium, Ohio State is 6-0. The last night game played in Columbus was a 28-9 win against No. 17 Washington in the 2003 season opener (Aug. 30).

The Buckeyes opened the season with a 34-14 win over Miami (Ohio) before an Ohio Stadium crowd of 104,695. The Buckeyes led 20-0 at the half and 34-0 after three quarters before giving up two late touchdowns to the visiting RedHawks. Quarterback Justin Zwick completed 17 of 23 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown and Antonio Pittman rushed for 100 yards on 14 carries to pace a balanced OSU attack. Four different receivers caught five passes from Zwick and backup Todd Boeckman, including Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn Jr., both of whom were on the receiving end of touchdown tosses. The OSU defense, meanwhile, was its same aggressive and productive self, limiting Miami to just 159 yards through the first three periods, recording five sacks and scoring on a 26-yard interception return by Donte Whitner that put the Buckeyes ahead 20-0 with one minute, 21 seconds to play in the half and took most of the starch out of the visitors. Linebacker A.J. Hawk led the defense with 10 tackles. The Buckeyes’ starting linebacker corps of Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel all had sacks. So did Whitner and defensive end Mike Kudla, who forced a fumble that led to OSU’s final touchdown – a 42-yard Boeckman-to-Ginn pass. The Buckeyes ended the afternoon with 382 yards (220 passing, 160 rushing) on offense. Miami finished with 298.

“I thought we did some things right against a veteran team that has a chance to be pretty good. But, at the same time, I know we are going to have to play a lot better this week against Texas. Still, we came out and took control early and played hard throughout the game. I wasn’t happy with some of our play in the red zone and I didn’t like giving up those late touchdowns, but overall I thought we played well for the first game,” Tressel said.

This will be the first meeting between two of the most storied football programs in the nation. The Buckeyes enter the game with an all-time record of 766-298-53 in 115 years. That includes a Big Ten record of 418-161-24 since 1913, an Ohio Stadium mark of 356-101-20 and a bowl mark of 17-19. Over the years, the Buckeyes have won seven national championships, the most recent coming in 2002 when they posted an unblemished 14-0 record. The Buckeyes also have produced 164 first-team All-Americans down through the years, including six Heisman Trophy winners.

Texas has an all-time record of 788-310-33 since 1893. The Longhorns victory total is the third highest in NCAA annals. They have an all-time bowl record of 21-21-2, including a 38-37 victory over Michigan last year. The Longhorns have had 110 players selected to first-team All-America honors and have won two Heisman Trophies. The Longhorns have won three national championships.

Senior linebacker A.J. Hawk recorded his 13th game in double figures with 10 tackles against Miami. The Buckeye co-captain now has 283 career stops. Leading the pack is nothing new for Hawk. He led the team in tackles each of the past two years, recording 141 last year, the highest total by a Buckeye since Chris Spielman finished with 156 in 1986.

Junior receiver Santonio Holmes has caught two or more passes in 19-consecutive games. Holmes had five receptions for 74 yards in the win over Miami last Saturday. His receiving total included a difficult over-the-shoulder 20-yard TD grab from Justin Zwick that staked OSU to an early 7-0 lead on the opening possession of the year.

Sophomore speedster Ted Ginn Jr. had five receptions for 75 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown catch, in the win over Miami last Saturday. He also carried the ball three times for 11 yards and had three returns for 35 yards. Ginn has 16 receptions in his last three games and has caught two or more passes in six-consecutive games. He has at least one reception in eight-straight games.

The Ohio State defensive staff wants the Buckeyes to be more aggressive this year. The Buckeyes seemed to get off on the right foot against Miami, recording nine tackles-for-loss, including five sacks, and forcing two turnovers, one of which was a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown. In 2004, the Buckeyes totaled 24 sacks.

Sophomore tailback Antonio Pittman made his first start Saturday and finished with 100 yards on 14 carries, an average of 7.1 yards per carry. It was the second 100-yard game of Pittman’s career. He topped the century mark against Indiana last year with 144 yards. “He has a burst to him,” offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said. “We need to do a better job of getting him into open space.”

Fifth-year senior Brandon Schnittker scored his first career touchdown against Miami. The 6-foot-2-inch, 236-pound tailback tallied on a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter, giving the Buckeyes a 27-0 lead. “It was a thrill and real honor,” Schnittker, who was converted from fullback to tailback during fall camp, said.

Kicker Josh Huston was a perfect six-for-six in the place-kicking department Saturday, converting all four of his PAT tries and both of his field goal attempts (20 and 27 yards, respectively). Additionally, four of his six kickoffs went for touchbacks. Huston, a sixth-year senior, has understudied two-time All-American and Groza Award winner Mike Nugent the past three years. He appears to have learned his lessons well.

Ohio State has an all-time record of 27-3-1 against schools in the Big 12. The Buckeyes have played Big 12 opponents each of the past three seasons, downing Texas Tech (45-21) in 2002, Kansas State (35-28) in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl and Oklahoma State (33-7) in the 2004 Alamo Bowl.

A league best 22 Ohio State football players were named to the Big Ten’s All-Academic team last fall, marking the third year in a row the Buckeyes have led the conference in that area. Additionally, a record 44 Ohio State football players qualified for last spring’s annual OSU Scholar-Athlete Dinner, which requires a grade-point average of 3.00 or better for the past academic year. As a team, the Buckeyes have an overall GPA of 2.82.

Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk was chosen as the Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year in early August by members of the media attending the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago. The 6-1, 240-pound Hawk won consensus All-America honors last year when he led the Buckeyes in total tackles with 141. Hawk is bidding to join Andy Katzenmoyer as the school’s only Butkus Award winners.

Sophomore Ted Ginn is listed at flanker for the Buckeyes, but that only tells part of the story. Last year, as a true freshman, Ginn also lined up at tailback and quarterback in addition to returning punts. This year, he will return kickoffs and maybe even play a little defensive back.

“Teddy is a terrific weapon and we want to get the ball in his hands as often as possible,” Tressel said. “The majority of his play will come on offense, but he gets a great break on the ball so there will be times in the red zone where we will utilize him on defense, too. With Maurice Hall (the school’s all-time leader in kick return yardage) gone, we will use him on both punt and kick returns. He and Santonio (Holmes) give us two very dangerous weapons back there.”

Brandon Smith, a redshirt freshman from Euclid, Ohio, has moved from linebacker to tight end and has switched from No. 54 to No. 87. Smith’s move was necessitated by the loss of Rory Nicol, who is out with a foot injury. The 6-3, 240-pound Smith currently is listed behind starter Ryan Hamby. Additionally, a slimmer and trimmer Brandon Schnittker (250 down to 235) has moved from fullback to tailback, and redshirt freshman Shaun Lane from cornerback to tailback. Senior Robbie Sims, the Buckeyes starting left tackle the past two years, has moved to left guard.

Kicker Josh Huston was one of 23 Ohio State student-athletes to receive an undergraduate degree Aug. 28. With a degree in real estate and urban development already completed, Huston will begin work on another undergrad degree in psychology when fall classes begin in late September.

Ohio State enters the game this week with an all-time record of 766-298-53 since first fielding a football team in 1890. That includes a Big Ten record of 418-161-24 since 1913, an Ohio Stadium slate of 356-101-20 since 1922 and a bowl mark of 17-19.

COACH Jim Tressel
Jim Tressel is now in his fifth season as head coach at Ohio State. His record with the Buckeyes is 41-11 and his career record is 176-68-2 (.720). He is in his 20th year as a head coach.

Tressel took over the Buckeyes in 2001, directing them to a 7-5 record that year. In 2002, he led Ohio State to a 14-0 record and the school’s first consensus national championship since 1968 and was nearly everyone’s choice as National Coach of the Year following the season. In 2003, the Buckeyes won their first five games to extend their winning streak to 19 and finished with an 11-2 record. Last year’s squad, which had to replace 14 NFL drafted players, won five of its last six games en route to an 8-4 finish.

Tressel’s teams have appeared in four Bowl games and are 3-1 in those contests, including back-to-back BCS wins in the Fiesta Bowl. They also are 3-1 against Michigan in one of the most intense and storied rivalries in all of sport.

Eight of Tressel’s players have won first-team All-America honors and three have won major awards, including kicker Mike Nugent, last year’s recipient of the Lou Groza Award as the best place-kicker in college football.

Tressel is a master in close games. Since coming to Ohio State, he is 16-7 in games decided by a touchdown or less and 4-1 in overtime games.

He is at his best against the best with a 16-5 record against teams ranked in the Top 25 and a 6-1 mark against teams ranked in the Top 10.

The 52-year-old Tressel is a 1975 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk, center Nick Mangold, safety Nate Salley and offensive guard Robbie Sims are the 2005 captains. The four seniors were elected by a vote of their teammates. Hawk and Mangold are both from Centerville, Ohio (as is Mike Nugent who was one of last year’s co-captains and Kirk Herbstreit, who captained the 1992 team). Salley is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Sims from Macedonia, Ohio.

With 10 tackles against Miami in the season opener, senior linebacker A.J. Hawk now has 283 career tackles, a total that ranks him 14th on the all-time Ohio State list. Hawk surpassed Nick Bounamici and Lorenzo Styles this past weekend.

In the receiving department, junior Santonio Holmes currently ranks 13th on the all-time OSU list with 92 total receptions. With five receptions against Miami, he moved around Buster Tillman (88) and Bobby Olive (91) heading into the Texas game.

Seven true freshmen made their collegiate debuts for the Buckeyes against Miami: offensive tackle Alex Boone, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, linebacker James Laurinaitis, safety Jamario O’Neal, flanker Brian Robiske, tailback Maurice Wells and defensive end Lawrence Wilson.

With the win over Miami, the Buckeyes have an all-time opening day record of 100-12-4 and have won their last 27 home openers.

There are two new faces on the Ohio State coaching staff this year, both on the defensive side of the ball. Tim Beckman has taken over as the cornerbacks coach and Paul Haynes has assumed the role of safeties coach. Beckman comes to Ohio State from Bowling Green where he spent the past seven seasons. Haynes, who grew up in Columbus and played at DeSales High School, was at Michigan State the past two years.

With the departures of defensive coordinator Mark Snyder for Marshall and Mel Tucker for the Cleveland Browns, veteran OSU assistant Jim Heacock has been elevated to defensive coordinator and Luke Fickell to co-defensive coordinator. Additionally, wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell will now serve as assistant head coach. This marks the second-consecutive year that the Buckeyes have started the season with a new defensive coordinator, but Heacock is a former head coach who is in his 10th season at Ohio State and Fickell is in his fourth year on Tressel’s staff.

Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels will be in the press box for the Buckeyes during the game as will cornerbacks coach Tim Beckman and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.

Texas, which won its season opener last week in Austin with a 60-3 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, owns the fourth best win-loss percentage in the history of college football with a 788-310-33 record (.711) record in 112 seasons. The Longhorns beat Michigan 38-37 in the Rose Bowl last season to complete an 11-1 season, the third 11-win season for Texas in the last four years.

The second-ranked Longhorns, who led the Ragin’ Cajuns 13-3 after the first quarter, led 39-3 at halftime and 53-3 after the third quarter. Texas rolled up 591 total yards and scored at least 60 points for the third-consecutive season opener. Five different players ran for touchdowns, including Henry Melton, who scored twice via the run. Four different players ran for at least 65 yards, including freshman Jamaal Charles who tread 135 yards in his college debut. David Thomas caught two TD passes from Vince Young, who finished the day 13-for-17 for 173 yards and three scores. He also hit Nate Jones for a TD. Louisiana-Lafayette finished the game with 238 total yards as the Longhorn defense limited it to only 72 yards rushing and 166 yards passing. Texas had 10 tackles-for-loss, including three sacks totaling 22 yards. Marcus Griffin and Robert Killebrew each had seven tackles.

Texas quarterback Vince Young passed for three touchdowns and ran for another and Jamaal Charles set a school freshman debut record with 135 yards rushing to lead the Longhorns to a 60-3 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday in Austin. Texas finished with 418 yards on the ground and Young completed 13-of-17 passes for 173 yards as Texas amassed 591 total yards. Young added 49 yards rushing on seven carries before leaving the game in the third quarter. David Thomas caught two touchdown passes from Young and Henry Melton had two rushing touchdowns.

Mack Brown (Florida State, 1974) is 157-93-1 in his 22nd year as a collegiate head coach. Since arriving to Texas in 1998, the Longhorns have gone 71-19 in eight seasons. Brown’s teams have won at least 10 games in each of the last four years, including 11 in 2001, 2002 and again in 2004 after beating Michigan 38-37 in the Rose Bowl. His Texas teams also have participated in three Cotton and three Holiday bowls. Before arriving in Austin, Brown spent 10 seasons (1988-97) at North Carolina directing the Tar Heels to bowl games in each of his last six seasons there. His teams won 10 games three different seasons and finished with a record of 69-46-1. Brown’s first head coaching job was at Appalachian State in 1983 before becoming the head coach at Tulane in 1985 after one season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. He was 11-23 in three seasons at Tulane.

The Buckeyes continue their four-game home stand by hosting San Diego State University. The game will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. EDT and will be televised by ABC. Halftime festivities include the introduction of this year’s men’s and women’s inductees into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame, and a special ceremony to honor military personnel from Ohio State and the Central Ohio region who are serving in, or have served in, Iraq and Afghanistan.