Oct. 19, 2004

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Windows A/V Press Luncheon
Transcript of Press Luncheon
Depth Chart
Top 25 Polls

Ohio State returns home this week to face Indiana. Kickoff is slated for 12:10 p.m. EDT, Saturday, in Ohio Stadium, where a capacity crowd of more than 104,000 is expected to witness the 80th gridiron meeting between the Buckeyes and Hoosiers. This is Homecoming weekend at Ohio State and the 1944, 1949, 1954 and 1974 football teams are holding reunions and will be introduced at Saturday’s game. Additionally, the annual Captains’ Breakfast will be held Saturday morning at the Blackwell Hotel.

Ohio State enters the game with a 3-3 record for all games, including an 0-3 ledger in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are coming off a 33-7 loss at Iowa this past weekend, their third-consecutive setback after three wins to open the season.

Indiana, idle this past weekend, counters with a 2-4 season mark, which includes three losses in as many Big Ten games. After opening the season with back-to-back wins, the Hoosiers have dropped four straight, the latest a 31-24 double overtime setback at Northwestern two weeks ago.

Ohio State is 2-1 at home this year and has won 18 of its last 19 games in Ohio Stadium. Indiana is 1-2 in three road games thus far in 2004.

WBNS Radio will carry the game on the statewide Ohio State radio network with the Jim Tressel Show airing 30 minutes before kickoff. Paul Keels, Jim Lachey and Jim Karsatos will describe the action.

Ohio State opened the season ranked ninth in both the ESPN/USA TODAY and the Associated Press preseason polls. The Buckeyes, who climbed to sixth in the former and seventh in the latter following a 3-0 start, are not ranked this week.

The Buckeyes trailed just 10-0 at the half, but Iowa scored two quick touchdowns at the start of the third quarter to take a 24-0 lead. The Hawkeyes added a touchdown and a field goal early in the fourth and were on top 33-0 before the Buckeyes got on the board thanks to a 23-yard pass from Troy Smith to tight end Rory Nicol. Smith entered the game in the third quarter after starter Justin Zwick was shaken up. The Buckeyes were held to 177 yards by the Iowa defense. Linebackers Anthony Schlegel and A.J. Hawk led the Ohio State defense with 15 tackles each. Hawk also had a sack and a fumble return. Strong safety Donte Whitner finished with 10 tackles, and free safety Nate Salley had nine.

Ohio State’s sensational senior kicker Mike Nugent has set yet another record. With a pair of field goals against Wisconsin (from 42 and 55 yards out), Nugent has become the school’s all-time leader in field goals made with 60, breaking the previous record of 59 that had belonged to Dan Stultz (1996-2000). It is the 17th school record for Nugent, who now has 302 career points and is just the fourth player in Ohio State history to top the 300-point plateau. Nugent needs 47 points to surpass Pete Johnson (348 points, 1973-76) as the school’s all-time point leader.

On the year, Nugent, a first-team All-American in 2002, is 12-of-14 in the field goal department and 12-for-12 in PATs. His lone two FG misses came from 53 yards out in the season opener against Cincinnati and from 40 yards away in the overtime loss at Northwestern. Both were just wide to the right.

Nugent, a Lou Groza Award candidate, is the most accurate kicker in Ohio State history with a conversion rate of 80 percent (60 of 75). The Buckeyes’ co-captain has been especially accurate the past three seasons, hitting 53 of 61 attempts (87 percent).

During his OSU career, Mike Nugent has hit six-of-seven field goal attempts from 50 or more yards, including three of four this year. Nooge’s only miss in that span was a 53-yard attempt against Cincinnati in this year’s season opener that was wide to the right. Nugent’s career long is 55 yards. He has done that twice this year, the first time against Marshall when his kick as time expired resulted in a thrilling 24-21 OSU win, and again on the final play of the first half against Wisconsin.

Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent has been selected as the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Year three times this year. The Buckeye senior won the award following the Marshall, North Carolina State (five field goals) and Wisconsin games. Nugent currently leads the Big Ten in field goals made (12) and field goal percentage (87.5 on 12 of 14). He is also fifth in overall scoring with an average of 8.0 points per game.

Junior linebacker A.J. Hawk continues to lead the Big Ten in average tackles per game with a fanciful average of 13.2 per outing. Hawk, who is coming off a 15-tackle performance at Iowa, had a career-high 20 tackles against Wisconsin two weeks ago, becoming only the ninth player in Ohio State history to record 20 or more tackles in a game ( he is the first since Chris Spielman tied the school record with 29 against Michigan in 1986). In his last three games, the 6-1, 238-pound Hawk has been credited with 49 tackles. He leads the team in solo tackles (39), assists (40), total tackles (79) and tackles-for-loss (4), and is tied for the team lead in four other defensive categories. If he stays anywhere close to his present average of 13.2 tackles per game, he will easily surpass his total of a year ago (106 in 13 games). Selected by the media as the Big Ten’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Hawk was just announced as one of 12 semi-finalists for the Butkus Award. He also is a candidate for the Lombardi Award and the first-year Lott Award which will go to the top defensive player in college football.

Strong safety Donte Whitner has certainly made his presence felt the past three weeks, recording 12 tackles at Northwestern, a career-best 17 against Wisconsin and 10 stops at Iowa. The hard-hitting sophomore is the Buckeyes’ second-leading tackler with 53 stops on the year.

After missing three games with a broken arm, senior co-captain Dustin Fox returned to the lineup at Iowa and responded with six tackles a forced fumble and a pass deflection. “It was nice to be out there again,” said the Buckeye cornerback, who prior to his injury had started 30-consecutive games. “Sometimes you don’t realize how special something is until you have it taken away from you. I couldn’t wait to get that uniform on and get on the field. Now, I just want to do whatever it takes to help get us back on the winning track. We are not used to losing here.”

There is a pretty good chance that freshman tight end Rory Nicol will always remember his first reception as a Buckeye. The stocky (6-6, 250) rookie from Beaver, Pa., who has played in all six games to date, tallied Ohio State’s lone score Saturday at Iowa, hauling in a 23-yard pass from Troy Smith at the 1-yard line and then lunging into the end zone to help the Buckeyes avoid their first shutout since 1993.

Senior Maurice Hall is zeroing in on the Ohio State career mark for kick return yardage. The record of 1,410 yards belongs to Ken-Yon Rambo (61 attempts, 1997-2000). Carlos Snow (1987-89, `91) is second with 1,380 yards on 58 attempts. Hall’s total currently stands at 1,368 yards on 61 attempts, leaving him 12 yards short of Snow and 42 behind Rambo. Hall’s next return will set a school record for most attempts.

Freshman Ted Ginn Jr. scored his first collegiate touchdown against Wisconsin, returning a punt 65 yards to pay dirt. “It was a great feeling, something I have waited for my entire life,” said Ginn, a world-class sprinter. Ginn prepped at Glenville High School in suburban Cleveland. The last true freshman to score a touchdown on a punt return was Donte Whitner who recovered a blocked punt in the end zone against Iowa last year. Whitner also prepped at Glenville.

Both Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn have returned punts for touchdowns this year. Holmes scored on a 63-yard runback at Northwestern, while Ginn had a 65-yard return against Wisconsin. It marks the first time since 1950, when Vic Janowicz and Bob Demmel scored against Iowa, that two different Ohio State players have scored on punt returns in the same season.

A win against the Hoosiers would keep the Buckeyes’ hopes of a postseason bowl game alive. In order to qualify for a bowl game, OSU must win three of its five remaining starts. Three of those contests are at home, but after hosting Indiana and Penn State the next two weeks, the Buckeyes travel to Michigan State and Purdue before returning home to face arch-rival Michigan.

The Buckeyes might not have the services of quarterback Justin Zwick this week. Zwick suffered a shoulder injury at Iowa and is considered doubtful for Saturday’s tilt with Indiana, meaning redshirt sophomore Troy Smith could get his first start. Smith has played in three games this year and has completed 10 of 17 passes for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In Saturday’s game at Iowa, he came off the bench to complete eight of 12 passes for 76 yards and direct the Buckeyes to their only touchdown. Smith will be backed up by true freshman Todd Boeckman. The 6-5, 235-pound Boeckman has not played this year.

“Justin’s status is still a little uncertain,” said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “If he cannot play, I know Troy will step in and do a great job. Todd will get additional reps this week, too. We need to make sure he is ready to go if need be.”

Now in his fourth year at the helm of the Buckeyes, Jim Tressel has compiled an impressive 35-10 record during his stay in Columbus. Included in that figure is a 19-8 mark in Big Ten play and a 16-2 record in non-conference action. His teams have been especially successful at home, winning 22 of 25 starts.

After a 7-5 record in 2001, Tressel led the Buckeyes to a perfect 14-0 record, a share of the Big Ten title and a consensus national championship in 2002. He was the Football Writers choice as national coach of the year in 2002. In 2003, the Buckeyes posted an 11-2 record and played in a BCS game for the second-consecutive year.

Now in his 19th season as a head coach, the 51-year-old Tressel has compiled a lifetime record of 170-67-2. During his stay with the Buckeyes, he has posted a 14-5 record against teams in the Top 25 and a 5-1 slate against teams in the Top 10. Masterful in close games, he is 16-6 in games decided by a touchdown or less, including a 13-2 mark in the last 15 games. Each of his last two teams finished the season ranked in the Top 5 (1st in 2002 and 4th last year).

Prior to coming to Ohio State, Tressel spent 15 years as the head coach at Division I-AA Youngstown State, where he won four national championships and appeared in the playoffs 10 times.

Ohio State leads the series 62-12-5 and has won the last 11 games played between the two schools. That record includes a 40-10-4 edge in Columbus. Indiana’s most recent win in the series came in 1988, a 41-7 verdict in Bloomington. The latter win came on the heels of a 31-10 IU win the year before in Columbus. Since that loss, the Buckeyes have won six straight in Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes dominated the series between 1952 and 1986, posting a 30-0-1 record in that span.

The Buckeyes prevailed 35-6 in Bloomington with Lydell Ross running for 167 yards, Craig Krenzel throwing for 272 and Santonio Holmes hauling in six receptions for 153 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Ohio State had season highs in rushing (216), passing (387), total offense (603) and first downs (26) in recording its seventh win in eight outings. The Buckeye defense, meanwhile, recorded six sacks and held the Hoosiers to a minus 12-yards rushing. Wide receiver Drew Carter was lost for the season with a knee injury. Holmes helped offset the loss with his best career game.

In 1980, tailback Calvin Murray rushed for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 35 carries in a 27-17 win over the Hoosiers in Columbus. In 1998, Joe Germaine threw for 351 yards and Dee Miller had 11 receptions for 159 yards in a 38-7 OSU win in Bloomington. In 1996, the Buckeyes used a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions for a hard-fought 27-17 triumph that sent Ohio State to the Rose Bowl. In their decisive 1988 win over the Buckeyes, Hoosier tailback Anthony Thompson was a one-man wrecking crew, rushing for 190 yards and four touchdowns. IU quarterback Babe Laufenberg threw for 352 yards and four scores in 1982 at the time setting a school record.

All-American Mike Nugent continues to lead the Big Ten in field goals made per game (2.00) and field goal percentage (85.7). He is tied for the lead in PAT percentage at 100.0 with a perfect 12-of-12 and is fifth in the league in overall scoring at 8.0 points a game. Linebacker A.J. Hawk is the league leader in average tackles per game. The Buckeye junior has 79 tackles on the year and is averaging 13.2 stops per game. Tim McGarigle of Northwestern is a distant second with 66 tackles. In all, five OSU players are listed among the Big Ten’s top 50 tacklers: strong safety Donte Whitner is ninth (8.8), linebacker Bobby Carpenter 18th (7.5), free safety Nate Salley 28th (6.7) and linebacker Anthony Schlegel 31st (6.5). Split end Santonio Holmes is fifth in both receiving yards per game (86.7) and receptions per game (5.5). Holmes, who twice this year has had double figures in receptions, is averaging 15.8 yards per catch, a figure that is third among the league’s leading receivers.

Kicker Mike Nugent is one of several Ohio State players who are in the running for major individual awards in 2004. Nugent, a leading candidate for the Lou Groza Award, is joined by center Nick Mangold (Rimington Award), tailback Lydell Ross (Doak Walker Award), linebacker Bobby Carpenter (Butkus Award), linebacker A.J. Hawk (Butkus, Lombardi, Lott and Walter Camp Awards), defensive end Simon Fraser (Ted Hendricks Award), cornerback Dustin Fox (Thorpe Award) and flanker Santonio Holmes (Biletnikoff Award).

Jim Tressel’s Buckeye teams have won 13 of the last 15 games decided by seven points or less. That ledger includes victories in four of five overtime games, one of which was the 2002 National Championship game. During his stay at Ohio State, Tressel is 16-6 in games decided by a touchdown or less.

Ohio State’s explosive flanker Santonio Holmes caught 10 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown at Northwestern. He also returned a punt 63 yards for a score against the Wildcats to record his fifth multiple touchdown game as a Buckeye. Holmes had 10 receptions earlier this year in the Buckeyes’ win over Marshall. He racked up 224 receiving yards in that game, the second highest total in Ohio State history, surpassed only by Terry Glenn’s 253 against Pitt in 1995 and the most ever by an OSU receiver in Ohio Stadium. His 80-yard TD catch in the Marshall game ties as the third longest pass play in Ohio State history. Holmes leads the Buckeyes in receiving with 33 catches for 520 yards and four touchdowns. He has caught passes in 12 consecutive games and is averaging 15.8 yards per catch. He has caught more passes this year than he did all of last year (33 to 32) and needs just 30 yards to better last year’s yardage total.

Senior flanker Bam Childress has 16 receptions on the year, a figure that matches his career total coming into this year. Childress had his best game as a collegian at North Carolina State, hauling in five receptions against the Wolfpack. The 5-10, 185-pound Childress is still looking for his first career touchdown reception. He came close in the season opener against Cincinnati, but had an apparent scoring grab called back because of a penalty.

The Buckeyes first fielded a football team in 1890, compiling a 1-3 record in their first season. From that modest beginning, Ohio State has gone on to post an all-time record of 760-297-53 in 114 years and has experienced just 11 losing seasons.

Ohio State has an all-time record of 352-102-25 in Ohio Stadium (opened in 1922). The Buckeyes are 18-1 at home since the beginning of the 2002 season and are 22-3 in three years under head coach Jim Tressel.

In the first three home games of the year, Ohio State has drawn a total of 314,316 fans to Ohio Stadium, an average of 104,772 per contest in the famed horseshoe-shaped structure. The largest crowd of the year was 105,090 against Wisconsin, the fifth largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history.

Seniors Mike Nugent, Lydell Ross, Simon Fraser and Dustin Fox have been selected by their teammates as the 2004 captains. Nugent is the first kicker to be chosen since Tom Skladany in 1976. Fox is the fourth member of his family to captain the Buckeyes, joining uncles Mark Stier (1968), Ken Kuhn (1975) and Tim Fox (1975).

Fifth-year seniors Kyle Turano (punter, Worthington Kilbourne), Roshawn Parker (tailback, Columbus Eastmoor), Mike DeMaria (tailback, Oregon Cardinal Stritch) and John McLaughlin (offensive tackle, Cleveland St. Ignatius) have been awarded scholarships for the 2004 academic year.

There are two new faces on the Ohio State staff this year. Darrell Hazell has taken over as coach of the wide receivers and John Peterson is the new tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Hazell, a graduate of Muskingum College, comes to Ohio State from Rutgers. Peterson, a former OSU offensive lineman (1987-90), has spent the past five seasons at Miami of Ohio. Additionally, Dick Tressel has replaced Tim Spencer as running backs coach. Tressel has spent the past three seasons as associate director of football operations for the Buckeyes.

Starting cornerback Dustin Fox, who broke his left forearm in the first quarter of the Marshall game, returned to action at Iowa after missing three games. The senior co-captain had started 30 consecutive games before being sidelined. Junior linebacker Mike D’Andrea will miss the remainder of the season because of a knee injury. D’Andrea played in the Buckeyes first four games and had 13 tackles, including a team-high 3.5 tackles-for-loss. This is the second straight year that the Avon Lake, Ohio-product has had his season cut short. He missed the final three games of last year with a shoulder injury.

Ohio State’s highly touted freshman class is making its presence felt. Thus far eight members of the class have seen action in the Buckeyes’ first three games. They are: Ted Ginn Jr. (WR), Rory Nicol (TE), Antonio Pittman (TB), Devon Lyons (WR), Curtis Terry (ST), Vernon Gholston (DE), Marcus Freeman (LB) and Sirjo Welch (ST). All have played extensively either with the special teams or at their respective positions. Ginn and Nicol both have touchdowns. Pittman is the Buckeyes’ No. 2 tailback. Freeman is an exciting young linebacker prospect with excellent speed and Welch has become a feared special teams player.

Six current players have fathers who played for Ohio State: offensive guard Doug Datish (Mike Datish, offensive lineman), fullback Dionte Johnson (Thomas “Pepper” Johnson, linebacker), cornerback Shaun Lane (Garcia Lane, cornerback), linebacker Ryan Lukens (Bill Lukens, offensive guard), flanker Kyle Ruhl (Bruce Ruhl, defensive back), fullback Stan White Jr. (Stan White, linebacker).

Indiana is 2-4 on the season and has dropped its last four games after opening the season with wins over Central Michigan (41-10) and at Oregon (30-24). Since then, the Hoosiers have dropped games at Kentucky (51-32), Michigan State (30-20), Michigan (35-14) and at Northwestern (31-24 in double overtime). Indiana did not play last week.

The Hoosiers are averaging 26.8 points and 307.7 yards per game. IU is averaging 128.8 rushing yards per game compared to 178.8 through the air. Matt LoVecchio, who had his best game at Northwestern on Oct. 9 with 329 yards passing, has completed 53.7 percent (79-of-147) of his passes for 1,049 yards and nine touchdowns. His favorite target is Courtney Roby, who broke the school’s all-time receptions record vs. Northwestern. He has 34 catches for 592 yards and five TDs. On the ground, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is averaging 75.0 yards per game. He has carried the ball 141 times for 450 yards.

The Indiana defense is allowing 30.2 points and 460.7 yards per game. The Hoosiers are holding opponents to 201.7 yards rushing and 259.0 yards passing. The defense has recorded eight interceptions and has benefited from seven fumbles. The unit has 35 tackles for losses totaling 143 yards and has 13 sacks combining for 102 yards. Kyle Killion leads the team with 65 tackles, including 48 solo, and has 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Bryan Robertson has made 7-of-9 field goal attempts and is a perfect 5-for-5 between 30-39 yards. His long this season is 39 yards. Tyson Beattie is averaging 40.9 yards on his 38 punts. He has pinned 11 inside the 20 with 11 fair catches and two touchbacks.

Senior QB Matt LoVecchio had a career-high 27 completions, 50 attempts and passed for 329 yards and senior wide receiver Courtney Roby broke the school’s all-time receptions record; but it was not enough to lift the Hoosiers in a double-overtime loss, 31-24, at Northwestern Oct. 9. Indiana broke a 14-14 tie with a 35-yard field goal by Bryan Robertson with 11:28 to play in the game, but the Wildcats eventually answered with a field goal of their own with 29 seconds in regulation. IU took the lead on its first possession in overtime when LoVecchio connected with Jahkeen Gilmore for a 25-yard score. Northwestern answered with a TD pass of its own and then scored on its next possession to take the lead. LoVecchio was sacked on fourth-and-three to end the game. Roby caught eight passes for 150 yards and one touchdown.

Gerry DiNardo (Notre Dame, 1975) is in his third year at Indiana, where he is 7-23, including last year’s 2-10 record. Now in his 12th year as a collegiate head coach, he is 58-72-1. His previous stops were at Vanderbilt, where he went 19-25 from 1991-94, and at Louisiana State, where his teams were 32-24-1 from 1995-99. His Tiger teams appeared in three straight bowl games. Previous assistant coaching stops included Maine, where he earned a master’s degree in 1977, Eastern Michigan and Colorado. He was a member of two national championship teams and has played in three bowl games and coached in seven. DiNardo also coached the Birmingham Thurderbolts of the XFL in 2001.

The Buckeyes conclude their two-game homestand next week (10/30) by hosting Penn State. The starting time for the latter contest is 12:10 p.m. EST on either ABC or ESPN. Halftime ceremonies include the retirement of Chic Harley’s No. 47 jersey. Harley, the Buckeyes’ first three-time All-American (1916-17 and `19), will be the sixth Ohio State player to have his number retired, joining Archie Griffin, Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard “Hopalong” Cassady and Eddie George in a very select circle. Junior linebacker A.J. Hawk presently wears No. 47 for the Buckeyes. He will keep the jersey until his career is over. The jersey will be taken out of play after that. Following the Penn State tilt, the Buckeyes play back-to-back road games at Michigan State and Purdue and then return home for the traditional regular-season finale against Michigan.

Coach Jim Tressel will be available at his weekly Tuesday luncheon at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe (approximately 12:15 p.m.) and again after practice on Wednesday. Selected Ohio State players will be available after practice on Tuesday (approximately 6:15 p.m.) and assistant coaches Joe Daniels and Jim Heacock will meet with the media after practice on Thursday in the atrium of the Woody Hayes Athletics Center.