SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The Ohio State Buckeyes greeted the new year Thursday morning with a 10 a.m. practice in “shells” at Pinnacle High School before heading back to the Scottsdale Fairmont for additional game prep and lots of college football watching.

The Camelback Inn and Resort Spa was the 8:30 a.m. destination for five senior Buckeyes on the offensive side of the ball and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Jim Bollman. The five Brian Robiskie, Chris “Beanie” Wells, Brandon Smith, Rory Nicol and Ryan Pretorius met with the media for a 45-minute interview session. Some notes, quotes and highlights of the interview session and the day follow.

Beanie: “I want to be the best.”
Tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells responding to a query on fighting the urge to turn pro: “I love the college experience. I told coach Tressel that I wanted to be the best to come through here. I haven’t accomplished that yet.”

What would it take to be considered the best? Wells: “I want to be up there with all those great guys…Archie and Eddie…be the all-time leading rusher…Heisman…whatever it takes.”

And one final Beanie thought: “I actually haven’t made my full decision yet.”

Texas’ defense: “Great as a unit”
Wells said the Texas defensive line was the first thing that jumps out when he looks at them on film, but he was complimentary of the entire Texas defensive unit. “The defensive line is very good and the linebackers really attack the ball,” Wells said. “They play together as a whole unit and they play great as a whole unit.”

Surprised to see a fullback
Texas beat writers, upon seeing Ohio State fullback Brandon Smith on the Thursday media roster, commented that he may be the first fullback Texas has seen this season with the Big 12 such a pass-happy conference. So Smith was asked about Texas All-American defensive end Brian Orapko:

“He’s extremely explosive,” Smith said. “He is a physical specimen. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone bigger than Vernon [Gholston; now with the Jets]. I don’t know if they play the same, but they are similar in size and strength.”

Mt. Beanie
Smith, responding to a question about Beanie Wells, said Wells is extremely emotional because he cares so much about the team, and he fires up both the offense and the defense. Smith says Wells controls himself during warm-ups but he does “erupt” as the start of the game nears.

“If you watch him in warm-ups, he doesn’t say much, he keeps to himself,” Smith said. “He tries to bottle [his emotions] in and bottle them in, but the last couple of minutes before we go out to the field he kind of erupts. He has something to say to everyone.”

“Robo” talks transitioning
Receiver Brian Robiskie said the best way to adjust to the transition from a senior quarterback to a freshman quarterback during the season is by playing the game on Saturday.

“Obviously there are adjustments that need to be made,” Robiskie said. “A lot of it is about building a relationship with that quarterback through the timing of routes and him knowing where the receiver is going to be. We do this through extra reps in practice and watching film, but it all comes down to just playing the game on Saturday.”

Tight end Rory Nicol on the Texas defense: “I don’t know how many sacks Texas has, but it is an un-Godly number. So protecting our quarterback is going to be important. We’ll have to do a good job taking care of our blocks and our receivers are going to have to run good routes.” 

An opportunity…not a desperate call for success
Nicol, one of 28 seniors in their last college game experience, said the senior class has been through a lot and said “what doesn’t kill you only makes you tougher.” He also said the senior class has been looking at this game as “an opportunity and not a desperate call for success.”

“We feel really fortunate for the chance to leave Ohio State having set up the team for [future] success,” Nicol said. “As a senior class, we feel responsible for getting Ohio State back on the map.”

Seniors have worked hard
Senior kicker Ryan Pretorius resisted the urge of a reporter’s question about how he would like the game to play out. “Obviously, we’d like to go out with a win,” Pretorius said. “The seniors have worked hard. The seniors, and the whole team, deserve a win. You probably want me to say I’d like the game to end with a last second field goal, but a decent size win would be great.”

Pretorius likes the stadium
Pretorius practiced kicking at the University of Phoenix Stadium during warm-ups prior to the Ohio State vs. Florida national championship game two years ago. He said the ball “really travels well” in the facility.

No clouds, but soon…
The team has been in Arizona four days now and there has not been the slightest trace of a cloud in the sky. The locals say clouds are coming, though. Sunday.

Friday schedule
The team will start its day at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at the Marriott Desert Ridge. Following the breakfast, Coach Jim Tressel will lead a contingent of 30 Buckeyes in their jerseys to the official Ohio State media day at the Camelback Inn and Resort Spa. The session will last one hour. A two-hour closed practice is scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. at Pinnacle High School.