NEW ORLEANS, La. – Happy New Year from the Sugar Bowl. Greeting the Ohio State Buckeyes on this first day of the new year was a warm, windy and wet day…for starters. It ended up being a cold and windy day. Up early was offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, and five offensive players who took part in a 9 a.m. press conference at media headquarters, the Marriott Convention Center.

Bollman spent about 20 minutes with the press fielding questions about the No. 8 Buckeyes’ preparation for its Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl game vs. No. 8 Arkansas and about the Razorbacks. Bollman responded to nine questions during the session with four of them about the Buckeyes’ junior quarterback, Terrelle Pryor. Here’s Bollman on…

Pryor’s development: “Terrelle has had an outstanding season. He is a great dual threat. He certainly improved his passing skills this year. If you look at his yards throughout the season and the production of the passing game has been pretty good…and certainly more consistent. He does a good job of not turning the ball over. By and large that is one of his strong suits. He’s a third-year guy and he continues to grow up through the process. And a lot of guys have come up with him.”

Sugar Bowl preparation vs. Rose Bowl prep: “As far as preparation and getting ready for that game, I don’t’ recall it being any different than any other big game. The Sugar Bowl is a very big game and his preparation has been accordingly.”

Terrelle’s focus and demeanor: “Everybody’s focus has been pretty good. Everybody is tuned in and trying to prepare. Everyone has their own individual quirks about how they get ready to go. Everybody is getting ready to play a tough football game.”

What makes Terrelle an elite quarterback: “He is a special athlete. His ability to run the football is probably something that is very unique. He is very, very fast. He is much faster than he looks. There are a lot of guys who throw well and some run well. There are some that do both … and he is one of them. He doesn’t go into all his situations looking to run the ball. That’s not his mindset. His eyes are down the field and he’s trying to make plays.”

The Subject of Arkansas
Bollman addressed several questions on Arkansas, a team that leads the SEC and is tied for sixth in the NCAA in sacks, averaging 3.08 per game. The team’s defensive linemen have accounted for 20 of the team’s 37 sacks this season. Linebacker Jerry Franklin leads the team with 93 tackles. He is vying to become just the second Razorback in the last 50 years to lead the team in tackles three consecutive years.

“They’re tough,” Bollman said about Arkansas defense. “They are a crew that at times puts a lot of pressure on people. They are a relentless outfit and at this point are very experienced. They are quick and they run well. They are across the board quick.”

The Player’s Perspective
Team co-captains Dane Sanzenbacher and Bryant Browning plus quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the Brothers Boren – senior OG Justin and sophomore FB Zach – all met with the media at about 9:15 a.m. Saturday.

Pryor praise for the ‘Hogs  A huge crowd of reporters, photographers and camera operators converged on the first table to the left of the interview room during the athlete’s breakout sessions…the table with the placard “Terrelle Pryor” on it. When the subject of Arkansas was addressed, Pryor was impressed.

“Some of the guys on that defense are quick, fast and aggressive,” he said. “Their total team defensive speed is pretty good. The four down linemen are tough, and their secondary and linebackers are really speedy. We’ve got a full game on our hands.”

Dane’s dislocated finger  It was revealed this morning that, the week prior to the Illinois game Oct. 2, Dane Sanzenbacher suffered a dislocated a finger. He said he didn’t miss a practice, but he believes he missed the walk-thru. He played through the injury the rest of the season. He had three receptions for 35 yards and one touchdown vs. the Illini and had four, six, four and five receptions the next four games.

“Luckily I had nine spares,” Sanzenbacher said in response to a question about how he was able to still catch the football.

Boren centered for Mallett  Justin Boren said he centered for Ryan Mallett a couple of games when they were playing at Michigan as freshmen in 2007. Both transferred from the UM following the 2007 season.

“I knew him real well,” Boren said. “I was the center for him for a couple of games. He’s a great kid. As you can see, he’s done a great job down here.”

Some brotherly love  Justin and Zach Boren will be starting for the final time as Buckeyes. The duo has been in the same starting lineup for 17 games the last two years.

“It’s been a great two years and a privilege to play with Zach,” big brother Justin said.

The past is past  Bryant Browning didn’t feel past results vs. SEC teams in bowl games – the Buckeyes are 0-9 overall and 0-3 under Jim Tressel – have any impact on the result of this year’s SEC encounter.

“The past is what it is; there is nothing you can do about that,” Browning, an experienced, fifth-year senior said. “I was here for a couple of the losses to SEC teams. You are not trying to play your last game and lose.”

Unreal fast  The issue of speed always comes up when teams from the south meet teams from the north…particularly during bowl season. Fullback Zach Boren has never played against an SEC team, but he already has an opinion on the speed of Arkansas based on what he has seen on tape.

“They are the fastest defense I have ever seen on film,” Boren said. “Side to side…lateral movement…they are unreal fast.” 

Speaking of speed  Zach Boren was also  extremely complimentary of the speed that Terrelle Pryor possesses.

“When Terrelle is running, you see guys who run 4.3 forties and no one can catch him,” Boren said. “When he runs, no one knows how fast he is because his strides are long and he’s just real smooth when he runs.”

The Great Dane  Jim Bollman addressed why Dane Sanzenbacher was the first player ever under Jim Tressel to win, by vote of the team, the team’s Most Inspirational Player and Most Valuable Player awards in the same year.

“He is a very professional young man; always going 110 percent if there is such a thing,” Bollman said. “He is always going as hard as he can go. He makes big plays. His production is outstanding. He is always doing a little more than you expect…on and off the field. He has obviously earned a great deal of respect from his teammates and we will certainly hate to see him walk out the door at the end of the season.” 

And One Final Note
One practice change: Ohio State will not practice at the New Orleans Saints’ practice facility on Sunday. The team was scheduled to work out at the Saints’ facility because of the home team’s game against Tampa Bay at the Superdome. Post-practice interviews Sunday with select Ohio State players will be at the team hotel at 4 p.m.