Oct. 25, 2004

Ohio State vs. Penn State Live Game Coverage

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

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

Having jumped back into the win column with a 30-7 win over Indiana this past weekend, Ohio State concludes a two-game home stand Saturday by hosting Penn State. Kickoff is set for 12:10 p.m. in sold out Ohio Stadium and a crowd of more than 104,000 is expected to be in attendance for the 20th meeting between the two schools.

ABC will televise the game to a regional audience that includes all of the Midwest and the Northeast, and WBNS Radio will carry the game on the statewide Ohio State radio network.

As a result of Saturday’s victory, the Buckeyes are 4-3 on the year and 1-3 in Big Ten play. Penn State is 2-5 in its seven games and 0-4 in conference action.

Penn State leads the overall series, 10-9, but Ohio State has a 6-5 edge in Columbus and has won five in a row from the Nittany Lions in Ohio Stadium. A win Saturday would mark the first time the Buckeyes have ever been .500 in the series, which began with Penn State winning the first four and six of the first eight games. The home team has won seven of the past eight games in the series, the lone exception coming last year when Ohio State escaped University Park with a 21-20 victory.

Ohio State is 3-1 at home this year and has won 19 of its last 20 starts in Ohio Stadium. Penn State, a 6-4 loser to visiting Iowa last week, is 0-3 on the road, including an 0-2 mark in the Big Ten.

Halftime ceremonies this week include the retirement of Chic Harley’s No. 47. Harley, the school’s first three-time All-American (1916-17 and ’19), will be the sixth Ohio State player to have his number retired, joining former Heisman Trophy winners Archie Griffin, Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, and Eddie George. Ohio Stadium, dedicated in 1922, is often referred to as the “House that Harley built.”

The Buckeyes turned in their most balanced offensive showing of the year against visiting Indiana, rushing for a season-high 282 yards and passing for 161 more for a total of 443 yards. Freshman tailback Antonio Pittman came off the bench to rush for 144 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Troy Smith completed 12 of 24 passes and threw for a pair of touchdowns in his first start. The Ohio State defense, meanwhile, recorded season highs in both tackles-for-loss (9) and sacks (6). Linebacker Bobby Carpenter had a career-high 11 tackles, one more than Anthony Schlegel who was in double figures for the second week in a row. Linebacker A.J. Hawk, the Big Ten’s leading tackler, was a close third with nine stops. Carpenter, who in addition to his 11 tackles had two tackles-for-loss, a sack and an interception, was nominated for Big Ten defensive player of the week honors. Mike Nugent kicked three field goals and made all three of his extra point tries. Nugent hit from 29, 52 and 35 yards out and is now 15-of-17 on the year.

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, currently are not ranked, but are receiving votes in both polls.

True freshman Antonio Pittman is expected to start at tailback this week for the Buckeyes. Pittman, who came off the bench to rush for 144 yards and a touchdown against Indiana, will be making his first career start. On the year, the 5-11, 190-pound Pittman has rushed for 315 yards on 51 carries, an average of 6.2 yards per attempt. Pittman, who has played in six of the Buckeyes’ seven games, is not the only youngster to figure prominently in the OSU offense of late.

Wide Receiver Anthony Gonzalez is seeing more and more playing time, as is wide receiver Devon Lyons. Gonzalez is a redshirt freshman. Lyons is a true freshman. Additionally, offensive tackle Steve Rehring (6-8, 315) and fullback Dionte Johnson (6-0, 220), both of whom are true freshmen, played for the first time in Saturday’s win over Indiana.

Ohio State’s sensational senior Mike Nugent kicked three field goals in the win over Indiana, giving him 15 makes in 17 attempts on the year. During his career, Nugent, a first-team All-American in 2002 and a candidate for the Groza Award each of the last three years, has made 63 of 78 attempts and is the school’s all-time leader in makes and field goal percentage (.807). Nugent, who is seven-for-eight lifetime from 50 or more yards, has had 18 multi-field goal games on his resume, including nine in which he has kicked three or more. His career high is five against North Carolina State earlier this year, one of 18 school records he either holds outright or shares. A three-time choice as the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Year thus far in 2004, Nugent has a pair of 55-yard kicks this year. The first came as time expired in the Marshall game, propelling OSU to a thrilling 24-21 win. The second was on the last play of the first half against Wisconsin. With 12 points against Indiana, Nugent has 314 career points and needs 35 more to become the school’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Pete Johnson (348 points, 1973-76). Kicker Dan Stultz had 342 points during his career (1996-2000) and is second on the all-time point list at OSU. Nugent is third.

With starter Justin Zwick nursing a sore shoulder following the Iowa game, No. 2 signal caller Troy Smith stepped up against Indiana and directed the Buckeyes to a 30-7 win over the Hoosiers, snapping a three-game OSU losing streak. In his first career start, Smith, like Zwick a redshirt sophomore, completed 12 of 24 passes for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed for 58 yards.

“I was really pleased I could go out there and help our team win,” said the 6-1, 215-pound Smith. “But it was a team effort. The line blocked great, the receivers made great catches and the backs ran well. I thought, too, the defense, might have had its best game.”

“Troy did some things very well,” said head coach Jim Tressel. “Most importantly, he did not turn the ball over. I thought, too, his decision making process for the most part was very good.”

With Zwick still day-to-day, Smith is expected to start against Penn State.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk is one of 12 semifinalists for both the Butkus and the Lombardi Awards. Both semifinalists lists were announced earlier this month. Additionally, the Buckeye junior is on the watch list for the first Lott Award, which goes to the top defensive player in college football. The 6-1, 238-pound Hawk unquestionably has the credentials to be a leading candidate for all three awards. The Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year pick, he currently leads the Big Ten in both total tackles (88) and average tackles per game (12.6). Hawk had a career-high 20 tackles against Wisconsin earlier this year, 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 four games, the 6-1, 238-pound Hawk has been credited with 58 tackles. He leads the team in solos (42), assists (46) and total tackles (88) and is tied with fellow linebacker Bobby Carpenter for the lead in tackles-for-loss (5). Hawk seems a cinch to surpass his tackle total of a year ago (106 in 13 games).

Ohio State’s explosive receiver 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 37 catches for 562 yards and five touchdowns. With four receptions against Indiana, he has now caught passes in 13-consecutive games. Holmes, who is averaging 15.2 yards per catch, has surpassed his reception (32) and yardage (549) totals of a year ago. He is also averaging 10.6 yards per punt return on 14 attempts.

Senior Maurice Hall has 1,405 yards in kick return yardage, leaving him 5 yards shy of the school record of 1,410 that currently belongs to Ken-Yon Rambo (61 attempts, 1997-2000). On his only chance against Indiana, Hall had a 25-yard return. It was his 62nd career runback, giving him the school record for most returns attempts.

True freshman Antonio Pittman came off the bench Saturday to record his first 100-yard rushing game. Pittman, a 5-11, 190-pound tailback from Akron Buchtel High School, carried the ball a career-high 20 times and netted 144 yards in the win over Indiana. He also scored his first career touchdown, bolting around the left side from 28 yards out to seal the deal with 4:52 to play in the game. Pittman has carried the ball 51 times for 315 yards this year, an average of 6.2 yards per carry.

Freshman receiver Ted Ginn Jr. tallied his second career touchdown in Saturday’s win over Indiana, hauling in a tipped Troy Smith pass and then shedding tacklers and weaving his way 59 yards into the end zone to give the Buckeyes an early 7-0 lead.

“That was a huge play,” said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “Ted has the ability to be an extraordinary player.”

Ginn’s first collegiate touchdown came on a 65-yard punt return against Wisconsin.

Both Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn Jr. 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.

Saturday’s 59-yard touchdown pass from Troy Smith to Tedd Ginn Jr., was the first time the twosome had hooked up at Ohio State. But Smith and Ginn are anything but strangers. The two played – and starred – at Glenville High School in suburban Cleveland under the tutelage of Ginn’s father, Ted Ginn Sr. Starting strong safety Donte Whitner also prepped at Glenville. So did freshman linebacker Curtis Terry, who plays on the Buckeyes’ special teams.

Four members of the Ohio State team – all true freshman – are from Pennsylvania. Split end Devon Lyons is from North Braddock and tight end Rory Nicol is from Beaver. Both have seen playing time this year, while offensive linemen Kyle Mitchum and Jon Skinner are both being redshirted. Mitchum is from Erie, Pa., and Skinner from Mount Carmel, the home of former Buckeye tight end John Frank.

Now in his fourth year at the helm of the Buckeyes, Jim Tressel has compiled an impressive 36-10 record during his stay in Columbus. Included in that figure is a 20-8 mark in Big Ten play and a 16-2 record in non-conference action. His teams have been especially successful at home, winning 23 of 26 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 171-67-2. 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.

Penn State leads the series 10-9, but the Buckeyes have a 6-5 edge in Columbus and have won five straight at home against the Nittany Lions. Ohio State has won two of the last three games played between the two teams, including wins each of the past two years. The last three games have gone down to the wire. In 2001, Penn State prevailed 29-27 in State College, blocking an Ohio State field goal attempt in the closing minutes of the game. In 2002, Ohio State recorded a hard-earned 13-7 victory in Columbus thanks to an interception return for a touchdown by Chris Gamble at the start of the second half. Last year, the Buckeyes came from behind for a 21-20 triumph, scoring the winning touchdown with 1:35 to play and then withstanding one last Nittany Lions’ drive that ended on a 60-yard field goal attempt that was too close for comfort.

Ohio State fell behind 17-7 at the half and lost quarterback Craig Krenzel with a concussion just before intermission. Enter back-up signal caller Scott McMullen who rallied the Buckeyes with two second half scores, including the game-winning touchdown with 1:35 to play. McMullen completed 12 of his 17 pass attempts after coming off the bench, throwing for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was a perfect seven-for-seven on the game-winning drive, capping off the 72-yard march with a 5-yard completion on a fade route to Michael Jenkins in the corner of the end zone. The Buckeye defense rose to the challenge in the second half, holding the Nittany Lions to three points and totaling 10 tackles-for-loss on the day. Penn State threatened one final time, moving down field in an effort to get David Kimball in field goal range. But Kimball, who earlier had nailed a 48-yarder with plenty of room to spare, was (just) short and right on a 60-yard attempt as time expired. Up until last year, the home team had won the last seven games.

In 1976, tailback Jeff Logan rushed for 160 yards to help the Buckeyes record a 12-7 win in OSU’s first visit to Penn State. Buckeye quarterback Joe Germaine (who will be in town for this week’s game) threw for 378 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 31-27 loss at Penn State in 1997, while Michael Jenkins had four receptions for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 29-27 OSU loss at Penn State in 2001. The Nittany Lions have had two runners top the 200-yard mark against the Buckeyes. Curtis Enis rushed for 211 yards in 1997 and Eric McCoo had 211 yards in 1999. Penn State won both of those games. In 1994, Penn State amassed 575 yards in a lopsided 63-14 win in University Park. The Buckeyes had 565 yards in total offense in both 1996 and 1997 against Penn State.

All-American Mike Nugent continues to lead the Big Ten in field goals made per game (2.14), field goal percentage (88.2) and kick scoring (8.6 points per game). He is tied for the lead in PAT percentage at 100.0 with a perfect 15-of-15 and is second in the league in overall scoring. Linebacker A.J. Hawk is the league leader in average tackles per game. The Buckeye junior has 88 tackles on the year and is averaging 12.6 stops per game. Five OSU defenders are listed among the Big Ten’s top 50 tacklers: linebacker Bobby Carpenter is 11th (8.0), strong safety Donte Whitner 13th (7.9), linebacker Anthony Schlegel 20th (7.0) and free safety Nate Salley checks in at No. 32 (6.6). Split end Santonio Holmes is fifth in both receiving yards per game (63.9) and receptions per game (5.3). Holmes, who twice this year has had double figures in receptions, is averaging 15.2 yards per catch. Holmes is also sixth in punt returns with an average of 10.6 yards per run back. In the kick return department, Maurice Hall is fourth in the league with an average of 26.4 on nine attempts. Fifth-year senior Kyle Turano is fourth in punting with an average of 42.8. Turano, a former walk-on, is in his first year as the Buckeyes’ punter.

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), 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.

Three true freshmen saw their first game action Saturday for the Buckeyes – offensive tackle Steve Rehring (West Chester (Lakota, Ohio), linebacker Chad Hoobler (Carrollton, Ohio) and fullback Dionte Johnson (Columbus Eastmoor), all playing in their first game. Hoobler had his first career tackle, while Johnson carried the ball twice for nine yards. A total of 11 true freshmen have played this year.

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 761-297-53 in 114 years and has experienced just 11 losing seasons.

Ohio State has an all-time record of 353-102-25 in Ohio Stadium (opened in 1922). The Buckeyes are 19-1 at home since the beginning of the 2002 season and are 23-3 in three years under head coach Jim Tressel.

In the first four home games of the year, Ohio State has drawn a total of 418,854 fans to Ohio Stadium, an average of 104,714 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, Simon Fraser and Dustin Fox are 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.

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 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 11 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), Sirjo Welch (ST), Steve Rehring (OT), Chad Hoobler (LB) and Dionte Johnson (FB). Rehring, Hoobler and Johnson made their debut this past Saturday against Indiana.

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).

Penn State is 2-5 on the year and 0-4 in the Big Ten after dropping a 6-4 decision to Iowa last weekend in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions opened with a 48-10 win over Akron before losing 21-7 at Boston College. After downing Central Florida 37-13 on Sept. 18, Penn State has lost its last four games: Wisconsin (16-3), Minnesota (16-7), Purdue (20-13) and Iowa.

The Nittany Lions are averaging 17.0 points and 326.0 yards per game on offense this season. That breaks down to 207.1 passing and 118.9 rushing. Zack Mills is completing 56.9 percent of his passes for 1,265 yards (an average of 180.7 yards per game) for six scores. He has thrown 10 interceptions. He has hit seven different receivers for touchdowns, led by Tony Hunt’s 25 receptions for 226 yards. Michael Robinson and Gerald Smith each have 19 catches for 283 and 247 yards, respectively. Hunt is averaging 68.1 yards on the ground with 95 carries for 477 yards and four TDs.

The Penn State defense is allowing 14.6 points and 285.9 yards per game and has benefited from nine interceptions and five fumbles. Paul Posluszny is the leading tackler with 56 total tackles, including 31 solo stops. He has 6.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks. Tamba Hali has 9.0 tackles for loss and Scott Paxson leads with 3.0 sacks. The team has 13 sacks. Calvin Lowry has recovered three of the team’s five recovered fumbles, while Anwar Phillips has three of the nine interceptions.

Iowa held Penn State’s offense scoreless, making Kyle Schlicher’s two first-half field goals stand up for a Big Ten win last Saturday. Iowa gave Penn State its final two points, conceding a safety instead of punting from its end zone late in the fourth quarter. The Hawkeyes intercepted the Nittany Lions for the fourth time on the ensuing possession. The Hawkeyes took a 3-2 lead when Schlicher kicked a 27-yard field goal late in the first quarter. Sean Considine intercepted a pass by Zack Mills in the second quarter and returned it 53 yards to set up Schlicher’s second field goal, also from 27 yards out to go up 6-2. A battle of defense, Iowa had only three first downs in the second half. The Nittany Lions had a first down inside the Iowa 10-yard line two times in the second half but could not score. Robbie Gould missed a 25-yard field-goal attempt in the third quarter, and Antwan Allen intercepted a pass by Michael Robinson at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter before benefiting from a second safety.

Joe Paterno (Brown, 1950) is in his 39th season as the head coach at Penn State, though he is in his 55th year on the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff. He joined that staff in 1950 as an assistant and then replaced Rip Engle in 1966 as the head coach. From there, Paterno has become a coaching legend and is currently the second-winningest coach in major college history. Paterno is 341-114-3 (.748). In his tenure, Penn State has had five perfect seasons (1968, 1969, 1973, 1986 and 1994), winning the national championship in 1981 and 1986. Paterno is the all-time leader among coaches in bowl appearances (31) and postseason triumphs (20) and his teams are 14-6 in New Year’s Day games. His teams have finished in the Top 10 in the national rankings a total of 20 times and in the Top 20 a total of 29 times. He has had 18 teams win at least 10 games and 250 of his former players made it to the NFL, including 29 as first-round draft selections.

The Buckeyes open a two-game road swing at Michigan State next Saturday. Following the game in East Lansing, the Buckeyes travel to Purdue and then conclude the regular season by hosting Michigan Nov. 20 at 1 p.m.

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.