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Buckeyes enjoy respite from games

November 5, 2010
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

COLUMBUS (AP) - Ohio State coach Jim Tressel isn't sure if he'll even get to watch any college football games on Saturday.

"It depends on how many leaves Ellen has me raking," he said of his wife.

With the eighth-ranked Buckeyes enjoying a bye week, the games are put on a back burner.

Ohio State essentially took Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off, except for some film viewing, after pasting Minnesota 52-10 on Saturday.

The Buckeyes (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) took advantage of the down time to sleep in, catch up on their classwork and heal from the daily grind they've faced since camp began in early August.

"Probably every player in the country is complaining," quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. "I'm sure that every team in the country has some bumps and bruises and are pretty sore."

The one-week respite gives some who have missed games due to injuries time to get back on track.

Linebacker Ross Homan, out for the last two games with a foot injury, was allowed to begin running on Wednesday at practice. He is still several days away from returning to contact, but the Buckeyes are hoping their second-leading tackler can return to action full-time starting next week.

In addition, backup linebacker Dorian Bell, held out due to a concussion, and defensive back Donnie Evege, sidelined with an undisclosed injury, have returned to drills and are also expected to be back in time for the Buckeyes' home game a week from Saturday against Penn State.

Others, such as tight end Jake Stoneburner, have been playing injured. Stoneburner, who has missed action with a high ankle sprain, used the extra time to fit in some more rehab to get closer to 100 percent healthy.

There's also some mental work being done. Ohio State is just 2-4 in games after bye weeks under Tressel.

He said he and his staff have taken steps this week to try to come out of their off week with more momentum.

"The one thing that we've talked about and we've consciously worked on this bye week is not to get too excited about the next game," he said.

There have been times in the past that his teams have been ready to play the next opponent on Wednesday, then had a letdown before the actual kickoff three days later, he said.

Another problem for a team with a week off can be that it starts believing its own hype.

"I can remember back in '04, where we were 3-0 after beating a good N.C. State team in the last game," Tressel said. "In our minds, we were probably thinking we were better than we were. And all of a sudden, if you have two weeks of thinking you're better than you are, you're really in trouble."

Those Buckeyes lost their next three games and finished tied for fifth in the Big Ten.

This time, Ohio State is taking it nice and easy.

"Our primary things are to get our bodies ready to go and get our emotional gas tanks refilled," Tressel said.