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Ohio State

Buckeyes' Smith prepares for Indiana

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COLUMBUS - A sore shoulder kept quarterback Justin Zwick sidelined during Ohio State's practice yesterday afternoon.

Fellow sophomore quarterback Troy Smith assumed the majority of the snaps from center with the starting offensive unit while freshman Todd Boeckman handled the rest as the Buckeyes prepared to meet Indiana on Saturday afternoon.

Does it all mean that Zwick, the starting quarterback all season, will not be available for the homecoming game against the Hoosiers and Smith will start in his place?

Not necessarily, according to Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who finds himself trying to steer the Buckeyes (3-3, 0-3) away from an unthinkable fourth straight Big Ten defeat after suffering a 33-7 loss at Iowa on Saturday.

"Right now Justin is on a day-to-day situation," Tressel said during the weekly news conference. "He won't throw today, and then we'll evaluate it as we go, so I suppose the answer to the question as to who would start at quarterback if we were playing today would be Troy, and Todd [Boeckman] would be the backup, and then we'll evaluate it each day."

Zwick injured his shoulder during the Iowa debacle and was replaced by Smith, who led the Buckeyes on their only scoring drive. Smith, who has seen limited playing time this fall, has completed 10 of 17 passes for 105 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. Against the Hawkeyes, he completed 8 of 12 attempts for 76 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass to Rory Nichol late in the second half.

Tressel offered a cautious evaluation of Smith's performance against the Hawkeyes.

"I thought Troy did some good

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things," he said. "I've always been a person that wants to deal with reality. That was Iowa's second defense, playing a vanilla defense, but you still have to execute and I thought he did some good things there.

"I thought there were some things that he did that we can't have on an everyday basis, but I thought it was a good experience for him."

Tressel wasn't specific about Zwick's injury and wouldn't speculate on whether or not he would be available to play against an Indiana team that is also seeking its first conference win. Zwick, who has completed 81 of 160 passes for 1,020 yards, including five touchdowns and six interceptions, is still considered the Buckeyes' starting quarterback even if the injury sidelines him for this week, according to Tressel.

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