COLUMBUS - Saturday will bring the 23rd season-opening game of Jim Tressel's career as a college football coach, but this one will not be just routine. Tressel goes into Ohio State's match-up against Youngstown State unable to disguise his eagerness to watch a number of his heavily-hyped recruits perform in game action for the first time.
"I'm anxious to see all of those young guys out there," Tressel said. "Sure they'll be nervous, but I like watching any guy when he goes into that stadium for the first time."
The Buckeyes handled the Division I-AA Penguins 38-6 in the first game of the 2007 season, and an Ohio State team this year that is brimming with experienced and talented upperclassmen should again provide the breathing room Tressel will need to go several layers into his depth chart.
The eighth-year Ohio State coach said yesterday that he plans to play many of the freshmen on his roster on Saturday, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, receiver DeVier Posey, running back Lamaar Thomas, offensive linemen Mike Brewster, J.B. Shugarts and Mike Adams, linebackers Etienne Sabino and Andrew Sweat, and defensive end Keith Wells, and he knows Ohio Stadium packed with close to 105,000 Buckeyes fans might be a little intimidating for them the first time around.
"It's fun to see their eyes in that first game," Tressel said.
Pryor, the country's top high school player last year and its most coveted recruit, will take the field for the Buckeyes in the first half if all goes according to plan. Tressel said redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Bauserman, who with Pryor currently shares the backup role behind senior starter Todd Boeckman, should also see early action.
"We always like in the first half of the first game to get our quarterbacks in there, just so they're not nervous anymore and all of that, so I'm hoping we can do that," Tressel said. "The perfect scenario for me would be to have all three of them get in the game in the first half."
Boeckman said he is a proponent of the Buckeyes utilizing a variety of players and giving the opposition different looks, and different challenges.
"I think all of us are excited about seeing these young guys get in there in a game situation," Boeckman said. "We brought in a group of really talented, athletic players, and they bring a lot to the table. We're looking forward to the things they can do to help this team get better."
Tressel said he saw Pryor yesterday morning in one of the meeting rooms at the Woody Hayes Center, studying film. When asked by his coach if he was nervous about the upcoming game, Pryor displayed that confident grin, Tressel said.
"I think he's nervous because he's the kind of guy that wants everyone to be pleased with his performance - starting with himself - and he's a perfectionist," Tressel said. "Now, I know he's going to be nervous when he goes out there on Saturday, but he just needs to get hit a few times and then his competitive juices and focus and all will take over."
Tressel said that while in the preseason there have been no limits placed on which sections of the OSU playbook are open to Pryor, the Buckeyes will make a concentrated effort to play to his strengths when he is in the game.
"There's not anything that we've been doing this summer that he's not done. There's no play that people have said, 'OK, well, Terrelle can't do this one, he's never done this one before,' because that's what practice is, this is his chance to do it," Tressel said.
"But one thing that we're asking our coaches to do regardless of position, but especially for our quarterbacks, is go into this game and say, OK, what are the five things Joe Bauserman does best because we want Joe to be successful. What are the best five things that Terrelle Pryor does? We want him to go in and have a chance to do the things that he's really comfortable with, and after all that is out of the way, then we do what we have to do."
Although so much of the talk and hype has swirled around Pryor, Tressel said he is just as interested in seeing his young linemen, running backs, receivers and defenders react to the surroundings. Adams, Brewster and Shugarts are all listed on the Ohio State depth chart for the Youngstown game, while redshirt freshman Dan "Boom" Herron is designated as the backup at tailback, and a starter on the kick return team.
"I don't want to limit it to Terrelle. I'm anxious to see all those young guys, because they've come in and done a nice job [but] we've never seen them in a game," he said. "It's fun to watch guys have that first experience."
Contact Matt Markey at: