..... Why... WHY do I post OSU articles???......
Tressel determined to improve kickoff return
The Associated Press
It's a statistic that rankles Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, a man not easily rankled. His Buckeyes were dead last in the Big Ten a year ago in kickoff returns and he's determined that won't happen again.
So Wednesday's kick scrimmage at Ohio Stadium took on particular importance.
Asked at the start of August workouts if he were giving special attention to special teams, Tressel said, "Absolutely. We were last in the world in kickoff returns. ... We're emphasizing that."
The Buckeyes weren't last in the world, although they were pretty close. They were 117th of the 119 bowl-level teams in kickoff returns, averaging just 17.65 yards. Only New Mexico State (17.45) and Northern Illinois (17.29) were worse, and they combined to go 6-19 as compared to Ohio State's 11-2.
It's obvious that there's plenty of room for improvement.
Not so long ago, Ohio State had one of the very best kickoff units with Ted Ginn Jr. prepared to take back almost every one that came his way. Ginn, now working for a living with the Miami Dolphins, famously went the distance with the opening kickoff in the national championship game two years ago (and was injured by a teammate in the ensuing celebration, thus going the distance on his last collegiate play). Things have gone downhill ever since.
Ginn averaged 24.4 yards in 2006, 29.6 as a sophomore and 20.0 in 2004. He had two kickoff returns for TDs, along with seven punt returns for scores in his career.
There were 56 teams in Division I last fall that returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Ohio State didn't have one.
"I don't know that we ever put all of the blocks together that you need to spring one," Tressel said on Wednesday after the kickers and returners were on display for more than an hour. "It's probably a reminder of how good the guy was before."
A year ago, backup wide receiver Ray Small handled 22 of the Buckeyes' 34 kickoff returns and averaged 17.8 yards per attempt. He shared punt return duties with Brian Hartline.
Now running backs Brandon Saine and Dan "Boom" Herron, both of whom dazzled in spring workouts, are the deep men on kickoffs, with Small and Hartline the top guys on punt returns.
Most fans pin any problems on the players who handle the returns, but punter A.J. Trapasso said a many aspects must come together for a successful return.
"It's not just the returners, although that's all that most people ever see," he said. "We need to tighten up. We obviously know our numbers have been down, and we want to improve on that."
The NCAA banned the horse-collar tackle from college football.
Following the lead of the NFL and acting on a proposal made by its Football Rules Committee, the NCAA will assess a penalty this season when a runner is yanked to the ground from the inside collar of his shoulder pads or jersey.
Other changes announced Wednesday include a clarification of rules on chop and implementation of a 40-second play clock that will start as soon as the ball is ruled dead.