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Notes from Ohio State news conference

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sorry for the posting lull this afternoon. I'm finally settling in after Jim Tressel's weekly news conference and interviews with defensive end Lawrence Wilson, right tackle Bryant Browning and wide receiver Brian Hartline.

Much of the focus was on Buckeyes running back Chris "Beanie" Wells, who coach Jim Tressel confirmed will play Saturday against top-ranked USC (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). Wells will do individual drills for the second straight practice tonight before fully participating in Wednesday's workout.

He's going to play. How much or how well are the big questions. But given Wells' big-game production and how poor Ohio State looked on offense against Ohio, the Buckeyes will take as much from Wells as they can possibly get.

"I talked to him, he said he was running at full speed, he feels good," Browning said. "Today will be another day for him to get better and get ready for the game."

Other highlights:

  • Despite playing sparingly last week against Ohio, freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor could have an enhanced role against the Trojans. Buckeyes coaches have expressed some reservations about putting Pryor under pressure, which Saturday's game certainly will bring, but Tressel said there will be opportunities for the 6-6, 235-pound freshman.

"Maybe wouldn't put him in on our own [3-yard line]," Tressel said. "You try to script for success and at least the best chance for it, but, no, I think he's proven, with his knowledge of what we're doing -- the only thing that holds back a freshman from playing in my mind is if they don't understand what we're doing and, therefore, their physical abilities can't take over, and the thing I've been impressed with with Terrelle is he understands what we're doing."

  • Cornerback Donald Washington and safety Jamario O'Neal return to the field this weekend after serving a two-game suspension for violating team rules. Whether Washington regains his starting job remains to be seen. He and sophomore Chimdi Chekwa are listed as co-starters on this week's depth chart. Jermale Hines likely will remain Ohio State's nickel back.

Chekwa started in Washington's place the first two games.

"Tune in," Tressel said when asked how he would use the two cornerbacks.

Washington has started the last two seasons, recording 70 tackles and an interception.

"It's killing him," Wilson said of the wait. "He's a competitor, he wants to play. I can see it in his face. ... He's a two-year starter, he's a good player. It's big for him to return."

  • Tressel had high praise for USC starting quarterback Mark Sanchez, who Ohio State recruited heavily along with offensive lineman Jeff Byers. Though Sanchez isn't much of a threat to scramble, his mobility in the pocket to keep plays alive could give Ohio State trouble.

"A good bit of what he did was on the move and threw so accurate on the move and had a great presence about him," Tressel said. "I know he came out here in the summer before his senior year and his dad was with him and just great people. You could just tell the look in his eyes, he's a leader and a competitor."

Tressel was asked how close Ohio State came to landing Sanchez.

"The problem with recruiting is if you're second, you're 100th, so I don't know," he said. "I think he enjoyed Ohio State."

  • Tressel emphasized that he, his coaches and, to some extent, the players are not overly exposed to the outside world and the mostly negative sentiment about Ohio State. The Buckeyes' lackluster performance against Ohio only fueled the belief that the Buckeyes will fall Saturday night, but Tressel doesn't concern himself with those views.

"What people think is not that important to me," he said. "Now, the guys in the locker room, what they're thinking is what's key, and so how did not playing as well [against Ohio] affect how we're thinking is more of a concern of mine than what people said."

  • Here's Tressel on what would happen if he and USC coach Pete Carroll switched jobs.

"What he expects is not dissimilar to what we teach and expect and what Earle [Bruce] did or John [Cooper] did or whoever it happens to be. So I would think there wouldn't be much difference if you switched places, which I don't think that's going to happen. That's quite a hypothetical."