Bauserman Zips Young Buckeyes Past Akron in Opener
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — No Terrelle Pryor, no problem.
Photo by Jim Davidson
In the much anticipated debut of Ohio State Head Coach Luke Fickell, it was quarterback Joe Bauserman who stole the show.
Much to the dismay of the fans who crowded Ohio Stadium on one of the most blistering game days in history, Bauserman kept freshman Braxton Miller on the sidelines for all but three plays in the first half.
For good reason.
“He was named the starting quarterback to take the first snap for a reason,” tight end Jake Stoneburner said.
“He’s been doing it all camp and he was putting the ball on the money today.”
Making his first career start at the ripe old age of 26, Bauserman passed for three touchdowns—all to Stoneburner—and ran for another as the 18th-ranked Buckeyes (1-0) dominated Akron 42-0 in the season-opener.
Bauserman completed 12 of his 16 passes for 163 yards and the three scores. He also ran for 32 yards and another score. None of it surprised his head coach.
“I expected him to have confidence. I expected him to manage just like us offensively. I expected him to manage the things we wanted him to manage,” Fickell said after the game.
“We'll sit there and evaluate, and we'll do a good job of not being satisfied and finding ways that we can get better. But I think the best thing I saw was, again, that body language, that demeanor, that control, that confidence.”
The fifth-year senior led the Buckeyes down the field on their opening drive of the game. He hooked up with redshirt freshman Verlon Reed on roll-out play that picked up 28 yards and then scrambled 15 yards for a touchdown.
It was a run that looked oddly similar to the way Craig Krenzel used to score touchdowns.
celebrates his touchdown against Akron
Photo by Dan Harker
“It was a little miscommunication and I was just trying to get back to the line of scrimmage,” Bauserman said.
“I made a guy miss and then it just opened up.”
With Bauserman playing so well, Miller wouldn’t get his first chance to run the offense in front of the 105,001 fans at the Horseshoe until the start of the second quarter. When he did, it didn’t go so well.
After scrambling for two yards up the middle on his first play, Miller had a ball dropped by tight end Reid Fragel followed by a bad snap from All-American center Michael Brewster.
“I think that was kind of fitting for him,” Fickell said of his young freshman.
“I told him on the sideline that might be the best thing that happened to you. ‘You got to run the ball right off the bat and you got hit, so you forgot about that. You had a bad play and a senior guy that snapped the ball to you on the ground, and most important thing to me, is you didn't bat an eye at it. You didn't throw your helmet or get mad or upset. You handled everything extremely well.’”
Miller eventually got another chance in the second half, and actually put up some impressive numbers for a freshman. He was 8-of-12 passing for 130 yards with one touchdown pass to fellow freshman Devin Smith.
“I didn’t think he would throw it to me,” said Smith, who scored in the same end zone as his touchdown in the North-South game back in June.
“My emotions were very high. As soon as I scored, I looked to my mom. I know she was proud of me.”
In all, the Buckeyes racked up 517 yards of total offense compared to just 90 for Akron, who is coming off a 1-11 season from a year ago.
With both Boom Herron and Jordan Hall suspended for the opener, sophomore Carlos Hyde led the Buckeyes with 93 yards on 19 carries. Redshirt freshman Rod Smith added 74 on 18 carries.
“They were sharp. They were sharp and they were fast. And that's the thing we talked about on both sides of the football,” Fickell said.
“That's what we were looking for and that's what our expectations were.”
The Buckeyes limited Akron to 35 yards rushing on 27 carries. The Zips were just 2-of-13 on third down, and quarterback Clayton Moore was intercepted once by linebacker Andrew Sweat on a ball that was broken up by corner Dominic Clarke.
“The line of scrimmage was our problem,” Akron Head Coach Rob Ianello said.
"Our defense was on the field way too long. We felt we were competitive on defense, but we missed too many tackles, which was a result of being on the field too long. On offense, we didn’t get anything accomplished today. I’m most disappointed in our offense.”
Or maybe he shouldn’t be.
The Buckeyes looked pretty good on both sides of the ball in their opener, but the test will only stiffer next week when Toledo comes to town.
Box Score and Statistics
Ten Things We Learned by Brandon Castel
Two Quarterback System Seems to be Working - By Brandon Castel
The Buckeye Watch - by Tony Gerdeman
Stoneburner's Big Day was Years in the Making - by Brandon Castel
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