Fickell Tests Competitive Fires in Jersey Scrimmage
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Under former head coach Jim Tressel, Ohio State’s jersey scrimmage were always about pride.
The winners got to wear the scarlet jerseys in practice and the losers had to stomach the fact they were stuck wearing the white ones because they didn’t get it done.
Luke Fickell wasn’t having any of that Saturday.
Photo by Dan Harker
“We don’t care who wears the jerseys, whether or I am playing against my bother or somebody I don’t like, to me it has to be competitive,” Fickell said after running his first jersey scrimmage as the man in charge.
“And if I can beat them I want to beat them as bad as I can. The biggest thing is that they compete and we are going to measure and it is going to be on the turnovers and on the toughness factor.”
Measuring solely by turnovers, the defense came up short again Saturday, as Travis Howard’s interception of Joe Bauserman proved to be the lone takeaway. It would be hard to question their toughness, however, as the defense had a number of sacks and plays in the backfield against their offensive counterparts.
“I thought they were competitive the whole camp so far and that’s the nature of what we want to be,” Fickell said.
“So we weren’t focused on the score.”
In the past, Tressel was often accused of rigging these scrimmages to come down to one final play. He even referred to it as “the final play in the world,” but Fickell wanted to see which of guys’ fires burned hot even when the game wasn’t on the line.
“I didn’t want that to effect how the team played or how we called things,” the 38-year old said.
“The biggest thing was I didn’t want them to look up to the scoreboard and be up by 50 and slow down or be down by 50 and sulk.”
The offense did create a few big plays down the field, including a 55-yard pass from Bauserman to freshman Devin Smith and 58-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to Chris Fields.
They scored three touchdowns and added five Drew Basil field goals, but the offense wasn’t able to get the run game going against a fierce defensive front.
"It gave us a little bit of urgency to worry about what we were doing,” All-American center Michael Brewster said.
Photo by Dan Harker
“He said we will know who wins the game on toughness and who is going to rush the ball or stop the run and we also had some nice pass plays.”
It will be interesting to see how Fickell and his staff grade the film after re-watching Saturday’s scrimmage. Both sides of the ball seemed to do some nice things, but there is little question that both still have plenty to work on.
“I am not sure what the score was, but I thought people did a nice job,” Brewster said.
Both sides seemed to be fired up and there was good competition despite the fact not as many starting jobs are open as one might expect. With Orhian Johnson and C.J. Barnett locking down the two safety spots and Howard developing a star status at corner, there are really only two battles on the defense right now.
Redshirt freshman Bradley Roby has taken the lead on Dominic Clarke for the corner spot across from Howard, and spent the entire scrimmage working with the ones.
Meanwhile, Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein are battling over the middle linebacker spot in the nickel defense. Both will be on the field in the base (4-3) defense, but with a healthy Tyler Moeller, the Sam linebacker’s playing time will be a lot lower this season.
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