12 Players Who Need a Good Jersey Scrimmage
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It isn’t very often that one practice can have a lasting affect on the entire season, but Saturday’s jersey scrimmage is more than just a practice.
The Buckeyes will put on the pads and hit the field—and each other—in Ohio Stadium with a lot riding on the biggest practice of the fall. The winner of the scrimmage will get the coveted scarlet practice jerseys, but the real winners will be the guys who earn starting jobs on Saturday.
We take a look at 12 players who need to perform well under the pressure, not to mention he watchful eye of Head Coach Luke Fickell.
Photo by Jim Davidson
QB Joe Bauserman — Considering that Bauserman is still the top man on the depth chart as the off-season winds down, it’s safe to say that he probably would not fall out of the mix with a bad showing Saturday. The problem for Bauserman is that Braxton Miller is rapidly approaching in his rearview mirror. He has shown improvement in practice, but the senior signal caller needs to prove he can lead this offense down the field at Ohio Stadium. A good showing in the jersey scrimmage would solidify him as at least part of the equation at quarterback.
QB Kenny Guiton — Contrarily, Guiton faces a much different challenge heading into the jersey scrimmage. After competing for the vacated starting spot during the spring, Guiton has clearly fallen behind Bauserman and Miller in the race to replace Terrelle Pryor. He isn’t quite out of it—the way Taylor Graham appears to be—but Guiton would need an impressive showing Saturday followed by a great of practice to make the coaches second-guess their thinking.
RB Rod Smith — No player on the Ohio State roster is more mysterious than Rod Smith. The Indiana product has been called everything from the best tailback on the roster to the second coming of Eddie George. He is quick and elusive for 230-pound back, but we have seen so little of Smith that it’s getting harder and harder to believe he could leapfrog the other backs by the time the season starts. Right now his claim to fame is creating headlines during bowl practice, but Saturday he will get another chance to everyone what he’s all about.
WR T.Y. Williams — It has not been a great fall camp for Williams, but his unique size makes him an intriguing option at receiver if he can ever start to hold on to the football. At 6-6, Williams is never going to be a great catch-in-traffic guy for the Buckeyes, but he could be a tremendous asset in the red zone, where they have struggled recently.
WR Devin Smith — No one epitomizes what it means to be a freshman in first camp more than Devin Smith. After the first week of practice, the Massillon product was all the rage. He showed great hands, good toughness, an ability to get open and propensity for getting up field. Then in week two he got tossed around a little bit and dropped a few catchable balls. It will be interesting to see how he responds, because the talent is there.
DL Michael Bennett — No freshman seems to have made a bigger impact this fall than defensive lineman Michael Bennett. The Army All-American has recovered nicely from his nasty broken forearm and is now poised to break into the defensive line rotation as a true freshman. He can play inside and outside for Jim Heacock, and good showing Saturday could solidify him has one of the eight guys in their rotation.
DL Darryl Baldwin — The fact Bennett and fellow freshman Joe Hale are working with the first and second team defenses is good for them, but terrible for Baldwin. The redshirt freshman out of Solon looks like a guy who could have contributed a year ago, but he doesn’t play like one. According to the roster, he is up to 290 pounds this year and can play both inside and out, but he is quickly falling out of the mix.
DT Evan Blankenship — Another player who could find himself in the mix on the defensive line this fall is Blankenship. The senior out of Pennsylvania is a converted offensive linemen, and few expected him to ever contribute on defense, but Heacock said recently that he has played well enough to be in the mix at nose tackle.
LB Etienne Sabino — By most accounts, it has been a good off-season for Sabino, who redshirted last season in order to preserve his remaining two years of eligibility. Now is the time if he is going to make his mark at Ohio State and he seems to be taking full advantage. Sabino is working as the first-team Sam linebacker in the base defense, but his most important role could be playing inside at Mike linebacker in the nickel.
LB Curtis Grant — There is a stigma attached to 5-star prospects that they should be ready to play from the moment they step on campus. That’s not always true. Prospects rankings are primarily based on physical attributes, but there is a very real mental side of the game that needs to be picked up. Grant has all the physical tools to be a great player, but how quickly he adds the mental part of the game will determine if and when that happens.
CB Dominic Clarke — He was supposed to step in and snag the starting corner spot across from Travis Howard this off-season, but Clarke has found himself in a tough battle with redshirt freshman Bradley Roby. In fact, Roby actually seems to have pulled ahead this past week, which means Clarke will need a strong close to fall camp if he wants to avoid being the odd man out.
DB Christian Bryant — There is little doubt that Bryant is going to be on the field somewhere this fall, but it doesn’t hurt for him to keep reminding the coaches what they are missing when he’s not out there.
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