Spring Practice Insider: QB Battle Taking Shape
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Senior quarterback Joe Bauserman missed Tuesday’s spring practice to attend class. He may have wished he skipped school instead.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Without him, sophomore Kenny Guiton ran Ohio State’s first-team offense with the precision of a seasoned veteran.
Coach Jim Tressel said he was looking for one of the quarterbacks to “emerge” this spring, and Guiton seems to be taking that challenge to heart.
The third-year quarterback out of Texas threw a number of pinpoint passes during the scrimmage portion of practice that was open to the media, and showed off a strong, accurate arm along with good mobility.
He might just have the most accurate arm in the group, and if he continues to show the same command he had Tuesday, Guiton should get plenty of more options to run the first-team offense.
Braxton Coming Along
Photo by Jim Davidson
With Bauserman gone, everyone slid up a spot on the depth chart. Guiton worked with the starters, Taylor Graham with the second-team and freshman Braxton Miller quarterbacked the third group, for the most part.
Miller, in particular, looked a lot more comfortable throwing the ball than the first time we saw him last week in the opening practice of the spring. He can make some impressive throws that most of his competitors cannot, and that includes Terrelle Pryor. Though he has only participated in a handful of practices, Miller already throws the sideline pass as well as anyone on the roster. He threw a bullet pass from the left hash to Chris Fields who was standing along the right sideline.
It wasn’t a perfect day for Miller. He struggled with his accuracy on some of the timing routes, throwing a few passes behind his receivers, but it was a much more consistent day than what we saw from redshirt freshman Taylor Graham. The son of former OSU quarterback Kent Graham has a huge arm, but he has a tendency to overthrow his receivers, especially on balls to sideline. He nearly hit a couple of reporters with a few of his throws.
Pryor and Moeller on the Mend
was in uniform but did not take part in contact drills.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Yesterday we ran a story about Terrelle Pryor and his recovery from off-season foot surgery. Pryor had a follow-up procedure last week before the start of spring practice, but his was back in pads Tuesday, as were the rest of the Buckeyes. Pryor wore sweatpants and shoulder pads. He took part in some of the passing drills, but did not participate in any of the team portion as he continued to work with the younger quarterbacks.
Another player back in pads Tuesday was Tyler Moeller. The senior defensive back is coming off pectoral surgery, and the coaching staff is taking it slow heading into his sixth year. Moeller was in pads Tuesday and went through a number of individual drills, but was wearing a yellow "no contact" jersey and did not take part in the scrimmages.
Sabino Making a Surge
After alternating with Storm Klein as the first-team middle linebacker in the first practice of the spring, Etienne Sabino had the position all to himself Tuesday. Klein spent most of the day alternating with Jordan Whiting on the second-team, but it was easy to see why the coaches are giving Sabino the first chance to win the starting job at middle linebacker.
A junior out of Miami, Sabino voluntarily took a redshirt last season in order to prepare himself for just this situation. He was a highly-touted prospect in the class of 2008, and the Buckeyes are hoping he can put it all together for two good years as a starter. Sabino has a great combination of size and speed at the linebacker spot, and he showed off his ability to rush the passer during Tuesday’s practice. He had a “sack” on Guiton one play, and then came untouched up the middle and batted down a pass just moments later.
Sabino and Andrew Sweat were the first-team linebackers, while Klein and Whiting both worked in the middle next to Dorian Bell with the second group. With Jonathan Newsome still missing from practice, senior Tony Jackson continued to be the top Sam linebacker when they were not in the nickel. That was not very often, whoever, as sophomore Christian Bryant worked with the first team at both Star and safety. Senior Nate Oliver worked as the second-team Star whole both Chad Hagan and Ryan Shazier got play with the third-team defense.
Offensive Line Working Out Kinks
Photo by Jim Davidsion
It was nice to see Sabino make a few big plays out there, but it wasn’t exactly the best pass protection. In fact, the offensive line as a whole had issues picking up the blitz, especially when anyone other than Mike Brewster was at center.
The first-team offensive line was the same as last week, with Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts at the two tackle spots and Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley as the guards. The second-team line was more moving parts. Linsley and Mewhort both played some center, and Mewhort also played some left tackle. So did Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell. Hall played a little bit at left guard, but spent more time at left tackle while Norwell, again, was mainly inside at the left guard spot.
Players to Watch: Offense
A number of guys looked good on the offensive side of the ball Tuesday, but let’s start with the receiver position, where DeVier Posey continues to impress. Obviously Posey is a senior who has done it for a few years now, but he seems to get better every day. Don’t’ be surprised if he comes out hot and has a big game against Nebraska in his first game back this fall.
Along with Posey, tight end Jake Stoneburner looked like a favorite weapon of Guiton Tuesday. He had a number of catches on comeback routes or short crossing routes over the middle. Chris Fields seems to be emerging as that third guy in the slot, and could be the starter across from Corey Brown in the opener if T.Y. Williams is ready to go. Williams looked good in the first practice we saw, but had a few drops Tuesday.
Rod Smith introduces himself to Andrew Sweat (42).
Photo by Jim Davidson
Behind those two, the Buckeyes don’t have many options other than James Louis. For that reason, they may use their talented stable of backs more in the passing game. Jordan Hall lined up in the slot a few times Tuesday and he is too elusive for any linebacker or safety to hang with him. The Buckeyes also used Rod Smith split out wide, and he had a few shining moments in the pass-catching drill.
Listed at 6-foot-3, Smith is a big target and he made a one-handed catch today with Jordan Whiting hanging on his other arm. The next time he came up, Smith ran over linebacker Andrew Sweat. I mean flat-out ran him over and put him on his butt. Then turned inside, made the catch and scored.
Players to Watch: Defense
In our first practice report, we raved about cornerback Travis Howard as the standout of the day. Howard continued to work with the first-team defense Tuesday, but it was another corner who made a splash. Working with the second-team defense, Dionte Allen made a few nice plays, including an interception of Taylor Graham. Allen is a transfer from Florida State who will be eligible to play this year. He could challenge Dominic Clarke for the other cornerback spot across from Howard.
A few guys on the defensive line had nice days Tuesday, including John Simon and J.T. Moore, who took some snaps at the Leo spot with the first team. Evan Blankenship even had a nice pressure on Allen’s interception and freshman Joe Hale worked with the second-team defense.
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