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Last updated: 04/10/2011 12:54 PM

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Football
Spring Practice Insider: Offense Tops Defense In Scrimmage
By Tony Gerdeman

The Buckeyes were back on the practice field Saturday morning, but did so on the hallowed plastic grass of Ohio Stadium.

The morning was basically broken up into three sessions, with the first being the standard stretching, practicing and repping; the second session was a shortened kick scrimmage; and the final session of the day was actual scrimmaging.

The scrimmage was won by the offense 56-45. Despite the score, the offense only came up with three touchdowns. The first came on the first series of the day as Joe Bauserman, who was the "starting" quarterback, found Devier Posey over the middle and Posey then took it the rest of the way into the corner of the endzone for a 33-yard touchdown.

The second touchdown on the day was also Posey's, as Taylor Graham--who was the second quarterback to see action in the scrimmage--found the rising senior on an out route from eight yards out. It was a great catch and Posey was able to keep both feet in bounds as Dominic Clarke was all over him.

Braxton Millers dives in for the score while extending the ball over the goal line with both hands..
Illustration by John Porentas
(Editor's Note: Since photos were not allowed, this is the best we can do to show you this great play.)
The third touchdown of the day came on the very next series as freshman Braxton Miller escaped pressure from defensive end J.T. Moore and somehow jittered his way towards the endzone, diving across the goal line with the ball extended with both hands for effect. Miller finished 3-3 on the drive with four carries for 20 yards--though one of those carries was actually a sack by walk-on defensive end Stewart Smith.

Running Fancy

The offense did most of their damage later in the scrimmage when they went four and five wide and threw on every down.

Prior to that, they actually ran the ball pretty well with five different running backs. Boom Herron got the first series, then Jaamal Berry got the second. Jordan Hall followed him, then gave way to Carlos Hyde. Redshirt freshman Rod Smith was the fifth tailback on the day, and displayed the skill that has been talked about since last summer.

Smith had an impressive 11-yard run that saw him dodge a defender in the backfield, take the ball out wide and get to the edge with his speed before lowering his helmet and delivering a blow to a defender on the sideline. It was an encouraging glimpse at the potential that Smith possesses. The other thing to like is that he generally picks up an extra yard or two as he's being tackled.

The most impressive running back on the day, however, was Jaamal Berry. He displayed the quickness that everybody saw in limited opportunities last year, and never wasted time in getting forward. He also always delivered a blow when the situation presented itself.

The unofficial rushing stats for the tailbacks look like this:

Herron 4-16
Berry 5-30
Hall 4-16
Hyde 3-2
Smith 6-21

Passing Fancy

Joe Bauserman was the first quarterback on the day, and finished unofficially 4-5 for 66 yards, with a touchdown and an interception to linebacker Dorian Bell. He looked comfortable throughout, and stayed in the pocket looking for receivers.

Taylor Graham was the second quarterback in, and he was impressive. He only finished (unofficially) 7-15 for 61 yards, but had about four drops. When the offense went four and five wide, he looked his most comfortable.

Kenny Guiton was the third quarterback. He finished 7-15 for 48 yards, but was sacked a few times and also fumbled once. After the way he looked earlier in the week, it was disappointing to see him struggle like this.

Braxton Miller was the fourth quarterback in the game, and went 4-6 for 43 yards. He completed his last three passes on his touchdown drive and looked confident in what he was doing. It probably didn't hurt that Terrelle Pryor was standing about twelve yards behind him on the field when Miller was out there. After each play Pryor was in Miller's ear talking about the last play and the one coming in.

The Best Player on the Field

Right now, that's Devier Posey. He had a drop today, but that was because he was in the process of catching an eight-yard pass and trying to turn it up on a third and 20.

Other than that drop, he has pretty much caught everything we've seen thrown to him this spring. And he's making moves as soon as he catches the ball. On the day, he finished with five catches for 83 yards.

He was clearly primed to have a 1,000-yard season, but will now have to do it in eight or nine games instead of thirteen or fourteen.

Hits Happen

The players were in pads and everybody was live, which always leads to big hits. Some of the biggest of the day came from backup safety Jamie Wood, who has a history of such brutish behavior.

The most notable hit from Wood came when he met up with 6'0" 238-pound Carlos Hyde, stopping Hyde for a four-yard gain. The hit brought various hoots and whoops from the defensive side of the field.

Etienne Sabino whacks TY Williams
Illustration by Tony Gerdeman
(Editor's Note: Like the Braxton Miller play, we wanted to put in a picture here, but weren't allowed to take any. You're going to have to make do with this instead.)
Etienne Sabino delivers a big hit.
Middle linebacker Etienne Sabino had a hit in coverage on receiver T.Y. Williams that didn't look all that bad, but he caught Williams somewhere around the ribs or breadbasket and knocked the wind out of him. Williams was down on knee for a while before finally walking off.

The defenders were happy the quarterbacks were live for a change, as opposed to years past when Terrelle Pryor was off limits. Talking after the practice, however, Nathan Williams said he would sack Pryor even though he wasn't supposed to because Pryor needed it.

Line Dancing

The first unit on the offensive line during the scrimmage looked like this:

LT - Mike Adams
LG - Jack Mewhort
C - Mike Brewster
RG - Corey Linsley
RT - J.B. Shugarts

Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell, who have both frequently been in the mix with the first team showed up on the second team with Hall at left tackle and Norwell at left guard. There was so much mixing and matching on the day, however, that drawing any conclusions from this lineup today wouldn't be overly valuable.

Still, it's good to see that there is enough quality depth right now that Hall and Norwell were on the outside looking in for a bit. Now the Buckeyes just need to work on the quantity depth.

The first unit defensive line was such:

DE - John Simon
DT - Garrett Goebel
DT - John Hankins
DE - Nathan Williams

But as is usual for an Ohio State defensive line, there was rotation all over the place. Adam Bellamy (who had a sack and forced fumble on Guiton), Solomon Thomas, Evan Blankenship and J.T. Moore also got time with the first team.

Melvin Fellows was lined up inside the Leo on the second unit and provided a nice pass rush a few times, continuing the disruption that we've already seen this spring.

Freshman Joel Hale was the strongside defensive end for the second unit, and was also providing pressure. He was stout against the run as well--he was the only defender on the day to stop Jaamal Berry at the line of scrimmage. It continues to be clear that Hale is going to play this season.

The Back Seven at the Forefront

Replacing Brian Rolle and Ross Homan is not going to be easy, even if Etienne Sabino and Andrew Sweat end up making it look that way.

The Buckeyes didn't seem to miss a beat when Sweat was in for Homan at the will linebacker last season, and most expect that to continue this year. The unknown, however, was how Sabino would replace Rolle--or even if he would be the guy. But he sure looks the part--all 6'3" 248 pounds of him. More importantly though, is that he's also playing like it.

Etienne Sabino played like his hair was on fire in the scrimmage.
Illustration by John Porentas
(Editor's Note: You guessed it. No pix allowed, but you should have seen him!)
Etienne  Sabino
Sabino had several solid hits, but the key was that he wrapped his arms around those hits and turned them into solid tackles. He was also in the backfield very quickly. Basically, entering his fourth year in the program, the redshirt junior is finally looking like everybody was hoping he'd look from day one. You could even say that he looked like he was playing with his hair on fire.

Sabino mentioned after practice that he learned a lot by watching and redshirting last year. He says he feels more comfortable than he ever has. Now he just needs to show it during the actual games.

Walk-on Tony Jackson was the Sam linebacker with the first unit, and Chad Hagan was the Sam with the second unit.

Storm Klein was the second middle linebacker and Dorian Bell was the second will. Right now, the coaches want the linebackers to be able to play all three spots, so when Sweat moved to middle linebacker a bit, Sabino slid over to Sam and Bell moved to up first-team Will.

But the fact that Klein or Bell aren't getting many (if any) looks at the open Sam spot tells you how much the staff plans on using Tyler Moeller and Christian Bryant at the star position this coming season.

Bradley Roby was working with the first unit at cornerback today, alongside Travis Howard, who continues to show people that he's going to be in for a big year in 2011. Dominic Clarke joined Dionte Allen with the second unit.

With C.J. Barnett still being held back a bit, Zach Domicone joined Orhian Johnson on the first unit. Nate Ebner and Jamie Wood were the second-team safeties.

Kick Scrimmage Notes

Drew Basil is clearly the number one place-kicker, and will also handle the kickoffs. Ben Buchanan will again be the punter, and he had a very good day today.

Basil finished 8-10 kicking field goals on the day with a long of 50 yards. His two misses were a 50-yarder that went wide left, and then a 39-yarder that was slightly blocked by Dominic Clarke.

Drew Basil bounced one over off the crossbar.
Illustration by Tony Gerdeman
(Editor's Note: Man, this was really photogeneic. Too bad we had to show it to you like this.)
Drew Basil
Perhaps the kick of the day was a 48-yarder from Basil that bounced off the crossbar and went through the goal posts, tying the scrimmage at 24-24.

But the highlight of the kick scrimmage was a 73-yard punt from Buchanan backed up in his endzone. The ball sailed over Devier Posey's head and was downed at the 25-yard line.

Backup punter Derek Erwin had four punts blocked on the day. Most of them coming while backed up in the endzone.

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