No jerseys were on the line, but the Ohio State offense and defense scrimmaged Saturday morning at Ohio Stadium as spring football practice continued.
With senior starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor contributing only moral support as he continues to rehab from offseason surgery, four players tried their hand at leading an offense that turned in a donut-like performance.
After scores on its first two possessions, the offense struggled for a long period of time before scoring on its last four.
To start things off, senior Joe Bauserman connected with DeVier Posey on a simple dig route and let his fellow senior do the rest. Posey outran several defenders for a 33-yard touchdown, part of a four-catch, 63-yard day for him.
Taylor Graham followed by leading the second-team offense 25 yards to set up a 42-yard field goal by Drew Basil.
Then came six straight empty possessions, however, the first ending with a fumble by quarterback Ken Guiton after he was sacked by defensive lineman Adam Bellamy. Johnathan Hankins came up with loose pigskin for the defense.
After Guiton led a three-play series that ended with an incomplete pass intended for T.Y. Williams, early enrolling freshman Braxton Miller took his first turn with an offense that included mostly reserves.
That ended as another three-and-out, and the offense would not score again until another Basil bounced a 48-yard field goal off the crossbar and through for three points four possessions later.
Using a customized scoring system, the defense led 43-28 when head coach Jim Tressel opted to spread things out to finished the day.
The last four possessions all featured nothing but empty-backfield sets as the three youngest quarterbacks took turns leading no-huddle attacks, and the offense scored on all four.
Graham started the late push with a 7-play, 50-yard drive that ended with a perfectly executed back-shoulder fade to Posey, who beat Dominic Clarke in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown.
Miller continued it with another 50-yard drive, this one punctuated with a hair-raising 11-yard touchdown run in which he juked redshirt freshman J.T. Moore in the backfield then sprinted through the middle of the defense before diving across the goal line. He also had a 17-yard completion to running back Jordan Hall during the drive.
Miller’s score put the offense ahead 46-45, and Basil followed with a point-after-try and a pair of field goals (on drives led by Guiton and Graham) to set the final margin at 56-45.
“You never know how long it’s going to go, but we got some good work in,” senior offensive lineman Mike Brewster said. “It was a little different than usual jersey scrimmages we do. When you graduate a bunch of seniors and you don't really have the incoming guys yet, you have fewer numbers, but we adjusted a bit."
The All-American center added that he was impressed with the reads he heard behind him from the quarterbacks, who combined to complete 22 of 37 passes for 263 yards in unofficial stats.
Graham, a redshirt freshman, got the most work and completed 9 of 15 passes for 61 yards and the touchdown while Guiton, a sophomore, was 6 for 11 for 51 yards.
Miller was 5 for 7 for 51 yards while Bauserman was 2 for 4 for 50 yards with a touchdown and the game’s only interception, a tipped ball that fell into the arms of linebacker Dorian Bell.
“I think they all performed well,” senior linebacker Andrew Sweat said. “Obviously they're all learning and they're trying to learn our system and a lot of them are young, but I think a lot of them are making great strides. They had some good throws. Taylor, I think, had some good throws, Braxton had some great moves in side, Kenny, Joe, I think they all performed well."
Sophomore Jaamal Berry led a running attack that featured quite a few sizable holes. He carried five times for 28 yards while highly touted redshirt freshman Rod Smith picked up 22 yards on six totes. Junior Jordan Hall picked up 14 yards on four carries and added 24 yards on two receptions while senior All-Big Ten running back Dan Herron had 16 yards on four carries.
Aside from Posey, only two receivers caught more than one pass: Chris Fields (two catches, 18 yards) and Verlon Reed (two for 13).
Reserve safety Nate Ebner had a morning-high five tackles while sophomore defensive end Melvin Fellows had a pair of sacks.
The defense pressured the quarterbacks consistently but forced only two turnovers, crucial sources of points in head coach Jim Tressel’s scoring system.
Typically there is only one long scrimmage in the stadium each spring, but this year there may be three. Another is scheduled for April 16, and the annual Scarlet and Gray Game may serve as a third, although a spokesperson said that had not been officially decided yet.
Senior defensive end Nathan Williams sounded like someone who looks forward to getting another chance to win the scarlet jerseys back from the offense.
“They have scholarships too. They're playing on the same team as we are, so it happens,” Williams said. “We just have to move forward with this and I think we have two more opportunities to get better during scrimmages so we'd like to do that."
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