Four months after one of the worst kick scrimmages hosted during Jim Tressel’s 10 years in Columbus, the Ohio State kickers put on one of the best.
Placekickers Drew Basil and Devin Barclay combined to make 21 of 24 field goals, with Basil going 11 of 12 and making his “sudden death” kick of 37 yards to propel his youthful Gray team to a 33-30 win in the semiannual event Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
Basil showed his range, booming in 5 of 6 tries from beyond 40 yards and showing he has the leg to extend even farther, booting several of his longer kicks well over the crossbar and perhaps cementing his role as the team’s long field-goal kicker this year.
“It was a fun day,” the true freshman said. “This is the time to be the most nervous, whenever you’re in front of your team. I feel like I did pretty well.”
“Drew did a great job,” said punter Ben Buchanan, himself a hyped kicking prospect two years ago. “He was here in the spring and he was able to learn from that. I don’t think any of us had a great day kicking the ball (in spring), but a great improvement. I was very impressed with the way he hit the ball today.”
The last kick scrimmage in April was a struggle, with the three kickers making a combined 17 of 33 tries. This one, however, was much better when it came to field goals.
Barclay, the kicker who sent OSU to the Rose Bowl with a game-winning kick against Iowa and then made three tries in Pasadena, rebounded from his own rough spring event to shine this time around. He made 10 of 12 tries with a long of 45 yards, including leaving a 58-yarder just short.
Unfortunately for him, he also pushed a 37-yarder wide on the scrimmage’s final play, handing the win to the Gray squad.
“I felt good about my performance and I felt good about Drew’s performance,” he said. “I’m not too worried about that last kick. It would have been nice to win it, but that was it.”
Meanwhile, the punting game also showed a step forward from last year’s inconsistencies. Buchanan, now focused solely on that job after placekicking as well the past two years, hit nine punts for Scarlet with a 45.8-yard average and a long of 59, though that one was aided by a nice roll.
“To come out here and have a good day punting the way that I think that I did today and so far this first week of camp was exciting for me,” said Buchanan, who averaged 46.7 yards on three punts from his own 1-yard line. “It’s good to be able to focus on one thing and I think that’s going to pay dividends for my consistency going forward.”
Backup Derek Erwin hit seven punts, averaging 40.1 yards for Gray.
In the return game, true freshman Corey Brown showed his skills for the Gray, returning one kick 44 yards to post the best return of the day. In addition, fullback Zach Boren rumbled for 41 yards on one fake punt, showing nimble feet after stiff-arming Grant Schwartz to the ground.
Kick returners included Brown, Jordan Hall, Dan Herron, Brandon Saine, Chris Fields, Christian Bryant and Jaamal Berry, while DeVier Posey joined Hall, Brown and Fields as punt return men.
In the end, the scrimmage was won by the freshmen and sophomores of Gray.
“It was the older guys vs. the younger guys, and I’ll probably get a little bit of crap when I get back to the locker room, but that’s all in good fun,” Barclay said.
The kick scrimmage starts with a kickoff, and afterward every play is fourth down as teams try to move the ball down the field through punt exchanges, turnovers and fakes. If a team gets in range, it can try a field goal to put points on the board.
Interspersed are two stations of field-goal attempts per team, and after the second of those come the punts from the teams’ own 1-yard lines. Upon receiving the punt, the teams can try to score as per the usual fourth-down rules.
Gray earned the early upper hand because of the returns. After both kickers were perfect in the first field-goal period to make the score 12-12, Brown took a punt from Buchanan, raced to the left sideline and rode daylight to the 23-yard line, where the punter brought him down with a solid tackle.
Basil made a 45-yarder from there – his first 40-yard kick split the uprights as well but was nullified because of penalty – to give Gray a 15-12 lead.
Four plays later, an open Herron had a pass from Buchanan on a fake punt go off his hands, giving Gray the ball back at the midfield stripe. Zach Boren, one of the personal protectors and the captain of the youngsters’ team, then took the snap on a Gray fake punt and rumbled downfield, brushing aside Schwartz and reaching the 9.
Basil again made the field goal to give his team an 18-12 lead, but his lone miss of the day – a 45-yarder off the right upright – in the field-goal period allowed Scarlet to pull back to 27-24 when Barclay was perfect on his four kicks.
The score then became tied when Erwin nearly had his first try from the 1-yard line blocked under heavy pressure, and his short kick allowed Barclay to knot the score at 27 with a 45-yarder.
A few more periods of punts resulted in one made field goal per team, necessitating the extra field-goal period. Basil made the first one and then Barclay missed, leading the Gray squad to rush onto the field in excitement.
Williams Hurt, Others Missing
The Buckeyes went through an abbreviated practice before the scrimmage, a practice starting Leo end Nathan Williams did not complete. When media arrived, Williams was seated on a cart along the sideline with his knee wrapped in ice. No update was available on his condition, and junior Solomon Thomas moved up to the first unit in his absence.
Others to not practice when the media was present included right tackle J.B. Shugarts, tight end Jacob Stoneburner, linebackers Ross Homan and Dorian Bell, cornerback Devon Torrence and safety Orhian Johnson.
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