Inside The Jersey Scrimmage: Observations

The annual fall jersey scrimmage is in the books for Ohio State and the coaching staff will have a busy weekend breaking down the film. BSB's staff was in attendance and we provide observations from the nearly 100-play session inside.

The annual fall jersey scrimmage is in the books for Ohio State and the coaching staff will have a busy weekend breaking down the film of the nearly 100 plays the Buckeyes ran Saturday in the Horseshoe.

Without cameras permitted into the stadium to record the action on the field, the invited reporters only had one chance to write down notes of the plays witnessed.

The opportunity was more than enough to come away with plenty of observations from the few hours the Buckeyes scrimmage, so here's some shorter observations and thoughts taken away from the opportunity this morning:

Braxton Miller is going to be a part of the plans — Though head coach Luke Fickell didn't definitively say that Miller is going to be a part of the plans this year, his incredible athleticism gives the staff no choice but to get him on the field. Though he still lacks the complete understanding that you'd like out of your quarterback, Miller has the ability to make plays with his legs and the media finally got a sense of what that looked like with him playing in a live setting for nearly half the practice.

People want to continue to compare Miller to former quarterback Terrelle Pryor, but the two are very different. Pryor was more of a physical freak that had raw ability that you don't often find in an athlete. Miller is more of a juke-type runner who can make the simple plays that the team needs to move the chains. Though Pryor was more of a physical specimen, it's fair to say that Miller is more well equipped to make the simple plays in the passing game and the combination of speed and ability will get the freshman on the field this fall, even if he isn't the only quarterback in Ohio State's plans.

Miller had one play in particular where he was about to get sacked, but he spun out of the pressure, juked two defenders with a hop-hesitation move, and sprinted down the sideline for an 8-yard gain ended with a dive. And the biggest plus from that play was that he never stopped looking down field, which led to other completions while on the run later in the scrimmage. A few series later, he tossed 58-yard and 27-yard touchdown passes to different receivers. He has a long way to go in terms of understanding the playbook, but he oozes talent.

Don't sleep on Joe Bauserman — For the first time in Bauserman's career he actually has a chance to be the starting quarterback and at times he showed glimpses of what he's capable of during the scrimmage. More elusive than people give him credit for, Bauserman has a rocket arm that is capable of making incredible throws when he's on target. However, like stated before, Bauserman struggles with consistency and that's what's keeping him away from being the best candidate for the job — at least to start the season.

Bauserman has the understanding of the playbook and seemed comfortable in the pocket, which is a vast difference from what we've seen in the past. The patience was there and the ability to step up in the pocket and stay committed to receivers down field was put on display in a nice touchdown pass to freshman tight end Jeff Heuerman. As of now it seems as if he'll start the season as Ohio State's quarterback and he may actually do a good job for the time being. Like stated above, Bauserman lacks consistency. If he can find it, he'll be a weapon. If he can't, he'll be a backup.

Depth at offensive line was an obvious problem — Players will say Ohio State has eight different guys that could start on a Big Ten offensive line on the roster, but that's still not enough to field full two lines. When Ohio State's second team offensive line was in the game, it was dominated for a good portion of the time by the Buckeyes' incredibly deep defensive front. Some would even argue that Miller had a harder time succeeding because the protection wasn't there, but perhaps that's the reason why he was able to put his elusiveness on display. Offensive linemen that looked impressive but weren't repping with the first team line were Mike Adams, Brian Bobek and Antonio Underwood. Chris Carter, however, has a long way to go before being considered a viable option in any capacity.

Andrew Sweat balled hard — Ohio State always prides itself on having a dominant linebacker and it seems as if Sweat is going to be in that role this season. Though things started to come together for him last year, Sweat has really come on at WILL and was all over the place during the scrimmage. Often times seeming unblockable, Sweat lead the defense with nine tackles and showed immense closing speed. Look out for the senior, as he could have a huge campaign for the Buckeyes if what we saw Saturday is what's to come during the regular season.

The John's of the defensive line — Ohio State's defensive line has been in great shape over the course of the past three seasons, but it looks as if that isn't coming to an end any time soon. Of course there's the presence of Nathan Williams that will likely make a big difference, but it was John Simon and Johnathan Hankins that really stood out during the scrimmage on Saturday. There was one play where Simon ran through the black jersey of the quarterback and knocked him to the ground, sporting the attitude that he's coming for blood and doesn't care what's in the way to make the play. Meanwhile, Hankins had a great day penetrating the first team line and for the first time showed his agility is vastly improved. I watched him for a sequence of plays and his effort was incredibly high on every play, which was something he physically wasn't capable of doing a year ago.

T.Y. Williams still dropping the ball — There was one play where Miller had perhaps his most impressive throw of the scrimmage, but Williams flat out dropped the out route inside the five yard line despite being incredibly open. Williams can do all the things he needs to as a wide receiver, but if he doesn't start holding onto the ball he simply won't be an option.

Young receivers making playsEvan Spencer caught a curl route from Miller, broke a tackle, and scored from 27-yards out. Chris Fields caught a pass between Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett, escaped defenders, and scored from 58 yards out. Corey Brown consistently was beating defenders — a lot of the time starting cornerback Travis Howard — to find space on some nice receptions. Ohio State's wide receivers group is incredibly young and inexperienced, but there's a lot of talent there. If it comes together, a perceived weakness could end up being a strength.

Hall isn't the "up the gut" runner on this team — Ohio State would likely admit they didn't run the ball off tackle or inside as efficiently as they would have hoped for today, particularly when Jordan Hall was the ball carrier. Though Hall is one of the most talented players on the team, I am not sure his strength is running it up the gut, specifically because Ohio State has so many other backs that do that well. Hall is at his best when he has the ball in open space. He's never going to be the guy that breaks tackles inside and muscles forward for five more yards. Though he repped with the first team tailbacks all day, Hall wasn't very impressive to me as an off-tackle runner. With guys like Dan Herron, Carlos Hyde, Jaamal Berry, and Rod Smith also in the backfield, let Hall split out wide or get the ball on a toss play. He doesn't need to be the recipient on Ohio State's famous Dave play.

Hyde ran hard again — With Berry out with an injury, Hyde once again got a lot of valuable carries in the scrimmage and continued to run with the purpose we have been describing the past few weeks. Hyde has a newfound speed that has become his best asset and when he is between the tackles he muscles forward with good yardage. Though Herron is probably still the best all-around back on the team, Hyde is making a strong case to be the team's starter Sept. 3 against Akron.


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