Jack of all trades award…
This would have to go to Bobby Carpenter in yesterday's practice. First, Carpenter played a little linebacker – something fans have seen him do before. Then, he proceeded to turn into a scoring threat, showing nice hands and a few nifty moves after intercepting a pass and taking it to the house for 6 points. He capped off the trifecta by moving to the other end of the field to work out with the defensive ends. Though I had missed that personnel change, what caught my attention was a sudden smacking sound from behind me when the tackling dummy representing a quarterback took one for the team. I turned to discover Carpenter creating real issues for the young offensive linemen.
Carpenter is NFL bound. There are no doubts about it. He not only has the ability to play the outside linebacker slot, but with his size he could easily move inside to play the middle or even drop down, add another 15 lbs and play a mean defensive end.
Luke Fickell talks linebackers
On his way from the practice field to the Woody Hayes Facility, coach Fickell dropped a few bones for the fans and media to chew on…
On the amount of competition and able bodies at the position in 2004
"That's kind of what you strive for, to have enough guys in that room that you can compete, and there's no such thing as ones and twos – it's one and one-b. You don't feel bad or you're not nervous when someone else comes in. Hopefully that is what we can get to."
What about Anthony Schlegel and John Kerr?
"Two guys that are football players. That is probably about the best compliment to give somebody to me. You are a football player. It has just been learning a little more of the system of what we're doing. When you're on scout team, you're kind of just running cards and the other team's defenses. So, now it is just a little bit more of a learning process for them, but they are picking it up quick.
What about Marcus Freeman – a young guy getting his first taste of the college level?
"He's very smart. He is picking things up very well. He's a great talent. He is a little behind them, but he is a senior in high school. But, his ability is unlimited. It will just be a matter of time and him learning and then competing. If you are not the starter from day one, what do you do? Do you just wait until someone graduates or do you compete and try to get up there? And that is going to be the key."
What about Mike D'Andrea?
The really bad thing for Mike [that he is not full go], but we've just got to be real smart with him and try and hold him back – tie him to the bench over here so that he can't go live. There is a guy who just studies and studies and studies football and hopefully is getting better. The more he learns about the system, the more confidence he will have in what he is doing. I think that is the only thing he needs.
Carpenter was playing some rush end today – what is the situation there?
"He goes down there – as linebackers we have to be able to pass rush anyway, so I think the best thing you can do is get live bullets at it so we try and send him down there to work with Coach Heacock and the ends. He is an unbelievable talent we have to try and use as much as we can and any way we can."
Any thoughts on running a quasi 3-4 this year with the talent at linebacker, confusing the offense so they have no idea who is coming and who is playing back?
"Well, in our 30 package, we do some of that. I would not consider it a 3-4 truly, but we have to be able to do that. We have to get better at it as much as we do do it. Like I said, what better way than to go down with the d-line and watch them do what they do? Get live bullets, not just in the game."
Has there ever been any talk of moving Carpenter down to the defensive line?
"Yeah. I tried to talk about it last year when I was coaching those guys, but now I don't hear a whole lot of talk about it. We have a lot of ability and have to find the best way to get them on the field."
Practice makes Perfect
At least the punters for the Buckeyes better hope it does. Though it is early and there was an extremely stiff breeze, punting looks like it might be a question mark heading into this fall. I am looking forward to seeing the kicking scrimmage to see what these young men can do.
The Offensive line
The young line looks like it has some teeth. In drills with the defensive linemen, they were not looking to give quarter to anyone. They were more than willing to scrap and fight and claw all the way to the ground. Just when it looked like they were about to be beaten, they reached down to find some more fight in their bellies.
Nick Mangold in particular was not about to let the defensive linemen get to the quarterback
The Quarterback Race
Justin Zwick continues to shine. Despite some serious wind on the practice field, he completed several nice passes to the middle of the field and the sidelines. Ryan Hamby continues to benefit from Zwick's largess, as did Roy Hall on a touchdown pass from about 15 yards out.
He still appears to be making overall good decisions with the football, throwing it away when Mike Kudla rounded the corner and charged him.
Todd Boeckman is making some noise right now at Buckeye practices. While I do not see him beating out Justin Zwick for the starting job if both stay healthy, I do think he can and will push for playing time.
The question that arises there is that Todd grayshirted last season. If he opts to play earlier instead of redshirting this year, it begs the question of whether or not he would have done himself more favors to simply redshirt in 2003, practicing with the team every week instead of only the preseason, a few games, and the bowl.
Bam Childress is looking fairly good this spring. He has made some decent catches in space.
Mike Nugent is going to be missed. Ohio State fans have been spoiled by their kickers the past few seasons. Despite a very strong wind at times, Nugent was nailing field goals. One in particular brought a rousing round of cheers from the players and coaches. Coming off of his foot, the kick looked good, but the ball began to swerve in the air once the wind caught it. Just when it looked like a foul ball down the 3rd base line, the ball hit the inside edge of the uprights and bounced through the goalposts. Most of the players cheered and gave the "It's good" signal, raising both arms.
Nate Salley looks like he spent more time in the weight room this off-season. During interviews last fall at picture day, he was not certain that trying out for the basketball team helped him a great deal on the football field. It looks like he has helped himself immensely this off-season.
Stan White, Jr. had a nice reception and run. This is his time to step up and shine. Someone at tight end other than just Ryan Hamby and Louis Irizarry is going to have to play a large role in this offense in 2004. Who it will be is the only question.
Rob Harley had a nice interception across the middle of the field. That is normally a "good news-bad news" sort of occasion. The good news is that the defense is looking for the football and coming up with it when given opportunities. The bad news is that the offense gave them that opportunity to begin with.
Kyle Turano is still being used as the holder for field goals.