Zwick Talks Spring Ball, Receivers

It's not official yet, but it's pretty clear so far that Justin Zwick is the favorite to win the starting QB spot this year. Zwick chatted the other day about practice so far, this year's receivers, and more.

Justin Zwick is the clear frontrunner for the starting quarterback job, but he will be the first to admit he still has a ways to go. The spring is obviously a vital time for him in his development and everything is going pretty smooth so far.

"It's been going good," Zwick said. "There's a lot of excitement out there, putting some pads on and popping a few here and there for those guys that like to hit. It's been fun, we're getting better everyday and that's what it's all about. Spring practice is about getting better everyday and that's what we're focusing on."

Zwick is getting the majority of repetitions with the first-team offense and his confidence is growing with each snap.

"The more reps you get, the more experience you're going to get and that's important to your game and just getting better," Zwick said. "I'm just focusing on every rep I have and making the best of it."

Much has already been made of the slimmed-down offensive line. The Buckeyes will be a lot lighter and quicker up front this year and Zwick has taken notice.

"They're doing real well," he said. "They're young guys and a lot of them haven't had a lot of playing time and they're getting in there and getting reps this spring and they're learning. I think they're an athletic group. They're moving around and flying around and it's exciting. We're putting in some stuff and they're able to get out there and get on the edge if they need to and they're doing good so far."

It's still early in spring ball, but Zwick likes the way things have gone for him so far personally. He is getting a lot thrown at him, but that's the only way to get better.

"Yeah, I feel good about it," he said. "Just getting out there and seeing different looks and going through those experiences is good and the more chances I have to do that, the better things are going to get. I feel more comfortable each time out there. I'm feeling real comfortable."

Zwick was asked what parts of his game need the most fine-tuning.

"I just think getting in there with the guys - the guys that are going to be playing on Saturdays - and getting on the same page with them," he said. "Just feeling comfortable in there with the offensive line and calling plays and having them look at you as a leader. I just think all of that is something - when you don't play for a while - you kind of get out of. To get back into it, it's kind of nice. After a couple practices, you're right back in it."

The Buckeyes will hold the twice-annual jersey scrimmage next Saturday (April 17) in Ohio Stadium.

"It's important," Zwick said. "Anytime you're in Ohio Stadium you want to play well because it's exciting to be there. We'll be live and everybody will be hyped up and ready to go and you just want to come out and have a good showing and just do what you've been learning up to that point in spring ball and put it all together.

"I'm just going to look at it like another practice. Going out there and I'm going to learn from it and hopefully get better from it."

There have been rumblings that Todd Boeckman is giving Zwick a run for his money in practice. Chances are still very good that Boeckman will redshirt this year - Troy Smith will probably be the backup - but Zwick has been impressed with Boeckman.

"He's good," Zwick said. "He's a young guy; he's a big guy. He's going to fill out his body here in the next year or so and will get better. He can throw the ball. He's smart. He's going to be a good one."

Zwick got a close look at linebackers Anthony Schlegel and John Kerr in practice last year. He thinks they will be a huge boost to the defense this year.

"They bring a lot of experience," he said. "They've had a lot of playing time at the schools they were at before they came here and that's important. The more you're in there playing, the more you're going to be able to help others out and see certain things that they're used to seeing. It's going to be good for everybody, I think."

Santonio Holmes will likely be Zwick's No. 1 target this season. But who will step up and fill the No. 2 spot? Zwick thinks Roy Hall - currently penciled in as a starter - will be the man.

"Roy is a tough, strong, fast, athletic guy and I knew it was going to be like that," he said. "Seeing him in the weight room, seeing him lift, I knew he was going to be a tough guy for us. He's been getting better and getting more reps and getting more comfortable with everything and he's going to be a good one."

Zwick knows it's important to develop a good rapport with his receivers.

"It's huge, getting out there in game-like situation and running routes and seeing things and just getting on the same page with each other," he said. "That's something that we're going to have to do this spring and in the summer with 7 on 7 and in camp this fall. Just get on the same page so we know what's going on."

There are a bevy of backup receivers fighting for jobs -- a couple of seniors and a lot of young guys.

"They're all looking good," Zwick said. "They're all young, good athletes. We had Tony Gonzalez go down with a hamstring injury. Devin Jordan is doing a good job for us being in there and seeing things and making catches for us. They're all learning. A lot of those guys haven't had too many reps, so they're all learning and they're getting in there and doing what they can."

But thanks to their experience, John Hollins and Bam Childress probably have the edge to make the two-deep over the younger guys.

"Yeah, they've been here and they know the system a little bit better," Zwick said. "They've had a few more reps and so they've been in some situations that some of the younger guys haven't been in. So, yeah, I think Bam and John have a leg up right now."

Jim Tressel has mentioned that if there were "a game tomorrow" Zwick would be the starter. However, Zwick doesn't put too much stock in that, or so he says.

"I really don't even think about it," he said. "I just want to come out here everyday and give 100 percent and try to get better and try and make this team better. That's all I'm going to worry about."

Zwick knows the Buckeyes have to click on all cylinders to have a successful offense this year. There can't be a weak-link if the offense wants to move the ball and put points on the board.

"I think it has to be a combination of everything," Zwick said. "In order for me to use my receivers, I'm going to have to have a good offensive line to get time. To use our tailbacks we have to have a good line and we have to have our receivers making good downfield blocks. It all goes together. We're all going to be working hard."


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