With Ohio State's practice and kicking scrimmage broken into two parts, that is what I will do today with the practice/scrimmage update.
- Justin Zwick is clearly the man. He is not flawless. He should not be expected to throw for 3K yards or more. However, he has a really legitimate shot to be something special by the time he leaves OSU. Very possibly the first bona fide QB prospect for the draft in a number of years for the Buckeyes.
- E.J. Underwood showed on multiple occasions today the ability to play the football. His position is so good in fact on most plays that it is almost a judgment call on whether the WR or he has the better position on the ball. He looked very nice and might step in to make a seamless transition for the departing Gamble.
- Sian Cotton is a stud in the making. OSU could literally lose Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson and still be more than fine at DT in 2004. Cotton forced a fumble while lined up next to Pitcock and has pretty unbelievable movement and agility for a guy his size.
- Reggie Smith is still at DE and Bobby Carpenter took more snaps there at DE today as well.
- The defensive line appears to be ahead of the offensive line right now. That is to be expected. It takes time for an offensive line to gel, and several of the players along the defensive front have extensive game experience. That is not as much the case for the offensive line across the board.
- Jay Richardson had good success getting to the red tackling dummy representing the quarterback. He went over, around, and through people to hit it.
- Kirk Barton is back in the mix and looking fairly healthy. He might take a bit to get up to full speed, but having him ready to go again will help out the offensive line. If nothing else, it provides another body and more competition.
- Though he is a true freshman who enrolled early to get used to college life and the speed of the game at this level, Antonio Pittman is not afraid to stick his nose in the middle and gain some tough yards. He made a decent run today right up the gut.
- Quinn Pitcock has a nice bull-rush. Like Anderson, he can put some serious leverage into his movement up the middle of the offensive line.
- Stan White, Jr. simply keeps working. I expect to see him on the field more every year. He made a very nice play on a football that probably should have been out of his reach. He stabbed out with one hand to first bat the ball up into the air in front of him. Then he gently brought in the football and turned up the field for a nice gain along the sidelines.
- Brandon Mitchell wins the tip of the day award. On one particular play, both he and the wide receiver were each trying to come down with the pigskin. After tipping the ball 2x with neither gaining much advantage, Mitchell came down with it cleanly on the third attempt. That is why coaches have their players do the tipping drill. Maybe that kind of play only happens once in five games, but maybe that one time is in a tied contest with only minutes remaining...
- Steve Rehring is really giving it his all right now. It is a learning process, but he clearly wants to improve on every rep he receives.
- Santonio Holmes simply finds space. Don't ask how he does it. He simply does. He has the look of one of those receivers that gets open most every play so long as the quarterback has the field vision and the time to find him.
- Holmes is a difference maker when given the football and some space in front of him on special teams. He has thus far appeared to avoid the dreaded fumble in practices open to the media and might very well be ready to lay claim to the job as the team's no. 1 punt returner.
- That brings us to Ashton Youboty. Youboty also made it clear in the scrimmage that he is prepared to wage war for the spot at KR and PR. He actually had the most productive punt returns on the day with a no-nonsense, north-south approach.
- Anthony Schlegel absolutely ate up Josh Huston on a fake. It looked like it might be the hit of the day for a time, but it turned out only to be a warm up for later brutality by Branden Joe.
- There were some problems with the holders and possibly some snapping today as well. On a couple of plays, the ball did not get down where needed. One bumbled hold was picked up by Youboty and looked to be a possible runback for a touchdown until Ashton fumbled it when hit from behind.
- Bobby Carpenter rocked Bam Childress on a questionable return deep out of the end zone. Childress found himself on the turf at the 13-yard line.
- Branden Joe, a fullback no less, turned in the hit of the day. It was of the kind that you dream of as a football player. Youboty was headed up the field after nice returns in previous opportunities. Just when it looked like he might break off another big play, Joe busted him in the chops hard enough that the entire stadium went berserk. Coaches, players, fans - everyone was cheering and smiling. Youboty went off the field looking a little worse for wear but would later return.
- A.J. Trapasso and Kyle Turano were the holders on kicks for Huston and Nugent respectively.
- Mike Nugent put on a nice show at one point. As they made their field goals, the coaches allowed them to try them deeper. Nugent kicked a couple in the range of 40+ yards and then was moved back to over 50 yards. He proceeded to make two in a row from that distance, the second of which would have easily been good from 60+. The streak ended when he just missed a 62-yard attempt.
- Trapasso showed he can be a weapon running the football on fakes.
- Bam Childress has incredible jitterbug. He is like those water bugs that seem to skate around so quickly one wonders how anything can catch them. On a short 8-10 yard return, he probably left three or four players lying on the ground in his wake.