Offense Sputters For Both Sides

If you were looking for an offensive explosion in today's spring game, you likely came away disappointed as both sides struggled to score points. Dave Biddle has an offensive wrap-up.

Overall, it was a sloppy day for both offenses as the Scarlet emerged with a 13-0 victory over the Gray in Ohio State's spring game on Saturday.

The Scarlet - led by quarterback Justin Zwick, tailback Tony Pittman and wide receivers John Hollins and Tony Gonzalez - were just a little less sloppy than the Gray on this day.

Zwick finished 16 of 26 for 165 yards. He did not throw any touchdowns or interceptions.

Zwick looked pretty sharp for the most part, but did have a few passes sail on him and continues to throw off his back foot too often. When he does step into his throws, he's much more accurate.

"I thought things went well for the most part," Zwick said. "There are always things you can do better, so we'll study the film and go to work on those things."

Pittman - the freshman tailback that graduated high school early so he could participate in spring drills - carried 21 times for 105 yards (5 yards per carry), both game highs.

He has a quick burst, runs hard and has good vision. It is looking more and more likely that he'll be able to help OSU's running game right away this season.

"Definitely," Zwick said. "Tony ran the ball well all spring and there's no question he can help us this season. All spring he's been making plays and that's what he did today. He made plays."

Senior tailback Lydell Ross got the start for the Scarlet and as Steve Helwagen correctly predicted in his Buckeye Grove column, Ross received his five "courtesy carries" and finished with 17 yards.

Hollins led all receivers with five catches for 64 yards. Not far behind was Gonzalez with five receptions for 63 yards.

"I had a decent game today," Hollins said. "But this is just one spring practice out of 15. I still have a lot of work to do to get to where I want to be."

Hollins knows better than anyone you can't put too much stock in a spring game. Three years ago, he had a huge day in the spring game, but hasn't seen much of the field since.

"I had some injuries and adversity after the 2001 spring game, so I wasn't able to build on my performance. Hopefully this is the start of a good senior year for me."

Gonzalez has been hobbled all spring with a hamstring injury, but proved he can be a reliable backup receiver today.

Other notable receivers for the Scarlet included: Santonio Holmes (2 catches for 14 yards), tight end Stan White (2 catches for 14 yards) and Ryan Hamby (2 catches for 12 yards).

* On the Gray side, Troy Smith started the game with a bang, but finished just 7 of 15 for 53 yards.

On the opening drive of the game, Smith was 4 of 4 for 36 yards and was leading the Gray on what looked to be a scoring drive before backup tailback Matt Johnson lost a fumble.

Smith played just two series in the first half, giving way to Todd Boeckman the rest of the way.

By the time Smith got back in the game in the second half, he did not look sharp. His passes were a bit erratic.

However, overall it's been a good spring for him and he wasn't down on himself after the game.

"Today was a positive day," Smith said. "We did some things that will help us with our film study. It was a good experience."

Smith and Zwick both wore black jerseys all day. That meant if they were touched, it served as a tackle. Needless to say, that took some of Smith's talents away from him.

"(Wearing the black jersey) affected me a lot," he said. I'm a creator and I wasn't able to do that today."

The Gray team was dealt a blow when starting tailback Roshawn Parker went down with a shoulder injury on the first drive.

"The play-action wasn't there today because of Roshawn's injury," Smith said. "They knew we were passing most of the time."

Head coach Jim Tressel agreed.

"The Scarlet team ran the ball better," he said. "It really hurt the Gray when Roshawn Parker went down. They lost their balance and it's a reminder of why you have to have balance to win."

Boeckman got most of his snaps with the Gray and finished 6 of 11 for 33 yards and one interception.

The receiving leaders for the Gray were: Bam Childress (3 catches for 31 yards), Louis Irizarry (3 catches for 21 yards) and Brandon Schnittker (3 catches for 16 yards).

"We couldn't get in a rhythm today," Childress said. "We didn't have a running back and the (Scarlet) defense knew what was coming."

Childress was pleased with his performance for the most part.

"I thought I played pretty well," he said. "I was hoping to make some big plays, but I couldn't slip away from those guys. They played good."

Childress also looked pretty solid returning kicks (and we all know how terrible the Buckeyes were in that area last year) finishing with four returns for 74 yards.

"I hope so," Childress said when asked if the kick returning job was his to lose. "I think I can help the team there."

Gray center Nick Mangold was not exactly a happy man afterwards.

"As you saw today, we really have to work on pass pro," Mangold said, referring to the eight sacks from the Scarlet defense. "We have to get it down mentally. Everyone out here can do it physically, but we have to shore things up mentally. We can't have any missed assignments."

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