Wintry Weather Stifles Offenses In Spring Game

The Buckeye offense will see better days in 2005, and better weather, too -- even when November rolls around. Dreary weather went a long way in preventing any offensive explosions in today's OSU spring game, but a few players still looked good, including running back Antonio Pittman. Dave Biddle has an offensive recap.

It was a sloppy spring game for both offenses, thanks in part to the winter-like conditions.

The Gray emerged with a 19-6 victory over the Scarlet and there were no outstanding offensive performances on either side.

However, there were several players that turned in solid games.

For the Gray, senior fullback Brandon Schnittker rushed 10 times for 58 yards.

Sophomore tailback Antonio Pittman added 57 yards on 14 carries, despite playing just two quarters.

Junior quarterback Troy Smith had six carries for 23 yards (including 15 yards lost on sacks).

Pittman looked sharp for the most part, showing good vision and quickness through the holes.

"Oh yeah, I felt I had a good day," Pittman said. "It was slippery – I had to watch my footing and everything. But overall, the line blocked well, the receivers blocked downfield and it worked out well. It's just a preview of what you're going to see this year."

Schnittker received some of his carries at tailback (or in one-back sets).

For the Scarlet, freshman tailback Erik Haw had 16 carries for a game-high 86 yards and one touchdown. He had a slow start to the game, but really came on in the second half.

"I loosened up a little bit later in the game," Haw said. "We got them on their heels in the second half and I was able to make some plays. I definitely had fun out there. Got a TD and the line did a great job of blocking and I commend them."

Head coach Jim Tressel was pleased with the way the running backs played.

"Our goal coming into today was to give each of the three running backs (including Schnittker) 10 or more carries," Tressel said. "Today, I think we did a good job of accomplishing what we set out to do and I was impressed with all three running backs."

At quarterback, Smith was 4 of 9 passing for 48 yards. He had one touchdown and one interception.

"There were some things I could have done better, like decision-making," Smith said. "Can't blame it on the weather. But all in all, it was a pretty good game. We won."

For the Scarlet, Justin Zwick had a bit of a rough performance, going 11 of 27 for 104 yards.

The poor conditions obviously played a role in some of Zwick's errant passes.

"It got pretty slippery towards the end," Zwick said. "I noticed myself slipping – my foot came out from underneath me a couple times. But, the field drains pretty well and except for that sideways rain we had going and the wind, it felt pretty good. The ball was a little slippery, but that's something you have to get used to."

But Zwick says, overall, the spring went well for him.

"I feel comfortable," he said. "This is an offense I know well and I feel like I can do anything they ask me to. I feel like I had a decent spring."

Freshman Todd Boeckman played for both teams. With the Gray in the first half, Boeckman was 2 of 7 for 11 yards and one touchowns. With the Scarlet in the second half, he was 2 of 5 for seven yards (in total, he was 4 of 12 for 18 yards).

"Today, we had an opportunity to where our quarterbacks had situations to learn from," Tressel said. "There were some plays that I thought we could do better, but we also made some nice plays as well."

Looking at the performance of the receivers, sophomore Anthony Gonzalez had a big day for the Gray, catching four balls for 33 yards and one touchdown.

Also for the Gray, Devon Lyons had one catch for 14 yards and tight end Marcel Frost had a 12-yard touchdown.

For the Scarlet, Albert Dukes had three receptions for 45 yards – including a long of 28.

Tight end Rory Nicol had two catches for 27 yards, and Ted Ginn Jr. had one catch for five yards (but still manages to look exciting every time he touches the ball).

With both teams trudging along, the first touchdown of the day came at the 5:29 mark of the second quarter. Boeckman connected with Gonzalez for a 5-yard score to give the Gray a 10-0 lead.

On the play, Boeckman looked left, but his primary receiver was covered. He then rolled out of the pocket to the right and found a wide-open Gonzalez camping in the back of the end zone.

On Gray's first possession of the second half, Smith completed four consecutive passes and led his team on a touchdown drive.

He opened the drive with a 14-yard pass to Lyons. He then fired a 16-yard strike to Gonzalez, and followed it up with a six-yard pass to Gonzalez.

Smith then connected with Frost for a 12-yard touchdown at the 3:01 mark of the third quarter to give the Gray a 19-0 lead. Linebacker Chad Hoobler got a finger on the pass and Frost then juggled the ball before hauling it in for the score.

Smith says he was the de facto offensive coordinator on the drive.

"A little freedom – I called those plays," Smith said. "I got a chance to call some plays and we did pretty good. It was pretty much a drive where we knew we had to come out and do something, because it was dull in the first half. Gonzo – Gonzalez – he made a great catch on that drive, and the line did a great job blocking. Those guys just filled in where they needed to be and made big plays."

After not doing much for the first three quarters of the game, Haw broke off a few good runs in the fourth quarter.

With 6:48 remaining in the game, he scored on a 10-yard touchdown jaunt to get the Scarlet on the board at 19-6. He broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage, then raced to the pylon for the score.

Following the game, Tressel said a few offensive players really stood out and had outstanding springs. He mentioned Frost and Pittman.

"It feels all right (to hear him say that), but you've still got to work hard no matter what," Pittman said.

Pittman says he did what he needed to do this spring.

"Yeah, I feel like I had a great spring," he said. "It was good just to come out and there was only two tailbacks on the roster and we got some needed reps. Today, I feel like I played all right today. I only played two quarters, but I felt good out there."

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