Zwick Day-To-Day As He Nurses Ankle Injury

We look at the injury to quarterback Justin Zwick and share his thoughts on his approach to preseason camp at Ohio State. Plus, we have notes on several other players sidelined with injuries as well as one early position change. And, we have a list of OSU players on early watch lists for various awards.

With Troy Smith ineligible for Ohio State's season opener against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 3, all eyes are on Justin Zwick during preseason camp as he figures to start at quarterback for the Buckeyes against the RedHawks.

But Zwick's progress took a turn this week when it was learned that he had suffered an ankle injury. The injury, believed to have happened Monday when Zwick rolled his ankle, has left him in an ankle boot.

However, a team spokesman said the injury is not as bad as previously thought and Zwick is listed day to day. There was an outside chance that he could play in Saturday's jersey scrimmage, which is closed.

Earlier this month, OSU coach Jim Tressel said he believed Zwick would look at the chance to start the opener as his opportunity to win the starting job and show the coaches he deserves to play.

Speaking prior to the injury, Zwick talked about his mind-set for camp.

"I'm just looking at every day is an opportunity to get better," he said. "That's how I go out to practice every day. That's all I can do. I can't worry about anything except making myself a better quarterback and making this team better."

Zwick is backed up by redshirt freshman Todd Boeckman and incoming freshman Rob Schoenhoft. Worrying about where he stands with those guys or even with Smith, who figures to have a role for the second game against Texas, is not his primary concern.

"You have to push all that stuff aside," he said. "You can't worry about it. You have to get your reps and with every rep you get, you have to get better from that rep. I just try and learn something from each play.

"You always want to get out there on the field. Any time you come inside the stadium with 105,000 people, you're eager to get out there. We're going to work hard during camp so we can have some fun on Saturdays."

Zwick started OSU's first six games before going down with a shoulder injury in the loss at Iowa, a defeat that dropped OSU's record to 3-3. He then watched as Smith helped lead the team to a 4-1 record down the stretch, including a masterful performance in the win over Michigan.

But when Smith was suspended a week before the Alamo Bowl for receiving illegal extra benefits, Zwick took the reins and came through in a big way. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown as OSU clocked Oklahoma State 33-7 in the bowl game.

"It was rough getting injured and not being in there," Zwick said. "The team started rolling and I was happy to see us start winning again. That's what it's all about – the team. Being able to get in there for the bowl and help win that game that made the end of the season better for myself. It was nice to get back in there and play a game with those guys.

"The team had kind of come together at the end of the season and jelled a little bit. It was fun to get out there and get a win."

Zwick earned praise from his coaches and teammates alike for gutting out the Alamo Bowl with a hamstring injury.

"I just did what I had to do," he said. "We didn't want to burn Todd's redshirt year. That's what I had to do."

For the year, Zwick was 98 of 187 passing (52.4 percent) with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

But he did very little business with freshman standout Ted Ginn Jr., who was lightly used in the early portion of the season. Ginn ended the year with 25 catches. Six of those came from Zwick in the bowl game. They hooked up only twice during the regular season, though, once against Cincinnati (for a 7-yard loss) and once against Marshall (a 10-yard gain).

"He was learning the offense early on," Zwick said of Ginn. "He became comfortable with it. Having a guy like that who the defense has to worry about on every play, that's nice. By the end of the season, they had to do that. That helps out everybody. If they put two guys on him, that's fewer guys on everybody else. It's nice to have him on our side."

Zwick was hopeful of playing in the jersey scrimmage and helping the offense maintain the coveted scarlet jerseys.

"It's a glorified practice to us," he said. "It is longer and you are in the ‘Shoe, which is different. But you're going against the same guys you've been going against. You have to change jerseys if you lose, which we don't plan on doing.

"Any time you're going against the defensive live, it's going to be competitive. There will be big hits and big blocks."

Also Notable

* Zwick has not been the only Buckeye hobbled. Kicker Aaron Pettrey was also sidelined, although he hopes to be back for the kick scrimmage next Wednesday.

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Albert Dukes was spotted with his arm in a sling. Meanwhile, sophomore tight end Rory Nicol and freshman center Jimmy Cordle were each on crutches and also wearing an ankle boot.

There were no details on any of those injuries, although a team spokesman said none of them were considered serious.

* Smith joined several players on the sidelines without shoulder pads for Wednesday's second practice. Also on the sidelines were tight end Marcel Frost and defensive tackle Sian Cotton. It was unclear why they were out.

* It appears that freshman Jamario O'Neal has moved from cornerback to safety. He was spotted shadowing starting strong safety Donte Whitner during pre-practice drills.

* OSU just sent us a list of players under consideration for various postseason awards. Here it is:

Butkus Award (Linebacker) -- A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter

Biletnikoff Award (Receivers) -- Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn Jr.

Lombardi Award (lines up within seven yards of the ball) -- A.J. Hawk and Nick Mangold

Thorpe Award (Defensive Backs) -- Nate Salley and Ashton Youboty

Walter Camp Award (Player of the Year) -- A.J. Hawk, Ted Ginn Jr., Santonio Holmes

Bednarik Award (Defensive Player of the Year) -- A.J. Hawk

Rimington Award (Center) -- Nick Mangold

Lott Award (Defensive Impact Player of the Year Award) -- A.J. Hawk

Mackey Award (Tight End) -- Ryan Hamby

Buckeye Sports Top Stories