Offense Wins Jersey Scrimmage, 59-56

In a back-and-forth battle, Ohio State's offense emerged with a 59-56 victory over the defense and therefore retained the scarlet practice jerseys. The scrimmage was closed, but we have comments from head coach Jim Tressel, running back Brandon Schnittker, defensive end Mike Kudla and quarterbacks Todd Boeckman and Troy Smith.

Ohio State's offense retained the scarlet jerseys on Saturday with a 59-56 win over the defense in the jersey scrimmage at Ohio Stadium.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Todd Boeckman took most of the snaps with the first team offense. He finished his day 9 of 18 for 46 yards and one interception.

Junior quarterback Troy Smith was 8 of 13 for 74 yards (no touchdowns or interceptions). He also carried the ball 14 times for 27 net yards and one score (Smith's longest run was 31 yards).

True freshman QB Rob Schoenhoft was reportedly very impressive. He was 13 of 21 for 137 yards, with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Sophomore Devon Lyons led the receiving corps with nine catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore Ted Ginn Jr. had three receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown.

Redshirt freshman Erik Haw was the leading rusher with nine carries for 37 yards.

Senior Brandon Schnittker had nine carries for 36 yards, freshman Maurice Wells had nine carries for 33 yards, sophomore Antonio Pittman had 10 carries for 26 yards (mostly against the ones) and redshirt freshman Shaun Lane had 11 carries for 17 yards.

The event was closed to the media and public. Head coach Jim Tressel seemed pleased with the way things went.

"Well, we went somewhere between 150-160 plays," Tressel said. "I think we had 133 scripted and went a little more than that. It was a warm one (high of 90 degrees in Columbus on Saturday). I thought the intensity was good and I thought it was good at the end, which tells me that we are in pretty good condition.

"I don't think we had any significant injuries. There will be a lot of sore guys and a lot of guys anxious to get out of here for 24 hours. But, I thought it was a good effort, good hitting. Tight ballgame and good hitting."

Schoenhoft and Lyons connected for what amounted to the game-winning play.

"It was 51-51 going into the next-to-last set of plays," Tressel said. "Robby Schoenhoft hit Devon Lyons for about a 50-yard touchdown on the final play of that set, which was huge.

"Then the first-team defense and earned a few points back, but not enough."

With Justin Zwick still hobbled by a mild ankle sprain, Boeckman was given an extended look on Saturday.

"Yeah, Todd probably had two-third of the snaps – maybe 60 percent with the ones," Tressel said. "Troy had maybe 20 percent with the ones and Robby 20 percent with the ones. Troy predominantly snapped with the twos."

Tressel was asked if Boeckman took a step forward on Saturday.

"Yeah, I think anytime you get the opportunity to get more reps with the first unit and that type of thing and getting thrown in the fire a little bit more… he'll have a lot of good film to study," he said.

It is becoming clear that Boeckman will likely play in the opener against Miami. Who knows, he could be the Buckeyes' starter.

"I would say that he would (play)," Tressel said. "We like to do that in the early games – get some guys some snaps – and I think Todd will."

Tressel gave an injury report (overall in camp, not just from the scrimmage) starting with Zwick.

"He'll be fine," he said. "Just sprained an ankle. Just like lots of guys do. We're a little bit conservative about scrimmages about putting guys in. Santonio Holmes has got a foot banged up a little bit – we didn't put him in. I would say Rory Nicol and Jim Cordle might be out a little longer with some foot sprains. Maybe a couple weeks, we're guessing. Mike D'Andrea we didn't put it – we don't think he's ready to put in a live scrimmage situation. Albert (Dukes) was out with a shoulder that will keep him out a couple of weeks."

Tressel was asked which of the running backs stood out.

"Brandon Schnittker, I thought had an excellent day," he replied. "He got about a dozen or more carries and ran well. Ones against ones and ran well.

"Antonio Pittman got significant carries; Mo Wells got significant carries; Erik Haw carried the ball; Shaun Lane carried it some. But I was pleased with the run game."

You can drop the "fullback" from Schnittker's job description. He now has a new role on the team.

"Brandon Schnittker is going to be a tailback," Tressel said. "Stan White – who I think is having a whale of a camp at fullback – did an excellent job today. And Dionte Johnson did a good job.

"We don't play with a fullback in the game enough to leave three guys predominantly there. So, Brandon really has been working primarily at tailback. We did that in the spring with him and in the spring game he played tailback. He adds that big back kind of guy and I like him. I was really impressed with Brandon Schnittker today. We asked him to come in about 240 and he did. That was probably down 8-10 pounds and he looks good. He looks to me like he's a solid tailback."

Lane was recruited as a defensive back, but is now getting all his work on offense.

"Shaun Lane is on offense and is doing a good job," Tressel said. "He's a physical kid."

One true freshman that will definitely see playing time this season is Wells.

"Oh, Mo Wells is going to play," Tressel said. "We were hoping he was real good. We were hoping he was as good as advertised and I think he is."

Tressel gave a quick overview of the placekickers from Saturday's scrimmage.

"I though our kickers did a good job today," he said. "(Ryan) Pretorius had the first attempt today and made a 55-yarder. Josh (Huston) made a field goal or two and I think Pretorius made another field goal. We did have one blocked and it will be interesting to see the film and what happened on that one."

Tressel was asked if any of the young defensive players have caught his eye.

"Jim Heacock says that there is no question that Lawrence Wilson is going to play," he said. "I know he's been very happy with Doug Worthington. Malcolm Jenkins is another one. Now this is not with watching today's film. I thought Andre Amos showed up a little bit today. Jamario (O'Neal) is playing safety and doing a good job. We'll be able to say a lot more after watching 150 plays, but I feel good about all those guys. The young linebackers look good to me. Todd Denlinger in there looks solid to me. I think it's going to be a good group with those young kids."

Tressel has been in contact with Ted Ginn Sr. who is hospitalized in Cleveland.

"Yeah, I talked to him this morning, in fact," he said. "He's feeling better. But he's one of those guys that his team is out there practicing and you get itchy to go and you've got to keep reminding yourself and keep reminding him to do what they tell you to do. I think he's feeling… compared to Wednesday to now, he's feeling much stronger. When you have surgery, it's tough on you. But he sounded really good today."

In regards to Smith, Tressel was asked if holding him out of some practice drills has been a teaching lesson (Smith is being disciplined for attending a Steve McNair football camp without permission).

"Yeah, that's good," Tressel said. "We've got teaching going on with a lot of guys in a lot of different ways and Troy is no exception and I think he's doing a great job with the lessons."

Will Smith continue to be held out of some drills next week?

"I don't know," Tressel said. "Haven't done Monday's practice schedule yet."

Tressel felt the quarterbacks looked good as a whole on Saturday.

"Made a couple plays; threw a couple touchdowns," he said. "It will be interesting to go look at and see the consistency of our protections, because the passing game to me is all about protection. You can come out and watch our 7-on-7 and we're pretty good. We complete them all, or nearly all of them. Now all of a sudden you get a line in there and it's a different world. So, it will be interesting to watch that."

Tressel also addressed the tight end position. There are a couple of interesting names popping up at that spot.

"You know, the guy that is playing a lot at tight end is Brandon Smith," Tressel said. "He did a whale of a job today. I thought he played well.

"Bobby Carpenter played some tight end today and caught a pass (for six yards). So, because Rory has been banged up and Ryan Hamby we've not worked much because he's coming off injury – he ran all the ones stuff – but we didn't double him up like we do sometimes with the tight ends. Brandon Smith probably played more than anyone. Bobby Carpenter and Marcel Frost played a handful of plays."

The athletic Carpenter is a nice insurance policy at tight end.

"He's been practicing a little bit since we're banged up," Tressel said. "I thought he looked good. One time today, he thought it was a run and it was really a pass. But the guy he was blocking ended up about 12 yards down the field on his back. I bet he got 10-12 plays on offense."

Tressel was also asked about the linebackers and their long hair. Will he force them to cut their hair?

"Well, our rule is more about facial hair," he said. "We just say, ‘lined up.' I went to school back in the day where there was diversity in hairdos. But they play pretty hard and they're good kids."

The Buckeyes did not work on very much punting during the jersey scrimmage.

"We punted a couple times today just to get warmed up," Tressel said. "But we'll go heavy and hard with that at the kick scrimmage (Wednesday)."

Overall, Tressel seemed satisfied with the way everything went at the scrimmage. But he's reserving judgment until after he sees the film.

"It was a battle," he said. "To me it was positive that there was so much competition. Early in the scrimmage it was 12-1 defense. Donte Whitner picked off a pass and went to the house. So, the fact that the offense just kind of hung in there – the game was really nip and tuck, back-and-forth the whole time. It will be interesting to watch the film. Sometimes when you're out there, you think, ‘This is OK; this isn't. We need to get better.' Then you watch the film and you say, ‘Ooh, we've got a lot more to do.' But I feel good about their effort and where we are right now, we've got a chance."

* As for Schnittker, he seems more than happy about his new role as a big tailback. "Yeah, roles shifted a little bit," Schnittker said. "Coach (Tressel) talked to me earlier this week and this week I've been playing strictly tailback. It's something that I am excited about. I think I can bring another dimension to the team."

Defensive statistics were not available, but senior defensive end Mike Kudla reportedly had a good day.

"As a defense, we played really hard," Kudla said. "Compared to the spring when we got pretty much blown out by the offense, we kept it real close today.

"Can't say enough about our guys today. They played hard and it was hot. We gave it all we had. Overall, it was a really good day for both sides of the ball."

Boeckman just keeps getting more and more work. He must be the most experienced "freshman" in the country. This was already his fifth jersey scrimmage during his OSU career (he was permitted to practice until school began in 2003, even though he grayshirted).

"It was fun to be out there for the first time," Boeckman said. "I got a lot of reps with the ones, twos and threes. We all did some good things and some bad things. We come back here (Sunday) and watch the film and see what we did well and what we need to work on."

As for Troy Smith, he just keeps plugging along. He can't seem to stay out of trouble for long, but he's keeping his head in the game and continues to be a team leader.

"I'm always staying in the loop of things, just not in the way that I wanted," Smith said. "But the quarterback is a student of the game in every phase. Whether he's on the sidelines, or the huddle. In any phase of my game, I have to lead. That's what we have to have is leaders in every aspect. Offense, defense, special teams the whole way around. Because that's football."

Smith was asked how the running backs did at the scrimmage.

"They did tremendous," he said. "Antonio Pittman stepped up and had a great day. Brandon Schnittker – we've talked a lot about ball security – and he ran the ball well today. Maurice Wells stepped up and did his part. Erik Haw did a great job today. Shaun Lane, whom they brought over from the cornerback position did a good job. So, we've got a great group of guys."

And Smith always enjoys talking about the offensive line. He says the big guys up front are the key to the offense.

"I felt they did good today," Smith said. "I felt today was great as far as picking up blitzes and things like that. Our young guys are stepping up to the table and getting some wits about themselves. They are starting to be confident now and that's what we need, the whole way around.

"Protection is where everything starts, whether we're talking about pass protection, or run blocking."

Smith was asked if Texas week can't get here fast enough for him.

"Miami week needs to get here first," he said. "That's the game that we need to focus on now. I kind of want the people of Columbus to focus on that game because that's the most important game to me right now. We've got to take it one week at a time. We can't jump weeks. Miami is first."

Smith was asked what advice he would give Boeckman.

"Just be strong, be a leader and be assertive," he said. "Let the guys know in the huddle that you are leading the guys. Regardless if it's 10 (Smith), 12 (Zwick), 17 (Boeckman) or 16 (Schoenhoft). Whoever is in there at the time, they need to let that group of guys know that they are going to lead them right now."

Smith says one freshman in particular has been impressive.

"I'd have to go on the defensive side and a guy named Lawrence Wilson, a defensive end," he said. "His athletic ability is bar none. Coming from Akron, they've got a lot of great athletes. Lawrence is stepping up and doing some great things for the defense."

Smith was asked to reveal his state of mind. Is he frustrated, or just ready for the season to start?

"In the Bible," he said. "That's my state of mind right now. Night in and night out, praying. Cause hopefully my chance will come again. My state of mind is just being a leader. My state of mind is humility. Being humble when I'm with the guys, that's my state of mind."

Smith was asked what he still needs to improve on to be a top college quarterback.

"Film study," he said. "Film study and decision-making is always a big thing that I need to improve on."

As for his strengths as a QB, Smith didn't hesitate.

"Just leading the guys," he said. "Just letting them know that no matter what is going on – good play, bad play – I'm going to be there."


Buckeye Sports Top Stories