With Zwick Out, Boeckman Gets The Ball

With Justin Zwick out for Saturday's jersey scrimmage, redshirt freshman Todd Boeckman moved to center stage at quarterback for the Buckeyes. We have comments from OSU coach Jim Tressel and Boeckman on his big day in the broiling hot sun. Plus, Zwick discusses his rehab and his return to full-go as OSU moves inside two weeks to the season opener with Miami (Ohio).

With just two weeks left before Ohio State's season opener with Miami (Ohio), OSU coach Jim Tressel did the only prudent thing he could do for Saturday's jersey scrimmage – he got redshirt freshman quarterback Todd Boeckman ready to play.

With Troy Smith ineligible for the opener and Justin Zwick on the shelf with an ankle injury, Boeckman was pressed into duty with the first team on Saturday. According to Tressel, Boeckman took 60 percent of the snaps with the ones.

Understandably, the results were mixed. Boeckman completed 9 of 18 passes for 46 yards. He threw one interception, which Donte Whitner returned for a touchdown.

"Anytime you get the opportunity and get more reps with the first unit and get thrown in the fire a little bit more … he'll have a lot of good film to study," Tressel said.

It was a baptism by fire for Boeckman, who piloted the offense against a defense many believe could be among the nation's very best. But he helped the offense post a 59-56 win in the jersey scrimmage. True freshman Rob Schoenhoft, who split the rest of the reps with the first team with Smith, threw for a pair of touchdowns.

"I thought Todd did some things today that show you he could move the team," Tressel said. "I thought Robby did, too. Next week, what unfolds … we know one thing for sure – Troy is not playing against Miami. The next two weeks will tell the rest."

Tressel said he expects Zwick to recover and he would still be penciled in to start against Miami (Ohio) Sept. 3. But he admitted that Boeckman would likely play in the season opener.

"I would say that he would," Tressel said. "We like to do that in the early games, and I think Todd will."

Boeckman, a native of St. Henry, Ohio, has been waiting for this shot. He graduated from St. Henry in 2003. He sat out that season as a grayshirt, then redshirted at OSU last year.

"It was fun to be out there for the first time and getting a lot of reps with the ones, the twos and the threes," Boeckman said. "We all had some good and bad things. We'll go back tomorrow and look at it and see what we can do."

When asked about the prospect of playing against Miami, Boeckman said, "It's just a dream come true for me to be out there on the field for the Ohio State Buckeyes. I'm just looking forward to every opportunity I can to get out there.

"It's a different mind-set for me. Coming in last week, I was the number two quarterback. I know I'll have the opportunity to go out there and play and you never know what can happen.

"You can have a guy go down with one play and get an injury to his ankle on a sack or whatever. You have to be ready to step in. You never know when your name is going to be called."

With Zwick out of action, Boeckman knew he had to fill the void.

"With Justin going down last week, that's just a big hit to us," he said. "I just want to step in and I don't want there to be any kind of loss with Justin being out. I want to step in there and do the same things he did and do everything right."

But Boeckman was behind the eight ball from the jump on Saturday. On the first series, he threw the interception to Whitner and the offense was in a quick 12-1 hole. (The defense tallied five points for the interception and seven more for the touchdown.)

"It was the second or third play of the game," Boeckman said. "I was on a naked (bootleg) to the right and he just made a good play on the ball and took it to the house.

"I was throwing it Tony Gonzalez and I thought he was wide open. But Donte made a great break on the ball. We have so much speed out there and it's just a lesson to see that the guys across from us have that kind of speed.

"After I did that, I had to stay focused on work on not turning the ball over again. In Coach Tressel's offense, you can't turn the ball over. You have to stay focused, stay comfortable and do things right."

That play is an indication, Boeckman said, of the difference between playing against the starters or the backups.

"Coming in from the threes to the ones, it is definitely a whole new ballgame," he said. "I'm just trying to get comfortable with the ones. I haven't really played with them the last couple of years. You have a lot of big boys out there. You have a lot more speed. The pocket is there and you just have to make big plays.

"It's unbelievable the defense we have out there. They are quick and strong. They disguise their coverages so well. I came out there a little flat, but I think I got better as the day went on. I'll look at the film tomorrow and try and get better."

When asked for a positive on the day, Boeckman said, "We had a long drive and went all the way down to the 30-yard line. We got a field goal out of it. That was a plus to have a long drive and score.

"I thought I had a lot of time to throw. We had a lot of guys make some great blocks. I had a few open guys and I missed some guys."

Boeckman discussed his emphasis going forward.

"Staying focused is a big key for me," he said. "I need to stay focused and not worry about playing with the ones."

Smith shared his two cents on Boeckman's big day.

"He looked good," Smith said. "To me, days like this with the scrimmage are always about decision making for a quarterback."

Zwick also sized up the play of the quarterbacks.

"I think they all looked good," he said. "We won, which was the big thing. They took care of the huddle and got us up there to the line and did what they needed to. I think they all did a good job."

Zwick's Speedy Recovery?

Tressel said he was optimistic that Zwick would return to full-go by the end of this week – just in time for the Buckeyes to begin game planning for Miami.

"It will be next week, but I don't know what day," Zwick said. "Hopefully, he'll learn from the film as well. His primary thing now is getting healthy and getting back in there."

Tressel had Zwick spend the day signaling plays into the quarterbacks.

"He was on the phone all day with Joe Daniels and he was the one signaling the play calls in, so he definitely stayed in the game mentally," Tressel said.

Zwick was asked if he felt like one of the coaches for a day.

"It did feel like that," Zwick said. "I had the headsets on with the hat and I was telling the guys what plays to call. It was fun listening to the coaches and hearing what they were thinking on third-and-short and third-and-medium about what we needed to do. You get a little different aspect of the game."

Zwick went back to Monday, when he suffered the ankle injury.

"I was just getting tackled on a step up and Quinn (Pitcock) rolled on it," Zwick said. "I just caught underneath his body as I was going down. It was the first day everything was live."

And how is his rehab coming?

"I feel as if it's progressing with the rehab I'm doing," he said. "I've been doing a lot of cold tub and a lot of ankle things with the trainers, some movement stuff so I'll be able to move on it and run on it.

"I'm shooting for next week. You can never really tell with an injury. But if everything goes the way I plan it to, I'll be back in the middle of next week sometime."

Zwick talked about his tutelage of Schoenhoft early in camp.

"Robby was a young kid coming in who didn't really know the offense," Zwick said. "With that, you just have to relax and go through your progressions. You have to sit back and take that easy throw. He's been doing better every day."

And he was also asked about Smith's play.

"He looked good," Zwick said. "He ran some nice options and he threw a couple nice balls."

Talk about the depth chart doesn't really faze him, Zwick said.

"I don't think about that a whole lot," Zwick said. "Hopefully, I will be back and we won't have as much pressure on that as we do now with just Todd and Robbie. We have guys who are capable of getting the job done. We don't even worry about it. It's just something that's there and whatever happens happens. We're just here to make our team better."

When asked what he thought was the biggest positive from Saturday, Zwick said, "We had younger guys stepping up there. We had some injuries with Santonio (Holmes) out and we were short at tight end. We even had Bobby Carpenter playing some there. We just had a lot of guys stepping up today.

"We're working hard. It's been hot outside. We've been working through this heat. I think we're going to continue to push ourselves and get ready for that first one with Miami."


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