Maurice Clarett dressed for
practice today, but did not participate in any of the drills. He was not wearing
a yellow non-contact jersey for some reason. Clarett was walking with a slight
limp, but is listed as probable for the
Lydell Ross worked as the No. 1 tailback today. Mo Hall and Ja Ja Riley rotated in with the second team. The Buckeyes worked a lot on throwing to the backs today. So, although we rarely see it in games, they do practice screen passes. (When is the last time you saw OSU run one of those "jailbreak" screens that always seem to work?)
With Mike Stafford and Ivan Douglas nursing minor injuries, the starting offensive line lined up like this today: LT: Rob Sims, LG: Adrien Clarke, C: Alex Stepanovich, RG: Bryce Bishop, RT: Shane Olivea… Obviously, the coaches think Sims is coming along pretty well. Left tackle is arguably the most important position on the O-Line (well, maybe not for a running team) and they have a lot of confidence in Sims to pop him in there as a true frosh. Sims is showing very quick feet for a man his size and also has good upper and lower body strength.
Drew Carter is definitely emerging as a weapon for the offense. During 11-on-11 drills today, Craig Krenzel was looking for Carter more than anyone else. Most of the passes came over the middle, where Carter showed good body control (shielding the DBs) and soft hands. I really think with Carter, Michael Jenkins, Chris Gamble and Chris Vance that we have one of the top receiving corps in the nation. But, like many predicted, they are being under-utilized and I don't expect that to change… As for Gamble, he did not get any reps as a corner today and was not wearing a cape… Also of note, Angelo Chattams returned to practice today. But I can't think of anybody who is more buried on the depth chart than him.
Krenzel's long balls were sailing out of bounds far too often today (something that has been carrying over to the games). Another alarming thing that I continue to notice about Krenzel is that he is slow getting rid of the ball. He needs to make quicker decisions and must improve on his accuracy if the Bucks are going to win the Big Ten.
Tackle David Thompson worked
with the first team defense in place of Tim Anderson today.
EJ Underwood has not officially overtaken Rich McNutt as a starting cornerback, but Underwood got most of the reps with the 1's today. Underwood will be a starter by the end of the year. What has impressed me about No. 49 is his tackling ability. He has a knack for shooting in and taking out the legs of the offensive player, which makes up for his thin frame (170 pounds). Many felt that Underwood had the ball skills and cover skills to contribute right away, but it is his ability to tackle that has him on the verge of the starting lineup.
Let me preface by saying Troy Smith is not Michael Vick and will probably never be as good as Vick. But watching Smith bounce around the pocket reminds me of Vick. So does his cannon for an arm. He is even built a little bit like Vick (both about 6-foot-1; Vick a little more stocky). Smith is not left-handed and did not just make the Bengals look like fools on national TV, but everything else is very similar.
Justin Zwick is also looking very good out there. And since we're on the topic of comparisons, Zwick reminds me a little bit of Kerry Collins. He stands very tall in the pocket and his point of release is very high (the anti-Navarre). Chances are that both Smith and Zwick will be redshirted this year, so it looks like the Bucks are set at quarterback until 2006.
Towards the end of practice, the first-team offense and first-team defense squared off in a two-hand touch, 11-on-11 drill. The offense worked out of the shotgun and did not use a huddle (Krenzel called the plays at the line). Most of the passes were of the dink-and dunk variety, including two to the sure-handed Jenkins.
The offense worked mostly out of one-back sets today. We are not seeing too much out of the fullbacks and I don't expect that to change. Brandon Schnittker and Branden Joe might be good players down the road, but the coaches don't seem to have a lot of confidence in them right now.
Former head coach Earle Bruce took in practice today… Jesse Kline also stopped by.