Ohio State's offense and defense got together Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium for the annual preseason camp jersey scrimmage. Though the affair was closed to the media, Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel revealed that the offense emerged from the 150 "or so" plays with a 72-58 victory, though he was not sure if he remembered the score exactly.
Whatever the final margin, the result rendered means none of the relatively few seniors on offense will have to return to what tackle Kirk Barton perhaps not-so-affectionately dubbed "the marshmallow look" of the white jerseys before their careers conclude.
"Now we look like the Kool-Aid Guy," Barton joked. "I'm going to draw a big smiley face on my stomach."
Senior fullbacks Dionte Johnson and Trever Robinson were not there to indicate if they would be following suit, but Barton added in all seriousness, "I thought it was important for us to get the scarlet jerseys back. You look forward to wearing those, not for trash-talk purposes but it really is an honor to wear those because it reminds you of your home games in the Horseshoe and everything that our home games stand for and how awesome of an experience they are. So it was important."
On the other side, linebacker Marcus Freeman said knowing they have to wait another eight months or so to try to win back the scarlet jerseys is hard to take.
"It's tough. It's a pride thing. It's something we all look forward to and we all take pride in keeping them," he said.
The scrimmage remained close throughout, according to those involved, until a simulation of college overtime pitting the first units against each other followed by the second units facing off, all in the red zone.
Each offense scored a touchdown on its possession, producing the final margin. With Todd Boeckman and Rob Schoenhoft taking turns leading a possession, both ended in touchdowns passes, one to tight end Jake Ballard and the other to wide receiver Albert Dukes.
The key to victory turned out to be a combination of the offense making few mistakes and the defense failing to capitalize on rare opportunities for big plays.
Sophomore safety Kurt Coleman came up with an interception of Schoenhoft for the only turnover of the day.
"If a couple balls were picked that weren't, who knows. It could have gone the other way," Tressel said. "If you don't get interceptions and you don't get fumble recoveries, you're probably not going to win the scrimmage from a defensive standpoint."
Anderson Russell, healthy again and looking to be a starting safety alongside Coleman, identified himself as having dropped a pair of potential interceptions.
"It really bugs me," he said. "Honestly, I'm really upset about it because it was a competitive situation for us and anytime you lose something like that it's devastating to you. We can get'em back, but it's going to be a long time.
"We had a chance to make a few plays out there that we should have made, but we can't do anything about it now," he said. "When we get the opportunities we've gotta take advantage of'em."
Bragging rights aside, Tressel said the biggest positive of the day was that no one was seriously injured, though sophomore tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells was held out with an ankle injury suffered some time last week.
"He was mad that he couldn't play, but you don't miss days of practice and then go and do some of the fun stuff, but he's fine," Tressel said.
Despite the absence of the projected starter, Tressel was impressed by the group of running backs at his disposal, including junior Maurice Wells, true freshmen Brandon Saine and Dan Herron and redshirt freshman walk-on Marcus Williams.
As for the quarterback battle, the coach said Boeckman maintained the lead he held over the others coming out of spring, though all have developed as camp has gone on.
"Boeckman is progressing and if we had a game today, he'd certainly be our starter," he said. "I'm happy with the way he's progressed, but you know we've got a lot more to prove."
Boeckman and Schoenhoft threw for two touchdowns apiece while Henton and Bauserman were shutout in that department.