Getting Better Day By Day

You wouldn't know Todd Boeckman and Robby Schoenhoft are embroiled in a quarterback derby just by talking to them. Rather than focusing solely on being named the starter, each player is more concerned with becoming as good as he possibly can be.

To hear either of them say it, there is no quarterback battle going on at Ohio State this year. To imply otherwise might mean that either Todd Boeckman or Robby Schoenhoft would be outwardly upset when the other takes the first snap against Youngstown State on Sept. 1.

On one hand is Boeckman, a quieter, more reserved junior entering his fifth season. On the other is Schoenhoft, a fiery leader described as being more "rah-rah" than Boeckman by his teammates.

But despite their different personality traits, both said they will have the same reaction should they not be the starter against the Penguins.

"We all have worked hard to further this team and to better this offense, and I think when we go out there every single day in practice we do what we can to further each other," Schoenhoft said. "There's no doubt in my mind that ever since we lost to Florida, we've pushed each other to get better and we've pushed this team to get better."

Despite offering up a similar sentiment following the team's jersey scrimmage August 18, Boeckman said he would not view the past eight months as a disappointment should Schoenhoft edge him out as the starter for the season opener.

Tight end Rory Nicol offered up a dissenting viewpoint, however.

"I certainly would hope that he would be disappointed," Nicol said. "I don't know that he would be bitter. The disappointment would be in yourself, but you can't have hard feelings for anybody that plays for this team because that's what it's about. It's about all of us."

Since the Buckeyes ended the 2006 season and officially began auditioning Boeckman and Schoenhoft – along with redshirt freshman Antonio Henton – for the job, the day-by-day focus has been on getting better with each practice, each play and each throw.

OSU quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels said he has seen that sort of development out of the players at his position, but added that Boeckman's experience has continued to give him the slight upper hand.

"Well, the biggest thing Todd has at this point in time is he's been around here a long time and he understands the offense probably better than anyone," he said. "He's a little bit ahead because of that. Just being here for another year and a half makes a big difference."

But it is the team-first attitude that has helped the quarterbacks continue competing with each other while not causing a rift among their teammates.

It is also an attitude they have been able to share despite having different temperaments. On Boeckman's MySpace page, his profile says he likes to "have fun at all times but I also know when to put fun aside for the more important things in life."

Not a bad summary of a quarterback constantly being taught by head coach Jim Tressel to take care of the football. Tressel, however, has told Boeckman that he needs to cut loose a little bit more – a sentiment he agreed with.

"I think right now I might be a little too tense," he said. "I know the plays, I know what to do, I know the right situations we want to be in. I've just got to go out there and let it loose and let that fly a little bit."

Regardless of who might be more vocal, Nicol said he often notices no difference between Schoenhoft and Boeckman when they are in the game.

"Sometimes you don't even know who's in because we've got so much going on up front," he said after the jersey scrimmage. "I think Todd made some good throws today, I think Robby made some good throws today."

All signs are indicating that the job remains Boeckman's to lose. Regardless of what happens, however, don't look for Schoenhoft – or anyone else – to complain.

"It gets me excited, knowing that we have three great quarterbacks that are going to be there no matter what happens," Schoenhoft said. "It's going to push each other just by playing. It's really exciting to have great friends and to have each other push each other by our performance."

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