Grading Out A Winner

Jim Tressel prizes efficiency and solid decision-making from his quarterback, so he must be pleased with the development of Todd Boeckman this season. Four games in, see what the Buckeyes are saying about his development and what he does well "each and every time" he is on the field.

When you're the starting quarterback at Ohio State, everyone – from your roommate to your barber – has an opinion on how you are performing.

As is the case with all players, the person they are most concerned with pleasing is their coach. Winning and playing well counts for a lot, but in the end it is the head coach that determines who plays and for how long.

In his fourth game as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback, junior Todd Boeckman was named the team's offensive player of the week for his role in a 58-7 thrashing of Northwestern. But perhaps even more impressive was the fact that, according to head coach Jim Tressel, Boeckman graded out with a winning performance during the contest.

It is just another indicator that the native of St. Henry, Ohio, is continuing to make strides as his first season as a starter continues.

"It's hard to get one at that position," Tressel said. "He's very serious about it and he knows that he has to keep learning and he's willing to do that, and I think he knows that there's going to be tougher days ahead, and that doesn't bother him. He's looking forward to those tougher days ahead and he's going to handle each day as it comes and he's a mature guy."

Through four games this season, Boeckman leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency and ranks 10th nationally with a rating of 172.06. He has completed 57 of 86 passes for 760 yards and 10 touchdowns against three interceptions.

Those are not the numbers of Troy Smith, who left his mark on the OSU record book last season, but they are the numbers of a quarterback doing enough to get his team to a perfect 4-0 record.

"I think he's doing a good job growing in his role, which is – that's a hard spot to be in," OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said. "Being the quarterback at Ohio State University, that's a tough job and I think each week he's handling that job a little bit better."

Boeckman said the trick is to keep himself from expecting to do too much, too soon. Ask him a question, and the answer will invariably feature the phrase "each and every," as in: "I keep improving each and every week" or "I try to get better with each and every rep I get."

He remembers the three interceptions more than he remembers the 10 touchdowns because "turning the ball over is one big thing in Tressel's mind."

"I guess you could go through probably each and every game and there's a few interceptions that I would like to take back, but you obviously can't," he said. "You've got to keep moving on and keep on playing your game.

"It's tough to be perfect each and every week. You're going to have a mistake here or there. You've got to keep watching the film and improving and hopefully do not make the same mistakes you did the previous week."

Making steady improvement has been aided by his cerebral approach to the game. Tressel cited the time he has spent in the film room and in the classroom over the previous three years as reasons for his success.

The effort has paid off with better on-field decisions.

"Every week you're looking at what could've happened, what kind of decisions the guy made, which is still the most important deal, what kind of decisions the guy makes, and I see more and more good decisions," Bollman said.

As the Buckeyes sit undefeated, Boeckman said he knows opinions of him can sour as soon as the team falters – whether it is his fault or not.

"That's the tough part, definitely: when the team is doing good and things are going well, you get all the credit in the world," he said, "but when we lose we also get all the negativity that goes with it."

What, then, is the most difficult part of Boeckman's job?

"I guess you guys, you know?" he said with a laugh, referring to the media.

If he keeps improving at this rate, he'll likely be talking to the media each and every week for a long time to come.

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