Boeckman Just Trying To Be Himself

At a university where every player is almost instantly anointed as the next great somebody at his position, it can be hard for a player to become his own person. Todd Boeckman is attempting to rise out of the shadows of both Craig Krenzel and Troy Smith as he grows into himself as a quarterback.

Can Todd Boeckman just be Todd Boeckman?

As is often the case at a program with as much history as Ohio State has, new starters are frequently immediately referred to as "the next" somebody as a form of instant classification. While Boeckman has spent the last four years learning the OSU system, head coach Jim Tressel has described him as a player who makes smart decisions and takes care of the football.

Naturally, comparisons were then drawn between Boeckman and former OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel, who possessed similar qualities while leading the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2002.

Not blessed with a cannon for an arm nor game-changing speed, Krenzel was instead efficient and effective under center for the Buckeyes. During the national championship season, he finished with a 140.9 passer efficiency rating – good for ninth-best in OSU annals.

Boeckman himself, though, blanches when asked if he strives to be like Krenzel.

"It's tough to put my name right there," he said. "You try to be like him, and he did so many great things and was a great leader. He led us to a national championship."

Krenzel himself said there is not much comparison between the two – Boeckman is better.

"I think Todd's a much better player," he said. "People always ask me, ‘Don't you wish you could play in that system?' and while I partially say yeah, I wouldn't trade anything for all the memories and all the great things that I was fortunate enough to be a part of."

Krenzel's passing efficiency rating might be knocked down a peg if this season finishes in the same way it is progressing for Boeckman. Through nine games, the junior has compiled a 164.34 mark that leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the country.

Tressel said that ranking is important because it rewards sound thinking from players and does not focus simply on how many completions or yards the quarterback accounts for.

"As he progressed through the spring and then through fall camp, the one thing I did notice about him is he has really good vision and has a good feel for where he's going with the football," OSU quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels said. "He's like Troy (Smith) in that he's very careful with the ball."

In addition to being compared to Krenzel, parallels that seemed unlikely when the season began are now being drawn between Boeckman and last season's Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith.

Like Boeckman, Smith led the conference in passing efficiency with a rating of 161.9 – third-best in OSU history. That total was just below his 2005 mark, when he put together a 162.6 efficiency ranking.

When asked to compare this season's offense to that of last year's team, junior wide receiver Brian Robiskie started by mentioning Boeckman and Smith in the same sentence.

"Obviously it definitely starts at the quarterback position and I think that just seeing the change from Troy to Todd – not saying that Todd can't do the things that Troy did, he just maybe does them a little bit differently," he said. "Obviously Coach Tressel and the offense adapt and they try to get him to do things that make Todd more comfortable."

One of those things that has helped make Boeckman more comfortable at the line has been an increased sense of power. The signal-caller often comes to the line with two plays he can run based on what he sees in the defense and then is allowed to call whichever one he feels will work best.

There is still room for improvement there, though – Krenzel had four audible options at the line.

But a look at Boeckman's numbers through nine games compared to those put up by Smith is almost startling. Three-fourths through the season, Smith's ranking was 174.3, good for best in the nation.

He had thrown for 1,898 yards and 22 touchdowns against two interceptions, completing 67.8 percent of his passes. In contrast, Boeckman has thrown for 1,799 yards and 21 touchdowns against eight picks, completing 66.5 percent of his passes.

As he continues to have success at this level, however, Boeckman is drawing on both Smith and Krenzel for inspiration.

"I'm trying to be like (Krenzel) and I'm trying to be like Troy," he said. "I'm trying to do a mixture of everything here because they were such great players."

To listen to Daniels, though, the only quarterback he needs to try and be like is himself.

"He can be just himself, and time will do that," he said. "I think when he sits back and reflects on this year, I think he'll change his feeling about that and they say, ‘I'm Todd Boeckman, that's who I am, I don't need to be anybody else.' "

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