Trio Of Buckeyes Looking For Improvement

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel has never been afraid of a little hard work, and that trait has been passed along to his players. Find out what Todd Boeckman, Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie have been doing to bounce back from their performances in the game against Ohio University.

Although there was plenty of blame to go around following Ohio State's tight victory against Ohio University, much of it seemed to center on three offensive players.

But rather than sit around and hope things will get better, those three players are working to turn things around in time for Saturday's showdown with No. 1 USC.

Senior quarterback Todd Boeckman, senior wide receiver Brian Robiskie and junior wide receiver Brian Hartline absorbed the brunt of the criticism for the rough showing produced by the Buckeye offense – some of it justified, some of it not. As the man under center, Boeckman is most responsible for directing an OSU offensive attack that was clearly not running on all cylinders against the Bobcats.

He was not helped, however, by his two primary targets in Robiskie and Hartline. Both had drops uncharacteristic of the respective bodies of work put forth by each during their OSU careers, and each had a sure touchdown catch glance off their fingers instead.

It all added up to an offensive attack that was something the Buckeyes were not proud of, as Boeckman said after the game. For one day, at least, the chemistry established between the three players was not there.

"I don't know if it was just a second, but there was some kind of timing that wasn't going on," Hartline said. "There was just one play myself or Robo would miss a read, then the next Todd would miss it, then we'd both get it but the ball was a little off or we were too far ahead of it or something. There was something off in each one."

For the game, Boeckman completed 16 of 26 passes for 110 yards – the second-lowest single-game performance of his OSU career as a starter. Robiskie had three catches for eight yards while Hartline chipped in two for 14 yards.

"It needs to get a lot better if we want to become the best," Boeckman said of the passing game. "We just weren't on the same page at all times. I don't know what it was, maybe just a little bit of everything. It starts with the line and then the quarterback and the receivers. I guess I just wasn't communicating and seeing the right things."

All three players echoed the same refrain: something was wrong with the passing game, and they were not sure what.

Seeking answers, they did what head coach Jim Tressel encourages all his players to do: They headed to the film room. What they saw was not pretty, but it was necessary.

The time in the film room showed the Buckeyes that the mistakes they had made were out of character. There was no concrete reason; rather, the Buckeyes were still searching for conclusions.

Hartline said he felt he might have been thinking about what to do with the ball before he actually caught it, leading to dropped passes.

"They are very simple, easy things to fix, concentration issues and I think we're both (Robiskie and Hartline) the same way," he said. "Mentally, we've got that past us and we've had a good week of practice so far."

The film room has then helped Boeckman, Hartline and Robiskie to better know what they need to focus on this week to improve.

"It's mostly been film, but there have been some times where we are on the field and we'll mention something that we've seen in the film room and we'll go back over it," Robiskie said.

It all adds up to an increased level of communication between three of the team's most crucial skill players.

"We've probably spoken more than in a normal week," Hartline said. "That's probably another good thing to come out of this week: communication is at a high. We're trying to get in each other's heads. Even if it was a catch, we'll go back over during practice, ‘OK, why did you do this?' "

With the status of running back Chris Wells up in the air for the USC game, the team's passing attack becomes even more critical for OSU's chances for success. For that reason – among others – the trio of Boeckman, Hartline and Robiskie know their week of practice could go a long way toward determining how successful the Buckeyes can be against the Trojans.

"We've had some looks where we want to do some different routes," Boeckman said. "We want to go out there and be on the same page at all times because if you're only on the same page some times there could be a huge mistake that happens."


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