Chemisty Is Correct For Special Teamers

With the graduations of Ohio State's leading field goal kicker and holder in Ryan Pretorius and A.J. Trapasso, respectively, one could assume there may be a struggle for the specialists to mesh. However, that's not the case for Aaron Pettery and Jon Thoma.

The kicker who will be attempting the majority of Ohio State's field goals this fall will be different than who did in 2008. The holder will be different as well.

Yet don't expect chemistry problems among the specialists. Aaron Pettrey returns to his former position as the No. 1 kicker with the graduation of Ryan Pretorius. Jon Thoma replaces the departed A.J. Trapasso as the holder. There won't be much of a getting-to-know-you process, however. They're roommates.

"I love it," Pettrey said of having Thoma hold for him. "He's a great holder, and Jake McQuaide is doing a great job snapping. I have nothing to worry about out there. The laces are out. The ball is down every time. It makes it really easy for me."

Thoma got some experience holding for Pettery on a handful of occasions in 2006 when the Kentucky native won the kicking job as a redshirt freshman. Pettrey made 8 of 11 field goals that year but lost the job to Pretorius thanks in part of a leg injury suffered in 2007. Last season Pretorius and Pettrey split kicking duties and Trapasso held for both.

Now Pettrey and Thoma are reunited as the top field goal duo for the Buckeyes. Thoma held for Pettrey during Friday's kick scrimmage and they converted 10 of 13 kicks with two blocks and one miss wide right during the Scarlet squad's 30-27 victory.

Thoma said the biggest adjustment the pair had to make was a visual one. According to Thoma, who is also battling to take over punting duties, it had to do with the differences between how he and Trapasso knelt down.

"It was just the way I was on one knee as the holder and how I leaned," Thoma said. "It's visual. It's not that big of a difference, but for a kicker whose goal is perfection, it took a little time. We had it together within a week."

The duo looked in sync as they lined up for a winning field goal during the kick scrimmage. Thoma took a snap from backup snapper Pat Howe and Pettrey booted a 34-yard field goal that easily sailed between the uprights. It was a test to see how the specialists would handle a pressurized situation, and they passed.

"That why Coach Tressel cheats out here," said Pettery, referring to Tressel making the Gray squad punt out of the end zone to set up the final field goal. "He wants it come down to the final kick. That's what he wants and there's definitely a lot of pressure. That's what he wants to see out of this."

Not to be overlooked is the return of McQuaide, who will enter his second season as Ohio State's top long snapper. The aeronautical engineering major said he feels more confident heading into spring football thanks to the experience he gained last season.

"I have a whole year of Big Ten football under my belt now," McQuaide said. "I thought I played my best in big games. It's just the experience. I've been working with Jon for a while, and he's transitioning to Aaron. They've been working together great.

"We're so far ahead of what you may expect from a group of guys like us. Jon hasn't held for Aaron that much, but the mesh is perfect. The chemistry is perfect between us."

That chemistry was on display during the kick scrimmage, which can often feature many missed kicks and sloppy special teams play. On Friday, the kickers, holders and snappers were on the same page - even if they were on different teams.

"Everyone's pulling for everyone else, even on a day like today," McQuaide said. "I'm on the Gray team, and I really want Gray to win. But I'm not cheering against Jon or Aaron. I want them to make their kicks."


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