Offense Flummoxed By Scrimmage Blowout

The Ohio State offense was left disappointed by getting blown out by the defense in Saturday's spring jersey scrimmage, especially in light of the way the unit had played through the opening days of spring. However, rather than be concerned, the Buckeyes said they would look forward to seeing how they can get better on film.

You know an offense has had a bad day when the exchange between quarterback and center can't even be counted on.

So it went for the Ohio State football team's offensive units Saturday in the semiannual jersey scrimmage, as the offense had a day to forget while falling 78-24 to the defense in an affair as lopsided as the final score.

The Buckeyes struggled in just about every way in which an offense can struggle. The offense was unable to score a touchdown, notched only two field goals, had six muffed snap exchanges, dropped five passes and committed five turnovers.

"It bothers us," said left guard Justin Boren, who left halfway through after getting his foot stepped on. "It's never good. We had a bad day on offense. I think all three teams had a bad day, but we're better than that. I don't know what happened. We've been getting better every day this spring."

That last sentence referred to a frustration held by just about every member of the offense made available for interviews, all of whom were seniors. Ohio State's offenses in general and especially the first unit had been moving the ball better than in past springs.

"It kind of looked like a new team," wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said. "It was kind of crazy. It's weird, you haven't really seen our offense play like that all spring. It came out of nowhere, and it was everything."

Much of the problems started up front with an offensive line that returned four starters and appeared to be jelling nicely during the first three weeks of spring practices.

While starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor was limited in his reps – and wore a black no-contact jersey, meaning he was considered down upon being touched – the line didn't do him or backups Joe Bauserman and Kenny Guiton any favors.

New center Corey Linsley – locked in a competition with Jack Mewhort and Scott Sika for the backup job – struggled in his snaps, and one of the biggest moments of the scrimmage was a 12-point play for the defense in which Pryor couldn't handle a shotgun snap from Michael Brewster that John Simon jumped on in the end zone for a touchdown.

Pryor, Bauserman and Guiton were under constant pressure, with each of the latter two absorbing big hits from rushing defenders.

"Today was just embarrassing," said lineman Andy Miller, who split reps at left tackle with Mike Adams and also spelled Boren at guard. "We had so many fumbled exchanges, interceptions, fumbles, all that stuff. Truthfully, I think a lot of it comes back the offensive line. We didn't play well physically and there were mental mistakes.

"All spring we were pass protecting really, really well. I think we've had the best spring as an offensive line since I've been here, and it fell apart today."

Miller added that the defense mixed in some new looks and blitzes the offensive line had not seen this spring, "But we had older guys out there, especially with the 1s and 2s, that should have been able to do better."

So where do the Buckeyes go from here? Back to the film room, team members said. While everyone involved with the offense seemed frustrated by the lack of production, there also wasn't a move to hitting the panic switch.

"(Were they) deflated? I don't know," head coach Jim Tressel said. "I'm not sure they put that much onus on it. I think that's very normal about spring. You go 15 practices, there are always some highs and lows for every unit. There are days this group did better and then two days later you say ‘Ooh, that group did better.' And individually too. So I would hope after a spring scrimmage, nobody is deflated."

When looking for positives, the Buckeyes could hang their hats on an ability to run the ball well, as tailback Jaamal Berry totaled 76 yards on 17 carries (unofficially) and Bo DeLande ran for 54 yards on 14 tries. There was also a general thought that one bad day shouldn't ruin what had been a productive beginning to the spring.

"We've been getting better, getting better, getting better," Boren said. "As a unit, when you screw something up and it looks bad, you watch it on film and you fix it. We're going to learn from our mistakes and be ready to go next week. I feel real good about this unit. Today doesn't change that."

Throw in the fact that the offense was going against the Buckeyes' standout defense – which doesn't appear to have lost much from a year ago, especially along a dominating front seven – and it was the type of day where, as the old saying goes, the bear got the unit with the ball.

"Sometimes we get the best of (the defense) and sometimes they get the best of us," wideout Taurian Washington said. "Today was their day."

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