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Commentary: Buckeyes’ offense facing identity crisis

Joe Podelco / Photo editor

As the football program’s annual Spring Game inches closer, the two sides of the ball could not be farther apart, in both play and identity.

Take Saturday’s scrimmage for example.

In 17 possessions, the offense managed just three Drew Basil field goals. The four quarterbacks taking snaps in place of injured starter Terrelle Pryor looked mundane at best. Taylor Graham was the only one without a turnover. That’s not exactly vintage “Tressel Ball.”

The receivers helped account for some of those turnovers, dropping passes that turned into picks. The discrepancy between returning starter DeVier Posey and the rest of the receiving corps appears to be wide.

Now, the offense does have a handful of legitimate reasons for its struggles on Saturday: Pryor’s injury, starting right tackle J.B. Shugarts’ absence because of a shoulder injury, two new starting guards and too many new faces catching the ball.

But the defense, which is replacing seven starters, sure wasn’t offering any excuses. Its play did the talking from the first snap, when the offense started from its own three-yard line. At the snap, defensive linemen John Simon and Johnathan Hankins slammed through the point of attack and stopped running back Dan Herron in the end zone.

The “Silver Bullets” weren’t finished causing havoc quite yet.

Cornerback Bradley Roby had two interceptions. Running back Jaamal Berry was crushed by cornerback Dionte Allen on a bubble screen. And on a single play, Simon sacked quarterback Kenny Guiton, forced him to fumble and then recovered the ball for a triple crown of sorts.

The defense even appears to have found its director in Etienne Sabino, who seems to have finally seized the opportunity.

“(Sabino) is definitely our leader right now in the middle of the field,” cornerback Travis Howard said. “He’s the guy calling all the plays and making all the checks.”

Not all is lost for the offense. It appears to have a three-headed monster of running backs up to the challenge, each of whom brings something different to the table. Berry has the speed, Jordan Hall has the shiftiness and Rod Smith packs the Beanie Wells-like power.

It’s no secret that the program has been engulfed in a storm of controversy during the offseason. Heck, it couldn’t even finish the scrimmage because a howling thunderstorm showed up in the ‘Shoe.

So, whether it’s the offense finding its identity or the defense continuing to assert its own, it’s clear the team has a long road ahead. Lucky for the Buckeyes, it’s spring, not autumn, so they have plenty of time to weather the storm.

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