Ohio State continued its preparations for the 2011 football season with a full contact jersey scrimmage on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Fourteen days remain until the Buckeyes’ opening kickoff. Here are some of the highlights of the day’s action
Positives for Buckeyes’ offense
After news media were permitted to enter Ohio Stadium mid-scrimmage, the OSU offense produced six scoring drives, which included three touchdowns and three field goals.
Senior quarterback Joe Bauserman was 7-for-13 passing and connected with freshman tight end Jeff Heuerman for his lone touchdown pass of the scrimmage.
Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was 7-for-19 passing and notched two touchdown passes. Miller linked with sophomore Chris Fields on a 58-yard score and later threw a 25-yard strike to freshman Evan Spencer.
From his Twitter account, @BuckeyeNotes, football team spokesman Jerry Emig tweeted that Bauserman and Miller threw for 120 and 126 yards, respectively.
“As always, there were some good things that happened and some bad things that happened,” offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said after the scrimmage. “It didn’t flow like a normal game situation. But, again, there were some good things that happened.”
OSU’s defense proves stingy, especially in red zone
The Buckeyes’ defensive unit, and the defensive line in particular, stopped the offense both on the ground and in the air.
The defensive line limited junior Jordan Hall, sophomore Carlos Hyde and freshman Rod Smith to 54 yards on the ground on 24 carries.
The defense also got to the quarterbacks five times, sacking Miller twice and Bauserman, sophomore Ken Guiton and freshman Taylor Graham once each.
Junior defensive back Travis Howard also intercepted an end-zone-bound pass by Bauserman late in the scrimmage.
Of the six drives on which the offense scored, none began inside the red zone.
“I think we played well in the red zone,” linebackers coach Mike Vrabel said of the defensive unit’s performance. “Between the (20 yard lines) probably wasn’t our best effort. But during the red zone situations, I thought we matched the routes well. I thought we played the running game well.”
Buckeye linebackers also combined for five tackles for loss with Andrew Sweat notching four and freshman Ryan Shazier adding one of his own.
It’s about us — we don’t care who wears the jerseys
First-year OSU coach Luke Fickell departed from OSU football tradition by not keeping score during the scrimmage or announcing a winner after the scrimmage, which usually determines which unit will don the coveted scarlet-colored practice jerseys.
The coaching staff will review game footage of the scrimmage, determine a winner and then inform the team, Fickell said.
Fickell seemed to suggest that he and other coaches have devised a new scoring system for this jersey scrimmage that is based on toughness.
“We’re definitely going to measure it (the outcome),” he said. “It’s going to be (based on) the turnovers, it’s going to be on the toughness factor. If you ask me how we’re going to measure toughness, we’re going to measure it by how you run the football and how you stop the football.”
Fickell said that his main concern is that his team has been competitive throughout camp.
“We weren’t focused on just a score,” he said. “It’s about us — we don’t care who wears the jerseys.
“Whether I’m playing against my brother or I’m playing against someone I don’t like, to me, it’s gotta be competitive. If I can beat them, I want to beat them as bad as I can.”
The Buckeyes will begin the 2011 season ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press college football poll. Other Big Ten representatives in the poll include Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska, which are ranked No. 17, No. 11 and No. 10, respectively.