Cooper tabs Moherman quarterback

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 1999

The Associated Press

Monday, he was declared the ninth-ranked Buckeyes’ starting quarterback against Miami in Sunday’s Kickoff Classic.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

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Monday, he was declared the ninth-ranked Buckeyes’ starting quarterback against Miami in Sunday’s Kickoff Classic. Steve Bellisari dropped to No. 2 on the depth chart, ending Ohio State’s most recent quarterback duel.

”It has not been torturous,” Moherman said. ”I went out every day and did what I could do. I tried to show the coaches. I didn’t focus on the decision.”

Bellisari said he doesn’t consider the battle to be over and thinks the decision will be made on the field during games.

”Whoever is making plays, has good production, puts points on the board and wins games, that should be the starter,” Bellisari said.

The job appears to be Moherman’s – for as long as the Buckeye offense flourishes.

”I cannot tell you right now in my mind who I think the best quarterback is, but we think the one who deserves to start in this first ballgame is Austin,” coach John Cooper said Monday at a news conference.

Asked if Bellisari would definitely play against the 12th-ranked Hurricanes, Cooper said, ”I didn’t say that. We’ve said we’re going to start Austin in the ballgame and we’re going to do everything we can to win the football game. If we start Austin and he played fantastic, played great – why take him out?”

That’s a change from the 1996 and 1997 seasons when Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine were listed No. 1 and 1-A at quarterback, sharing playing time but not a love for the uncomfortable position they were in.

Jackson started all but one game over those two seasons, but never received the full confidence of the coaching staff. He was almost always replaced in the second quarter by Germaine, who usually played when a game hung in the balance.

”We’re not going into this ballgame saying, ‘Austin, you’re going to play the first two series, then Steve you’re going in,”’ Cooper said.

”I can tell you there’s probably a good chance that somewhere during the game Steve will go in.”

The two have jousted for the job since the first practice of the spring.

Neither had established much of a college track record. Bellisari, a sophomore from Boca Raton, Fla., was 3-for-5 passing in one game last season, while Moherman (pronounced MOCK-uhr-muhn), a redshirt sophomore from Mission Viejo, Calif., misfired on his only attempt in the same game.

But Moherman at least had been a full-time quarterback for his two years at Ohio State and had been able to learn from Germaine, who passed for 3,330 yards while leading the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record and a No. 2 spot in the final polls last year.

Bellisari played on special teams and at defensive back last season, sharing the award for top special team’s player and finishing tied for 11th on the squad in tackles.

”Why did Moherman get the nod over Bellisari?” Cooper repeated. ”Well, he’s had the nod. He’s been our first-team quarterback. Normally, when we start out in the spring, seniority rules and he was of course a quarterback last year and started out a little ahead of Steve.”

Several of the Ohio State players said they were happy to have the situation clarified.

”I am just relieved so people won’t be like, ‘Who’s going to start?’ I’m glad to have that part over with,” said wide receiver Reggie Germany.

Cooper said Moherman also had the edge in the team’s August workouts in preparations of meeting the Hurricanes.

”The main reason that we will start Austin in this ballgame is that we grade them every day in practice, we keep charts on completions, interceptions, total yardage and bad plays. For whatever reason, Austin has graded out slightly ahead of Steve – particularly in the last couple of scrimmages we’ve had in the stadium.”

Cooper said Sunday’s game would determine if – or when – Moherman stayed on the field or Bellisari replaced him.

”A lot of it will be based on feel, a gut decision that you make during the ballgame,” he said.