Quarterbacks main focus in Buckeyes’ spring game

Published 11:07 pm Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS — Camo-clad Jim Tressel declared Ohio State’s spring game a success while 44,276 scratched their heads trying to figure out the scoring system.

“We had certain things we wanted to get done this spring and we got a lot of those done,” Tressel said.

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Each of the four quarterback candidates — Joe Bauserman, Taylor Graham, Kenny Guiton and Braxton Miller — threw a touchdown pass as the Buckeyes offense beat the defense 59-27 in a scrimmage that concluded spring practice.

Ohio State is looking for someone to take over for three-year starter Terrelle Pryor, who must sit out the first five games along with four other top players the NCAA determined took improper benefits. Tressel, too, is suspended for the first five games while the NCAA investigates his admission that he knew about but didn’t report players trading autographed uniforms and championship rings for cash and free tattoos from a Columbus tattoo parlor owner.

The game, which featured a quirky scoring system that overwhelmingly favored the offense, ended early because of a risk of tornadoes in the area.

Offensive points were awarded in the usual ways in addition to a point for each first down, while the defense scored for forcing punts, forcing turnovers and making fourth-down stops.

The offense didn’t score a touchdown until its ninth possession — its fourth series beginning at the defense’s 25-yard line. Guiton’s 17-yard scoring pass went to Verlon Reed.

Graham flipped a 68-yard touchdown throw to T.Y. Williams in stride streaking down the right sideline. Corey Brown caught a 15-yard pass from Miller, a prized incoming freshman. And Bauserman, a senior-to-be with the most experience, found Ryan Ross on a 16-yard score on the final play of the scrimmage.

“We’re all going to get the same amount of reps (in August) and then we’ll go out there and compete and the best man will win,” Bauserman said.

He completed 4 of 11 passes for 42 yards. Guiton was 5 of 11 for 43 yards, Graham 4 of 9 for 91 yards and Miller 7 of 12 for 73 yards. Graham was sacked five times and Bauserman twice. The offense did not have a turnover.

Asked to rate the four quarterbacks, Tressel said, “I thought Braxton probably played a little bit more relaxed and had a little bit more fun than he has, in part because we really limited what we were doing today. Joe and Kenny showed that they’ve been around and they are able to manage our offense and know what’s going on. Taylor had the big home-run throw but took a couple too many minus-yard plays.”

Tressel wore a military issue camo hat, tan desert boots and camo pants as a part of military appreciation day.

Even he conceded the scoring system — called “unique” on the official game stats — heavily favored the offense.

Wide receiver DeVier Posey — also one of the “Tattoo Five” along with Pryor, offensive lineman Mike Adams, tailback Dan Herron and backup defensive end Solomon Thomas — joked he would like to have the same scoring system during a game in the fall.

Still, the offense totaled only 120 yards on the ground and 249 passing in 86 plays from scrimmage, with Jordan Hall adding a 5-yard TD run and Drew Basil kicking two field goals. The defense, with linebacker Andrew Sweat leading the way with 10 tackles, had seven sacks and 11 tackles for negative yardage.

Miller would normally be preparing for his senior prom, but the acclaimed recruit from suburban Dayton, Ohio, graduated from high school in time to enroll at Ohio State in January.

Shaky at the start of the 15 spring practices, he played well in the finale.

“We shrunk the playbook and I think he felt more comfortable,” center Mike Brewster said. “He has a really quick release and it was great to see him relaxed. He improvises and he can find guys. Today was the best I’ve seen him play all spring.”