Despite the rain, an announced crowd of 76,346 showed up at Ohio Stadium yesterday for the Buckeyes' annual intrasquad spring football game.
COLUMBUS - The spring football game is a loosely organized show-and-tell that gives players a stage and a final opportunity to display their worth before their team reconvenes in August to prepare in earnest for the 2008 season.
Ohio State's spring game did not have a lot of suspense in the story lines yesterday, since the Buckeyes are replacing just two starters on either side of the ball from the team that faced Louisiana State in the BCS national championship game.
You know your team is loaded when the biggest debate you can muster is over the pecking order between your second and third teamers at the quarterback position.
The quickie report card on the quarterbacks from the spring game, won 20-7 by the Scarlet team in front of an announced crowd of 76,346, looked like this: senior starter Todd Boeckman was just so-so playing only the first half, with a couple of interceptions and a one-yard touchdown carry; redshirt freshman Joe Bauserman showed the arm strength that made him a major league pitching prospect; and sophomore Antonio Henton was diplomatic enough to play a half for both the Scarlet and Gray teams.
Boeckman was a first-team All-Big Ten pick last season when he led the Buckeyes to an 11-2 record and a third straight conference title, so he is clearly the starter. Top recruit Terrell Pryor won't arrive here until the summer, and likely will be put to situational use this coming season, in much the same way Florida utilized veteran Chris Leak and freshman Tim Tebow two years ago.
Bauserman and Henton have much less-defined roles at this point.
"Those guys have been pushing hard, competing for the backup role there, and that's the kind of thing that makes the team stronger," said junior wide receiver Brian Hartline, who had six receptions for 82 yards. "Today, you could really tell they were out there trying to make plays."
Bauserman, who orally committed to Ohio State as a senior at Tallahassee's Lincoln High in 2004, opted instead to play baseball and pitched for three years in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system. He left baseball and enrolled at Ohio State last year, but redshirted and did not play in any games for the Buckeyes.
Bauserman hit his first three passes in yesterday's game, including a 51-yarder to sophomore Taurian Washington that tied the game early in the second quarter. Bauserman also had a 63-yard scoring pass to Washington in the fourth quarter called back on a holding penalty.
Henton, who saw limited action in a mop-up role last season after spending part of year suspended due to a solicitation arrest, led the Scarlet on a third quarter scoring drive that was highlighted by his 30 yard completion to Ray Small. Henton hit Toledo Central Catholic grad Dane Sanzenbacher for an 11-yard gain on a sideline route on the Gray team's first series of the game, and also had a 10-yard scramble in the first quarter while playing for the Gray side. "I thought both Joe and Antonio showed some elusiveness," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "They had to demonstrate a little bit of escapability, and they did that. Both of them showed that they kept their head up while they were under duress, which is something we talk a lot about."
Bauserman finished 7-of-14 passing for 125 yards for his Gray team, while Henton went a combined 6-of-12 for 73 yards with both squads. Tressel said their rating on the depth chart is still to be determined.
"I thought they looked for plays to make, and a couple of them they threw in there," Tressel said. "As far as where they are, I think they are competing against themselves first, to become as good as they can be. It's way too far out to worry about who is the backup, but I thought it was a good day for both of them to experience."
With starter and first-team All-Big Ten tailback Beanie Wells sitting out while he recovers from injury, redshirt freshman Dan "Boom" Herron was the game's leading rusher with 30 yards on 10 carries for the Scarlet, and a third-quarter touchdown. Aaron Pettrey and Mike Mattimoe also had field goals for the Scarlet.
Tressel said the spring game ended a productive practice period for Ohio State. The Buckeyes will gather as a group in August to start formal preparations for the Aug. 30 season-opener against Youngstown State.
"One of the goals we had for the spring was to make sure we had some fun, and I thought they had some fun throughout the course of the spring," Tressel said. "We took a needed step, and these next three months are going to be crucial, as the guys are out there on their own, deciding just how good they want to be."
Contact Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6510.
WEST LAFAYETEE, Ind. (AP) Quarterbacks Joey Elliott and Justin Siller threw two touchdown passes each to lead the Gold team to a 28-14 win over Black in Purdue s spring football game Saturday.
Elliott hit Colton McKey on a two-yard pass to open the game s scoring, and he followed with a four-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Panfil in the second quarter.
A Black team interception return and a 35-yard touchdown run by Jaycen Taylor tied the score at halftime.
Then Siller finished the scoring with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes.
The annual game matched Purdue s first-string offense and second-string defense on the Black team against the Gold s second-string offense and first-team defense.
Quarterback Curtis Painter completed 11 of 19 passes for 102 yards for the Black team. Dan Dierking led all rushers with 88 yards on 16 carries, and Taylor had 47 yards on six carries and a touchdown.
Coach Joe Tiller said in a statement that the team had a competitive game, which was their goal.
I will like this team in the fall when we get all our injured guys back, Tiller said.