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Published: 4/17/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

OSU's defense strong

Offense unable to score as no replacement QB shines

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (5) drops back to pass during a practice earlier this spring in Columbus. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (5) drops back to pass during a practice earlier this spring in Columbus.
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COLUMBUS — Mike Brewster spoke with the patience of a veteran. No panic, no grim reaper waiting at the door.

Despite the fact his Ohio State offense went through Saturday’s scrimmage without scoring a touchdown, and turned the ball over four times while also nearly allowing a safety, Brewster saw no cause for alarm.

“It’s a little frustrating, but I’d say this was maybe our worst day of the spring,” the junior center from Orlando said Saturday after a maverick thunderstorm brought the scrimmage inside Ohio Stadium to an abrupt end.

The Buckeyes’ offense was on the short end of an 87-72 score when the weather hit, with points carried over from the previous week. Using a scoring scheme that only the inventors of golf’s Stableford system could unravel, various point values were awarded to the defense for turnovers, negative plays and stops.

The Ohio State offense had to settle for just three field goals, and a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by running back Jaamal Berry. The Buckeyes’ offense took possession several times inside the 25 but failed to put the ball in the end zone. Brewster said part of the problem was the inconsistency of the offense, and part of it was how well the defense played.

“I think the defense had a nice day, and you expect that from our defense because they’re always on point,” Brewster said. “I know it looked rough at times today. We didn’t do that well . . . there were a lot of little things . . . I guess it’s better it happens now than in the fall.”

The Buckeyes used all four of the quarterbacks who are vying for the starting job as Terrelle Pryor’s replacement for the first five games of the 2011 season, when the senior and three other offensive starters will serve an NCAA-mandated suspension.

No official stats were kept for the 60-plus play scrimmage, but none of the quarterback candidates excelled. There were two interceptions, a trio of sacks, and a lot of generally sluggish play.

“Things aren’t always as bad as they look, and they’re not always as good as they look,” said Brewster, a first-team All-Big Ten pick last season.

He cited the significant amount of new faces on the offense as a primary reason for the team’s struggles yesterday.

Ohio State lost two linemen and leading receiver Dane Sanzenbacher to graduation, while Pryor is sitting out practice as he recovers from surgery, and a number of new players are being tested at several other positions that will be impacted by suspensions.

“We’ve come a long ways this spring,” Brewster said. “I think we can only get better. You just really have to tell yourself that in the end, this is going to be for the best.”

Defensive lineman John Simon, who had a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in the morning scrimmage, said he is confident the Ohio State offense will find its stride well before the season arrives.

“We see them in practice every day, and we know the offense is very good,” Simon said, while conceding that the defensive front made things very difficult for the quarterbacks.

Brewster said he expects the Buckeyes will complete their spring workouts this week on a positive note, and then be much more sound when the team opens fall camp in August.

“This is nowhere close to where we’re going to be next fall. We’re just moving guys around,” he said. “We only have four practices left (in spring) so we just need to kind of suck it up and finish strong.”

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel did not address the media following the scrimmage.

The Buckeyes close spring practice on Saturday with the Scarlet & Gray game in Ohio Stadium. As in recent years, the football game will be the second half of a double-header. The OSU lacrosse team faces Fairfield at 11 a.m., with the football spring game expected to start about 1:30 p.m. The football game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

Contact Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6510.



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