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Published: Wednesday, 10/6/2004

Ohio State's Smith waits, but in vain

To reach his full potential, Troy Smith requires a quarterback-friendly offense and a coach who allows his quarterback to run.

That's not going to happen for Smith under Jim Tressel.

If Smith selected Ohio State because of Tressel's reputation for developing quarterbacks, regardless of their style of play, he came to the wrong place.

With two years of eligibility remaining after this season, and his redshirt year already used up, Smith is running out of options.

Smith's rant last week about his lack of game action was a waste of time.

He has no one but himself to blame for his current predicament.

He didn't walk into the situation blindly. According to Ohio State's media guide, Smith was signed "because of his overall athletic ability."

In his college debut last year against Washington, Smith carried the ball once for two yards. Against Northwestern in 2003 he had an eight-yard run, and he returned kicks and recorded an 18-yard return against Indiana.

Smith didn't complete a pass last season. No attempts, no completions.

He was an "athlete" vying to become OSU's starting quarterback, trying to impress a coach who, to be perfectly blunt, didn't recruit him strictly to play quarterback.

Therefore, when Tressel announced in the spring that the quarterback race was open, pitting Smith against fellow sophomore Justin Zwick, it was done strictly for Smith's benefit.

Tressel spent spring practice limiting what Smith does best.

During the spring game, Smith, a superior runner, was required to remain in the pocket because quarterbacks were forbidden to run.

Smith is a capable passer, but he's also an instinctive runner and playmaker. He's more effective when he's unrestricted.

Smith should have been more realistic about his college choice.

He knew Tressel had committed to Zwick, the most highly touted high school quarterback to come out of Ohio in years. He knew Zwick was a better fit for Tressel's offense because Zwick is a conventional drop-back passer.

He knew, or at least he should have known, that Tressel was grooming Zwick to replace Craig Krenzel.

Tressel, however, should have been more forthcoming about who his starting quarterback would be.

Although he named Zwick the starter, Tressel insisted both quarterbacks would play, leaving open the possibility for Smith - at least in his mind - that he could still win the job.

Platooning quarterbacks at the major-college level hardly ever works, because only one quarterback can be the true leader of the offense.

Smith's playing time since the opener against Cincinnati has dwindled, along with his patience.

Smith's dilemma, however, is nothing new.

He believes he should be playing more, that he hasn't received a fair chance to win the starting job. He's understandably frustrated and may be thinking about transferring.

To reach his full potential this season, Smith has to be mentally prepared in his role as backup quarterback and realize he's as close as an injury to Zwick to becoming the starter.

It's a long season. Smith needs to remain patient, loyal to the program, and be prepared for anything.



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