Ohio State offense struggles, but it’s only spring

There is no question Ohio State’s offense has been sluggish.

Before Buckeyes fans begin panicking, however, it’s important to

remember it’s only spring.

With quarterback Terrelle Pryor recovering from foot surgery,

and with not enough offensive linemen, the Buckeyes have

foundered.

Work needs to be done at wide receiver and at quarterback,

especially since Pryor will serve a five-game suspension to open

the season.

Otherwise, it’s been a normal spring with lots of worries,

experiments and questions.

After the defense dominated in a weather-shortened scrimmage

last Saturday – not allowing a touchdown and barely allowing a

completion – lineman John Simon was asked if there was reason to be

worried about the offense.

”We see them in practice every day and we know that the offense

is very good,” he said.

It all begins at quarterback. Pryor did so much cheerleading

this spring he should have carried pompoms. He has been a constant

presence at practice, hovering around the younger players, shouting

encouragement and walking around the perimeter of drills.

He had surgery in January to stabilize ligaments in his right

foot. After wearing a boot, he’s now close to 100 percent but will

still skip spring workouts, which will be capped by Saturday’s

intrasquad scrimmage at Ohio Stadium.

With Pryor limited to just soft tossing on the sideline, for the

most part, the spring has been a massive audition for senior-to-be

Joe Bauserman, sophomore Kenny Guiton, redshirt freshman Taylor

Graham and incoming freshman Braxton Miller. Each has had his

moment in the sun – as much sun as there has been in this otherwise

rainy, dreary spring – but all also have miles to go to gain the

confidence of coaches and their teammates.

”They’re all working extremely hard,” said right tackle J.B.

Shugarts. ”They all want that spot but the thing about it is

they’re all helping each other while they battle for that spot.

They’re doing a great job reading the coverage, learning the

offense and having command in the huddle and keeping their poise on

the field.”

With Pryor’s suspension for accepting improper benefits from a

Columbus tattoo shop owner, the four top quarterback candidates are

vying for the starting job with the Sept. 3 opener against Akron a

full 19 weeks from Saturday.

Starting left tackle Mike Adams, tailback Dan Herron, wide

receiver DeVier Posey and backup defensive lineman Solomon Thomas

are also suspended, and all are practicing this spring.

”Some people will say perhaps this guy should be the

quarterback or whatever,” said coach Jim Tressel, also suspended

for the first five games for knowing about the players’ violations

and not reporting them to anyone except Pryor’s ”mentor” back in

Jeannette, Pa. ”But we have to just keep evaluating every little

thing they do.”

The Buckeyes have been hamstrung up front because of a lack of

linemen. Starting guards Justin Boren and Bryant Browning, along

with valuable backups Andrew Miller and Connor Smith, graduated.

With only one of four incoming recruits (Tommy Brown) participating

this spring, that means the Buckeyes had just eight scholarship

linemen available.

Andrew Norwell, Marcus Hall, Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley have

been working out at a variety of spots this spring, with Shugarts

at right tackle and Mike Brewster at center.

The Buckeyes are also thin at wide receiver. Team MVP Dane

Sanzenbacher graduated, but Posey (53 catches, 848 yards, seven

TDs) is back.

There have been frequent dropped passes, bad routes and missed

assignments. Part of the problem has been the uncertainty

surrounding the quarterbacks. That’s why tight end Jake Stoneburner

and the backs have been playing a larger role in the passing game

than usual.

”It’s nowhere close to what it’s going to be next year,”

Brewster said of the offense. ”You’ve got guys playing everywhere.

You’ve got eight to 10 linemen, just trying to mix it up, just to

try to get guys out on the field. (Pryor) is not getting any reps

right now – all that. It’s definitely a little foundation we need

to build on going into the summer and fall.”