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August 18, 2008
Ohio State draws 12,000 to open practice
For the first time since the spring game, Ohio State fans got an inside look at what their Buckeyes might look like in 2008.
OSU held its annual open practice Monday night at Ohio Stadium, and it provided the 12,000 Buckeyes fans in attendance the rare chance to get a look at how the freshman class of 2008 has been assimilated to a largely veteran group.
Coach Jim Tressel met with the media just before practice – which lasted from about 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. – and there were a number of important news items, notes and observations to come out of the open practice.
Sizing up Pryor
All eyes were once again on freshman Terrelle Pryor when the Buckeyes took the field Monday night. Wearing the No. 2 black jersey, Pryor did some good things during the scrimmage portion of practice, and he also showed some areas that need work.
Obviously none of this was coming with a true pass rush, but Pryor showed good footwork in the pocket. He did not look to roll out and he was not jumpy with the football. His throws had good velocity and he showed the ability to throw a nice spiral on deep balls. His mechanics still need a lot of work. He does not look like a thrower yet, even though he is capable as one. His touch in and around the end zone was decent, but not nearly in the same league as starter Todd Boeckman.
On offense, it was really DeVier Posey who stood out other than Pryor. The former five-star looks smooth catching the ball and he has great instincts. It was easy to see why he is in the mix for early playing time. Fellow wideout Lamaar Thomas showed off his speed on a few plays, made a few catches and returned some kicks.
On the line it was good to see the freshman unit dubbed "Block O" working together in the same group for the first time. Adams was lined up at left tackle with Michael Brewster at center and J.B. Shugarts at right tackle on what could be something close to the line of the future. The group also included Michigan transfer Justin Boren at left guard.
The freshman who really stood out on defense was linebacker Etienne Sabino. He is making it difficult for the OSU coaches to redshirt him this season. Nathan Williams and Keith Wells both looked good coming off the edge. Unlike Sabino, who already looks like a seasoned vet out there, Williams will need to work on his footwork and Wells will need to work on playing lower.
• Freshman tackle Mike Adams made his triumphant return to live hitting this week for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in the spring. He lined up at left tackle behind senior Alex Boone during the scrimmage. Adams' high school teammate, Jake Stoneburner, is also back after missing time with a foot injury.
• Senior wideout Brian Robiskie is close to returning to action, but he did not participate in the scrimmage portion of practice. He is wearing a shoulder support under his pads and could be back in the next 5-10 days.
• Sophomore tailback Brandon Saine sat out practice again today. He missed the scrimmage with a muscle injury in his leg, but it is not expected to be serious. Classmate Daniel Herron also missed the scrimmage portion Monday after banging his knee towards the end of Saturday's scrimmage.
• Senior guard Kyle Mitchum injured his left foot in practice and did not participate. It is the same foot he injured last season, but Tressel does not expect it to keep him out long term.
• Junior defensive end Lawrence Wilson was rolled up under a pile during the scrimmage and he also missed the scrimmage portion of practice.
Surprise of camp
Tressel held nothing back Monday night when he declared sophomore wideout Dane Sanzenbacher to be his No. 1 breakout player of fall camp. Tressel and the rest of the staff continue to sing Sanzenbacher's praises, as do the rest of his teammates.
How they lined up – Defense
Wilson did not participate in the live contact after getting banged at the bottom of a pile during Saturday's scrimmage. Thad Gibson took his place on the first team defense with the rest of the regulars. That included Ross Homan at Will linebacker, but it did not include defensive tackle Doug Worthington or cornerback Donald Washington, both of whom were running with the second team. That meant the starting tackles were Todd Denlinger and Dexter Larimore, while the starting corners were Malcolm Jenkins and Chimdi Chekwa.
Along with Washington, the second team secondary featured Andre Amos at corner, Aaron Gant at free safety and Jermale Hines at strong safety. The linebackers were Austin Spitler in the middle, Tyler Moeller at the Sam position and Brian Rolle playing at Will linebacker. Up front it was Worthington and Nader Abdallah inside, with Rob Rose and Solomon Thomas playing on the ends. Later in the day Rose would move inside and play some defensive tackle with the twos and threes.
When Rose was working at tackle with threes, he was typically paired with freshman Garrett Goebel. There were a number of ends who rotated with this group, including Mark Johnson and Curtis Terry - as well as the freshmen Williams and Wells. Terry also saw time at linebacker with this group alongside Sabino and Andrew Sweat. The third team corners were Devon Torrence and Donnie Evege, while seniors Nick Patterson and Jamario O'Neal worked as the safeties.
How they lined up – Offense
On offense, Robiskie was still not ready to go live with the shoulder. He was joined on the sideline by Saine (leg) and Herron (knee) during the scrimmage. Starter Chris Wells took his usual place with the first time while Maurice Wells worked as the second string back. Walk-on Joe Gantz work with the threes and freshman fullback Jermil Martin even took some snaps as the lone back down by the goal line. Speaking of fullback, seniors Brandon Smith and Ryan Lukens split time working with the first and second teams, while Martin and Spencer Smith did most of the work with the third team.
With Robo out of the lineup, the first group of wideouts working with Boeckman were Brian Hartline, Ray Small and Sanzenbacher. Backup Joe Bauserman worked with Taurian Washington and Posey on the second team offense and Pryor led a third team offense that included freshmen Posey, Thomas and Stoneburner as well as veteran Grant Schwartz.
The tight ends all rotated, but senior Rory Nicol worked the most with the first unit. Junior Jake Ballard worked with the first and second teams, and J.D. Larson split time with freshman Nic DiLillo on the third team offense.
Across the front, it was the usual starting five – that is newcomer Bryant Browning joining the four returners from last year. Behind them there were two lines getting action. One went Adams – Boren – Brewster – Slagle – Shugarts from left to right and the other was Miller – Sika – Moses – Smith – Kerr from left to right.
Brandon Castel is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.