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August 20, 2009

Trickery is a treat for special teams

Kicking and punting will never sell tickets to a football game but both could be the difference between a win and a loss when the chips are down. Wednesday afternoon the Buckeyes shifted gears for fall camp and devoted an entire scrimmage to the two disciplines.

But in doing so the team also had a chance to have a little bit of fun and while during the season the Buckeyes might shy away from getting too tricky in the special teams, Wednesday provided a terrific backdrop for several players to show off skills that they might not otherwise have a chance to show off under normal game conditions.

"That is what the kick scrimmage is… it is a lot of fun," kicker/punter Ben Buchanan said. "I had a pass to Jermale Hines and he ran a great pattern… that is what the kick scrimmage is. We put that in literally about ten minutes before you guys got here (Wednesday)."

But most of these plays will only see the lights of day under the safety of an empty stadium with only several hundred watching rather than the bright lights of the football nation.

How often do the Buckeyes actually work on fake plays and when was the last time that the redshirt freshman has had an opportunity to throw the ball?

"We do work on a few fakes I guess during the season," Buchanan said. "But in a live scrimmage setting like that? Probably not since high school probably."

It wasn't only the specialists that were getting the opportunity to throw the leather around. Senior safety Kurt Coleman had a chance to air it out and connected for a long gainer to extend a drive, much to the whooping and hollering of his teammates.

But most of the action was seen by the specialists who really don't get much of the media limelight during the regular season.

"We ran a fake today in our September to remember scrimmage during practice and it worked but I told (Jon) Thoma that I was rolling out to the left and he should have thrown it to me," kicker Aaron Pettrey joked. "I was wide open but he didn't throw it but I guess we got the first down out of it."

Punter Jon Thoma has waited for his turn to see action at punter after being behind A.J. Trapasso for the past couple of seasons. Now Thoma is locked in a battle with Buchanan for the punting duties. If things don't work out with his leg could we see him using his arm a little bit more?

"He has a good arm," Pettrey said. "In warm-ups if you ever see a ball shoot up out of our pile, that is Thoma throwing it up. He can throw the ball about 70 yards, so he has a pretty good arm."

The humble Thoma admitted that his bread would never be buttered relying on his arm and the gift of having a big arm may be fun in practice but likely will never be used in a game.

"It is something that I was blessed with," Thoma joked. "One day I just started throwing the ball and it went really far. You can see me every Saturday before the game, when we are in the huddle and the ball flies up and the ball flies up is me. That will be about the only time you will see me throw the ball."


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