Leaders Division Notebook: Ohio State, Wisconsin retool on offense

BY SAM LOUWAGIE | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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For the past three seasons, the Ohio State football team knew who its starting quarterback would for its season-opener.

But senior-to-be Terrelle Pryor was one of five Buckeye players suspended in the off-season for violating NCAA rules. For the first five games of next season, an untested and unfamiliar face will lead Ohio State’s offense.

Head coach Jim Tressel just isn’t sure which untested face that’ll be.

“I wish it was definitive,” he said. “I wish someone was head and shoulders above the rest. But at this point, I don’t see that.”

The group of candidates includes sophomore Kenny Guiton — who looked the best this week in practice, Tressel said — senior Joe Bauserman, and freshmen Braxton Miller and Taylor Graham.
Pryor and the other suspended players are allowed to practice with the team this spring. But the 6-6 quarterback injured his foot in January’s Sugar Bowl and has been limited in practice, allowing Tressel to get a good look at his temporary replacements.

Buckeye center Mike Brewster said there were initially some fumbled snaps and miscommunication with the group of young quarterbacks, but he said things have smoothed out as camp has progressed.

“I think the biggest thing is just getting snaps under center,” Brewster said. “We’ve gotten in a comfort level with all the quarterbacks. Right now, no matter who’s in, it’s really not affecting our play.”

Tressel said it’s important for the team to determine a pecking order by the end of spring camp because Pryor will return to practice in the fall and use up many of the repetitions that are now being used to evaluate his backups.

But at the same time, he indicated the team was in no hurry to declare an opening day starter.

“I kind of vacillate each day,” Tressel said. “We don’t have a game tomorrow, so we don’t have to make that decision. What you’re trying to develop is that consistency over time.”

Badgers reloadoffensive line

Wisconsin’s offensive line powered a bruising running game last season as the Badgers rammed their way into the Rose Bowl. The left side of that line is now gone.

But head coach Brett Bielema isn’t worried.

Bielema pointed to the Badgers’ six returning linemen with starting experience in expressing confidence in the line’s ability to retool. Ricky Wagner, last year’s right tackle, moved to left tackle this season to replace Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi. Bielema praised Wagner’s ability to switch sides of the line. Kevin Zeitler, with 22 career starts, returns at right guard.

Safety Aaron Henry has spent the spring practicing against the line, and he doesn’t foresee a drop-off from last year’s.

“We lost two All-Americans, and I can’t tell,” Henry said. “Our lineman are so athletic, it’s just kind of crazy because you try to put a move on them, and they move with you.”

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