Ohio State Practice Insider: Shorts and Shells on Day 4
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was day four of fall camp at Ohio State and the Buckeyes could not have asked for better weather. After a scorching summer all across the Midwest, the temperatures have cooled to those of breezy fall afternoon.
Once again, the quarterbacks took center stage outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, but inside Head Coach Luke Fickell had an interesting comment about the competition to replace Terrelle Pryor.
“Sometimes it's not as close as people think,” he said shortly after the conclusion of practice.
Fickell wouldn’t shed any more light onto the situation except that he will be the one to make the final decision if things are still neck and neck as the 2011 season approaches.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The four quarterbacks involved aren’t making it easy on Fickell, as they seem to alternate days as the top performer. Thursday that honor went to Kenny Guiton.
The redshirt sophomore from Aldine, Tex. was on point with his accuracy this morning while the three other quarterbacks struggled with their consistency.
Possibly considered to be the longest shot to win the starting job, Guiton was hitting his receivers in stride Thursday. He is never going to have the arm strength or velocity of a guy like Taylor Graham, but he made up for it with pinpoint accuracy.
His best throw of the day came during 7-on-7, when he hit senior DeVier Posey on a deep crossing route. The ball floated over the hands of two defenders and hit Posey’s finger tips in stride. As he has done all fall, Posey hauled in the pass and pulled away from cornerback Dionte Allen for what could have been a 70-yard touchdown.
The Braxton Watch
Photo by Jim Davidson
While Guiton shined on day four, Braxton Miller was only average in his fourth practice of the fall. He was better than day two but not as good as day one. He threw some good passes, but also threw some balls behind his receivers.
One of the main issues with Miller this fall has been his proclivity to hang on to the football too long. When he lets it go, Miller has the quickest release on the team, but he still seems hesitant on where to go with the football. A big part of that goes back to what he talked about before camp.
“That big playbook. I've just got to learn everything before I can step in,” he said after practice Thursday.
Because he is still learning the playbook, we really haven’t seen what Miller is capable of doing. He’s also been inhibited by a black ‘no-contact jersey’ through the first four practices of the fall.
“It’s hard sometimes to even see his strengths, some of his best qualities, when you can’t tackle and you’re not in pads and that guy isn’t live,” Fickell said.
Photo by Dan Harker
One reason Hyde got a chance to work a little bit with the first-team offense Thursday was the versatility of junior tailback Jordan Hall. New receivers coach Stan Drayton compared Hall to Florida running back Jeff Demps, who Drayton coached last fall in Gainesville.
Drayton made it a point to say that Hall is still a running back, but he also called him one of the most versatile players in college football. From kick return to running back to wide receiver, they expect Hall to do it all this season. He lined up in the slot plenty of times Thursday and Drayton acknowledged that both he and Jake Stoneburner will be used in different roles.
Jekyll and Hyde
Photo by Jim Davidson
If Guiton was the top quarterback during Thursday’s practice then the top running back would have to be Carlos Hyde…right up until he put the ball on the Turf.
Hyde is a redshirt freshman out of Naples, Fla. who came to Ohio State by way of Fork Union Military Academy. He hasn’t been talked about as much as some of the others, but fullback Zach Boren said Hyde actually ran the fastest 40 time amongst the backs despite the fact he weighs 230 pounds.
He looked every bit that fast Thursday, weaving in and out of traffic. It’s a little harder to judge the running backs until they actually put the full pads on (tomorrow), but Hyde had a few runs where he just took off past a crowd of defenders. He runs hard, he can catch and he seems to love contact more than any other back on the roster.
Roby to Play?
On the other side of the ball it seems like Bradley Roby is making a push to win the starting cornerback job away from Dominic Clarke. Roby is only a redshirt freshman out of Georgia, but already he has shown a rare aptitude for man-to-man coverage.
He was still alternating with Clarke on the first-team defense on day four, but Roby showed off his coverage skills on a ball to T.Y. Williams. Braxton Miller found Williams streaking up the sideline and tried to hit him for a touchdown but he didn’t throw it high enough and Roby went up and knocked it down.
The former wideout could be one of the real surprises of the fall.
Moore of a Good Thing
Another player making a name for himself this fall is defensive end J.T. Moore. Like Roby, Moore is only a redshirt freshman, but he already looks ready to play.
With Solomon Thomas sidelined for the fourth straight day—not to mention suspended for the first five games—Moore has snatched the opportunity to play behind Nathan Williams at the Leo position.
Except he isn’t just playing backup. Along with Adam Bellamy, Moore has been in the rotation with the first-team defensive line and may have had his best day of practice Thursday. He even got by All-Big Ten left tackle Mike Adams a few times.
The Fury of Big Hank
No one was surprised by defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins this fall. The sophomore out of Detroit has drawn rave revues from nearly all of his teammates, and for good reason.
Even without pads, it has become increasingly difficult for the offensive line to handle Hankins in the trenches. They like to move him all around and he routinely gets the best of just about everyone.
Thursday he bull-rushed left tackle Andrew Norwell so hard it nearly drove him back into the quarterback. He also blocked a field goal attempt from sophomore Drew Basil.
In other words, “Meanness. Toughness. Ruthless aggression. He's a beast,” Nathan Williams said.
Despite being 335-340 pounds, Hankins is only the second-biggest player on the team this fall. The award for largest Buckeye goes to freshman offensive tackle Chris Carter.
After coming it at 379 pounds, Carter ballooned to 390 pounds during the summer. He has dropped back to 375 pounds for fall camp, but he still has a ways to go (30 pounds according to center Michael Brewster).
Carter was the last person (by a long shot) to finish sprints at the end of practice and at one point defensive coordinator Jim Heacock even came alongside him to help him finish. Carter also had a tough time finishing gassers after practice and struggled to get himself back to a standing position.
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