August 9, 2011

Thoughts on Fall Practice No. 2

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - It was just Luke Fickell's second day as Ohio State's head coach but already received a tough question about his salary in comparison to Jim Tressel's.

Making nearly $3 million less than Tressel did a year ago, Fickell didn't seem to be even moderately concerned about his compensation. Maybe he was blown away by the question, given he was engulfed with the happenings on the field.

"I'm not focused on that one bit," Fickell responded. "I haven't known what I have made probably since I've started. You can talk to my wife and see if there are any questions there. I have never seen my paycheck.

"If they would have offered me this job and told me they weren't going to change my pay, I still would've done it. Maybe that sounds crazy and maybe at home they don't think that's the greatest thing in the world, but that's how I feel about it."

Perhaps that's the smart approach given many believe this to be a one-year trial run for Fickell. Focusing on the field and winning games soon will likely be the better road toward long-term compensation.

That's where Fickell's head was at come Tuesday morning when Ohio State opened its doors to the media for the second fall camp practice. Following are some thoughts and observations from day two at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

  • Quarterback pecking order the same - It's still early in fall camp, but the pecking order at quarterback seemed to be the same as it was on the first day. Joe Bauserman got the first nod, followed by Kenny Guiton, Taylor Graham and then Braxton Miller.

    Bauserman had a better practice than he did on Monday and actually threw two passes that may have been the highlight of practice. However, the consistency needed to be the starting quarterback still somewhat lacked, as there were a few passes out there that Bauserman would've likely wanted to have back. It's early in practice, though, and he still has time to continue to get into his groove. It was a good sign for him to improve from the first day.

    The thing that stood out the most about Miller to me on the second day was the ease in which he connects on the shorter to mid-range routes. That was something Terrelle Pryor struggled with immensely during his time with the buckeyes and seeing the freshman catching on early could be a good sing. Though he needs time to develop timing and understanding of the playbook - which quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano wouldn't speak on - he could be a big option early. He's by far the most elusive and agile quarterback and Ohio State has come to count on that the past three years.

    Graham has perhaps the strongest arm of all the quarterbacks and actually seemed to escape some of the hesitation that plagued him on Monday. One thing I did notice out of the quarterback was that on some of the shorter throws he had a downward trajectory. Overall Graham had another solid day and it may not be wise to sleep on his ability to sneak into the thick of this quarterback race.

  • Wide receivers stepping up? Ohio State desperately needs wide receivers to step up and right now the two that seem to be doing that are Verlon Reed and Corey Brown. Reed has grown at an incredible rate both physically and tactically while Brown has always had incredible speed. That could be a solid 1-2 punch for the Buckeyes, but given their youth it could also make for a change up on the depth chart if things don't work out early in the season.

    The one to be surprised about is Chris Fields. After drawing comparisons to Santonio Holmes early in his career, he doesn't quite seem to be an option as a starter despite a situation where there's a lot to compete for. I was really impressed with him last year but it doesn't seem like he's really all that in the mix right now. Things could change, but you'd think he'd be one of the top options. Not being one of the top options at this point is more of a direct indictment on him.

    One player that could make an instant impact is Devin Smith. He just carries himself in a way that oozes talent and readiness to be in this position - not to mention his athleticism has probably been the most impressive of all the wide receiver so far during camp. I know that freshmen don't typically have big seasons at wide receiver, but I really am expecting big things out of him.

  • Cornerback battle heating up? It's probably safe to say that Travis Howard is a shoe-in for one of the starting cornerback spots after his incredible spring, but today there was a change up - Bradley Roby ran out with the first team instead of Dominic Clarke. Though the two switched reps off and on, it seems as if those are the main two for the battle and there's still a lot to be decided. Roby got beat deep by Philly on one play, but the pass was overthrown. It should be an incredible race to the end, and don't forget about Dionte Allen, who played physical defense Tuesday morning.

    Odds & Ends

  • Jeremy Cash suffered an injury today. Not sure how serious, but was laying down with ice on his leg before getting up with a severe limp. It looked a lot worse when I saw him laying there, but when he got up and walked around a little that should make you feel better.

  • T.Y. Williams had another epic bobble today (maybe the only one I saw) and it ended up getting picked off by Chris Maxwell. Again letting the ball play him. Needs to get softer hands and not let his hands play the ball.

  • There was a "Maize and Blue" period today for about five minutes where the Michigan fight song was blasting out of the speakers. The song wasn't played while we were at practice yesterday.

  • C.J. Barnett loves to hit. There was one play where Jake Stoneburner caught a pass across the middle and Barnett would have absolutely lit him up if they were playing full contact. You could see Barnett winding up but he let off at the last second. I am expecting a big year out of him.

  • Etienne Sabino stayed on the field today when Ohio State went into nickel. However, Storm Klein plays Mike when the team is in base. It will be interesting to see if Klein gains ground on him when the pads come on.

  • Zach Boren said that Carlos Hyde was the fastest running back on the team based on 40-yard dash times. Well, I don't know if that's the case but he certainly looked quick on his toes today. Faster than I remember him, anyway.

    Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for He can be reached at


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