Saturday, April 17, 2010

SIMON LEADS DEFENSE TO 'LOPSIDED' VICTORY IN JERSEY SCRIMMAGE

COLUMBUS — Prior to Saturday's jersey scrimmage at Ohio Stadium, former Ohio State and current St. Louis Rams linebacker, James Laurinaitis, gave the Buckeyes defense a little bit of a pep talk.

Laurinaitis' words took hold, as the defense destroyed the offense during the scrimmage, 78-24, retaining the "scarlet" jerseys for the third straight time, during a sunny, yet chilly morning in Columbus.

"James Laurinatis gave the pregame jersey scrimmage pep talk and it turned out to be the most lopsided defensive jersey win ever." Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel laughed.

The victorious defense was led by sophomore defensive tackle, John Simon, who recorded two sacks during the scrimmage, batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage and added a fumble recovery for the day's only touchdown.

The 6-foot-2, 270 pounder from Youngstown was simply unblockable Saturday, and that's saying a whole lot when you take into account the great interior offensive line which Ohio State possesses.

"I think John Simon's going to be a really good player," Tressel said. "In fact, if you watched us last year by the end of the year, he was on a very deep defensive front and he was earning some reps, which tells you a little something."

The offense struggled for most of the scrimmage, as poor blocking, bad exchanges, inefficient passing and a rash of turnovers plagued the offensive unit, which only managed a handful of plays over 10 yards.

Tressel said that he isn't too worried about his offense, even after such an unattractive outing.

"You know I don't get upset about things," Tressel smiled. "They are what they are. We have to watch them and evaluate them and come up with a rationale, you know, 'why they got that way?' Then, 'what do we have to do to fix it?'

"Until you get into a game where everything is game-like, then you can evaluate things play-by-play."

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, like the other Buckeye signal callers on Saturday, struggled passing the football.

Pryor finished just 5-of-16 for 47 yards (unofficially) on the day, including a muffed snap in the end zone, which was recovered by Simon for a touchdown.

Of course, Pryor wasn't being helped out by his receivers, either, as they dropped three of his passes on the day, including one by junior DeVier Posey on a deep throw in the end zone which would've been a touchdown if he had hauled it in.

Tressel stated, though, that he's not too concerned with Pryor's numbers in a scrimmage game.

"I don't (worry about him)," Tressel said of Pryor's performance. "I don't worry about it, just like I don't go out and celebrate if was 12-of-15. You know, you go and look at every snap and whys and the wherefores. It's little bit difficult getting into the flow as a quarterback, when half the time the whistle is blown earlier than the played would've ended normally.

"But again, we can learn from it."

One player who did stand out on the offensive end was redshirt freshman tailback, Jaamal Berry.

Berry, who ended up getting more reps than usual — with starter Brandon Saine and third stringer Jordan Hall sidelined by injury — showed those dazzling running skills that made him an All-American tailback in high school. The Florida-native carried the football 16 times for close to 80 yards, giving the coaches more reasons to get him on the field this fall.

"I thought he looked pretty good today," Tressel said of Berry. "It looked to me like he's got a little bit of an ability to burst. He rolled his ankle a little there at the end, which I hope doesn't effect him missing some practice here at the end of the (spring) stretch.

"But yeah, that was really the first time he got to get in and really get the flow of everything. It just looks to me like he's got a little burst. It's good to see him out there."

Other players who stood out on Saturday were defensive ends Melvin Fellows and Nathan Williams, who each tallied two sacks in the win for the Buckeyes defense.