Tuesday, August 30, 2011

BUCKEYES' OFFENSE WILL BE STEERED BY AN 'OR' SATURDAY

Joe Bauserman, left, and Braxton Miller (5) have been listed as the starting quarterbacks for the Buckeyes' season opener Saturday against Akron. (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)
COLUMBUS — When 18th-ranked Ohio State kicks off the 2011 football season this Saturday afternoon against Akron, the Buckeyes' offense will be guided by an or.

No, not to be mistaken with an "oar" that is used to steer a boat, but an "or," which will be used to steer an offense from under center.

According to the Buckeyes' official depth chart released on Tuesday, the starting quarterback against the Zips has been listed as "fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman or true freshman Braxton Miller."

Interim head coach Luke Fickell stated Tuesday afternoon during his media luncheon in Columbus that Bauserman will most likely get the first snap Saturday, but that the "or" part of the equation — which involves Miller — has been placed for two very simple reasons: competition and response.

"Just talking with those guys and the coaching staff, we know we're going to need them both," Fickell said of Bauserman and Miller. "The whole idea is we can put them out there in front of 106,000 and see how those guys respond.

"We're trying to create competition, we're trying to see how this team gels together, what the team needs, what the offense needs. We're just trying to bring light to both of them that we understand we're going to need both of those guys. We sat down with them and made sure they understood that throughout this entire year we're going to need them both."

Fickell said the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Bauserman has done everything he and the coaching staff have asked of him during the off-season and that's why he will be rewarded with the first snap in Saturday's opener.

"It's his leadership," Fickell said of Bauserman. "I think he's done a really good job with the things we've asked him to do and what he's done. That doesn't mean I haven't been impressed with Braxton. We've been impressed with him enough to put him in the 'or' category.

"Again, the whole idea is to create competition."

Fickell didn't specify when the ultra-athletic Miller would get his first snap, but did state that when his number's called on Saturday, he and the staff will have the utmost confidence in the 6-foot-3, 210-pound freshman.

"Obviously, his abilities have impressed us a lot, and that's why he's here," Fickell said of Miller. "Until you do it and perform, we're going to keep our judgments to ourselves. We know he can do it. We know he has the ability to do it. Being able to handle all of the situations is what's important. We don't lack confidence in what he does, I can tell you that. That's why he's listed as an 'or.'

"I actually saw him this morning and told him that we have the utmost confidence in him. That's the biggest thing I want to make sure he understands. You're going to be on the field in front of 106,000 people and they're going to be looking at you. But what's the difference from last year (in high school)? Yeah, the guys are bigger and faster, but you do what you do. Don't let it overwhelm you. It's on us as coaches to put you in situations where it lets you do what you do well. But we expect to see you do well, and we have enough confidence to put you out there ...

"He's listed as an 'or' because we believe in him."

WEEKLY CAPTAINS ... The Buckeyes will not have a set of permanent captains this season, but instead will go on a week-to-week basis.

The captains for the Akron game will be senior all-American center Michael Brewster, senior offensive tackle J.B. Shugarts and junior defensive lineman John Simon.

"It's something different, I understand that ... but I think right now this is what's best for the team," Fickell said. "Sometimes you elect captains and all of a sudden, just by nature, those are the guys who stand up in front of the team. We always say it's about the whole group. For this year, it's a way to bring the whole group to the forefront."

They will have underclassmen as captains, as well.

INJURY REPORT ... Junior strongside linebacker Etienne Sabino — who broke his hand during the team's jersey scrimmage two weekends ago — will suit up Saturday against the Zips, according to Fickell.

"Etienne will be available," Fickell said. "He obviously had surgery on his broken hand a week-and-a-half ago. He's fine. He'll have a little bit of a cast on it."

Sophomore tailback Jaamal Berry (hamstring) is considered as "questionable," according to Fickell, while sophomore offensive lineman Corey Linsley is out for the first game, and possibly two for unconfirmed reasons.

YOUTH MOVEMENT ... There are 13 freshmen residing on the team's two-deep depth chart, including eight true freshmen.

The true frosh who are on the two deep (spot on chart): quarterback Braxton Miller (or); z-receiver Evan Spencer (2); left guard Chris Carter (2); center Brian Bobek (2); right tackle Antonio Underwood (2); defensive right tackle Michael Bennett (2); weakside linebacker Ryan Shazier (2); right cornerback Doran Grant (2).