Tuesday, August 9, 2011

HOWARD'S NEW ROLE; QB BATTLE CONTINUES IN DAY TWO OF CAMP

Travis Howard
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Junior cornerback Travis Howard is well-aware that it takes more than a couple of days to get accustomed to the grind of Fall Camp.

"We've got a lot of young guys who doesn't really understand what's going on," he said. "It's their first practice and it's basically a slow day."

Howard and the rest of the Ohio State Buckeyes defense didn't take it very slow on Tuesday at the Harmon Family Football Park. Though no shoulder pads were used in the making of this practice, the defense was flying around the ball.

Howard, who is slotted as the starting left corner, said it's crazy to think just a year ago he was one of the young guys learning from veteran players like Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence. Now, the junior from Florida is relishing his new role.

"I love helping out the younger guys because you never know what may happen," he said. "Some one may go down and they would have to step in, so it's always good for me to help the younger guys and make sure they're aware of what's going on."

Near the end of the last season, Howard said he gained a lot of confidence in his abilities down the stretch. Howard performed well in the second-half of 2010 with two INTs, one sack and one fumble recovery.

"When you go out there and make plays, you're confidence level just goes sky-rocket high," he said. "This year I'm well aware of the type of situations because of the playing time I got toward the end of last season."

On the other side of the defense, there's a little battle brewing between Bradley Roby and Dominic Clarke for starting right cornerback. Howard said he's not sure who has the edge, but he's definitely excited to see who takes it.

"Both of those guys are great players. You got (Clarke) who's aggressive and fast and Roby, he's just a guy who's very athletic," Howard said. "Both of those guys are competing and making plays on the ball and learning the defense very well ... Those are two great guys who are fighting very hard for a position."

CIRCLING OF THE QBS ... Ohio State quarterback coach Nick Siciliano stated the first thing the staff is looking for from its stable of quarterbacks is taking care of the football. Maybe that explains the noticeably large amount of check-downs through the first two practices.

So far, it's been a time-share under center between Joe Bauserman, Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton and Taylor Graham. Siciliano said that's going to be the plan for an extended look at each player.

"We're creating an environment where they can get as many reps live that we can handle," Siciliano said.

While Bauserman threw the best ball of the day — a 20-yard strike to receiver Chris Fields down the right sideline — Guiton was the most consistent. The sophomore spread the ball around with nice touch, although he slightly overthrew an open Corey Brown deep down the field.

"I feel like I've done some great things out there, and I feel like I've done some things I need to work on," Guiton said. "I'll be alright. I'll watch the film, see what I need to work on and I'll get better."

Guiton said he doesn't expect the coaching staff to make any quick decisions on who will be the starting quarterback against Akron on Sept. 3 at Ohio Stadium.

"We're just mixing up the reps and everybody is getting the same amount," he said. "I feel like after while it will come up on who'll be the starter."

Miller showed some struggles in only his second Fall practice as a Buckeye. Though the freshman uses his legs to compensate at times, he checked down to the backs or took off running for little yards on nearly every drop back.

HAIL TO THE ... If anybody thought the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry might take a hit with Jim Tressel out of the picture, think again.

Just after breaking into positional drills a sudden crash of music began to burst from the speakers. It was none other than the University of Michigan's fight song, "Hail to the Victors."

"Our guys will know about November 26," Fickell said in June about the heated rivalry. "I promise you that."

NOTES FROM THE DAY ... After lining up in the slot as a wideout for most of day one, Jordan Hall received some reps at running back today. Hall has the right tools to be a dangerous player with the ball in his hands, no matter where he lines up ... Bauserman threw the only touchdown of the day on a deep ball down the right hash to receiver DeVier Posey. The ball hung in the air a bit, but Posey made an athletic grab before trotting in the end zone ... Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith look to be in a battle for the starting running back gig. With Dan Herron suspended for the first five games, the coaching staff is going to get a nice window to see what those two can bring to the backfield ... Verlon Reed is getting nearly all the reps at the No. 2 wideout spot with "Philly" Brown as the No. 1. Reed also has a chance to impress until Posey returns from his five-game suspension.