April 28, 2011
Bauserman feels like underdog
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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Joe Bauserman is mature enough to know he isn't the exciting pick to start at quarterback for Ohio State next season.
An immense contrast to Terrelle Pryor - who will sit out the first five games of next season while serving a suspension - Bauserman doesn't have tricks up his sleeve.
"People want excitement," Bauserman acknowledged. "A guy they've never seen before gets them thinking about it. It doesn't bother me. I feel like I can play at this level just as well as anybody else."
Bauserman is the only senior competing to relieve Pryor and has been the consistent selection by the coaching staff to get the most reps with the first team in spring practice, yet that isn't enough for the former minor-league pitcher to feel like the favorite.
Now 25 years old, Bauserman knows where the exiting pick on the depth chart is, and that's with early-enrollee freshman Braxton Miler, one of the best quarterbacks in the 2011 recruiting class.
That puts Bauserman in a tough spot.
Having backed up Pryor - the top rated recruit in all of high school sports in 2007 - Bauserman now is in between two of the most decorated Ohio State quarterback recruits in the history of the program.
Still Bauserman remains in the fight.
"I think Joe will be the No. 1 probably going into camp," senior center Michael Brewster said. "Joe's a real solid guy and he knows the offense. He's comfortable back there and that always makes you feel good if your quarterback knows everything about the offense."
Jim Tressel unwavering loyalty to upperclassmen gives Bauserman a shot to continue to put himself in position to make a case for considerable playing time.
But with Tressel it goes a lot farther than just loyalty. The experience Bauserman possesses goes a long way, especially because nothing comes before a full comprehension of the intricacies of Ohio State's thick playbook.
"Joe has been here and you can see that," linebacker Andrew Sweat said. "He may not have the ability to scramble like Braxton can, but his experience counts for something. It will be an interesting battle in the fall."
In Saturday's spring-closing scrimmage, Bauserman was the first quarterback to trot out with the offense. All four quarterbacks competing - which also includes Kenny Guiton and Taylor Graham - threw a touchdown pass.
Bauserman, however, didn't really put on the performance needed to win over fans clamoring over the freshman Miller. The senior finished the scrimmage just 4-of-11 passing and started the first series by getting sacked twice and being called for a delay of game penalty. It wasn't until his final drive where he threw his only touchdown.
"I feel good about what I did," Bauserman said of the scrimmage. "We made some strides and got better as a team."
Meanwhile, Miller's inexperience took a back seat when he stole the fans' hearts. On the field with the first team offense facing the first team defense, Miller led a scrimmage-high 92-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 5-yard run by Jordan Hall.
In the drive Miller showed signs of inconsistency, throwing passes off the mark and being bailed out to a certain extent more than once to keep the chains moving. However, Miller's legs and ability to extend plays was key in his success.
"I thought Braxton probably played a little more relaxed and had a little bit more fun than he has in part because we really limited what we were doing today," Tressel said.
Regardless of how physically gifted Miller is, a lack of complete grasp of the playbook could hinder his chances of unseating Bauserman as the team's top quarterback to kick off the season. Most importantly, the quarterback who limits his mistakes the most will find Tressel's admiration.
But raw ability talks and Tressel's has displayed that in the recent past. In 2008, Tressel removed returning starter Todd Boeckman in the third game of the season in favor of then-freshman Pryor, just a year after Boeckman led Ohio State to the national title game.
Time will tell, Bauserman said. He just plans to play hard and see how it pans out.
"I feel good about what I did," he said. "I have no control about whether I'll be playing or not. It's up to coach Tress and (quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano) if they're going to give me a chance."
Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.
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