Ohio State 2006-07 Preview: Quarterbacks
I plan on doing a preview for each position area (QB, RB, WR/TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, Special Teams), probably around one a week, but I'm sure I'll fall behind and have to do multiple over a short stretch to finish by the start of the season.
Key Losses: None
- Projected Starter - Troy Smith, Sr. (6-1/215)
After a tremendous 2005-06 campaign, Troy Smith proved to the world that there is absolutely no question that he, and not Justin Zwick, is the go-to-guy for this Ohio State team. Smith is the headliner for an offense that most believe will challenge 1995 squad that featured the likes of Bobby Hoying, Orlando Pace, Biletnikoff Award (Nations top WR) Terry Glenn, and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. Smith's greatest physical attribute is his mobility, but don't be mistaken: This guy can throw, too. Over his career as a starter, Smith has saved just as many plays with his strong arm and decision making as he did with his ability to break tackles and make open field runs. After two incredibly strong performances to finish off last season (300 passing yards 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD at archrival Michigan and 342 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 66 rushing yards against Notre Dame), Smith began to draw comparisons to a certain heisman finalist QB from Texas who had a nack for making big plays in big games. But one characteristic that Smith posseses that far surpasses his ability to run or throw is his ability to lead. He is the most respected member of not just the Buckeyes' offense, but the entire team as well, and will more than likely be named a captain for this upcoming season. If everything falls into place, Smith could find himself in New York this December hoisting the Heisman.
Strengths: One of the top leaders in all of college football this season...Scrambling ability, especially in the red zone (11 rushing TDs, just about all of them came from inside the 20)....His arm is one of the strongest in the game today, as seen with his lengthy passing touchdowns in the Fiesta Bowl to Ted Ginn and Santonio Holmes....Overall Body Strength is greater than most quarterbacks in the NCAA. Helps him break tackles...Big game presence. Just ask any Michigan or Notre Dame fan. Decision making. Ranked in top 5 in all of NCAA in passer efficiency ratings...Breaking tackles. Again, ask any Michigan or Notre Dame fan.
Weaknesses: Size (Only 6-1). Often compared to Vince Young, despite being much smaller...Lack of size leads to tipped balls at the LOS at times...Needs to stay out of trouble, although he did a much better job of it this past season....His ability to make the touch throws (5-10 yard out passes, over the LBs and in front of safeties, etc.) have made great strides in the past two seasons, but still need some work.
2. Projected 1st Backup - Justin Zwick, Sr. (6-4/225).
Zwick was a highly touted recruit out of high school, but unfortunately, has not lived up to the hype. He was given the starter's spot in 2004 based off of his golden boy reputation as a QB that more fit the "Tresselball" style, and the offense greatly struggled under him. It was quite obvious that this was no Craig Krenzel, much less the Bobby Hoying we all thought he would be. His long throws did not live up to the "frozen rope" standard that fans had been greatly awaiting ever since his commitment. However, Zwick is still a very capable backup, and has the starting experience if something is to happen to Smith. He started the first six games of the 2004 season before injuring his shoulder, and he didn't see the field again that season until the Alamo Bowl when Troy Smith was suspended. He played very well at times (18/30, 324 yards, 3 TDs against Marshall), and completely awful at others (15/31, 124 yards, 5 sacks against Wisconsin).
3. Projected 3rd String - Todd Boeckman, So. (6-5/235).
Boeckman is a talented young prospect that is still a relative unknown among most outside of the state of Ohio. He was one of the top recruits out of the state of Ohio in 2003, and from what I have seen in his limited playing time in games, as well as the spring game, this kid could very well live up to it. He has a strong arm, but is primarily a pocket passer. He did not play too well in the '06 Spring Game, but in all fairness to Boeckman, the game was after all an exhibition and the line didn't do very much to help his case. If he can improve his mobility by the 2007 season, then the team should be fine offensively, although it will probably be more of a run-based team.
Other Notes of Interest
- 4th String QB Rob Schoenhoft, who will either be the #1 or #2 guy in 2007, already has a strong bond on the field with rising star WR Brian Hartline. The two hooked up on numerous occasions during the Spring game.
- Justin Zwick was rumored to be considering a transfer to another school, probably a DI-AA where he could play next season, but decided against it and returned to Ohio State to finish out his college career.
- My reports on Todd Boeckman are somewhat shaky, just because most of the information I am going off of is from message boards and from limited action in play. So don't take it too much to heart.
This was my first of what I hope is many previews, I hope you enjoyed. Any questions, comments, concerns, or anything else of that manner would be greatly appreciated in the comments section.
Next up, Running Backs.