July 8, 2011

Graham, Hyde grabbing attention

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Because Ohio State faces perhaps its biggest quarterback uncertainty in a decade, fullback Zach Boren was asked Wednesday what he feels a quarterback can do to make the team confident in him.

"Take charge. That's the big thing," Boren responded. "If a quarterback comes in, even if you're young, a freshman or sophomore or a senior, if you come in and take charge you have my respect. Someone who opens up their mouth and says let's go, this is my offense and let's roll with it.

"It's kind of nice when you have a quarterback back there who is directing everyone," Boren continued. "That's the quarterbacks job to know what everyone is doing and direct them. I wouldn't say he has to be a leader, but he has to be vocal."

With the early departure of Terrelle Pryor - who left the program prematurely as the target of an NCAA investigation, one would thing Ohio State would be hard-pressed to have such a leader given all the candidates to replace the standout are limited in experience.

Aside from Joe Bauserman - who has little in-game experience despite being 25 years and old a senior - none of the other candidates to take over the job in 2011 have been around long enough to ever be considered for ample playing time.

That didn't matter. To Boren, one unexpected quarterback has filled the above criteria.

"Taylor Graham did a little just because he knew everything, he was out directing people and stuff like that," Boren said. "Which is a breath of fresh air, especially with a young guy like that."

Graham has been considered by few as a reasonable option for Ohio State heading into fall camp, specifically because the two leading candidates are Bauserman, the veteran, and the to-flight recruit coming out of high school in Braxton Miller.

Since the competition began, which also includes Kenny Guiton, the quarterbacks have had only spring practice to compete directly against one another.

In the culmination of that competition - the spring game - it was Miller who was perhaps the most impressive, using his legs to extend plays and move the chains. Bauserman, on the other hand, struggled much like he did in some mop-up time during the regular season the year before.

Though not unnoticed, Graham had a touchdown strike that showed off his impeccable arm strength and sported a calm demeanor in pockets that were deteriorating.

Those skills have seemingly translated into summer workouts, which were enough for Boren to come away impressed.

"Yeah I could. I definitely could," Boren responded when asked if he could see Graham as the starter for the Buckeyes. "He's a great football player - very, very smart. He has a great arm and stuff but I could also see the other three starting out there behind us.

"He can throw the ball. He's very smart. Usually I'll have to yell out stuff when we're back in the backfield, but Taylor took control (in the spring)," Boren said. "He knew everything and knew exactly what he was talking about."

Perhaps the biggest thing that can take the burden off a quarterback are the running backs, and Ohio State is missing its best one in Dan Herron for the five games of next season.

Though a lot of the other options in the backfield are inexperienced, the Buckeyes running back room sports perhaps the most depth, which is probably why Carlos Hyde's name was somewhat forgotten this spring.

With guys like Jaamal Berry and Jordan Hall in front of him on the depth chart, Hyde's role seemed to be reserved for short yardage situations, which was appropriate considering his 6-foot and 235-pound frame.

But his name was quickly remembered when Boren spoke about the team's summer 40-yard dash sessions, where Hyde reportedly ran it in 4.42 seconds - the fastest of any of the running backs.

"Carlos, who we call 'Cheese,' is a big running back," Boren said.. "He's huge but he's the fastest of them all. You don't really realize how fast he is until he gets out in the open."

The Buckeyes are looking for new faces to step on the offensive side of the ball this offseason. Perhaps most have been too quick to decide who those faces will be.

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.


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