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22. Ohio State
The Buckeyes have retailored the offense. Now they'll have to see if it
By Jamal Greene
On April 1, the first day of spring practice, junior starting quarterback
Steve Bellisari tried to fool the media by wearing the number 16 jersey of
sophomore backup Craig Krenzel instead of his own number 8. Given how
erratically Bellisari played last season, few were
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"They scare me. They got beaten up and weren't very good last year, but you know
they're going to fight back.... Bellisari is very athletic, but he was lost last
year. They ran all those sprint outs and bootlegs without any idea of what they
were doing.... Tailback Jonathan Wells is headed for a breakout year.... Defense
is Ohio State's strength. The line and the linebackers will give you fits, but
the secondary is short on
He captained a ship that seemed to spring a new leak every week until finally
going under in a three-turnover, 24-17 loss at Michigan in the season finale.
The Buckeyes didn't play in a bowl for the first time since the 1988 season,
coach John Cooper's first year at the helm. "Last year left a lot to be
desired," says Bellisari, who wrested the starting job from Austin Moherman
early in the season only to put up the lowest completion percentage (45.1) of
any Buckeyes quarterback since Cornelius Greene in 1973. "We can't just go
out on the field, say 'We're Ohio State!' and expect to
By giving Bellisari more options, the coaches hope to improve everybody's numbers.Richard Mackson||
Cooper addressed last year's subpar season almost immediately, axing offensive
coordinator Mike Jacobs and defensive ends coach Shawn Simms last November,
shuffling the assignments of his other assistants and hiring new coaches for the
offensive line and the linebackers. New offensive coordinator Chuck Stobart,
unlike Jacobs, will meet with Bellisari daily and mold the offense to his
quarterback's strengths. "A good football team doesn't ask people to do
what they can't do, and Steve is not Joe Germaine," says Cooper, referring
to the pocket passer who threw 25 touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 11-1 season of two
Bellisari, fourth among Big Ten quarterbacks in rushing (332 yards on 116
carries) last season, will take deeper drops to take better advantage of his
mobility. He will run an offense that has more option plays and naked bootlegs.
When he does pass, he should have at least two sure-handed receivers to aim for
in seniors Ken-Yon Rambo and Reggie Germany, who combined for 1,489 receiving
yards a year ago. The defense has seven starters returning, but new coordinator
Joe Tenuta must deal with the losses of second-team All-Big Ten cornerback
Ahmed Plummer and linebacker Na'il Diggs to the NFL
Ohio State is aided by a schedule that has Penn State, Minnesota, Michigan State
and Michigan visiting Columbus, so don't expect Cooper to be sitting home in
January for a second straight year. Also, don't expect Bellisari to be hiding in
someone else's jersey on April Fools' Day next spring.
Issue date: August 14, 2000
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