Boechmans giving thanks, looking forward to this weekend

Todd Porter

During a 26-year coaching career, Tim Boeckman has had butterflies. But never stomach bubbles.

Until last Saturday.

That day, Boeckman wasn’t a coach. He was a father, the dad of the kid 105,000 Ohio State fans had every eye on and for whom they had every finger crossed.

Todd Boeckman, who’s been at Ohio State for four years, mostly watching and learning, made his first start as the Buckeyes’ quarterback against Youngstown State. It was as successful as debut as the Boeckmans could have hoped. Todd completed 17-of-23 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns.

“I’m willing to bet my wife and I were more nervous than Todd,” Tim Boeckman said. “That’s as nervous as I’ve ever been going into a football game. I coached 26 years and I never had problems sleeping. Last week, I didn’t get a lot of sleep a lot of nights.

“It was a very tough week. This was his opportunity that he’s waited four years for and you wanted him to take the opportunity and run with it.”

Boeckman gets another chance to show Ohio State fans he is worthy of replacing Troy Smith at quarterback. The Buckeyes play Akron at noon today at Ohio Stadium.

This time the Boeckmans hope to be able to tailgate, eat a little, then relax.

“A lot of people might look and say they were surprised how he performed,” said Buckeye receiver Brian Robiskie, who caught nine passes for 153 yards. “I’ve been working with him ... all off season, watching him grow, watching him become more of a leader. It just showed on Saturday.”

Head Coach Jim Tressel said Boeckman’s film grade was in the low 80s. Had he not fumbled on a sack and forced two passes into coverage, Boeckman might have graded what Tressel considers a winning performance, 85 percent or better.

The sack and fumble, however, had little to do with Boeckman. On the play, Boeckman looked left, which kept his right side blinded. It appeared running back Chris Wells went the wrong way on the blocking scheme and should have picked up YSU’s Vince Gliatta, who blitzed from his safety position.

“I thought (Boeckman) was solid,” Tresssel said. “There were a couple times from a decision standpoint, maybe he could have been better.”

Tressel treated Boeckman like a bonafide starter. He got the majority of the snaps. Backup Rob Schoenhoft entered the game for the first time early in the second quarter, which was predetermined.

Boeckman seemed to gain more confidence with each series. Against the Zips, the test gets tougher. Akron’s pass defense is led by McKinley graduate Reggie Corner. He picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown in the Zips’ opener against Army.

“Experience is a big thing,” Todd said. “The more reps I get, the more experience I’m going to have.”

He has no reason to look over his shoulder. Tressel said Boeckman is the starter. However, he must continue to earn that every week.

“Todd is going to have ample opportunity to show that he can lead this football team,” Tressel said.

When the game ended, the Boeckmans gathered at their son’s apartment. Usually, they go out to eat.

This game was different.

More than 20 family and friends made the trip from St. Henry, Ohio. They talked about the game and how they were relieved it was over.

“Everybody was (emotionally) worn out,” Tim said. “We sat there and watched a couple of games on TV. I looked at Todd and said, ‘What do you want to do?’ He said, ‘Dad, I just want to stay here and order pizza.’ It felt good to just sit down and relax. It felt a little like Thanksgiving.”

Reach Canton Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail:

todd.porter@cantonrep.com

Bucks box

TV  The Big Ten Network has the game. Area fans can watch on DirecTV, the

Dish Network or AT&T U-verse. Other than that, head to a bar or restaurant.

Thom Brenneman will call play-by-play with Charles Davis providing analysis.

Charissa Thompson will work the sidelines.

RADIO  OSU Radio Network (WHBC-AM 1480, WKNR-AM 850, WAKR-AM 1590) with Paul Keels, Jim Lachey and Marty Bannister. The game be heard on Sirius Satellite

radio (140).

ODDS  OSU is a 28 1/2-point favorite.

THE SERIES  In six games dating to 1891, Ohio State has won five. Akron’s

only win came in 1894, 12-6. The first two games of the series were played

in Akron (1891 and 1892).

THEY’RE FROM AKRON  Buckeye Head Coach Jim Tressel earned his graduate

degree in Akron as a member of Jim Dennison’s staff. Comedian George Wallace

and gymnast Dominque Moceanu went to school there. Charlie Frye, Dwight

Smith and Jason Taylor played football for the Zips before heading to the

NFL.

THE COACHES  Jim Tressel begins his seventh season at OSU. He is 63-14. J.D.

Brookhart is in his fourth year at Akron and is 19-18. Before Akron,

Brookhart coached with the Denver Broncos and in 1997 joined University of

Pittsburgh’s staff. Brookhart is an offensive-minded coach, but jumped to

the special teams this season to send a message the Zips need to improve

there. He was MAC Coach of the Year in 2004 with a 6-5 record. Brookhart

played WR at Colorado State.

HOW IT WILL GO  Last week OSU wanted to work on its passing game, partly

because QB Todd Boeckman was making his first start. But Youngstown State

came loaded up to stop the run. It’s a smart move, make the inexperienced QB

win the game. Boeckman did that early. But the Buckeyes OL has been called

into question. Line coach and Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman did not name

a Lineman of the Week because no one was worthy. The Zips use a 3-5-3

defense and the key in the ground game is safety Doug Williams (6-2, 235).

The Buckeyes might use more two TE sets against the Zips to block this 3-5-3

scheme that gave them trouble the last time they faced it against South

Carolina during Tressel’s first season. OSU has an advantage going against

Akron DE Almondo Sewell because he is small at 235 pounds and just a

freshman. Look for the Buckeyes to get RB Chris Wells going early. Akron had

a number of big plays in the win over Army last week. RB Dennis Kennedy is

the key. QB Chris Jacqueman will be tested against a strong OSU secondary.

The right side of Akron’s line is smaller, but quicker. The defense is led

by McKinley’s Reggie Corner, the MAC defensive player of the week. Other

Stark County players on Akron’s roster include Zack Campbell (K, McKinley),

Matt Harmon (RB, Jackson), Ray Siler (LB, Perry).

PORTER’S PICK  Beanie Wells was disappointed with his effort and performance

last week. Look for Wells to get well over 100 yards rushing and the Buckeye

OL to gain some respect. Boeckman will be solid again, but will look to

involved WR Brian Hartline a little more as well as TEs Rory Nicol and Jake

Ballard. The Zips will score a TD by special team, or have a long return set

up a score. The Buckeyes win 31-17.