Boeckman Better Than Expected

By Adam Caparell - October 31, 2007

The expectations for Todd Boeckman weren't particularly high heading into the season, especially since he was tabbed to replace the Heisman Trophy winner. And while he's not going to make any Buckeyes fan forget Troy Smith anytime soon, Boeckman has surprised many with his steady, and at times spectacular, play that has Ohio State atop the polls and the BCS rankings.

After failing to overly distinguish himself during the spring, Boeckman competed with Rob Schoenhoft and Antonio Henton before winning the starting nod as fall camp came to a close. All Ohio State coach Jim Tressel asked of his new QB was to take care of the ball.

Not only has Boeckman done that - throwing just eight interceptions in the Buckeyes nine games - but he's passed for 1,799 yards and 21 touchdowns, actually putting up eerily similar numbers to Smith. Not bad for a guy who was expected to be a glorifed ball feeder for the Buckeyes running duo of Chris Wells and Maurice Wells.

"Every time you're out there the more reps you get the more experience you have things are going to slow down," Boeckman said. "Starting from the beginning of the season until now, everything has slowed down."

As Boeckman has matured behind center so has the Ohio State offense that lost so much talent from last season's national runner-up squad. There were growing pains in the season's first few weeks, but the maturation process has been quicker than many would expect, so much so that Boeckman is leading the Big Ten in passing efficiency - just like Smith did last year.

"I knew i could get the job done," Boeckman, a 23-year old red-shirt junior said. "I've been around here a while. I knew I had great guys behind me, around me. I knew I had a line that was going to protect me and receivers that were going to catch the ball and backs going to run the ball. I knew we had great players and I just had to be smart with the ball."

Tressel initially said he thought the quarterback situation would stretch into the season, that the position had potential to be fluid. But Boeckman has forced Tressel's hand in keeping the backups planted on the bench. Boeckman said he really felt like he had gained Tressel's trust after the Washington win on the road in the season's third game where he guided the Buckeyes to a victory over a Huskies team many were picking to upset the Buckeyes. Boeckman threw for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns that afternoon in Seattle and, most importantly, didn't turn the ball over.

That game also saw Boeckman's longest pass play of the season, a 68 yard TD connection to Brian Robiskie. It's something we've seen quite frequently from Boeckman and the Buckeyes. In seven games this year, Boeckman's connected on a pass 40 yards or longer. Some great pass protection and a robust running game have helped him launch it deep and with devastating results.

That was something few, if any, expected to see out of the Buckeyes this season. Especially since they were missing their magic man, Mr. Smith. Three yards and a cloud of dust was supposed to be the Buckeyes offensive philosophy, but Boeckman's breakout has changed things up a little.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 04:07 PM on October 31, 2007

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