It's been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's true, Ohio State certainly has a high level of respect for TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson – as it should.
Robinson has led the Horned Frogs to a 2-0 start while completing 32 of 52 pass attempts for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He's also accounted for 112 yards rushing on 10 carries and three more scores. To make a long story short, the dual-threat sophomore poses problems for any opposing defense.
But the Buckeyes have two roster who possess similar athletic skill sets: redshirt freshman quarterback Tate Martell and freshman H-back Jaelen Gill. This week in practice, Ohio State has utilized both to imitate Robinson in practice.
"Tate has done a good job. We always have to keep a guy spying on him to keep him inside the pocket," sophomore linebacker Pete Werner said. "But yeah, practice players like Tate working in on scout is ... it's awesome having there."
Werner recalled last year's 39-38 win over Penn State. That week in practice was similar to the current one, as Martell imitated Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley.
"Tate went in there on scout and he helped us for the look," Werner said. "The whole practice, you have to have good practices for games and if you don't have anybody that's not going to compare to (the opposing) quarterback, it's going to be hard to get a good look. Tate does a good job."
Martell, however, isn't the only one giving the Buckeyes' defense a similar look at what they'll face Saturday night in Arlington. With Martell playing a bigger role in this year's offense, Ohio State needed a second name to play Robinson's role on the scout team, which is where Gill comes in.
"Tate hasn't played as much scout team this week because he's been on the offensive side," Werner said. "But when we go into our whole team defense, (coaches) put him in. Scout team, it's been Jaelen Gill, and he's done a good job, too. I guess he played some quarterback (in high school)."
Still, even with Martell and Gill at their disposal, the Buckeyes have their work cut out for them. Through two games, the Horned Frogs' offense is averaging 48.5 points per game – they've started their season with a 55-7 win over Southern and a 42-12 victory over SMU.
Earlier in the week, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano pointed out the problems that TCU's offense can pose for any defense.
"They are a really talented offense. It all starts with the offense and defensive lines. Their offensive line is as good as any in the Big Ten," Schiano said. "It is that kind of offensive line, very, very good. Skill people. They are fast. It's a very fast football team. You look at their receivers, you know, it's (number) one, it's two, and these are really athletic kids in the backfield."
Werner echoed those sentiments Wednesday evening while talking with reporters at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
"They're a fast team," Werner said. "One little mistake, one little step (in the wrong direction) can end up in a big play. So we just have to keep our eyes on our keys and, their quarterback, not let him get outside the pocket. Then, I think we'll go from there."
Saturday's kickoff at AT&T Stadium is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.