With the spring game typically comes a wave of optimism, warranted or not, as we get a first glimpse of what could possibly be in store come fall. Saturday's game proved no different though recent history of big game failings has increased the number of fans taking a more tempered approach to trying to digest what they witnessed. That said, I saw some things to get excited about and some others that will likely have me reaching for the Pepto come September.
Passing Game Shows Some Promise Terrelle showed he's still got some work to do but I definitely came away impressed with how well he threw the ball especially on the longer routes. The seed he tossed to Small that went for a 42 yard TD was the highlight of the day for me. That ball was on the money with plenty of zip, in between two defenders, and into the teeth of a gusty wind. Very nice.
He also found spring game legend Taurian Washington on a 44 yard strike, though the ball was slightly underthrown - also against the wind, on his way to a 13 of 18 performance good for 191 yards, 2 TD and zero picks.
Again, the shorter throws were a little inconsistent but another positive was his scrambling more with the intent of finding a lane to throw versus immediately looking to run. Trust me, I want him running when it's there but I liked the fact he seemed more comfortable going through progressions and looking upfield while on the move versus simply tucking and running. He did take three sacks but with the fact OSU can barely field a competent starting five up front, splitting up the units for a spring game only further illustrates what are very concerning pass blocking abilities.
All in all, I think Pryor showed some improvement and that's what I wanted to see. The icing on the cake came in the form of some speedy receivers showing their stuff. Posey looks like the real deal and a resurgent Small would be huge. If T-Wash is for real that could be a solid if unproven group once you throw in Dane. As for Flash, he seems to be all flash, little substance to this point. But it's early so stay tuned.
Oh, and just like the offensive coaching staff, I almost forgot about the tight ends. Why do even recruit tight ends anymore? Hell, a better question might be why do any blue chip tight ends even consider OSU at this point?
Collective Cornerback Performances Just So-So Considering both defensive lines were able to generate a fairly decent pass rush, I came away somewhat unimpressed with what I witnessed from guys hoping to earn playing time at corner in the fall.
Andre Amos clearly stood out a little more than Travis Howard or Devon Torrence but none of them left me jumping for joy about the state of the vacant corner spot opposite Checkwa and even he got torched on the 44 yarder to T-Wash toward the end of the half. I don't know exactly what I was hoping to see and their play didn't have me concerned the Buckeyes will go winless but didn't you get the impression both sets of receivers were able to gain more separation than we saw at virtually any point last season from Robo and company?
To his credit, Amos did come up and support the run a time or two and registered a pass breakup but without re-watching the game I didn't feel Torrence or Howard really had an impact. I'd have to say Amos has the upper hand heading to fall camp especially with his status as a fifth year senior on a Tressel coached team.
So what's your take - did any one of the trio make some strides in your estimation? Who's is ultimately going to pair with Checkwa in the starting lineup?
Linebackers Aplenty While there may not be a clear cut star in the group, I liked what I saw from the linebacker units. Rolle, Sabino and Moeller flashed some strong athleticism giving the Buckeyes serious depth when you throw in a clear starter in Homan and another guy who will see significant action in Spitler.
Maybe it's just my love for dudes flying around on special teams but I really liked what I saw from Rolle and hope he continues to pan out. I love his enthusiasm and the 11 stops were a nice cherry on top. Moeller was also a beast with 8 tackles (2 TFL) and a sack. He's especially effective on the blitz, as you'll recall when he filled in admirably for Hines last year, most notably against the Illini.
Sabino also showed a nose for the ball with nine tackles. Hopefully, Heacock and Fickell's plan to have him concentrate on just one linebacker slot will enable him to progress with the mental aspect of the game so he can add depth come fall. And I guess you can't forget about other guys like Storm Klein and Andrew Sweat when you consider the Buckeyes actually showed some 3-4 looks.
Which LB's gave you a chubby?
Boom and Zoom I've expressed my man crush on Boom before so I'll be brief. I thought he showed the same tough running style we saw last year but now he's bigger. His cuts are very decisive with an intent of going north and south as much as possible and he gained his yards without the benefit of having the defense worry about Pryor as a runner allowing them to key solely on Boom on rushing plays.
Naturally, with all the hype leading to the public's first glimpse of the '09 Saine Train, I was more than interested to see how he would fare. I've admittedly been a non-believer and still want to see him contribute and stay healthy when it counts before I tape a picture of him on my social studies book and draw hearts around it but I was pleasantly surprised with his effort. Saine appeared to finally show some aggression looking to first avoid then run over tacklers instead of stopping at the point of impact as seen in the past. His six totes for 55 yards were impressive, plain and simple.
Boom and Saine can definitely do some damage with defenses keying on Pryor combined with the fact the line appears to at least be able to run block better than they pass protect.
Other Stuff The record crowd of 95,722 was damn impressive though I found it a little less so when 40% of them left at halftime. I didn't really care that so many folks left since it gave my lanky sticks a little more room to stretch out but I've come the conclusion we are the most messy fans in football. With that gusty wind and the fact nobody throws away their trash, items such as candy wrappers, popcorn boxes, empty bottles of water/coke and plastic nacho trays were flying around like buckshot in Kentucky. Seriously, I thought I stumbled into a Gallagher concert for a sec.
Lastly, thanks to those that came out for the Spring Game Social at Park Street Patio. We had a great time. At least I think we did. My memory is a little foggy though my liver definitely gave off the vibe it was fun when I woke up Sunday.