Spring Practice Report

By Johnny Ginter on April 9, 2011 at 1:47p
43 Comments
Nate Williams, holding court

According to the calendar, spring has sprung, and I was foolish enough to believe that as I rolled on up to Columbus for an open practice in Ohio Stadium in a flimsy Levi's shirt. Under an overcast sky on a chilly day, both the offensive and defensive units for the Ohio State football team put in work, and during the three hours or so of practice, everyone inside the Shoe was given a pretty good look at the skills and talents of a lot of new blood. And also probably wondered a bit why that tall lanky idiot wasn't wearing a jacket.

It's kind of weird that there is a heated quarterback battle even though there is a semi-healthy three year starter on the sidelines (Pryor, still recovering from surgery but walking around just fine, did not practice), but suspensions make fools of us all, and this is the position I watched most closely during practice. Broadway Joe Bauserman is still your leader at this point, but honestly at this point I think it's time we start giving the guy some props. He's not an All-American, but in relatively limited action he showed today that he had a firm command of the offense, displayed a live arm, and consistently made good decisions with the ball. The decision making will continue to be key for him, and if he can prove to Tressel and company that he can take care of the ball, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see him starting against Akron.

At this early juncture, there is a pretty clear hierarchy among the quarterbacks, which goes Bauserman, Guiton, Graham, and then Miller. Both Guiton and Graham showed flashes of good play, although the two couldn't be any more different in terms of size and playing style. Guiton is still looking pretty slight which allows him to be much more mobile in the pocket, whereas Graham is the prototypical Big Ten pocket passing QB. Both had just an average practice, with Guiton being inconsistent with his accuracy and Graham overthrowing his mark more than a couple of times.

Braxton Miller physically is ready to play now. He has an absolute cannon for an arm is and solidly built, but it's going to take some time for the offense to come to him. In drills at the beginning of practice, he struggled to find his receiver, and generally looked every bit as lost as Tressel has said he did. However, when the offense and defense squared up against each other in a game simulation, he also led a spectacular drive down the field, making a number of terrific throws and finally diving in to score after at least a 10 yard scramble. One the mental part of the game comes to him, he is going to be an excellent player, but it remains to be seen if that will happen before September or not.

I have no idea how the coaches are going to try and figure out the running back position. Everyone, including Hyde, Berry, Rod Smith, and Jordan Hall had moments where they looked like they could step up and be a feature back. The most consistent was probably Jaamal Berry, who has an incredible first step and reaches top speed in nothing flat. Rod Smith, who people had been raving about in pre-bowl game practices, also had a few very good runs. Smith, who is every bit of the 6 foot 3 he is listed as, maybe more, showed some good shiftyness and upper body strength.

One interesting formation that the offense showed was that when they went with five wideouts, often two of them would be running backs. I was surprised to see Carlos Hyde in a lot of these sets, but he made a couple of nice catches, as did Berry and Hall.

Speaking of receiving, it still doesn't appear that the coaches have decided on any leaders at this point. T.Y. Williams was in quite a bit, but like the rest of the WR's, didn't really display anything amazing. Consistency is going to be the most difficult task for this group, and getting on the same page as their QBs is going to be another significant hurdle. With that said, I think the tight end as a major part of the passing game is here to stay. Both Stoneburner and Fragel were targeted early and often, and I think their role is going to be essentially to be the Dane Sanzenbachers of the team, in that they will be the safety net for any QB in trouble.

The defense is in utter flux. Coaches made sure to rotate guys constantly throughout practice, and it seems like all but maybe three or four spots are up for grabs. As the most veteran guy on the defense, Andrew Sweat now appears to be the leader and a future captain. Nate Williams is going to have to be a factor in the coming year, and a few other names that stood out in practice to me were Adam Bellamy and Melvin THAT DOG IS WEIRD, TELL THAT DOG TO STOP LOOKING AT ME Fellows on d-line. Travis Howard also had a great practice, and was flying around the field making several tough plays on the ball. He also did a great job in run support, which will make Heacock happy.

What I took away from today is that this is a team in rebuilding mode, due to both massive losses on defense and extremely inconvenient suspensions on offense. The talent is definitely there, but in the five months between now and September, the coaches for the Buckeyes are going to have to put in a lot of work at constructing this team if they want to get through the first five games unscathed.

43 Comments

Comments

tampa buckeye's picture

Miller better start or its going to be a grind.  You have to think Braxton gives you the best chance to score.  I know the running game should be strong with Smith, Berry and Hyde.  So maybe it won't matter whos handing the ball off.

 

Olentangy's picture

if brax doesnt know the offense, which by most reports say he doesnt, you cant start him. and i dont mean that as a knock on him... he should be sitting @ wayne high school right now fininshing up senior year lol i give him all the credit for showing up early to campus to put in the work but we just cant expect him to be troy smith 2.0 from day 1

How firm thy friendship

Reens's picture

Completely agree with you. Personally, I'd like to see what Guiton has. No sense in having Braxton learn the hard way considering the position this team is in all around.

tampa buckeye's picture

No offense, but that is the kind of attitude that has been holding back Ohio State.  If this pups going to bite he's going to bite early.  If guiton was any good he'd be somewhere else starting.

William's picture

I agree with this sentiment, Guiton's a nice guy but if he where so productive he would have recieved an offer from a Big 12 school near him. He's looked decent in he videos you guys have put up but so has Miller. I think Miller gives us the best chance to win. Tressel states that Miller is lost right now, but who hasn't been lost when trying to comprehend Tressel's offenses anyway?

JakeBuckeye's picture

I don't remember Tressel EVER saying anything remotely close to that about Pryor. And that could be a really bad thing for Braxton in some people's opinion. Maybe Tressel's approach has just changed a bit, but I doubt it.

William's picture

In the beginning of Pryor's freshman year they only used him in the same role that Tebow was used, then was thrust into the starting job. Honestly Pryor had looked lost up until his Junior year. I don't ever remember Tressel saying Pryor understood the game plan, it was a lot easier for Pryor too when he could just hand the ball off to Wells.

JakeBuckeye's picture

Holding back Ohio State? Yes, I know, we've been so held back right? Starting a freshman quarterback going into a season is an absolute last resort, in my opinion. There's no need. Plus, isn't Tressel quoted as saying "Braxton is lost."? Yeah, not starting him for five games is really holding our program back.

He'll be good, but let him groom. We don't need to throw a puppy into a dog's fight with guys like Guiton. What exactly has Braxton shown that puts him over Guiton again?

William's picture

Miller and Guiton have looked decent in the videos that have been put up, but Miller seems to have an attitude where he is just going to win. He's more athletic than Guiton and from the way our offensive line has performed in practice they are either going to need a lot of time to gel or our defensive line is just that good. Also he hasn't been quite so accurate as Guiton but it seems like he has better arm strength. Also with the wealth of talent that Ohio State has had on offense, yes we have been held back. It would be nice if we had a real offensive coordinator, because running Dave two plays in a row and then trying to hit some play-action rollout will only get you so far..

tampa buckeye's picture

He runs like reggie bush with a rocket arm.  That is pretty much it. 

JakeBuckeye's picture

Hahaha... Yeah, let's just put it at I have my opinion and you have your's and quit now.

Ah, what the hell: Raw athleticism can mean almost nothing if you don't have a clue what you're doing compared to the other guys. Your question kind of makes me question if you've seen Reggie Bush too. And a rocket arm? A really, really good arm, but its not drooling material. I just can't help but think that those who think it should be Braxton from day one without any doubt about it are succumbing into the very popular "recruit rating" hype.

Reens's picture

I see it differently - yes being too cautious with a variety of things can be enraging at times, but saying it's been holding back Ohio State isn't fair or accurate with 7 B1G championships and 5-3 in BCS games.

And we've seen a ton of big named recruits not pan out, and vice versa. Truth is, neither of us have an idea if he's good but I think this is the time to give him a shot and at least see.

William's picture

I think we should give him a shot. Overall we're 6-3 and 5-3 under Tressel in BCS bowls, but how many of those bowls were won with an excellent offense? The Fiesta versus Notre Dame, and the Sugar Bowl for at least the first half this year, other than that we always rely on our defense. I don't think that the Big Ten championships can be cited as a great barometer for success, overall the Big Ten has been lousy this decade, Ohio State has been the only constant while other teams have been on and off. I think that with all the offensive talent that we have brought in, we should be able to use it better, and that will only be helped by hiring a true offensive coordinator. I think losing Hazell will hurt more than people realized.

ih8rolltyde's picture

Sorry to call out a fellow Buckeye, but... ridiculous. Lotta really talented cats come to The osu and never sniff the field. Calling out a guy who has been behind pryor is foolish. That is the attitude that bothers me about some of our fans. There is no substitute for experience.

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

Jdadams01's picture

I agree somewhat with everyone so far. Let's not forget, we've only been in spring practice for a little over a week. Braxton has months to feel out the offense. Expecting him to not be lost right now is unreasonable. Guiton and the others would have to be pretty terrible to not know the offense better than Miller at this point. Talent wise, Miller has the highest ceiling so we can't write him off as not starting until the season starts. Although, in my mind, if starting Miller this year gets him the experience he needs for future national championship runs, I'm all for it.

tampa buckeye's picture

I believe talent is a pretty good subtitute for experience, but like I said how much experience do either Guiton or Bauserman have?  I've seen them play in the spring against 2 and 3 string defenses.  Not impressed.

William's picture

Pryor over Boeckman is a perfect example of Talent over Experience. There is no reason for why more talented players like Berry not seeing the field as much last year. He is light years beyond Herron, yet he didn't get that time that he deserved. His production in limited time was great, even if it was against scrubs. There are guys that are getting hosed on our team. After this year how can we even plan to get Hyde, Smith, Berry, Hall, Dunn, and Ball playing time. Even with redshirts there are going to be transfers and it is going to be because we haven't utilized our talent.

Olentangy's picture

we have 3 new starters on the o-line and our lone established, legit, veteran WR is not playing til the 6th game of the season. throwing miller into a situation with very young and raw WRs is putting him in a position to fail imho. there's just no need. way to much risk for not much payoff. honestly, how much of a difference is guiton, miller, or the bauz gonna make the first 5 games? obviously they're all going to get experience but to say MILLER MUST START FROM DAY 1 OR ELSE I'M NO LONGER A FAN OF THE PROGRAM is a little off base, not to mention demonstrates a lack of trust for the coaching staff. i'm not going to rehash our B1G championships, bowls, etc. but they've proven themselves. didn't troy come in as a CB/KR or something of that nature? he left with heisman. give it time, trust the system. i no longer trust tressel when it comes to microsoft outlook but i sure as hell trust him coaching ncaa div 1 football.

How firm thy friendship

William's picture

I'd rather put in a player like Miller who has more talent and physical ability than Guiton or Bauserman, and saying that it is setting him up to fail is a little harsh. Game experience is still game experience. We have two excellent tight ends, and a stable of running backs. The wide receivers are talented but unproven. Also its not like the guys who are starting on the offensive line are incoming freshman, they've been in college for at least a year or more, they'll be fine.

Olentangy's picture

what you're saying makes a lot of sense. and by no means am i saying dont play him at all... if he's ready to lead the offense then by all means. i'm not a huge bauz fan but i think i could trust guiton at this point. it's gonna be a fun summer for brax thats for sure

How firm thy friendship

William's picture

I have no problem with Guiton getting the starting job, but I would like to see Miller get serious playing time. Bauserman may be a great guy but I only want him on the field if we're up 50 plus points. I just think that Miller has the most ability and will in the end give us the best chance to win.

Johnny Ginter's picture

re: miller

he's not ready, and it is really, really unlikely that he will be before the start of the season. he looks terrific rolling out, but as far as reads and knowing schemes: forget it. right now he's nowhere on the level he needs to be to be the starter. i know people have given bauserman a ton of grief, including myself, but he looked like a guy who knew what he was doing today and if he plays as well in actual games as he looked today, he should be the starter.

honestly i think it's a mistake to burn miller's redshirt in a situation that doesn't call for it. if bauserman can get the job done, he should be the guy. today i saw nothing outside of an admittedly great 4 or 5 play sequence that suggested miller should be ahead of him.

JakeBuckeye's picture

Team #AnyoneButBauserman

I agree, for the most part though. Its always nice to get back to the norm of overanalyzing spring football.

slippy's picture

Bauserman has looked great in practice for 3 years now.  But looking great in practice doesn't win football games.

Poe McKnoe's picture

Leave Taurian Washington out of this! Oh wait...

I say give Bauserman the first crack at it, and if he does what he's done in every game time situation they've put him in, then set him down for good.

buckeyedude's picture

Joe Bauserman is still you're leader at this point,...but in limited action he showed today that he had a firm command of the offense, displayed a live arm, and consistently made good decisions with the ball. 

Evidently, the Bauserman you saw in practice was not the same Bauserman I saw a few times before in games for Ohio State. Hate to bag on the kid/young man, but it is what it is.

 

 

Johnny Ginter's picture

Evidently, the Bauserman you saw in practice was not the same Bauserman I saw a few times before in games for Ohio State.

uuhhh yep, that's pretty much exactly what i'm saying

iball's picture

I hope Bauserman looks good in these practices. He's been with the program for 3 years and he's not getting hit. No one will know who will take the reigns until an actual game begins. Joe has never displayed the guts to stand in the pocket and make a decision. Im sure he or Guiton will get the nod depending on the spring game. Im banking on Guiton being the one to make things happen, ala T.Smith vs. J. Zwick.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Johnny Ginter's picture

obviously joe is going to have to show up in a game time situation like he has in practice, but that applies for any of the four guys vying to be the starting guy. what's really up for debate is who will get the first opportunity to do that against akron, and if bauserman continues to perform like he did in practice on saturday, he'll likely get the nod.

Johnny Ginter's picture

also i can't envision a world where tyler moeller (and either bryant or barnett) isn't a starter at either safety or star

Johnny Ginter's picture

let me give you guys an idea of what i mean when i say that miller is kind of just doing his own thing out there right now:

during practice, miller was doing one play red zone drills and had a guy completely open out in the flat. the receiver would've gone 10 yards plus with it. braxton tuck and ran for about two yards.

i'm not saying he's selfish, but he really only had sucess throwing the ball when he had literally 5 throwing options on the field. right now he's just charlie parkering his way around the field, improvising whatever he can see. schemes, progression, reading the defense... that all seems beyond him right now.

for a true freshman that should still be in high school, he  looks pretty damn good. but at this point he does not look like a starter.

yrro's picture

For everyone pushing for Miller to start, please read the following link:

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/Good-luck-wi...

You know Terrelle Pryor, the wonderkind who looked so lost his first year that people are *still* wondering whether he'll ever turn into a "real" quarterback? He had the best freshman year ever for a starting freshman, and went 10-3 opposite a defense with some of the most celebrated names ever at Ohio State. He had a 142 efficiency rating, but that obscures just how little he threw and how little he stretched the defense to get our running game going.

The expected rating is more along the lines of 100 or less... which puts you out of the top 100 quarterbacks. I'm fairly certain that Guiton or Bauserman can top that.

As for getting him experience - both Pryor and Tressel have admitted that starting slowed his development, as he didn't get to spend reps working on his motion or on reading defenses, but on trying to implement this week's gameplan.

Quarterback is a much more cerebral position than running back. Every chart I've seen shows a giant jump from freshman to sophomore seasons. The only reason Pryor ever saw the field was because we had the worst line in the history of Ohio State protecting him, and Boeckman was our only other option. Even then, I think we would have won the Penn State game if we had subbed Todd in after TP showed he couldn't make Paterno pay for stacking the box.

Miller *will* be good, but Guiton and Bauserman have scholarships for a reason. People get too caught up in recruiting service hype.

cal3713's picture

Agreed.  100%.  People in here are being stupid about this QB situation.  I might feel differently if Pryor wasn't coming back after 5 games, but all we need is someone who doesn't fuck up while we wait for that to happen.  A freshman who can't read a defense is not that person.

iball's picture

I don't have a problem with Braxton not starting. Maybe it will take some of the "shine" off his recruiting hype and make him have to work for it. Plus, anyone who actually followed him in high school knows he could definitely use a year off to heal. He got the heck beat out of him starting D1 for 4 years.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

iball's picture

Safety was a big concern heading into this year, who has been the most impressive thus far? Could howard end up sliding over to the star position?

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Johnny Ginter's picture

howard is a CB. period. it was difficult getting a bead on the defense because they were rotating constantly, but aside from the d-linemen we already know about, howard and sweat have probably the two most solid spots on the defense

iball's picture

im assuming Barrnet has a good chance at the other corner, but i don't know how his knee is coming along. Do Gambrell, Cash, Tanner or Grant have a chance to play early? Are Verlon Reed and Chad Hagan still on the team?

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Buckeye in Athens's picture

Yeah- Reed actually had two catches on Saturday's scrimmage I think. And hagan got some reps at linebacker or star, can't remember which. Barnett will for sure lock down a safety spot when he's fully healed. I bet the two incoming corners will have trouble cracking the lineup for awhile with roby, dionte Allan, and Clarke stepping up. Better opportunities for the safeties I think.

Carolina Buckeye's picture

Here's my take from the practice video this spring:

Miller - like everyone else, great athleticism, arm, the package...but does look lost, has, IT

Guiton - the best blend of athleticism and knowledge of the offense

Graham - a statue with a rocket arm, an inaccurate and inconsistent rocket arm

Bauserman - understands the offense, that is about it.

 

Overall, I think the pecking order should be: Guiton, Miller, Graham, Bauserman and here is WHY:

I think Kenny Guiton has proved that he is capable of winning the first 5 games, he is more developed at this point than Miller and his athleticism is needed at the QB position given the new starters on the O-Line.  He will also be the back up in 2012 if everything goes as planned with Miller, might as well get him some live action.

AS SOON as Miller shows he is capable of winning the first 5 he should start AND play EVERY snap.  He is the FUTURE, and 5 games experience is invaluable to a QB.  IF  Braxton can take us to 5-0 it would be foolish not to get him that valuable experience

Graham ahead of Bauserman because he has time left in the program

Bauserbum is garbage.  He is not comfortable in the pocket, I don't think he can make all of the necessary throws.

 

Thats my take, and unfortunately the COACHES see it the exact opposite.

JakeBuckeye's picture

"Thats my take, and unfortunately the COACHES see it the exact opposite."

The COACHES know what they are doing. Trust me.

Carolina Buckeye's picture

haha notice I didn't rip the coaches bud, I know this.  My perspective is from a fan and former employee of the athletic dept, but mostly just a fan and I trust what Tress and Co. do.  Doesn't mean I can't disagree every now and then

nickma71's picture

The start of the season is a ways off. I would like to see how Bauserman does in the real game, and not mop up. He can make throws, something we need. He can make short throws, something Pryor still can't do. So I would give him the try first, unless something was so wrong in practice. And I also want to see Miller and Berry be the focal point. I think this offense could suprise some people with the talent at running back. If what they say about Smith and Berry is true, it will make things much easier for Fragel, Philly Brown, and Stoneburner. And I like all 3 of them more than Devier " I will catch it next time" Posey.

Denny's picture

I just want to say thank your for the Brian Fellows reference.

Taquitos.