Things to Watch Out For on Saturday

By Johnny Ginter on April 21, 2011 at 1:20p
TP has got the right idea

This Saturday at 1:30, as you approach the gates of Ohio Stadium under a threatening sky with a fist full of three sweaty and crumpled five dollar bills, your immediate thoughts might turn to "God I hope there are still seats in B-deck" and "Wow I guess the economy is really tough since apparently a 5 dollar Spring Game ticket in 2009 is apparently worth 15 2011 dollars." Still, if your mind happens to turn to football for some reason, and it might, there are a few things you might want to be on the look out for as the first team offense goes up against the first team defense in a series of scripted plays from arbitrary positions on the field, eschewing the traditional team drafts and Scarlet versus Grey format because for some reason we only have 10 offensive linemen on the team.

The Kicking Game

HA! That's right. Not the quarterbacks, or the running backs, or even the wide receivers. I'm starting with the kickers and thereby implying that it's the most important things to look out for. The truth of the matter is that not nearly enough attention has been paid to the kicking game this spring; if the passing game ends up struggling like a lot of people think it might, then a lot of pressure is going to fall on the running game and the kicking game to put up points. Drew Basil is now the man on both kickoffs and placekicking, and though he has pretty great range, he had better be at least as consistent as Barclay was because a lot is riding on his shoulders.

Ben Buchanan resumes punting duties, and since this is what amounts to a typical Ohio State practice, don't be surprised if you see a number of forced situations that call for Ben to kick about five times in a row. Ben actually had a pretty decent season last year, averaging over 41 yards per punt, and it will be interesting seeing how he's improved. Also expect a fake punt involving Zach Boren that you'll never, ever see during the season!

Coverage and returns should also be pretty fun to watch, since so far it seems like pretty much the same strengths (returns) and weaknesses (coverage) remain. All of which should add up to you jumping out of your seat in excitement and then tearing your hair out in frustration.

The Quarterbacks

Here's my personal opinion on what will win the QB competition: the player who can consistently make short, safe passes, not turn the ball over, and manage the game. That's it. If I thought this competition was about potential, or raw, untapped ability, Braxton Miller would be the man to beat. On Saturday he should be given some opportunities to strut his stuff, and may indeed pull off something ridiculous that prompts breathless comparisons to Troy Smith or Pat White. Still, if you're operating on the theory that the coaching staff wants a guy who can Not Lose a game rather than Win one, your perception of who is ahead in the QB competition might change somewhat.

Bauserman and Graham (the safer choices) aside, Guiton's potential performance intrigues me. He seems to have fallen by the wayside in the past few weeks, and I still don't expect him to be your starter in September, but Saturday will be his last chance for months to prove he can do something. Honestly I'm kind of rooting for the upbeat kid from Texas; he was added as an afterthought to his recruiting class and it'd be nice to see him make some noise.

The Wide Receivers

Here's a fun game to play: watch DeVier Posey for a few plays. The routes he runs, the fakes he makes, his speed, cutting ability, etc. Then watch anyone else. Then go home and watch Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, because that heartwarming slice of Americana is about all that will be able to pull you out of the deep depression you've suddenly sunk into. Things to watch out for? How about anyone besides Posey making plays at WR?

The talent is there, but so far no one has been able to step up and become a reliable pass catching threat. T.Y. Williams is a huge target, but needs to find ways to get separation from defenders. Philly Brown is very, very fast, but he needs to run better routes and get on the same page as his QBs.  Once these guys start to put things together they should be pretty good, but as of Saturday you're going to be looking at blocks of marble rather than David.

The Running Backs

This one should actually be pretty fun. The running backs are a ridiculously deep group, who, aside from Dave-ing it up repeatedly, will also likely be asked to catch some passes. An interesting play that the team has been running this spring is a five wide set with sometimes two running backs in the formation. And it's not just the speedier, smaller guys in there, the tankerous statured Carlos Hyde has made an impact catching the ball from time to time.

Jaamal Berry is the guy who has stood out to me the most in the spring, as his first step speed and vision are terrific. Of course, being that this is Ohio State, the guy everyone wants to see is the more Beanie Wellsian Rod Smith, who is just an absolute wrecking ball when he gets going. Truthfully, I would compare his running style more to Adrian Peterson; Smith is very tall and runs mostly upright, but is also able to dip his shoulder extremely low to initiate contact. Hopefully that will allow him to avoid injuries in the future.

The Secondary

Everyone's favorite Shining Time Station employee, Tyler Moeller, will likely be out due to him continuing to rehab his shoulder, but watching who takes over at safeties should be fun to watch. Everyone who might potentially play in this secondary loves to hit, and possible coverage issues (which there may not be many) aside, they should be pretty beastly against the run. Also something to keep an eye on is the competition for the number two corner opposite Travis Howard. Roby and Allen have looked good recently, but Dominic Clarke may have something to prove to a hopefully well-attended Spring Game.

Everything Else

  • Injuries. The offensive line, as previously said, is almost criminally shallow in terms of depth. If one of these guys gets hurt... euuggghh.
  • Ignore the scoring system. It's designed so that both offense and defense are evenly matched, at least on the scoreboard, to set up an exciting "last play in the world" scenario where winner takes all.
  • Melvin Fellows. He has been terrific all spring, and will have a shot to show he's the next Cam Heyward in front of a large audience this time.
  • Left tackle. My money's on Marcus Hall being the guy when all is said and done, but Andrew Norwell has improved by leaps and bounds in the past year or so.
  • Your hopes. Spring Game All Stars don't always translate into regular season All Americans, and we don't call the Spring Game MVP the Taurian Washington Award For Excellence for nothing.
  • Seriously, 15 bucks? Come on now.

In any case, it should be a fun afternoon at Ohio Stadium. Get there early, enjoy some lacrosse, and then sit back and watch the last football for months.


Comments Show All Comments

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Excited to see Braxton Miller and Rod Smith. But damn the 0930 hours start time for us left-coasters.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

Buckeye Black's picture

$15 is ridiculous.  Almost everywhere else is free, or minimal cost.  I guess we are all nutty enough to pay it though.

BuckeyeSki's picture





Sorry, couldn't resist

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Doc's picture

I agree that $15 is out of wack.  This will keep me from making the trip with the family, that and the crapola weather.  Five dollars is more than fare to see a glorified practice, and with the format that is exactly what it is.  I'm starting to feel like the university sees us as sponges that need to be wrung dry.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

BuckeyeSki's picture

I believe what you mean is that its Out of Hound, good sir

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Maestro's picture

I believe if you get your tickets early they are $7, and it includes admission to the lacrosse game before the Spring Game.

vacuuming sucks

blazers34's picture

so I guess Fellows' injury last week was no biggie? i hadnt heard an update, just wondering.

Johnny Ginter's picture

i haven't heard anything, but it didn't seem to be particularly serious. i guess we'll find out for sure in a couple of days though.

The_Lurker's picture

Have we officially fused Bradley Roby and Dionte Allen into one player now?

Johnny Ginter's picture

haha, syntax screwup, thanks for pointing that out

OHIOST1087's picture

I really hope Buchanan has tremedously improved w/ punting. I really don't like being Captain Pesimissim, however truth is last year's punting performance was subpar compared to past seasons under Tressel (BUT I suppose we could all make the argument the entire special teams unit was subpar compared to previous seasons). There were a couple punts in the Illinois  and Wisconsin games I thought were just awful. If our SP Teams Units improve it should help boost his net punting yds. According to last year's stats he never (incl. the bowl game) pinned one back inside the 20. With our "young/inexperienced" Offense and Defense at times we're gonna need Ben to pin them deep(er).

Bucks's picture

Johnny, the "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey," mention almost ruined my keyboard from laughter while drinking coffee.


Next mission, should you choose to accept it: Find a way to mention Free Willy (C'mon, those two movies go together).

Johnny Ginter's picture

i was 100% serious on twitter when i said i had an air bud/osu b-ball post planned

Bucks's picture

All joking aside, the issues at WR keep seeming tremendous. Even with Posey back, it appears that as of now it is a one man show. I'll hope that there are rapid advancements/changes there.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

And that is scary because DP was almost non-existent most of last season.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

Bucks's picture

We tend to agree that last season there was a player who showed up more on average, but DP absolutely has the talent/skills.

Hope for him that it materializes this abbreviated season.

RB's picture

I have to wonder if there is a correlation between hazell's absence and the complete lack of developmental progress amongst the young wr's this spring. Maybe I was just taking for granted the past 10 years of steady talent emerging ever year at this position.

nickma71's picture

I would love to see another Archie Griffin type player. Not just Beanie Wells/Rod Smith. I think this offense could work, if the line is even half way decent. Not decent, half way. Depth problems not withstanding.

I think Bauserman will start for the reasons listed, game management and he can make throws. Stoneburner and Fragelrock with Philly and the running back stable should make for decent targets. The other concern is Tresselball. The Vest will be the coach 24/6. And it matters. I was watching a youtube video of the NFL network inverview Bernie Kosar. Kosar talked about coaches who are defensive on offense, instead of offensive offense. Meaning the contrast between him and Bilicheat. Fickell is an agressive coach, and maybe that will show up on play calls. And maybe he will try and dave it 19 times in a row saying you can't stop me. I sure hope not.