Scarlet Tops Gray in Meyer's First Spring Game

By Jason Priestas on April 21, 2012 at 4:23p
12 Comments
Urban Frank Meyer runs out of the tunnel for the first timeUFM runs out of the tunnel for the first time
(photo via @walkerb84)
SCARLET 10 3 0 7 20
GRAY 0 7 0 7 14

81,112 fans turned out on an overcast afternoon to take in Urban Frank Meyer's first spring game as head coach of the Buckeyes and judging by the roars in the crowd and the reaction on Twitter, fans came away impressed with the new up-temp offense being deployed this season.

Often going no-huddle, Braxton Miller finished 24/31 for 258 yards on the day, looking much more comfortable and delivering crisp passes in the pocket and on the run to lead Scarlet to a 20-14 victory over Gray. Freshman wide receiver Michael Thomas, wearing the 83 made famous by Terry Glenn, was Miller's top target on the day, hauling in a staggering 12 receptions for 131 yards.

To put Thomas' performance into perspective, three Buckeyes tied for the team lead with 14 receptions for all of 2011. While it's easy to get carried away with breakout spring game performances (Bam Childress and Taurian Washington come to mind), Ohio State needs playmakers on the edge and Urban won't hesitate to play the best man for the job, regardless of experience or how long he's been in school. After the game, Meyer listed Thomas as one of the top two options at wide receiver, along with Corey Brown (who finished with 7 catches for 90 yards himself).

Scarlet wasted little time putting points on the board, with Carlos Hyde punching it in from the five after Miller led the team down the field going 4/4 for 51 yards, operating exclusively out of the shotgun.

Kenny Guiton took the field next for Gray and although the drive would lead to a punt, Guiton played the entire game for Gray, locking down his position as Miller's top backup heading into fall camp. He finished 16/24 for 185 yards, including a nice 28-yard catch and run for a score to Devin Smith in the second quarter. Like Miller, Guiton did suffer an interception on the day, with his coming with Gray driving inside the Scarlet 20 in the waning minutes. Safety Christian Bryant stepped in front of a poor throw and essentially iced things for Scarlet.

Aside from the newfangled offense, there were a few other new elements brought to the spring game, most notably Drew Basil lining up for additional field goal work after connecting on a 41-yarder to put Scarlet up 10-0 in the first quarter. Meyer had the field goal unit line up for successive attempts of increasing distance with Basil going 4-7 in the mid-game special teams expo. He connected from the aforementioned 41, 45, 45 and 53, had one blocked from 45 (by Adam Bellamy) and missed two from 58, the second of which barely came up short. It was a cool interlude and showcased Meyer's spontaneity and love of cranking up the pressure on his players.

The intensity and competition he's bringing to the program was perhaps best displayed by the Oklahoma Drill conducted at midfield before the start of the scrimmage, the highlight of which was an encounter between quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton. Guiton seemed to get the better of Miller in a drill both have little experience conducting. While seeing the two quarterbacks going at it was a treat, watching secondary coach Kerry Coombs going bananas was worth the price of admission to the Shoe alone.

Miller and Thomas were easily the two most impressive players on the offensive side of the ball, but several other Buckeyes turned in strong performances.

LB prospect Alex Anzalone meeting Archie GriffinSaturday also served as a huge recruiting day.
(photo via @AlexAnzalone)

Tight end Nick Vannett took full advantage of being a #1 tight end and hauled in 3 passes for 36 yards. On Scarlet's late drive to take the lead back, Miller seemed to go to Vannett often. Devin Smith finished with 2 catches for 40 yards, including the 28 yard touchdown from Guiton.

While Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith both ran hard (each finished with a touchdown run), freshman running back Bri'onte Dunn looked really impressive in his first public showing as a Buckeye, especially showing good hands on receptions out of the backfield. On one swing pass, he put a nifty move on linebacker Ryan Shazier to secure a few more yards on the play. Shazier being who he is, has burned that play into memory and will surely avenge it later this fall.

Speaking of Shazier, he was everywhere on the day, delivering big hits and tackling in space. You can tell he's benefiting from the extra 20 pounds he's added to his frame, highlighted by his stop of Dunn for a loss of one on a crucial late 4th-and-2 play for Gray. Shazier also delivered a couple of bone-crunching hits on Gray receivers. First, on a hit on Vannett that was whistled for -- I think the official ruling was "too nasty" -- and then later on a hammering blow to Corey Brown. It's going to be a fun year if you're a Ryan Shazier fan, which includes everyone in America and most of Central Asia.

With John Simon on the sidelines most of the day to prevent player decapitations, Adam Bellamy turned in a solid performance, notching a couple of sacks and the aforementioned field goal block. Bellamy really started coming on late last season and played what may have been his best game in the Gator Bowl, so it's nice to see him continuing to become a force.

Surprisingly, Chris Carter, who started spring ball as an offensive lineman, but later moved to the defensive line, turned in a stellar performance, including sacks on back-to-back plays in the second half. Going into this game, I didn't expect much from Carter as a DL, but if he keeps playing like he did Saturday, he could become a pleasant surprise this fall, providing depth to an already deep and talented unit.

Michael Bennett needs to have his name mentioned as well. He had a solid afternoon, forcing pressure on several plays and will be looked to as a key contributor later this year.

It was tough to get a read on the secondary. Bryant had a key interception late and delivered some nice hits, but the nature of the tempo of the offense and the crossing patterns employed, really stressed their ability to cover in space. Speaking of the crossing patterns, how refreshing were those to see? It seemed as if everything was either a dump-off or a bomb in the last year of the Bollman era, so it's nice to see the middle of the field getting some work.

Among the players that did not participate due to injury were: Curtis Grant, Jordan Hall, Jeff Heuerman, Storm Klein, Josh Perry and Johnathan Hankins. Pre-existing conditions accounted for many of these absences, though Hall and Hankins sitting out were surprising. Following the scrimmage, Meyer said Hall had a sprained foot and was held out as a precaution while Hankins had his knee scoped yesterday, but should be fine.

In the end, it was great to see Buckeye football again and this time without any of the negativity that clouded the 2011 season. Though Gray will lament the walk back to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and the community service project they must perform in Buckeye Grove on Friday, today was a great day. Ending the game with Carmen Ohio was a nice touch by Meyer to continue a pretty awesome tradition that Tressel started and until we all meet again for Friday Night Lights in July, it's not a bad image to hold in your head.

12 Comments

Comments

k scho's picture

Great Article Jason! It's looking to be a promising fall with UFM at the reigns!

LadyBuck's picture

Great review! I wonder what hte game would've been like if Simon had played for grey. Either way, it looks like Buckeye Football will, once again, be a force to deal with.

kr66osu's picture

Ha I think the 81,100 was slightly exaggerated. Looked more like 70,000-75,000 to me

 

Regardless, I still had a great time despite the crappy weather. I don't think I've ever been this excited for football to start!

jrich612's picture

There were a ton of people under the deck and in the upper deck...even before the lower deck was full. I dont think 80k is too much over realism

The Realist's picture

Saw Joey Bosa at the Woody with Alex Anzalone and Mike Heurman. Bosa was decked out in OSU gear.

pcon258's picture

ugh gray team tore my heart out. i cant believe the cheateyes won this one, i was rooting for the buckeyes, but in the end, ohio state pulled it off. 

springception

buckeye76BHop's picture

Loved it...especially the Circle Drill at the beginning.  I know...I know he did it at Fl but our HS football team used to do something similar and I have to admit it got me so fired up I wanted to kill someone before we played.  I agree with many comments I've seen above...I think this year will be much more exciting than any in the past few years.  Probably more than Tress's first year just because when Coop left it wasn't like last year (we just couldn't win against TTUN and in bowl games besides the '97 Rose Bowl).  OSU needed this type of coach and I believe Urban will bring excellence back to an already great university and football team.  

Great article too btw Jason...I don't think that M. Thomas will be another spring game award winner.  He's the real deal with good size that OSU needs at WR.  IMO he's going to make Smith, Brown and Spence step up or see the game from the sidelines like Cardale is.  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

RedStorm45's picture

"Shazier also delivered a couple of bone-crunching hits on Gray receivers. First, on a hit on Vannett that was whistled for -- I think the official ruling was "too nasty" -- and then later on a hammering blow to Corey Brown"

Sorry...Vannett and Shazier were both on the Scarlet team...you're referring to Sabino's late hit on Vannett.  And I believe Shazier blew up Taylor Rice, but don't quote me on that.  I know Rice took a lick either from #10 or Bryant.

A little concerning that Devin Smith isn't one of the top 2 playmakers at WR.  With his speed, he should be one of our top guys, but Meyer seems like to like Thomas and Philly.

Can you imagine a D-Line with Hankins and Carter in the middle? My gosh.

It was nice to see some throwing! A little unfair in my eyes that Guiton got to run a little bit while Braxton had the whistle blown on him with nobody yet touching him.  A few bad decisions by Braxton but looked much more comfortable slinging it.

So where's my payout for taking the Scarlet straight up? I kid.

Idaho Helga's picture

Well goddamn the Big 10 network for not making the REPLAY at least a freebie. That sucks. Appreciate everyone's commmentary here since I'm obviously not going to get to watch the game. And the whoop-D-Do big 10 network has yet to produce a package like ncaa.com where I would gladly pay to get the full schedule via internet. There are those of us who will never have cable and these idiots are losing $ by not recognizing that.

I do think this was setup to let the offense shine going into the summer. And they delivered. The highlights looked like, well, highlights not dropped balls. Having a backup QB do well was also good...that INT might teach him a thing or two (or 3,4,5 etc ).

GO BUCKS dang, dang, dang, never one to wish summer away but I'm very excited about the fall prospects!

NCBuck1's picture

Made the trip from Charlotte NC and it was worth every minute. I sat in AA deck right next to the recruits. Adolphus Washington sat right in front of me. He is one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to talk to (not to mention he is a monster).

What really stood out to me was how crisp Braxton and Guiton played. Not many balls hit the ground today. I don't recall the last time I could say that about an Ohio State game. The future is bright in Columbus. Can't wait to come back and see the real thing!

Oh, and Shazier is going to tear people's heads off this year. He's scary good!

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I say 80,000 was a fair estimate - at its most.  Of course, people started leaving from halftime throughout various points of the 2nd half, so it was not for long that there were that many people there.  That is awesome though - #1 in attendance for Spring games despite it being misty and low 40s.  Maybe not the best means of dick-measuring, but still pretty cool in my book.

 

Class of 2010.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I liked what I saw overall.  Offense certainly won some battles, and defense certainly won some battles, on both teams, and it was pretty even overall.  Braxton looked very good overall - and had a few things he can learn from.  I think Guiton looked just as good as Braxton at times as well, which means we should be in good hands if God forbid something were to happen to Braxton. 

I enjoyed the light-hearted moments of the game - like Brax vs. Kenny G in the Oklahoma Drill, and of course the field goal festival in the 2nd quarter.  Basil certainly can hit from the low 50s.  UFM was in shorts the whole game, which that alone was quite impressive, before anything that actually happened in the game.  It's a different feel around here, and I love it.

Class of 2010.