Nine Fearless Predictions for Ohio State's Spring Game

By Chad Peltier on April 9, 2013 at 5:00p
34 Comments

The Buckeyes cap off an intense two weeks of spring practice with the LiFE Sports Spring Game in Paul Brown Stadium this Saturday. 

No offense, T-Wash. The award is at least half "Bam Childress Spring Excellence Award" Thomas doesn't want to win the T. Wash Award 

The spring game is always an exercise in balancing excitement and realistic expectations for fans. On the one hand, we have struggled through an otherwise football-less winter with only a few glimpses behind the spring football curtain

On the other hand, the spring game only provides limited information about the progress of the team – i.e. Is the defensive line really this good or has the offensive line just regressed? 

Furthermore, will players' spring performances translate to on-field results when it matters in the fall? This question is the whole reason for our annual Childress-Washington Spring Excellence Award.

Part of the solution is to simply appreciate the spring game for the football itself and to not try and over- or undervalue any individual performance. 

It also looks to be a beautiful Saturday in Cincinnati this weekend, so that doesn't hurt either. 

In the spirit of tempered expectations while still analyzing the team's development, here are the top nine things I'll be looking for this Saturday. 

1. We might struggle to name a Childress-Washington Award winner this year 

Michael Thomas ended up taking home the crown last season, but I don't expect him to have a repeat championship this year. Between Thomas' work with Braxton and George Whitfield Jr. in California and an entire year in the program, Michael Thomas should have a solid Saturday and go on to break into the rotation this season. 

Beyond Thomas, I'm not sure I see there being a Childress-Washington winner at all. This offense is fairly veteran, with a solid and known group of receivers, a deep stable of running backs, and a superstar under center.

Unless a freshman early enrollee wows us in the defensive secondary, I don't think the spring game will feature too many surprises. 

2. Warren Ball Breaks away

With that disclaimer out of the way, I am really looking forward to seeing the dark horse running back, Warren Ball. Besides rhyming with Jordan Hall, Warren Ball has impressed all spring with his long runs. 

Last week Kyle wrote that "He had another long run today – a 45-yarder against the No. 1 defense. Ball has more long runs than other running back during the spring." Look for Ball to have one of those kind of runs this Saturday. 

3. The Tight ends have a big day 

As upperclassmen tight ends measuring 6-6 and 250 pounds, Heuerman and Vannett will be featured as genuine playmakers in the Ohio State power spread offense. 

Reports from the spring indicate that both are becoming focal points of the offense, practicing route running and ball-handling skills in ways that Ohio State fans might not be used to seeing. 

Decker isn't here to be a backup

4. Decker Seizes the Right Tackle spot

After a strong competition with Chase Farris, I think Decker wins the coveted right tackle position.

The tackles have been battle-tested by Noah Spence and Diesel Washington every day in practice, resulting in two extremely capable offensive linemen (along with Pat Elflein as well). Warinner will certainly enjoy the luxury of being able to rotate linemen as needed. 

5. The defensive line will Shine

Even with a veteran offensive line, Spence and Washington won't struggle to make plays on Saturday. I expect a sack from each to go along with a few tackles for loss. 

While both have been dominant this spring, Meyer is still looking for leaders on the defensive line after replacing the whole starting group from last season. As such, he won't have the luxury of resting these playmakers like he did with John Simon last spring. That's bad news for the offensive linemen. 

6. Curtis Grant will impress you 

Unfortunately this is probably my boldest prediction. Grant has gone from lost and slow one week to making plays in the backfield the next: "Curtis Grant was active on D today. That'll be music to the ears of Buckeye fans. He was in the backfield multiple times and even had a sack on Braxton Miller." 

The staff has been bullish on Grant throughout the spring, and it appears he has held off Williams, Perry, and Perkins at middle linebacker. If I had to guess, Grant will have a strong performance due to increased time in the system and an attacking defensive line. 

7. Perry and Perkins look strong as well 

Grant won't be the only linebacker that looks solid, as Josh Perry, David Perkins, and Cam Williams all will impress this Saturday. The problem is simply that the Buckeyes will operate out of the nickel extensively, meaning that the Sam linebacker won't see the field very often.

With only two starting linebacker spots and little separation between the contenders, a strong spring game from any one of these three could go a long way in cementing a spot in the top 2-3. 

8. The backups in the secondary show their youth

The second-team secondary will likely feature some young faces, with sophomore Armani Reeves and freshmen early enrollees Eli Apple and Cam Burrows. While all were highly rated out of high school and have talent to spare, each player has been the recipient of some individualized attention from Coombs this spring. 

The starting secondary is full of veterans, but the second-team guys will face some opposition from a more confident group of receivers. 

9. Braxton's improved fundamentals on display 

Despite the occasional report of a beautiful pass and catch by Corey Brown or Devin Smith, Meyer has been quick to point out that Braxton has plenty of room for growth. However, look for Braxton to have an efficient day throwing the ball, displaying his solid fundamentals and mechanics. 

After a run-heavy 2012 offense, Meyer knows that the offense needs a more developed passing game to really reach its full potential. It's hard not to be excited when George Whitfield Jr. says that "When [Braxton] came, I saw one of the best, most talented college football players in the country. He’s just a natural talent."

34 Comments

Comments

D. Anthony's picture

I predict Braxton will take bigger strides over the summer and actually one day get drafted as a QB in 2 years...I just can't see him failing, ending up in Detroit 2 years from now throwing out incompletions at baseball games.

D. Anthony

oregonianbuckeye's picture

10. Michigan will still suck.

BuckeyeinExile's picture

This ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Hovenaut's picture

Was just finished reading, agreeing with all nine points.

AND ONE!

Chad Peltier's picture

I was setting this article up as an alley-oop for you. Nice work. 

FROMTHE18's picture

really interested to see Perkins...thought he was a bit of a steal in last years recruiting class, so hopefully shows us all something special...really want to see the O-line go against the D-line and how well we run the ball/stop the run...think thats a very intriguing matchup. I would also like to see some wrinkles in the offense that we didnt see last year.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I'm hoping to see Perkins a lot as well.  Perkins and Spence are my 2 favorite recruits from the 2012 class.  I think Perkins and Shazier in the nickel would make our defense very fast. 

Grant Edgell's picture

Certainly not a true test this weekend but I'm interested to see if Tyvis looks legit.
Also, I think the Paul Brown Stadium atmosphere will be a bust. The Buckeyes inside the 'Shoe provide for a better atmosphere than the Buckeyes outside the 'Shoe.
 

Colorado Buckeye's picture

10. Brutus will not see any playing time.

Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever!

Grantschu54's picture

Yea I think he learned his lesson about playing quarterback.

What do you need water for, Sunshine? We're Stretching and You're a Kicker!

Brutus's picture

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

10.  Brutus shows up at the Team up North's spring game and dominates in grand Buckeye fashion. 
 
Go Bucks!!

Brutus's picture

Damn straight.

Hovenaut's picture

I say you head up to Comerica Park and take over first pitch duties from Detard.....its non-contact.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

10. Someone will make a Richard McNutt joke during the live game thread. 

osu07asu10's picture

I got your reference!

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

hetuck's picture

OSU in Cincy will have a larger crowd than scUM in the big outhouse.

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

Ethan's picture

Anyone know if they're using captains to pick teams like last year? 

Chad Peltier's picture

We'll know later this week 

buckeyedude's picture

This will be the first Spring Game I'll miss in nearly 8 years, and it's not because it's in Cincy. I have to work. :(
I will watch it on BTN in the evening though.

 

 

CC's picture

Will the game be online at all?

headina's picture

10. RDS destroys the soul of a poor freshman. 

GO BUCKS

headina's picture

If he plays*

GO BUCKS

otrain2416's picture

I'm curious if we'll see enough plays of Braxton to see if his fundamentals really have improved (I think they'll limit his PT in the spring game as well as Hydes and Shaziers). I think the best judgment of his fundamentals improving would be to line Spence up on the opposite team (Braxton in a black QB no hit jersey) and see how Braxton and his mechanics respond to pressure cuz you know Spence will beat the O-line 2 out of every 3 plays minimum. Like Whitfield said in his interview 60% of QB throws come under pressure without perfect drop back mechanics.
 

KBonay's picture

Losers have to walk home?

Buckabroad's picture

The D-Line is considered a question mark by many. To me, the only question surrounding this unit is just how badly they will devastate opposing offenses and reign in our opponents' backfield.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

rjsmitty's picture

Chad,
     Is 11W going to be posting a roster for the Spring Game?

sb97's picture

My money is on Warren Ball for the T Wash award.  Everyone says he looks great but I have a hard time believing he will get the opportunities this coming fall.  That is not to say he is anything but a great player.  It is just with Hyde/Smith/Dunn we have a proven trio and it will be tough for anyone to break in to the rotation unless they bring something different to the table.

cinserious's picture

You never know, maybe Ball brings the same stuff to the table but does it a helluva lot better than Rod Smith and Bri'Onte Dunn! If Warren Ball is truely a beast, I can see a tandem of Hyde/Ball this coming fall.

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

MattyBeingMatty's picture

Was planning on going this year since it falls on my birthday, but Cincy is too much of a hike from Youngstown.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong but the last time we didn't play our spring game in The Shoe, we raised the crystal ball.  This was actually the only spring game I made it do due to baseball seasons over the last 10 years but it was at Crew Stadium then.  Probably expecting a much bigger crowd than back then.

“Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world, I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick." -TP

southbymidwest's picture

A side question-has there been any announcement as to the number of tickets that have already been sold for the Spring Game? Any idea as to what they expect, attendance wise? I am REALLY hoping that it is sunny and lovely in Cincinnati on Saturday, and that Michigan is graced with the weather that Nebraska has been dealing with this week. Heh. Really do not want to them to have a larger attendance than we do.

IBleedSandG's picture

The only bad thing about the spring game is the fact that Brax is hindered by the black jersey. I know keeping him healthy is a must, but we probably won't get to see too many video game jukes out there.

"You pick up the rifle and go as hard as you can possibly go."
-UFM

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Is the game going to be live on BTN or any channel?  Or will it be streaming live on the net somewhere?

osubuckeye4life's picture

The thing that sucks about the Spring game is it is just a mere taste of what is to come. 
However, I'm excited to see some of the new players like Burrows, Apple, etc. Ball seems to be lighting it up in the Spring so I'm excited to see him. I'm also curious to see the new defense line. Not to mention the linebackers fighting for positions. Another thing I hope to see if lots of passes by xbrax360.