2013 Ohio State Spring Game: Upvotes and Downvotes

By Michael Citro on April 15, 2013 at 11:30a
41 Comments

The 2013 Ohio State Spring Game is in the history books and now we wait out the weeks between now and the Aug. 31 opener against Buffalo. The Buckeyes put on a good show in the Queen City, even though the whistles kept us from fully enjoying the magic that is Braxton Miller.

King o' spring.Michael Thomas had another good spring game outing.

As expected, the emphasis was put on the passing game in an effort to maximize reps for the quarterbacks and offensive line, and in an attempt to mitigate the chance for injury. The Gray team did more running, with Warren Ball looking good in his 11 carries for 45 yards. The Scarlet team had only 20 carries, and several of those were by Miller on “sacks.” In fact, Bri’onte Dunn carried from scrimmage only twice.

Some of our fears were partially allayed (Curtis Grant at linebacker), while others weren’t (what to do about right tackle). But in all honesty, it’s a glorified practice and there isn’t much you can really take from it.

For example, there’s no way to know how the Buckeyes will be on defensive line, because there was no attempt at smashmouth football. Can Michael Bennett play the 3-technique effectively at his size? Will Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington maintain their run responsibilities? Saturday told us nothing about it with the pass-happy play calling.

Like any other practice, all you can really do is sit back and pick out what was good and what was bad about it. As such, here is a list of what I would hypothetically upvote and downvote from Ohio State's spring game.

Upvotes

Braxton’s pocket presence: Miller’s mechanics have been a hot topic of discussion for a while now, particularly after his visit to noted quarterback guru George Whitfield, Jr. I’m not a football coach, but even I recognized smoother deliveries.

But beyond that, Miller was smart about throwing the ball away to avoid sacks, better at looking off defensive backs, and more patient with his progressions. A better passing Braxton will allow Tom Herman’s offense to really open up and eviscerate opposing defenses.

Linebacker wishes Grant-ed: Again, it’s difficult to take too much out of a practice performance, but I’m pretty sure everyone feels a little better about Curtis Grant at linebacker. According to the box score issued by Ohio State, Grant finished with six solo stops, four assists and a sack. Considering the quarters were 10 minutes long and the high percentage of pass plays, that’s a pretty nice day.

We don’t know how he’ll react in the run game, but young linebackers generally have more trouble against the pass anyway. Call me encouraged by the performance.

Runaway Diesel: They call him Diesel, but Adolphus Washington is a nitrous-powered Sherman tank. Admittedly, Chase Farris may not be a good barometer of a defensive lineman’s prowess, but Diesel ran over, around and through just about everyone that lined up in front of him.

BALLER.Warren Ball did a nice job trying to win the No. 3 RB spot.

Noah Spence is getting the pub, but Washington is trending similarly in my eyes. Spence and Washington may force teams to run the ball just to keep their quarterback healthy.

Downvotes

Tight end targets: There wasn’t much to see from a tight end perspective. Jeff Heuerman caught one ball and Nick Vannett didn’t play. While Blake Thomas and his glorious neck pad did make two catches for 40 yards, the tight end position wasn’t targeted a whole lot.

I’m not worried about the talent at the position, especially with the addition of freshman Marcus Baugh, but this position seems underutilized every season. Then again, we usually hear about the tight ends in the spring and they disappear in the fall, so maybe the reverse will be true in 2013.

Hole among the hogs: Taylor Decker and Chase Farris both failed to put a chokehold on the starting right tackle spot. As Chris previously mentioned, the edge on Saturday definitely went to Decker, but the fact is that neither was good enough and Urban’s public statements of concern are more understandable now.

Still, the reports about Reid Fragel weren’t that encouraging last spring, with Decker remaining in the mix for a starting spot into the fall. Ed Warinner performed wonders with last year’s line. He’ll have his work cut out shoring up that leaky right side.

Other assorted notes

  • Philly Brown should have a monster season this year, but a key third-down drop was disappointing. He was wide open for the first down and didn’t look it in.
  • He got beat a few times, but Eli Apple opened some eyes with his play on Saturday. While his sack-strip-recovery was a play that everyone will remember, his slapping the ball out of Michael Thomas's hands in the end zone was the kind of play we hope to see regularly.
  • Speaking of Michael Thomas, it’s encouraging to see him perform well again in the spring. Hopefully he can carry it into the season this year, because the wide receiver position must get better for Tom Herman to be able to floor the throttle on his offense.
  • I enjoyed the various ways Chris Fields was used on offense. He doesn’t strike me as the game-breaking type, but he showed good versatility.
  • I’m a big fan of trick plays (caveat: when they work). It was fun to see multiple QB throwback plays and there was a new wrinkle on the zone read, giving the quarterback the option of a shovel pass, a pitch to a running back or a give on the misdirection to the wide receiver coming back against the grain. It’s hard to stop all of those options.
  • The running backs were difficult to stop. Warren Ball and Bri’onte Dunn not only showed good power and tackle-breaking ability, but both caught passes. Dunn in particular looks like he has soft hands.
  • The weather didn’t really cooperate much in terms of seeing what Drew Basil can do. He’s a known commodity in the kicking game, but I was eager to see him punting. His numbers were ok, but Meyer will want more. For Gray, Basil punted once for 39 yards. Meh. For Scarlet, Basil punted twice for just a 31.5-yard average, pinning one inside the 20. I’ll give him a pass due to the high winds, which looked to be affecting every kick.
  • Bradley Roby didn’t play, but the coverage by the corners wasn’t what it needs to be. Evan Spencer should have scored on the first play, but stumbled.
  • I was disappointed not to see a bunch of diamond formation plays. That’s football porn that I can’t wait to see this fall.
  • No Buckeye football until Aug. 31? DISLIKE.
41 Comments

Comments

gumtape's picture

I for one am glad to see Chris fields get some love. He seemed to disappear after the Purdue game after showing some major onions by performing well in a pressure situation. Reid fragel award for fields this year?

just another psycho, irrational, delusional Ohio St fan

d1145fresh's picture

The Zone read option with the shovel pass is scary. Running that with an inside 'dive' to Rod Smith, El Guapo on the pitch, Hall on the shovel and Brax on the keep. That is a scary thought if the blocking is there. 

sharks's picture

Blake Thomas should get an upvote for his first catch- broke a number of tackles and ripped off a big gainer.

The postgame show is brought to you by... Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it...

BammBammRiley's picture

11W gets an upvote for helping us through to fall football with it's incredible coverage of spring, recruiting, and amazing forum community.

BammBamm is my dog, Riley is my 4 yr old daughter, and THE Ohio state Buckeyes complete the three most sacred loves I cherish

Buckeyes125's picture

I wanted to see a little of the San Fran offense with Brax, and 3 running backs 

cplunk's picture

Nah, I don't want to see that because I don't want any of the coaches we face to see it until it happens to them.
Obviously they can watch San Fran games to see how it works, but the individual strengths and weaknesses of our players in running those plays are best kept hidden until it is too late.
I'd also bet Urban and company have added a wrinkle or two to what San Fran does.

osubuckeye4life's picture

Agreed, I think we should save that for the games that count.

JBuckeye's picture

I guess I'm one of the guys that watches everyone but the regulars in events like this.  I want to see what we have when the fecal matter hits the multi-bladed cooling device.  I want to know that if one man goes down, another steps into his shoes and fills the hole, so with that in mind I'd like to point out the lesser knowns and thoughts as I watched the game:
I haven't heard much talk about Adam Griffin anywhere, and from what I saw is that even though he is small, he's in on every play and has a motor that just won't quit!
I also have to say that I am even more impressed with Kenny G.  I have no worries about our abilities on that front if (God forbid) Braxton goes down with an injury. He would be an excellent starter on near any other team. 
Our young secondary is in trouble if any of the regulars get hurt.  They were constantly exposed on the pass plays, having to play catch up and being beat. The player formerly known as Philly make quite a few of them look silly out there.
It was also fun to watch Ball carry a defender on his back another 10 yards down the field. Kinda reminded me of Fridge Perry in those goal line instances from the good old days.
Oh and don't ever have an event inside PBS again.  The staff there sucked.  Took three ushers to find our seats, only to end up back where we started and I had to kick some kids out who had "general admission" tickets with the ushers just standing there doing nothing. Maybe I'm just spoiled by the great service I get at other venues like the Dayton Dragon's stadium, but overall I was highly disappointed with my first visit to PBS.
 

buckeyepastor's picture

Agree with you about Guiton, and not to sound pessimistic but historically a missed game or two for Miller, or at least being knocked out of a game (Nebraska, Purdue) have been the rule, going all the way back to his high school days.   Though, I do think that he'll be smarter with the ball in his hands this year, still dangerous with his feet but also more mindful of where he's at on the field and who is closing on him than in years' past.  Time will tell.   
Bear in mind that, in a sense, the secondary for the Spring game WAS us when the fecal matter hits the fan.   Roby was out, and of course Shazier out didn't help, either.   Gotta say that Apple, for a 17 or 18 year old pup, looked pretty comfortable out there.   With Cal's new coach, that road game should provide a great test for Doran Grant, Burrows, Apple, and the others in the secondary.   Bryant and Barnett's run support and experience at the safety position should allow our corners to just focus on defending the edges and playing the pass, hopefully keeping things simple for the young pups in September   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

buckeyepastor's picture

Agree about wishing they'd utilized the "diamond" formation, but as it was just Spring game, and absent Hyde and Smith, I'm fine with them unleashing it in the fall.  I see us using it to pummel Wisconsin when they come to town, and possible to beat up on Cal.   Otherwise, for the first half of the season, our base sets and formations give us more than enough to cruise on the offensive side of the ball.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

gobucks96's picture

Gotta say the main piece I wanted to see was Braxton's ability to progress at the QB position. I go that. I'm happy.
Overall, the team looked like a spring team. Rusty and unproven..

rdubs's picture

CBs may not have been perfect, but the first play was on the safety peaking in the back field, not the CB.

Ethos's picture

Why insult Adolphus Washington?  That man isn't even close to a Sherman Tank.  M1A2 Abrams by far.

"What do you need water for, Sunshine?!" - Coach Coombs, if you don't love this man, you have no soul.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Bradley Roby didn’t play, but the coverage by the corners wasn’t what it needs to be. Evan Spencer should have scored on the first play, but stumbled.

It didn't look like he stumbled to me. It looked like he had to jump a little to get to it.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

rdubs's picture

He definitely reached for it, but it also looked like he might have been able to maintain his feet.  Regardless making a 50 yard catch is better than focusing too much on your feet and dropping it.

TheShookster's picture

Should have included a Downvote for my cousin scheduling her wedding during the spring game. Unbelievable...but what can I expect, she grew up in Michigan.

Earle's picture

 here is a list of what I would hypothetically upvote and downvote

Hypothetical upvotes and downvotes?  That's crazy talk, man!  Those votes are as real as anything else on the internet (Johnny Manziel's tweets excluded, of course).

Italics are for emphasis.

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

I'm guessing we won't see too much diamond formation until maybe Wisconsin...

chubler's picture

Admittedly I cheer for a different team (ND), but I don't quite get the confidence coming into this season for OSU. You're obviously the definitive favorite to win a weak big ten, but I'm hearing national championship talk from my OSU people and that seems a little unrealistic to this outsider. Losing half the defense and an entire defensive line... wow.
In my opinion, Ohio State crushes a lot of weaker Big Ten competition next year, but here's where I see trouble:
Wisconsin (assuming their new coach doesn't ruin everything): They've got two quality, proven running backs and somehow manage to turn random farm boys into 1st round picks every year. With a suspect D-line (especially a young, inexperienced one), things could get ugly very quickly if they establish their usual running game.
At Northwestern: Playing away from home... against (according to the hype, who knows) the best Northwestern football team in a LONG time... the week after wisconsin... players tend to overlook northwestern... this one just feels like a trap game.
at Michigan: sorry, but I think there's at least a 50/50 change scUM wins this one. They overachieved/had their lucky year when then won the sugar bowl, crashed back to reality last year, but I just can't see them trending downwards from last year given how they've recruited recently. If their QB gets his stuff together and their defense continues its recent improvement, they could actually be a top 15, maaaaybe top 10 team. Add in that it's at Michigan and I'd pick Michigan 6 times out of 10. or maybe 11 out of 20.
My impression is that OSU will lose at least 2, maybe all three of those games, depending on how good wisconsin and northwestern turn out to be. If Braxton gets hurt, the season could train wreck FAST.
What do you guys see that makes you think those games won't be a problem? Good luck anyway, especially against scUM!

sarasotabcg's picture

Wisconsin: who is their QB again?
NW: it's only a trap game if you underestimate them. No one is underestimating NW this year.
Michigan could be trouble. But they're young, especially on the O line. Our D line is young, but they all got playing time last year.

chubler's picture

As far as wisconsin, russel wilson is the only real qb they've had, since, well, ever. It rarely matters when you've got steroids or something turning farm boys into 1st round linemen year after year. They only throw to receivers who are left comically open when the defense has to put 8 or 9 in the box to stop the run... With an unproven D-line and linebackers, OSU should be VERY afraid of wisconsin, especially because wisconsin comes to play against OSU (they know who rules the Big 10 and they want that for themselves). OSU probably still wins, but it's far from a guarantee.
I don't know much about Northwestern, they may not even be good next year. But a trap game is a trap game, especially if they do end up good... there's a reason you can pick out trap games on team's schedules the year before and they still end up trap games. Again, OSU SHOULD win this. but a slow start and a few unlucky bounces and all of a sudden Northwestern has their biggest win in 30 years.
Michigan's a toss-up IMO. probably depends on which team develops better over the course of the year.
As far as the Dline... There's a big difference between a little bit of playing time and maintaining focus and sticking to their assignments every down. They shouldn't have much trouble pass rushing, their natural talent ensures that much. But run stuffing, especially against teams like Wisconsin and MSU that have been doing power running and only power running on offense for years, could be trouble. I think the D-lines development for you, good or bad, will cause about a 3 or 4 game swing in your record whichever way they go.
Good luck though, we need to get the crystal ball back on this side of the Mason-Dixon line, and please for the love of god beat scUM...

buckeyechad's picture

Every single team in the country is most likely going lose a game. It is very, very hard to go undefeated, but usually a few team have the talent/get the breaks to go undefeated. I think it's more likely than not we lose a game, but I would say that about every. single. team. in the country. The reason we talk about national championship aspirations is because out of every single team in the country we are one of maybe 5-6 teams that can actually say we have a legitimate shot at going undefeated. 
So yeah those games you listed could be trouble, but I could name 3 or more games that could be trouble for Bama, Oregon, Stanford, A&M, Clemson, and every other team that is talking national title hopes. And actually because of our weak schedule, the games that could give them trouble are probably quite a bit more difficult than freaking Northwestern...

chubler's picture

Gotcha. From my perspective, I'm not gonna believe OSU can play with the SEC big boys, Oregon, Stanford, even ND etc. in 2013 until I see the Defense, and especially the D-line play at a high level. Without an effective d-line (talent's there, theoretically. experience/development will be the key), you WILL get run on, and that's how you lose football games in my opinion. With that said, I agree with your assessment of 5-6 teams, including OSU, who have a reasonable chance of going undefeated. I just don't think that without a defense or a consistent RB-driven run game, getting the breaks required to go undefeated two seasons running is very likely. Especially because I personally think OSU has a smaller level of separation from their competition week-by-week than Stanford, LSU, Oregon, ND, Bama, etc, so the margin for error is smaller.
I see 9 or 10 wins, plus a bowl win, for OSU in 2013 and then a powerful title push in 2014 behind a defense with a year of experience and more crazy recruiting from Urban. If the D-line clicks in an unforseen way, though... 12-0 easily and then an ND-style loss to either Bama or Standford in the NC.
again, just my opinion, based on the theory that defense wins championships and offense-heavy teams end up like west virginia.  
 

Defiance J's picture

Yeah, ND defense was awesome. What a joke.

southernstatesbuckeye's picture

Sorry, Chubbs,
It's understandable given you are a ND fan.  But WHEN you see this OSU team in the forthcoming National Championship Game January 2014, root all you want for whoever else is there.  But you will not see a ND-style loss, as you say.
You will see an Ohio State win. 
And you, along with millions of SEC fans, will die a little bit inside as you realize that the collegiate world, it's fans and biased sports networks, replete with in-house OSU haters...woke up the bear.
And the bear is pissed.
You fail, sir, in that you tenaciously cling to the hollow promise of an elite Notre Dame.  Your lifetime won't see it.  Hence, the "ND-style" loss in the national game.  But that's what happens when mediocrity meets Meat.  Notre Dame is mediocre, and you will watch them wane in the next few years to return to the shadows of yesterday's laurels...it is their destiny.
Ohio State, on the other hand...is a team of Destiny.
Not two years from now with a senior Braxton.  I'm talking about THIS year, here and now.  This team is already built to win it all.  With the level of coaching they will experience, expect nothing short of perfection.  It is not a pipe dream.  It is not homerism.  If you looked closely at who is filling in for the departed defensive line, and who is already stepping into larger shoes, etc...you would see also the embarrassment of riches that is the Ohio State football team.
I say the season gets rolling, and doesn't stop.  I say, yes, another perfect season.  Hey, after all, Notre Dame even went undefeated last year!  Well, until that last game...and that "ND-style loss". 
So sit back, Chubbs, and enjoy (or squirm, I care not which) the coming season of football.  Every Buckeye fan I know is itching to see the bear awake!
Oh no!  Now you've done it!
"GGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR..."  He's coming for you!  Run if you can!  Hide!
***Fair Warning to Further Felonious Fans of Foreign Footballers:  Run, Hide, or Fight.  We care not which you do.  Run...we will chase you down and exterminate you.  Hide...we will uncover your weakness and exterminate you.  Fight...we will battle you with the fierceness of a grizzly defending her young...and then exterminate you.
The ending is the same for all paths taken.  Extermination. 
Choose your path.
Go Bucks!
 

chubler's picture

Don't get me wrong, if ND doesn't win I'll be cheering my a** off for whichever team isn't from the SEC. Ohio State winning is only good for ND, it proves to recruits from the south and Texas that we can "play football up north" too...
I just can't believe that a team returning NO d-line starters, especially in a 4-3, can field an effective enough defense to go undefeated. Go ahead, prove me wrong, but unless you've got a few all-american sophomores who despite not being good enough to play consistently last year will somehow be mentally ready  to contain mobile qb's, stuff power running, and everything in between without a hiccup, and physically ready to dominate Juniors and Seniors (admittedly this one's more likely), good luck and I hope to see you in Pasedena. We'll show you what a real defense looks like, you can show us what a real offense looks like, and we'll see who comes out on top.

chirobuck's picture

we don't have a consistent RB driven run game.......are you high man??? we have one of the top 2 or 3 RBs and easily the deepest most talented stable in the country, if you think a coach like Meyer isn't going to be able to take advantage of that then your clueless, the fact the braxton can run too is just icing on the cake......and oh by the way the WR play will also be better than last year so pick your poisin

 
^ best post ever ^

chubler's picture

I'm glad you think so. But your QB rushed for fully 300 yards more than your leading rb in 2012, so I have to disagree. Additionally, the longest rushing play from scrimmage by an OSU player not named Braxton Miller was 33 yards. 3 yards and a cloud of dust is all and well, but its not gonna take the pressure of Miller and slow the pass rush.
As far as "easily the deepest most talented stable in the country", Remember that 33-yard stat? Alabama had four running backs with longer rushes, ND had three. And I'm sorry but last I checked your running backs are not even CLOSE to what Alabama, Georgia, even 7-6 Wisconsin are lining up (Yeldon? Gurley? Marshall? or Wisconsin's James White and Melvin Gordon who rushed for 800 and 600 yards, 12 and 3 touchdowns, respectively, behind MONTEE BALL, who only holds the all-time TD record and ran for 1800 and 33...)
Ohio State always has incredible talent. But let's not get away from ourselves. I just don't think Ohio State can realistically win a championship this season. Next year, sure. But prove you have a defense before you go talking national title, or you might crash like West Virginia.

Gametime's picture

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

cinserious's picture

Wisconsin (assuming their new coach doesn't ruin everything): They've got two quality, proven running backs 

......and Ohio State haaaaasss, oh thats right, A STABLE of running backs!

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

sarasotabcg's picture

not sure why the OP is giving Basil a free pass. Saying he did ok is incredibly generous. He looked horrible. Sure there was some wind but it wasn't that windy.

Michael Citro's picture

Based on the way both field goal kickers' kicks were taking sudden turns mid-flight, along with the comments of the announcers and video of the flags, it appeared to be quite windy to me, but I wasn't there. However, both Basil and Clinton had kicks that took obvious, sudden left-hand turns en route. There was a good view of this from the end zone camera.

The reason I said "OK" is that one punt was 39 yards - not great but not horrible. One was a successful attempt to pin the other team inside the 20, so you're sacrificing distance for placement. That means one punt was bad, and I'm not sure it was with or against any wind. So, based on the weather conditions and the fact that one punt was ok and one did its job, I'll reserve judgment for now.

USMC11917's picture

Damn dude, you live in Chicago or something? Based on the way the coaches and officials pants were blowing like flags, I have to say it was damn windy. Those balls were taking hard turns mid flight. I fault Basil or the holder for that initial kick at close range but those long ones, I ain't troubled by.

Psychranger's picture

Got a question. I agree completely with the author that Thomas seems to have the potential to be a game-breaker at the slot or WR. He not only is really fast, but seems to have great hands and most importantly, he has moves that makes tacklers miss and can break to the open field in traffic which with all due respect, is lacking with our wideouts and with Fields. Thomas has been a stud in both scrimmages when the spotlight was on. Coach Meyer said he's making too many mistakes. My question is, is Coach Meyer truly not feeling like Thomas is a stud ready to break out, or is he demanding more and more to finally set a real fire under this kid? I've seen him operate with other kids in the past at UF. By the way, it's great to be a Buckeye in the heart of SEC Country! Got to see Trey Johnson play several times over the past 2 yrs at Central Gwinnett. He's a great kid and brings the one skill that coaches can't teach: Speed. Coach Meyer's success at UF was having speed everywhere, not just in a few key positions on offense. It's the reason you'll continue to see him recruit the South and West because it's simply where the highest concentration of speed is located. So how 'bout a little feedback about what's gonna happen with Thomas? Appreciate your feedback boys and by the way, the Urban Meyer led Buckeyes are gonna flat out kick ass so fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!!!

JB3

Michael Citro's picture

My take is that Thomas is probably missing assignments, whether blocking or hot route reads or whatever. That may be the only thing holding him up at this point, but I do expect he'll play more snaps this year.

BuckeyeNationProblems's picture

Blake Thomas looked like a bowling ball. That is all. 

Matt

9Route's picture

I think we have the best, and deepest, RB group in the country.

I'm just happy to be here

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Without a doubt!  With the two best not even playing the backs still looked good!

MediBuck's picture

Football porn indeed. I was happy to see us come out in base pistol formation, but was sad that we didn't see any diamond. For all we know, Coach Urbs is hiding it away for the regular season :)

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

Colorado Buckeye's picture

"While Blake Thomas and his glorious neck pad did make two catches for 40 yards"... thanks for this. I couldn't have been more intrigued by that damn neck pad!

Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever!