Evaluating Spring Game Predictions

By Chad Peltier on April 17, 2013 at 6:30p

I had the opportunity to watch the Scarlet squad thoroughly dismantle the Gray team in person last Saturday. 

Thomas certainly won the Spring Excellence Award, but it wasn't quite enough to crack the starting lineupMichael Thomas, Spring Game hero. 

Sitting halfway up section 108, I had a perfect vantage point to watch the Buckeyes and evaluate the nine predictions I made last week about the spring game. 

It turns out that I'm not completely clairvoyant. Decker did not exactly "seize the right tackle spot" as I predicted, nor did Warren Ball turn on his afterburners while pulling away from the second-team defense. 

It wasn't all bad though – Curtis Grant and the defensive linemen really came through for me. 

In lieu of "Good, Bad, and Ugly" sections, I'll take a look at my "Surprising, Accurate, and Completely Wrong" predictions. 

What I Never Saw coming

Dunn's Soft, Soft Hands: Unless you regularly watched Bri'onte at Canton GlenOak, you (I) might have never known how good Dunn can be catching passes out of the backfield. Dunn in fact tied for second on the team with five receptions in Saturday's pass-heavy offense.

Bri'onte doesn't have the typical build of a pass-catching running back, but he displayed great hands when catching check-down, dump-off passes, hardly ever getting tackled by the first defender. With a logjam at running back (and with Hyde and Rod likely ahead of him), the 6'2 Dunn might get a chance to catch more passes on Saturdays. 

Chris Fields in the Starting Lineup: While we will always remember Chris Fields' heroics against Purdue, I did not expect Meyer to provide such a ringing endorsement of Fields after the spring game.

“I’m naming him a starter today,” Meyer said. “I told him I would if he finished the spring (well). He’s a wonderful guy that was very inconsistent last season. He’s earned a starting spot. I know Tom Herman feels the same way.”

What I Got Right

Grant Hit the Ground Running: As the Buckeyes transition into offseason workouts, the coaches can at least be comforted by the play of their middle linebacker. Curtis Grant looked and played like a starter according to Meyer, who said that “He solidified (his starting spot) today. He’s a fully engaged player this year.”

Grant finished the day with six solo tackles, four assists, and a sack, which are fantastic numbers for a pass-heavy spring game with shortened quarters. It actually seemed like the neck roll-wearing defender's name was called by the announcer even more than that.

Grant's chief problem so far has been play recognition and reaction time, but he was moving at top speed and delivering bone-jarring hits of receivers over the middle of the field on crossing routes. 

Spence and Washington look to be all-time greats for OSU. Choo-choo goes the hype train! Noah Spence in a rare non-sack moment.

Defensive Line Domination: Diesel Washington and Noah Spence completely dominated whichever Scarlet offensive lineman lined up in front of them.

In a pass-heavy day, the pair combined for seven sacks while prolonging the battle for right tackle (which I'll get to in a second).

Even more impressive than those numbers was the fact that the two didn't seem to take any plays off. Braxton, Kenny G, and Cardale Jones felt the pressure on almost every play, even apart from the gaudy statistics. 

Thomas, the Spring Game Hero: Last spring I argued that Michael Thomas' spring game performance was not an aberration, but a sign of what was to come in the fall. I was wrong.

Two years in a row, though, and you have to think that Thomas' performances are more than merely a passing trend. 

The guy looks absolutely huge in person, with a big frame and the ups to grab those red-zone floaters that put points on the board.

While Meyer didn't single out Thomas in the same way as fellow receiver Chris Fields, Thomas figures to be a key member of the outside receiver rotation with Devin Smith, Corey Brown, Evan Spencer, and incoming recruit Corey Smith. 

What I Got Wrong

Last (and least), I had a number of spring game predictions that were totally off the mark: 

Ball Had Solid, But Not Spectacular Day: Warren was solid, finishing with 11 rushes for 45 yards, as well as the longest run of the day at 15 yards. We have heard great things about Ball's long runs all spring, but he didn't especially separate himself from the pack on Saturday. As Meyer said yesterday, "They've all shown flashes of being very good. They're certainly nowhere near where they need to be to be the starting tailback at Ohio State."

Quiet Day for Tight Ends: With Vannett out and Heuerman having a quiet day with only one reception for six yards, Blake Thomas picked up the slack, snagging two passes for 40 yards. 

Meyer has praised this group repeatedly: "The tight end area is the best I've had and I had Aaron Hernandez at Florida. I have two legitimate guys that are very good blockers, good receivers – Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman – so we're going to utilize all of our personnel."

However, I was wrong in my prediction that Heuerman and Vannett would have huge days, so I have to put this prediction in the "wrong" column. 

Decker Didn't Seize Anything: While it was awesome to see Diesel and Noah Spence tear up the Scarlet offensive line, that also meant that neither Decker nor Farris emerged as the clear starter at right tackle. This battle is likely to continue into summer practices and fall camp. 


Comments Show All Comments

lamplighter's picture

fingers crossed that Grant has arrived

jestertcf's picture

while i was excited to see him rack up tackles in the Spring game, I must admit I cringed a little when he simply dropped his shoulder ever time and did not wrap the ball carrier up.
I was having Cal flashbacks all over again. -shudder-

~Because we couldn't go for three~

cinserious's picture

Difference is, when a guy of Grant's physique drops his shoulder, he drops his man. Just be happy he's in the right place-right time to make the play. He'll get his sh-- together (tackling-wise)in the camps leading up to the season.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

GoBucksToledo's picture

Think Bri'onte will be catching those passes out of the diamond formation?

sir rickithda3rd's picture

this team is going to be as good as any in the nation after about 6-7 games. once the bosa constrictor gets here the d line is going to be more explosive than last yrs.

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

osu07asu10's picture

I think that we can look at Spence and Washington's production in year one, I don't think that Bosa is going to have a much bigger impact than they did.
Spence: 11 games played, 7 solo tackles, 5 asst, 1 sack
Washington: 10 games played, 5 solo, 4 asst, 3.5 tfl, 3 sacks
Don't get me wrong, Bosa has a real chance to provide an immediate impact on the d-line, and our depth at the position is less than 2012 it is still very good, I wouldn't expect Bosa to be the difference maker on our line.
In addition to Washington and Spence, the projected (I mean solidified) starters at DE, that leaves the two interior lineman. One of those goes to Bennett. Then you have Joel Hale, Tommy Schutt, and JT Moore who all were in the rotation at some point last season. Then there is Steve Miller and Chris Carter, two guys who have a lot to prove, but have made some strides and at least Carter has been tossed a bone by coaches here and there.

By my count that is 3 rock solid starters
3 veterans who played significant time in 2012
2 guys heading into year 2 in the program.
Then we have some guys that are looking to back up Washington and Spence at DE; Tyquan Lewis, Jamaal Marcus, and Tracy Sprinkle
So in all reality, I see there being 6 guys solidly in the rotation right now. With only 1 year under Withers/Fickell with Meyer's guidance its tough to say how they like to rotate, but I think that it is safe to say based on Fickell's defenses we will see 6-7 guys maybe more.

I'd have to think that 1 of the 5 unknowns step up and make a name for themselves. We are thin behind Washington and Spence at DE but the only way I see him starting and getting a majority of reps would be injuries to the interior of the DL which would force Washington to the middle and Bosa to DE to field our best line up.

Overall I think Bosa's impact will be exciting but minimal
20-25 tackles
2 sacks
3 TFLs
10 games played

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

One big difference for Bosa in terms of development will be the extra practices he gets for the bowl game and the game itself. He'll be an old freshman by then. I would love to see Bosa have the same impact Shazier did his freshman year. Different positions, I know, but have my fingers crossed.

osu07asu10's picture

Bosa enrolls this fall. He didn't get any extra bowl practices and won't get any bowl practices until after this coming season. I was talking about his upcoming production.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

Haybucks's picture

I think you underestimate Bosa's impact as you have him with the same number of tackles as Spence and Washington combined, 1/2 the total sacks and same tfl.  I hope he is as productive as you predict!

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


otrain2416's picture

I don't know how I'm going to contain myself all summer waiting for this diamond formation. The sad thing is I don't see us busting it out until we start conference play with our easy non conference schedule unless Cal gives us some trouble.

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

Hovenaut's picture

Eager to see the diamond as well, although I think we get a glimpse or two against the patsies. If a passing game is established to counter an already effective run game, that diamond set will be sick.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great info Chad!  Love to get your insight on the spring game, since I just got to see some of it on BTN.  Can't wait for football season to get here!
Go Bucks!


I'm still kind of hoping that the right tackle situation fixes itself simply because Decker/Farris are going up against 2 elite pass rushers on a daily basis and that will make them better. Our OL may not face pass rushers of that caliber until the TTUN game. Hopefully by then the position is solidified. Keeping fingers crossed.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

BuckeyeNationProblems's picture

I have t said this for two days so... Noah Damn Spence. 


Toilrt Paper's picture

"DIESEL" Washington.....luv it!

AGL's picture

Dunn reminds me of Byars.  Big back, soft hands.


Goose's picture

I thought the same thing watching the spring game.  Dunn has a better burst, Byars had better feet.

Boxley's picture

Spence and Washington are very good DE's , but they also had a huge advantage teeing off on every play as if it would be a pass play, because it was over 80% of the time. That and only having to touch the QB to sack him. They will give the B1G opposing offensive lines fits this year. 

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

MediBuck's picture

Not surprised by the lack of production from the RB group: Not only did the gameplan involving primarily slinging it through the air, the defense was probably not expecting many QB keepers off the zone read and (given the accidental hit Spence put on Braxton this spring and the fact that neither Guiton not Miller were live) would have been hesitant to launch into the quarterback anyway.

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