Eleven Warriors Roundtable: Spring Game Edition

By Kyle Rowland on April 12, 2014 at 8:00a

After more than two months without football, the first week of spring practice brought enthusiasm to a fan base eager to forget about consecutive losses to end a once-promising season. Offseason shoulder surgery for Braxton Miller tempered that excitement, but early enrollees, the secondary and offensive line provided intrigue.

On Saturday, Ohio State will conduct its 15th and final practice. The annual Scarlet and Gray game pits Cardale Jones against J.T. Barrett. A mish-mashed group of Buckeyes will try to avoid being the unlucky group gardening in the Buckeye Grove later this spring.

“You’re going to see skill players make plays. We aren’t going to pound the ball between the tackles,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “I want to see Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett throw the ball. But I also want to see Armani Reeves and Gareon Conley. I could not tell you who our starting corners are. We want to throw the ball and make plays.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Sunny skies and warm temperatures, as well as a slash in ticket prices, could lead to a surge in attendance. That’s Meyer’s goal, who wants a pretty picture to sell recruits.

“I’d love to have 100,000 people, 90,000 people,” he said. “It might be asking a lot. But we’re going to give them an entertaining game and show appreciation for coming like we always do. It’s been a cold winter now. Go hang out in the Horseshoe.”

With that, we asked several Eleven Warriors’ staffers what they’re most looking forward to this afternoon.

Michael: Last year’s team success relied heavily on the ability of Kenny Guiton to step in and take reps when Braxton Miller was hurt. I’m interested to see how the backup quarterbacks perform in a post-Guiton world. This will be important both during Braxton’s senior year because of his history of taking knocks and also beyond, to see who will emerge as the starter after Miller graduates. A team with a lousy quarterback (Hi, Joe Bauserman!) doesn’t go very far.

Kyle Jones: With four new offensive linemen and a stable of running backs, does the focus of the running game shift from the inside zone concept that was so successful with Carlos Hyde to any other concepts? OSU has run the “Dave”/power play with success under Meyer, albeit without the same regularity as we’ve seen inside zone. Does the presence of Ezekiel Elliott, Curtis Samuel, or any other backs mean we’ll see OSU include more runs to the outside, like we’ve seen from Oregon and other “spread-to-run” teams?

Jordan: With Chris Ash playing a big role with the defense, I am looking forward to seeing how the pass coverage does in the spring game. There will be some new starters in the back seven and we have yet to see much of the players that are expected to be big-time contributors, specifically Darron Lee, Gaeron Conley, Eli Apple and Cam Burrows. It’s a spring game, so we probably shouldn’t put much stock into how the defense performs but I’m sure many fans will have a close eye on the unit. Come Saturday, will message boards be supporting Chris Ash or calling for an elite defensive coordinator?

Mike: We’ve heard so much about Darron Lee in spring practice, particularly from the coaching staff. I wonder how his play will translate to a live scrimmage. To put it kindly, he was a limited contributor on the special teams unit and that leaves me with no expectations of what he can do. The linebacker unit, as a whole, is completely revamped, so if he or any other unknown quantity at linebacker makes an impact in the spring game, that will make me more confident in what the back half of the defense is capable of in the fall (based on the past three years, I’m not sure I can be less confident).

John: I’m most looking forward to the offensive line/defensive line battles throughout the game. The offensive line is bringing in four new starters and the defensive line has a bit of a different flavor, as well, with new coach Larry Johnson. What I’m most anxious to see is whether or not the offensive line can hold their own against the vaunted defensive line. How does Taylor Decker adjust to the left tackle position? How do the new interior guys do against Adolphus Washington and Michael Bennett? How does the right tackle (presumably Darryl Baldwin) handle Noah Spence and/or Joey Bosa? Meyer said there will be a lot of passing, so it may be hard to gauge how much the offensive line drives the defensive line off the ball, but they should be tested by the pass rushers. I’m not expecting much cohesiveness from the line yet, but looking forward to the individual battles.

Kyle Rowland: Adding to what John talked about, the offensive line is the story of the spring (and going forward), in my opinion. So much of Ohio State’s success the past two seasons is because of the line. Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde aren’t nearly as effective and efficient without Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall and Taylor Decker/Reid Fragel. Their replacements haven’t exactly instilled faith in Meyer and Ed Warinner. On Thursday, Meyer said OSU only has two starters when five are needed. There’s a very real possibility the first month of the season could be played with only two or three adequate starters on the line.

Ross: Scheme-wise I’m looking at the defense to see Chris Ash’s influence. Are they playing primarily cover 4 with a 4-3 over? Do the defensive line and/or linebackers flip to strength, or do they stay to the same side? How does the defense respond schematically to spread formations? 


Comments Show All Comments

BroJim's picture

It will be interesting to see how much the WR unit has improved; they now have some depth and skill. I defiantly will be watching their route running and blocking. Hopefully Jones and Barrett don’t hold the WRs back as they try to display their proficiency

I season my simple food with hunger

-1 HS
oregonianbuckeye's picture
+3 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

As much as I want to see McMillan in person I really want to see the body weight dontre put on as well as wanting to see Dixon and Samuel in person. 

+1 HS
buckeyestu's picture

My thought exactly, Oregonian Buckeye plus, the new concept being brought in by Coach Ash. I want to see an aggressive defense, not passive like it has been.

TresselourgodUrbanoursavior's picture

I think that to the chagrin of many, Raekwon will be with the 2's this season. That is, I think Curtis Grant will benefit enough from the new system that he will keep his spot.  Thoughts?

Knarcisi's picture

Two words: press coverage. 

+3 HS
stittracer99's picture

Three words: no missed tackles

+2 HS
Hovenaut's picture

New blood on offense, new (effective) scheme on defense.

Zero injuries.

stevebelliseeya's picture

I just woke up to amazing weather!! Going to my first spring game in years...can't be more excited simply to walk into the Horseshoe.

I'll be watching you defense...


"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool

+2 HS
LouGroza's picture

Same here as far as being a while since going to a spring game. Very excited and the weather will be fantastic. Praying for ZERO INJURIES! May be my last chance to go to a game of any kind. I bought reserved club seats in advance in order to be able to go. My RA keeps me from being able to walk any big distances and it is very hard to get this type of seat during the season. The wife talked me into making the effort to go and I am so glad she did. Feel like a kid at Christmas.

+5 HS
stevebelliseeya's picture

Look for me, I'll be wearing Ohio State gear...

"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool

+5 HS
HattanBuck85's picture

Come on WRs! Who is gonna finally step up and be a deep threat? That's what I'm looking for. Oh yeah...I heard we got an under-the-radar LB named Raekwon. I wonder how he does...

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture


I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box but I'm one of the most colorful.

ibuck's picture

Interesting that the men's lacrosse team has a player named Turner Evans !  Auspicious.

Déjà vu: he makes a long game winning shot vs UM?


Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

ibuck's picture

OSU shutting out UM in 2nd half, and on a 9-0 run. Go Buckeyes!

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

Doc's picture

I bet there is 25,000+ here for the lacrosse game. Not a cloud in the sky. If you can get down here. 


CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Golden Buckeye's picture

What time/where can I watch it online? Is it on Big Ten Network on TV?

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I'd really like to see 80% passing and 20% running (sorry Zeke).  I want to see our secondary play really well and understand placements and schemes.  

DC-town's picture

That's my nurf-herder

'Piss excellence' -RB

ibuck's picture

Can't watch, so help me out. Is JT Barrett the real deal? After shaky start, his stats are 15-27 for 127 yds in 1st half.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

ibuck's picture

Halftime stats per cleveland.com and @OSUathletics

Gray leads 10-7, and has 189-44 yardage advantage.

Gray's J.T. Barrett: 15-of-27 for 112 yards, Michael Thomas receiving 4 for 42 yds. Bri'onte Dunn has 30 yds rushing & the game's only offensive TD.

Scarlet's Cardale Jones: 6-of-15 for 7 yards.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

ibuck's picture

Gray wins 17-7, with these best of game performances per @OhioStateAthletics tweets:

JT Barrett 15/33 * 17 of 33 for 151 yds and 1 fumble resulting in Scarlet's only TD.  

Warren Ball 8 carries for 55 yds, TD.

Michael Thomas 6 rec for 64 yds.

Were these efforts against a GOOD Scarlet defense? Or were they more like last season's D?

Was the Gray defense better?

* Edit: ohiostatebuckeyes.com has 17 for 33 in the "official" box score. I don't know why this has been misreported so many places.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

luckynutz's picture

Honestly cant remember seeing many starters play. Only saw bosa on punt team, didnt see washington play much at all. Same with spence. One thing is certain though...the o line needs work. Tyquan lewis ate lisle alive all day. Was impressed by overall play of lbs...lee as all over the place. So was kwon. Powell was laying wood. And Reeves looks much Better in coverage. Michael thomas had a sick one hander. Barrett seemed much more fluid in reads and throwing the ball. Of course, cardale was seeing most of the guys considered to be starters come the season. Silver secondary had Powell, reeves, burrows and Conley.