Five Things: Ohio State Spring Game

By Chris Lauderback on April 12, 2014 at 7:00p
Cardale Jones 14 of 31 passes for 126 yards

Kirk Irwin photography

41 Comments

On a beautiful sun-splashed day for football, team Gray sent team Scarlet walking back to the Woody following a 17-7 win in front of 61,058 fans in the Shoe. 

Though the weather was fantastic, the play on the field wasn't quite as pretty as both offensive lines struggled at times to protect two green quarterbacks who combined to complete 48% of their passes.

In the end, there were no significant injuries and there was much to be excited about so with spring practice in the books, I present five things that stood out on a spectacular day in Ohio Stadium. 

NO KENNY, MO PROBLEMS

It's no secret Kenny Guiton provided a luxury most teams simply don't have in that he was a backup quarterback who could've started for most of the teams in the league. 

With Smooth Jazz no longer in the building, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett are vying for the backup gig with Jones as the leader in the clubhouse heading into fall camp. 

Jones completed just 14/31 for 126 yards on the day while Barrett went 17/33 for 151 yards. Neither guy threw a pick or a touchdown though Nick Vannett dropped a catchable throw by Jones in the back of the end zone. 

Even with no-contact jerseys, both showed they can run the football but the passing was hit and miss. Jones seemed to struggle with touch in that every ball he threw that wasn't a deep shot came out hot. I liked his arm to be sure but a rocket isn't the correct throw in every instance. 

At this point, Buckeye fans should be very nervous if either is called upon in relief of a banged up Braxton against a decent team though there is still much time to develop. 

Long term, I l believe Barrett will prove to be the better quarterback but Jones has a clear edge thanks to time in the program. 

O-LINE STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS

The offensive lines struggled at times which was to be expected considering it lost four starters and was trying to patch together two functional units in mid-April. As Urban stated during the telecast, they are still waiting on three guys to arrive in the fall and with both Taylor Decker and Pat Elflein sitting out, the deep defensive lines enjoyed success rushing the quarterback. 

Kyle Dodson struggled to keep Rashad Frazier out of the backfield early on and too often the inexperienced quarterbacks were immediately pressured despite very few blitzes. 

All is not lost however as Ed Warriner does have some talent to work with, they just need more time. Cobbling together a functional starting unit doesn't look to be a problem but depth could be a significant issue if guys don't continue to improve. 

HOW 'BOUT THEM APPLES?

I've been an Eli Apple fan since he got here. Though I wasn't surprised Armani Reeves entered spring as the favorite to start opposite Doran Grant, I felt it was very possible Apple would overtake Reeves by the time the Navy game rolled around and he certainly helped his cause today.

Apple showed some physicality in press coverage and I love his size (6'1", 195). He recorded a couple pass breakups on the afternoon along with two tackles. At the very least, it appears he'll see legit playing time this season and I fully expect him to gradually seize control of a starting spot. 

I'm sure it'll be covered extensively in the coming days so I'll just touch on it here but I loved the revamped coverage schemes. The defenses combined to break up nine passes and I tough both Darron Lee and Raekwon McMillan looked competent in coverage though it's obviously a small sample size. 

he's not dunn

The numbers were hardly staggering – six carries for 35 yards and a score – but I liked what I saw from Bri'onte Dunn. Similar to Apple, I've been a Dunn fan since he arrived from a talent standpoint though clearly he had some football maturation to do. 

Now it seems he has what it takes to compete at the elite college level and while I know most everyone is giddy over EZE (I am too, btw), I think Dunn is Ohio State's most B1G-ready running back. Even last year I thought he was the 2nd most gifted running back on the roster ahead of Jordan Hall, Rod Smith et al. 

I loved how quickly he hit the holes today and he's got an ability to run through the tackles that you need on weather influenced November fall Saturdays. Dunn and EZE should prove a very nice one-two punch this season. 

THE NICE PRICE

Props to Shelley Meyer or Urban or whomever demanded Gene Smith and company wake up and adjust the ticket price from $12 to $5 even if it didn't happen until Friday afternoon. 

With spring game attendance flailing in many legit college towns across the country, it's great that Ohio State finally realized having at least 60k on hand is good for all involved. 

Thad Matta was able to court Trevor Thompson, the young guys got to play in front of a sizeable crowd and many fans who can't afford $70 per ticket to see a real game can at least give their kids a chance to watch football in the Shoe. 

It's not rocket science. Hopefully, OSU learned a lesson. 

41 Comments

Comments

lsjSnail's picture

Very nice. I was hoping to see Ball hit some nice ones, but he seemed almost too patient and didn't hit the holes quick enough.

buckeyecityterror's picture

I liked how JT stayed in the pocket as much as he could even with the constant pressure. Pretty sure vannett dropped was on gray and dropped a barrett pass and not a jones pass. Also gray went 7-11 on third downs compared to scarlett's 3-13.  

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

+3 HS
OSUStu's picture

The ball was catchable but was a pretty poor throw to a guy that was wide open in the back of the endzone.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

+4 HS
buckeyecityterror's picture

Completely agree. Was just pointing out it was barrett who threw the pass not jones like it indicates in the story. Neither qb looked 'great' but JT looks to have tons of upside where as i'm not sure how cardale will fare. 

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

+3 HS
Oakland Buckeye's picture

Also agree - Barrett was more decisive in the pocket, made his reads quicker - Cardale seemed lost. 

When they were throwing Barrett was a much more polished passer & threw a really clean ball

Barrett was also much quicker when the pocket collapsed & he scrambled. also he moved the Gray up & dawn the field, Scarlet struggled to move the ball at all.

+3 HS
OSUFlash's picture

I definitely wasn't impressed with either QB and I really tried to be. Jones throws off the back foot and Barrett throws high but has better mechanics.

McMillan looks the part and played well. I see him over taking Grant at some point.

Apple looked great!

osuflash

+2 HS
OSUStu's picture

Ugh. Most exciting parts were the kicking competitions.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

+3 HS
Drewbuckeye's picture

What about Chris Worley? He was in on a ton of tackles out there. Good playing from him. 

F--- Michigan!

+7 HS
DBell8's picture

A few things to take away:

1) We should be very worried if Braxton goes down. Yes, the QB's will have time to mature even more but they are no where near starters right now. JT Barrett will eventually overtake Jones as the backup I believe.

2) Strong corner play seemed to be a theme Saturday along with good defensive play overall. I love the press coverage and it seems to fit guys like Eli Apple and Gareon Conley perfectly. Should be a strong bounce back season for the secondary including Tyvis Powell who looked really good tackling.

3) Wide Receiver play was spotty but the talent is there. Michael Thomas played the best of all receivers, including an awesome one handed catch. Devin Smith looked slower than usual and seemed to struggle getting off the press coverage. Johnnie Dixon was targeted a lot along with Corey Smith, but neither made any huge plays. This Summer and gelling with Braxton will be key to the Buckeye offense. Remember, we were missing our two best offensive weapons in Braxton and Dontre Wilson.

4) Rashad Frazier, Chris Worley, and Raekwon McMillan really stood out in the front 7 for me. McMillan looked faster than I expected, even running down Curtis Samuel in the backfield a few times. Worley was a tackling machine in the first half and Frazier played very strong. Obviously, defensive line will be our strongest unit this year.

5) The offense will look completely different than what we saw today and I will be interested to see if we go with more power plays as similar to years past or turn and burn on the edges.

I think we have a lot to look forward to and I agree with Urban... if all goes well, we shouldn't lose a game this year. GO BUCKS!

+4 HS
jonping67's picture

I agree with your QB evaluation DBell8. I have never been a fan of Jones and never will be. If he comes into a blowout game before Barrett I will be very unhappy. Braxton is gone next year and we'll need one of these two guys to fill the role for a year until Gibson and or Wimbush have a year in the system. There is no way Urban starts a true freshman at QB. However, this could change when Danny comes in 2018.

I'll takes Barrett all day every day over Jones!

-2 HS
Buckeye06's picture

I don't know why everyone thought it was a snoozer.  Our D actually looked extremely competent for the most part, so I couldn't have been more giddy at the end.  Yea our backup QBs weren't studs, but I think either could win a game or two with a game plan and the full O-line and running back group at their disposal (obviously not confident they could win every single game but 95 teams in the country would feel the same way).  You have to remember Jones has only been running with the "1" wrs and O-line, and is more used to those wide-outs and line etc.  It takes a bit of time to get in sync.

I set my personal over/under for WRs being wide open for TDs at 2.5, and I didn't see 1 blown coverage of that magnitude

Edit: And when the D knows a pass is coming 80% of the time, it's easier for them to play the pass.  Don't have to be focused on the run basically at all.  Kind of a little why they D looked so good and why the QBs could have struggled

+5 HS
southbuc's picture

Totally agree on your edit. I think the goal was to give the defense confidence and test playmakers.  Not score or win the scrimmage. If a backup Qb has to play they will run plays he can be successful running. 

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Good points. If Cardale is forced to go into a game this fall, he won't be running a passing clinic. They can simply play a three man game with Wilson, one of the very talented backs, and the hulking Cardale, out of the read option, and that alone will give many defenses fits.

Hopefully, Cardale won't have to orchestrate a come from behind drive to win a game with like 1:30 to go, but that doesn't mean he is without prodigious strengths. 

+1 HS
Zimmy07's picture

I agree with this.  I think the Spring game format does not showcase Cardale's strengths in that he would probably have preferred not to be wearing that black jersey & the defensive players might secretly be glad he was.

If we're in a come from behind situation with 1:30 to go, I probably would prefer to see Barrett, but otherwise I'd have to defer to Meyer as to why Jones is above him on the depth chart - I think it has to do with his ability to move the ball running and the threat of him hitting the home run if the defense cheats up to stop him (he can throw quite long with what looks to be little effort).

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Triple post . . . Wtf

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I thought JT Barrett looked better than Jones. I was also very impressed with Dunn. Defense looked much improved but they were playing an average offense. 

+3 HS
gwalther's picture

BUCKEYES WIN! BUCKEYES WIN!

Class of 2008

+6 HS
Dillon G's picture

Even with no-contact jerseys, both showed they can run the football but the passing was hit and miss. Jones seemed to struggle with touch in that every ball he threw that wasn't a deep shot came out hot.

 

 

Pryor was the same way. It took a lot to tone it down.

+1 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

Disagree about Dunn. I think Rod Smith is easily the best back on the roster. Much like Carlos Hyde in his first three years, for whatever reason he's not getting the chance (fumbling initially, practice issues now?). I know he has a heavy academic workload right now, but if given a legit shot, I fully expect him to be the man this year. 

HotSauceCommittee's picture

I had high hopes for Rod, but have accepted that his OSU career probably topped out 2 seasons ago when he received 5 carries a game behind Hyde. He may have the most potential, but I have a hard time believing he is the best back. He will probably play mop up duty behind EZE, Dunn, Dontre and Samuel. I would like to see him get some run to see if he can break out but time is ticking. 

buckeyestu's picture

Enjoyed the event. It was good to see football again. Dunn looked good. Raekwon looked good. It was nice to see Dixon and Samuel on the field. Think the defense will be much improved over last year, but then again it cant be much worse, can it? Lots of work to be done before the Navy game. Looks like both placekickers have plenty of leg, I think Nuernberger may have the stronger leg, more accurate leg.

seafus26's picture

Jones does have the bigger arm or at least throws harder, but he should with that larger frame and the long down back and up loop of a delivery. Barrett seems to pull it back hold ball higher and just throw more like a dart than a long, slow baseball delivery. I Was happy to see neither do that crow hop Braxton will resort to when trying to get the ball down field. This DL depth is as impressive of a group as I can remember in college football. I'm biased but I think this group could be as good as any DL college football has ever seen over the next couple years. I'm interested to hear the best DL people have seen or remember and maybe this unit can compare to. 

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

jaxbuckeye's picture

It was pretty much what I thought it would be. Passes were pretty terrible but teams were a mish mash of players. JT looks like he's going to be a good runner. 

hit_the_couch's picture

There's little doubt in my mind that Miller is going down at some point this season. At least Cardale is huge and could probably run over a LB if needed.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

ISURVIVEDCOOPER's picture

Did anyone else enjoy Earle Bruce's answer to his 2 favorite traditions at tOSU during the halftime?  He killed it with the 'the gold pants when you win, and if you lose... ehhh" comment.  Thought he also did a nice homage to Bo Schembechler when he didn't shy away from calling TTUN by that other name. 

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

+4 HS
DenBuck's picture

Loved hearing from Earle...I wish Tress could be embraced down the road like Coop and Earle are. Doubt it will happen though. 

Buckeye For Life

CGroverL's picture

No player looked "polished"...but if any player looked good and isn't getting credit it is Warren Ball. He showed great speed especially after the first 3 steps. If he wasn't playing against a defensive unit that was far superior and was given 20 carries, he would have had a nice game to his credit. I know that everyone loves Elliot and Dunn, but from what I saw, Ball may be the best of the younger group. Ball is close to 225 pounds as well....he might just be the best back (besides Rod Smith, in my book) when it comes to the total package. He definitely IS NOT being given the credit he deserves. I said the same thing about some kid named Carlos Hyde in 2011...no one listened then and I expect no one to listen now.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

+2 HS
southbuc's picture

His speed surprised me indeed. He got to the outside fast. 

+1 HS
whobdis's picture

I agree on Ball..I've always thought he was a hell of a back if given the opportunity. I'd hate to see him leave but I think he would be starting on many teams. The guy has size and speed and he's pretty elusive for his size.

BeijingBucks's picture

finally got to watch the btw playback.

perhaps i look at it differently than everyone who is focused on the negatives.  Yes we have a thin O line and it had to be stretched over two squads... meanwhile we have more than two ridiculous D Lines so that was a no brainer and I just ignored it.

I was actually very excited about the defensive coverage.  yes there were balls that were dropped and the throws weren't the best ever but the catches were actually contested!!  last year during a GAME wide receivers were camped out wide open all over the place.  this time the backs always seemed to be in the lanes and rubbing up on the receiver trying to make a catch.  lateral coverage was actually present and tackles for the most part were quickly made on short out routes.

we all know the offence will come along.  now I am actually optimistic we might have a defense that doesn't make us want to get up and make a sandwich when they run out...

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+3 HS
FROMTHE18's picture

anybody that is surprised about the back up QB play right now, shouldn't be. Cardale never seemed to take preparation and practice seriously, and JT was redshirted. I thought Cardale was more confident, but JT has the ability to run the offense better with some more prep. Theres still a lot of time before the season rolls around and having Braxton taking reps with those guys can only help. I expect Cardale or JT to be capable back ups by the time the season starts. They won't be at the level of Kenny G (thats obvious) but I won't panic until we see what they are by the end of Fall camp. 

southbuc's picture

Interesting that urban said jones is surely the #2. 

jonping67's picture

Tom Herman - Please develop Barrett and keep Jones on the bench! Barrett's upside is much better than Jones and he'll develop into a solid QB and he'll be a better passer than Braxton.

-2 HS
BuckInNashville's picture

I agree GROVER. I DVR'd and watched last night. I texted to friends "Dunn doesn't look bad at all".  Then 15 minutes later "Warren Ball looks like the next real deal - he slashes."  I'm with you - I hope he gets the chance. Lot of touches to go around though. I hope Tom Herman can figure out how to use the talent.

buckeyedexter's picture

Ball and Dunn both looked great!  Last year we had the best backup QB in the nation, this year we'll have the best back up RB.

+1 HS
Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I'm not sure what all the anxiety over the offense is about - perhaps I'm a bit more pragmatic to understand this was a practice - nothing more, nothing less.  It is always evident that the defense has the edge in the early part of the year because the offense is way more difficult due to the timing that it requires.  That will get much better over time as each position is solidified and more reps are performed.  I loved the fact that our defense is looking much more aggressive and our DL was just completely disruptive!  I would have been a bit worried had the offense been able to shred it!  All in all - it was fantastic to see Ohio State football being practiced before 60K on a sunny Saturday afternoon!  I'm guessing any recruits present were impressed with the show!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

+2 HS
OSUFlash's picture

I need to give a big thumbs up to Billy Price 54 from the grey team. He really stood out at center especially the final TD drive. He is a grown ass man!

osuflash

Knarcisi's picture

The struggling with the QBs had more to do with our defense than anything. Receivers were blanketed all day, and not much safe was given. A sight for sore eyes. Props to Ash and our secondary. I'll take it. 

NoVA Buckeye's picture

I've been to a few practices so I've been able to see a lot of things most people haven't seen, but Cardale Jones just straight up had a bad day. During practices, JT Barrett looked very inconsistent and was quick to scramble before making a read many times, whereas Cardale was going through his progressions and wasn't worried about running.

Also, let's not forget, he ain't come here to play no school. He's working hard towards this.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

+2 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

I was very impressed by two players - Billy Price and Raekwon McMillan.  These two look pretty dang big to me.  Billy's got huge arms and 'Kwon is pretty built for a true freshman.  I think these two will be future stars.

I didn't expect to see too much "offensive firepower" due to the lack of stars playing, and the thin offensive lines.  Overall, I am not worried about the offense for this year.  I think we will still outscore teams, we need the defense to make stops, and with the re-vamped schemes, I think we will be mildly pleased this season... We have some great talent at corner.

Curtis Samuel looks like he will be a star.  Very fluid and he has a great burst.  There were a few plays where he took the ball outside, and he flat outran the contain man, and was looking at the next level before he was actually past the contain.  I like the looks of this young man, but I also like the looks of ALL our TBs... Hate to say it, but I think we will see one or two transfer.  We are absolutely loaded at TB, and we will be sigining one more next year, correct?

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

You can take the man out of Ohio, but you cannot take the Ohio out of the man. Go Bucks!!