Debriefing: Spring Game 2014 Short on Excitement, Points

By Michael Citro on April 13, 2014 at 8:15a

Photo Courtesy of Kirk Irwin Photography


The annual Spring Game is not only the sole pigskin oasis in the endless desert we call the off-season, but it is also the only Ohio State game of the season where the final score doesn’t matter.

Instead of focusing on the score, fans look forward to the Spring Game to get their first look at new players and to see if problems of the previous season have been addressed. Very little of what they’ll see in the Spring Game will translate in any meaningful way to the real games this fall, but it sure beats reading practice reports.*

*No offense intended, of course, to the outstanding writers who provide those reports for Eleven Warriors. Seriously, you guys rock.

Some young player (or players) typically blow up and leave us wanting more, only to disappear down the depth chart or even redshirt when the season rolls around. Veterans may be invisible in the spring and then emerge as beasts in the fall. You never really know what you’re looking at, but you don’t really care all that much because it’s Ohio State and it’s football and OH GOD THERE IS NO MORE UNTIL THE END OF SUMMER.

Ohio State’s obvious problem last year was pass defense, but there were other areas of concern (wide receiver depth, for example). Many fans entered yesterday wanting to see improvement in those areas and to find out how the offensive line would perform in the wake of four seniors graduating. The Spring Game is all about questions and not very reliable about providing answers.

Would the backup quarterbacks perform well with Braxton Miller out? Would the linebackers perform well? Would we see Chris Ash’s fingerprints on the defense in the form of more press coverage? Would another young Buckeye look like a beast in the annual spring exhibition?

Meh (but there were a lot of dropped passes), yes, yes, and yes (Tyquan Lewis and Chris Worley both looked the part). Here are your talking points for the office tomorrow:

Water Cooler prep (Everything you need to know…in one paragraph)

Team Gray got short touchdown runs from Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball and kept the Team Scarlet offense out of the end zone, winning 17-7 in front of 61,000+ in the Horseshoe. Team Scarlet scored on a fumble recovery by Rashad Frazier, who sacked J.T. Barrett in the end zone and knocked the ball free on Gray’s first possession. The play was set up by a brilliant punt by Cameron Johnston. Mr. April Michael Thomas had another nice game for the winning side.

Talk before the game  

“OMG, Ohio State football will be played today!”

“Meh, I find it hard to get excited about a glorified practice. Wake me in the fall.”

And then there was this smack talk from the hooligans of Team Gray:

While Team Scarlet, as expected, kept it simple and classy:

Talk in the aftermath

I saw and heard nothing after this tweet:

Give that man a buckeye leaf (Player of the game)

Tyquan Lewis was a beast at linebacker for Team Gray. Lewis finished with five tackles and two sacks and was generally around the ball constantly. He had a hand in at least three goal-line stops and made Cardale Jones run for his life on multiple occasions. He was hard to handle all day long.

Honorable mention here for Worley (game high nine tackles for Team Scarlet); Ball, who picked up 55 yards and a score on eight carries; Michael Thomas, who caught six passes for 64 yards; and Corey Smith, who led all receivers with 72 yards on five receptions. Eli Apple also played well and nearly had a goal-line interception.

Snot Knocker of the Game

There were two fairly noteworthy smackdown plays. Frazier’s strip sack of Barrett in the end zone was only marginally less violent because the young quarterback was wearing a black no-contact jersey. Honestly, those black jerseys were more suggestion than rule over the course of the day. Frazier got a pretty good shot in on Barrett despite the directive not to hit the signal callers and it turned into Scarlet’s only points.

The other mentionable hit was Darron Lee slamming Kato Mitchell down short of the goal line on the opening drive of the second half. Scarlet had a first-and-goal and when Jones’s pass hit Mitchell in stride, it looked like a sure score. Lee had other ideas, however, knocking the reserve receiver backward and out of bounds. That stop was the first of four straight on one of Gray’s two goal-line stands.

Did you see that?! (Play of the game)

Let’s be honest. There weren’t many “did you see that?” moments in yesterday’s game. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some outstanding individual efforts. Maybe the best was Thomas making a one-handed snag of a J.T. Barrett pass in the second quarter near the sideline. The play went for only eight yards, but it set up a manageable third-and-two, which Gray converted. The ability to make plays like that should get Thomas on the field a lot this fall.

When you sank into your chair (The moment Buckeye football disgraced your family)

Team Gray picked up a first down on a nice gain in the second quarter, but a flag on the play should have brought the play back. Scarlet inexplicably declined the penalty and kept the Gray drive alive. I’m not sure which coach was responsible for deciding whether penalties were accepted or refused, but that was a real head scratcher for all involved. Of course, it’s possible the referee announced the penalty for the wrong team.

Close runner-up was when Team Gray kicker Kyle Clinton missed a field goal and Scarlet kicker Sean Nuernberger connected. Urban Meyer backed them up and Clinton again missed and Nurenberger hit. Gray somehow got three points even though Clinton missed twice and Scarlet’s kicker didn’t. Integrity of the game, man.

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the game

Tressel watched the Spring Game in his bathrobe and slippers while he and Ellen made hundreds of “Win with Jim” campaign buttons for his run at the Youngstown State presidency. He was shaking off a hand cramp when — with less than 30 seconds remaining — Team Gray dumped a bucket of ice water over winning coach Kerry Coombs.

“Oh man, I’ve been there, coach,” Tressel said, shuddering. “That’s the worst part of winning, right there.”

Then he grabbed another button insert and scrawled “I’m so chill” on it. He smiled at Ellen and said, “I know which button I’m wearing tomorrow.”

What you texted your friend at the end of each quarter

First: Rashad Frazier looks good. The receivers…not so much.

Second: Michael Thomas is Mr. Spring (again). No one else can catch – DBs or WRs.

Third: Tyquan Lewis will be a beast.

Fourth: No more Buckeye football until Aug. 30. :(

It was over when

Warren Ball went up the gut for a touchdown behind a huge Billy Price block, putting Gray ahead 17-7 with less than three minutes to play. Ball and Dunn both looked good running the football between the tackles even though the offensive line play was iffy at times.

It’s a long wait for the Aug. 30 showdown against Navy in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. Not to depress you, but there will be no more Ohio State football until then. Fall (late summer) camp will provide interesting stories and feed your excitement. Until then, let’s hope there are no Buckeyes in the news unless it’s Noah Spence magically getting his suspension lifted.


Comments Show All Comments

FROMTHE18's picture

young guys looked good generally…should be more interesting when the rest of the '14 class get to columbus

+1 HS

Your last point is my No. 1 worry. Keeping fingers and toes crossed NO Buckeyes are in the news for negative reasons between right now and fall camp opening. Then after that it can only be news on how much ass they're going to kick. Please please please.

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

+3 HS
stcburn's picture

The tackling & DB aggressiveness makes me believe this years Defense won't make average QB's look like Heisman winners. Despite the lack of Offensive explosion once the starters return & the O line is set & they gel. This team will average over 30 pts a game. Ready for August already.

+1 HS
Killer nuts's picture

Tyquan Lewis was a beast at linebacker for Team Gray

Isn't Tyquan a defensive end?

+2 HS
CGroverL's picture

Yes....but he is 6'3" and weighs around 235 pounds....nice size for a LB and with this whole "next man up" policy and seeing that Rod Smith was trying to convert to LB around 18 months ago, maybe he would be better suited at LB. After all, the team does have a great many capable DE' could be a smart change if it was an option.

You didn't bring it up necessarily, but this team does remind me of that Florida team that embarrassed our Buckeyes in the 2006 title game. This set of Bucks, like those Gators have a lot of pieces that don't necessarily fit but have earned their place simply because they are great athletes. Our DL seems to be undersized a bit, the WR corps still is lacking those taller, bigger WR's that may not be as fast as the smaller WR's on our squad, etc., etc. Hell, even the punter on this squad is capable of running a 4.4 second 40 and our backup kicker (Nuernberger) is 6'2" and weighs 240 pounds. point is simply that this is a team FULL of unreal athletes that may be able to be moved around to fit their strengths. In no way do I think this team is weak, but it may be the best team I have ever seen at any school when it comes to pure athleticism.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



Killer nuts's picture

Have you seen Tyquan lately? The guy is huge and listed at 6' 3" 260... I'd leave him at defensive end for sure. Also, while I totally understand your point about the team being loaded with athletes, I don't think Nuernberger is a great example of that, I suspect we'll see him drop a few pounds before his playing days are up.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Nice article, and good debrief. I thought the hit of the game was when Tyvis Powell absolutely drilled a WR across the middle. I was a bit surprised it didn't get flagged, but good lord that was a slobber-knocker. 

seafus26's picture

Cardale's offense produced zero points? 

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

GVerrilli92's picture

Does anybody know where there's a replay of the game posted? Didn't get to see it yesterday and I'm going crazy reading about it.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

BeijingBucks's picture

its on btn2go...

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

Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

Hopefully the beating coach Ash and Herman took wont  go unnoticed. That wasn't just a normal practice like some people tend to catergorize it as. It meant something and Ash and Hermans team was loaded with playmakers and some how Coombs and Fickell shut them down completely. They had to resort to giving Scarlet multiple extra downs I guess to try not to hurt anyones feelings. Cardale should have been  called for the safety just like Barrett did to give Scarlet the only points they scored. As a coach I learned a ton watching the spring game and the main thing I will share is JT Barrett is more of a gamer then Cardale. Did more with less even though he started out the game with a mistake that was costly. Yes they both need to work on things but if you took the black jerseys off and let them run free JT would  have orchestrated a blowout in the shoe. That's what we need from that position.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

+2 HS
bergy22's picture

Was at the game and saw the players come out. Spent a half minute talking to Jalin Marshall and Raekwon McMillan. Asked Raekwon how he likes Columbus, he just grinned and said loved it. Jalin said he's doing well. Not really note worthy but kinda cool.

+2 HS
CGroverL's picture

Before and now after the game I keep hearing how the Scarlet team was loaded compared to the Gray team when it came to playmakers...I never saw it that way. I thought the teams were quite even with a defensive advantage going to the Gray team. The game was a bit boring and may have some fans scared, but THIS WAS STILL JUST A PRACTICE. Not only was it a practice, it was a practice where the defense knew everything that was coming at them and have seen it all before more than a few times. The defense should have dominated especially in a game where the option and QB run are absent. A 0-0 tie could have been expected and maybe what we should have wanted. A total of 60 points scored would be something scary...this game is something we should have expected.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



CGroverL's picture

Oops...I know that no one likes to talk about kickers but let me say this about them anyway: Clinton shouldn't lose his grasp on the starting job just on what happened yesterday. I love having Nuernberger on the team (we just need to make a nickname for him) but Nuernberger did impress me because of one seemed to me that his 45 yard tries were kicked as "chip shots". We have all heard about the strong leg that this kid has and his 45 yard attempts had little follow through at all and I do buy his story of being able to make 65 yarders without a tee. I just don't see a huge advantage of having a leg that strong in the college game, especially if he doesn't want to punt. OK no more talk about kickers....we just got to see extra kicking time yesterday and my wife (God bless her soul for knowing so little about football) likes to watch field goals more than any other part of the game. On top of that, her entire family have all attended Florida State. I still love her though. She is great at getting beer during the game and wears my Buckeye clothes during the games as well.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



gm3jones's picture

Thank you for pointing this out. Clinton was the better kicker yeseterday. Nuernberger shots look very flat and didnt seem like it had to much power in it. I believe one of them sailed into the far right endzone (a good 10 yards off the mark)..

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

Michael Citro's picture

In the game I watched, Clinton was 2/6 and Nuernberger was 5/6 with a 52-yarder. Clinton missed from 36, 42 and 52 (twice, both short). Nuernberger missed one from 42.

Zimmy07's picture

Are you sure you aren't mixing the kickers up?  Nuernberger looked much better to me - I'm pretty sure it was Clinton who was kicking way wide and short at the 47 & 52 yard tries.  Nuernberger (DAS BOOT) drilled the 52 yarder & it looked to me like he barely kicked it.

+2 HS
CGroverL's picture

I wrote the original comment that has now spawned a few other comments. What I saw was Nuernberger kick FG's around 45 yards with ease (it looked at if he was just kicking extra points but the balls were going 60 yards in the air and through the uprights).


I just mentioned that I don't think that Clinton (who kicked very poorly) should necessarily lose his job over this one bad day. I didn't get them mixed up....after reading what I wrote: You and I are on the same page. Nuernberger missed just 1 of his 6 attempts and he even kicked a FG where Urban Meyer gave 3 points to the opposite team. That kid has a strong you said, a 52 yarder that was barely kicked. He does weigh 220 pounds. Going into the Spring Game, Clinton held a slim advantage over Nuernberger. After the game, they may be equal or Neurnberger may have taken the lead....

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



DC-town's picture

Spring game is good to look at individual performances...not say "Herman and Ash got worked"- linemen switching sides, teams declining penalties just to see if the qb can get the team in the endzone...come on-

Ball looked really solid, as did Samuel.  I didnt see how they did blocking but we are stacked.  One thing to keep in mind with the o-lines is they were predominantly pass blocking all day which is generally where younger players have a steeper learning curve.

'Piss excellence' -RB

Knarcisi's picture

I've only gotten through half of it on the DVR, but I have to say I was impressed with the defense. Nothing was easy, and coverage was very, very good. Not much space was given to receivers. Looks like we are grasping the cover 4. Tyquan Lewis had already made a lot of plays.

Shangheyed's picture

No Major injuries!  

+1 HS
gm3jones's picture

I was thrilled to see Kwon out there playing pretty darn well. He had to have at least 5 tackles and a sack. I wanted to watch him most of the time and he is legit in my book. Plays very good in between the tackles and can easisly shed blocks. He seems to have some wheels to because he ran down a play for a short game after being out of position. Lewis was a beast! So was worley. O-line had a few issues... Not sure at all why the heck Urbz kept denying holding calls? There must of been at least 4 or 5 of them that he declined. One last thing: Cardale Jones did not look that good at all. He had a few good runs and passes, but think at one point in second quarter he had 8 passing yards and 22 total yards offense. YIkes!

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

dan_isaacs's picture

Not worried about that.  If we need to, we CAN run the ball 70 times a game, with Cardale running, every 3rd play there would be a wide open receiver for an easy TD.  There are 3 RBs I'd be comfortable with running the ball.  it might not win us every game, but it'd win 10 games.  :)

Dan Isaacs

+1 HS
OSUFlash's picture

WTH Raekwon McMillan was the best middle line backer on the field.


dan_isaacs's picture

My only comfort is that I will be there for Navy.  Excited as all get out.

Dan Isaacs

AlwayzABuckeye614's picture

Does anybody know why Dontre Wilson didn't play?



Barnsey69's picture

Too tired from getting dusted by a Criminology major?

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

Zimmy07's picture

From what I read it's because Wilson is already a starter & Urban wants to see the younger guys in a pressure situation - he already knows what Wilson can do.

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Barrett looked better than Jones at QB, but that "game" was way too funky to make accurate assessments of peeps. Other than who seems to be moving better with or towards the ball. Kwan, Lewis, Underwood, Apple, Powell, Dunn, Ball, Thomas and Dixon all caught my eye, but I haven't watched the second half yet.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

lsjSnail's picture

Is Meyer going back to that strange punt formation from 2012 that didn't quite work?