Under the April Skies

By Sarah Hardy on April 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm
To the haters: up your nose with a rubber hose. Welcome Back, Meyer

Last month, the Midwest welcomed record-high temperatures, seemingly unfathomable 80-degree weather in mid-March.

Of course, the heat didn't last. It was both a cruel tease and an unexpected treat that offered a glimpse ahead into the cerulean skies and sunny days of summer.

As much as we may want to occasionally, we can't fast forward through time to get to the good stuff.

That, in essence, describes Ohio State's spring game. It's a fleeting look at the Scarlet and Gray, and while the action on the field doesn't match the authenticity of an autumn game, the scrimmage is the closest the fans will experience to the real thing until the season begins. 

Still, the college football world will be focused on the Horseshoe tomorrow. Spring is a time of rebirth, and the Ohio State football program is ushering in a new beginning, symbolized by Urban Meyer roaming the sidelines as the Buckeye head coach.

Returning to his roots, Meyer is taking control of the team he grew up rooting for, one that has endured a difficult year that included the deposing of a revered coach, NCAA violations, vacated wins, a bowl ban yet to be served, and a losing season. The anticipation for this fresh start is unrivaled, even compared to the 2009 spring game that set a national record with 95,722 people in attendance1.

If this were taking place in the TV universe, the narrative of the season would be about Meyer coming home and reviving the Buckeyes. Growing pains would occur, but the new regime would succeed, led by Meyer's enforcer, John Simon, and Braxton Miller, the quarterback who blossoms under his tutelage. The events would culminate in a finale that centered around a triumphant battle against the villainous Wolverines2

In that scenario, the spring game would be the equivalent of a webisode, a mini-episode that provides new content for diehards during a long hiatus. Often, the supporting cast will star in these chapters while the main characters perhaps make a cameo appearance. Their story lines may hint at the overall arcs of the show, but in large part, they are separate, extraneous pieces. 

That doesn't mean the spring game is completely useless.

As Meyer told the press the other day, "the intent is to watch guys perform in a gameday atmosphere", a scene that can't be replicated in practice, even one that is attended by thousands of students.  

He will also probably want to put his stamp on the proceedings without giving away his overall strategy. For tomorrow, that involves a "very vanilla, throw heavy"3 day and quarterbacks who won't be live because it'd be detrimental to unleash a full-go Simon on his own teammates.

This caused Chris Dufresne of the LA Times to write a condescending article titled "In L.A., there's more to life than spring football" to justify why no one shows up for USC or UCLA spring games.'09: a nearly packed 'Shoe watched a 23-3 scrimmage

Everyone, including the coach, is aware that Miller is proficient at running the ball. In earlier practices, running backs Carlos Hyde, Bri'onte Dunn, and Jordan Hall, one of the few in which Meyer has bestowed his prestigious "playmaker" label, have proven their abilities on the ground.

And they'll get plenty of opportunities to carry the ball, but for now, all eyes will be on the passing game. 

More than once, Meyer has publicly criticized the receiving corps, whose most productive member caught 14 passes in 2011. About tomorrow, he said, "The ball will be thrown a lot. I don't know if it will be caught a lot."

Nevertheless, Meyer and WR coach Zach Smith have promised that the group has gotten better. Fans will be looking for that improvement in the hopes that it will carry over into the fall. 

In spring games past, unsuspecting wide receivers have stepped up. Last year, T.Y. Tyrone Williams was the leading receiver and before him, Taurian Washington, Ray Small, and Bam Childress have shined in ways that never quite translated to the regular season. 

However, the spring game can also foreshadow later developments. A year ago, Miller had the best day of any of the quarterbacks while Joe Bauserman showed a propensity for incompletions and taking sacks. By the end of the season, the former was the starting QB and the latter brought about unpleasant memories of a collapse against Nebraska. 

All in all, the spring game is meant to be enjoyed in the same supplemental manner as a webisode. In the grand scheme of things, it's not imperative to the entire operation; yet, if it helps the team take a step forward, the coaches to better understand what they're dealing with, and the fans to get their fix during the football-free months, then it's not without merit.

Those in attendance will still be able to watch their Buckeyes suited up in the 'Shoe, and at a much affordable price than in the fall. They'll take part in an "O-H-I-O" cheer. They will sing "Carmen Ohio" together afterward. 

No, it's not a real game. But until the new season begins, it's better than nothing. 





The wide receivers are all gathered in a circle, the locker room otherwise empty. The spring game has yet to start, but they're ready to take the field, wearing their gameday uniforms and holding on to their helmets. The camera focuses in on COREY "PHILLY" BROWN.


Coach keeps saying we're not playmakers.


(under his breath)

Apparently, catching the game-winning touchdown against Wisconsin doesn't count.


Well we're gonna go out there and show everyone we got what it takes.

O.S. We hear the sounds of someone quietly crying.

Anthony Mackie has talked for years about wanting to star in a Jesse Owens biopic. Make it happen, Hollywood.He was really good in The Hurt Locker


T.Y., yo Anthony Mackie lookin' ass, are you crying?

Cut to TYRONE WILLIAMS, wiping his eyes.


It's Tyrone now...and it's just allergies, okay? There's a high pollen alert today.

(Beat) And what about Evan?

Cut to EVAN SPENCER, whose eyes are also red.


I'm cool. (sniffles) I find it super motivating being told we suck constantly. 

O.S. The sniffling gets louder as others join in.


All right, guys. Bring it in.

The WRs dejectedly stick a hand in the middle of the huddle. 


On three: ONE, TWO, THREE.


(In unison, somberly)

You is kind. You is smart. You is important.


You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

The camera pulls back. 


You is kind. You is smart. You is important.



  • 1 That's not to say that tomorrow will bring a new record. It's a possibility, though it might depend on the weather. 
  • 2 Did I just inadvertently write Game of Thrones fan fic?
  • 3 Buckeye faithful are familiar with the former, but the latter is sort of a foreign concept. 
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