With the rosters now out for Saturday’s spring game, we have another clue into how the Buckeyes’ lineups could look on both sides of the ball.
Instead of splitting up the rosters through a draft this year, Ryan Day and the rest of Ohio State’s coaching staff to separate the rosters by units, so that the first-team offense can go head-to-head with the first-team defense and the second-team offense faces off against the second-team defense.
The first-team defense and second-team offense will play for the Scarlet team, while the first-team offense and second-team defense will play for the Gray team.
Day said Wednesday that the Buckeyes will move some players between teams as the game progresses, so the lineups will be fluid over the course of the scrimmage, which will consist of four 10-minute quarters with a running clock in the second half.
In the days following the game, we’ll count up how many snaps each player actually played for each team, which could provide even more insight into how the Buckeyes’ depth chart will ultimately stack up. For now, though, we take a look at what the lineups to start Saturday’s game could be and what we can glean from how the roster is divided up.
All kicking-game specialists are listed on both rosters, so they are not included in the following roster breakdown, nor are injured players who are known to be unavailable to play in Saturday’s game.
QB: Justin Fields, Matthew Baldwin
RB: J.K. Dobbins, Master Teague, Robert Cope
WR (X): Binjimen Victor, Garyn Prater
WR (Z): Austin Mack, Chris Olave
WR (H): K.J. Hill, C.J. Saunders, Darryl Sinclair
TE: Luke Farrell, Rashod Berry, Mitch Rossi
LT: Joshua Alabi
LG: Branden Bowen
C: Josh Myers, Jack Jamieson
RG: Wyatt Davis
RT: Nicholas Petit-Frere
The spring game roster doesn’t provide any clues on who Ohio State’s starting quarterback will be, as Fields and Baldwin are both with the first-team offense. Presumably, both quarterbacks will take a similar amount of snaps as the coaches evaluate both signal-callers and their ability to lead the offense down the field.
Dobbins will likely only play a couple series on Saturday, so Teague should have the opportunity to carry the load for the Gray offense for most of the game if he is healthy, as he has been battling a nagging injury this spring.
While Victor and Mack both played X receiver last season, it’s likely that Mack will start the game at Z on Saturday after practicing at that spot for most of the spring. Victor, Mack and Hill could all be candidates to take an early seat on the bench as established seniors, though, which could open the door for Olave, Saunders and Prater to play most of the game.
Perhaps the biggest revelation from the spring game rosters on offense is that Petit-Frere is on the Gray team while Gavin Cupp is not. Branden Bowen has spent most of the spring repping as the first-team right tackle, with Cupp lining up as the first-team left guard and Petit-Frere as the second-team right tackle, but it appears likely that Bowen will start the game at left guard with Petit-Frere – who has drawn considerable praise from Day for his improvement this spring – getting the opportunity to start with the first-team offense at right tackle.
QB: Chris Chugunov, Danny Vanatsky
RB: Marcus Crowley, Amari McMahon, Xavier Johnson
WR (X): Ellijah Gardiner, Austin Kutscher
WR (Z): Garrett Wilson, Sam Wiglusz
WR (H): Jaelen Gill, De’Shawn White
TE: Jeremy Ruckert, Jake Hausmann, Derrick Malone, Brock Davin
LT: Kevin Woidke
LG: Gavin Cupp, Nate Brock
C: Matthew Jones
RG: Ryan Jacoby, Chris Kuhn
RT: Max Wray
Putting Baldwin and Fields on the same team means that Chugunov is in line to start the game at quarterback for the Scarlet offense, though it’s likely Baldwin and Fields will spend time with the Scarlet team, too, in order to maximize their amount of reps. Any playing time for Vanatsky will likely come in the second half, at which point the Buckeyes will likely have most of their established veterans out of the game.
Crowley will likely take the lion’s share of carries for the Scarlet offense at running back, though walk-ons Johnson – a converted cornerback – and McMahon should also get some snaps as the game progresses.
The players to watch for the Scarlet offense will be Wilson, Gill and Ruckert, a trio of highly touted recruits who have the potential to earn significant roles for the Buckeyes this season. All of them are likely candidates to switch over and play some snaps with the Gray offense, as well, but they’ll start with the second-team offense because of the players in front of them on the depth chart.
DE: Chase Young, Zach Harrison
DE: Jonathon Cooper, Tyreke Smith
DT: Jashon Cornell, Taron Vincent
NT: Davon Hamilton, Tommy Togiai
WLB: Malik Harrison, Cade Kacherski
MLB: Baron Browning, Ben Schmiesing
SLB: Pete Werner, Trayon Wilburn
CB: Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade, Lloyd McFarquhar
CB: Damon Arnette, Cameron Brown
S: Isaiah Pryor, Kevin Dever
S: Brendon White, Luke Donovan
The player who stands out for being included in the Scarlet defense is Harrison, the only early enrollee selected to open the game with the first-team unit on either side of the ball. While Young and Cooper will start at defensive end, neither of them are expected to play more than a few series, which should open the door for Harrison and Tyreke Smith to play substantial snaps against the first-team offensive line. Putting Young, Cooper, Harrison and Smith all on the same roster also opens the possibility for the Buckeyes to experiment with their “Rushmen” package during Saturday’s game.
Inside at defensive tackle, it’s notable that Vincent was selected to play with the Scarlet defense instead of Haskell Garrett, who is also competing for a spot at the top of the rotation at the 3-technique spot. Hamilton and Togiai will line up with the first-team defense at nose tackle with Robert Landers sidelined by injury.
With Tuf Borland and Jordan Fuller also sidelined by injury, Browning has been called upon to start at middle linebacker while Pryor is in line to start alongside White at safety. White will also likely some snaps at linebacker as part of his new Bullet role, while Okudah, Arnette and Wade will lead the way at cornerback.
DE: Alex Williams, Noah Potter
DE: Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Aaron Cox
DT: Haskell Garrett, Zaid Hamdan
NT: Antwuan Jackson, Jerron Cage
WLB: Dallas Gant
MLB: Teradja Mitchell
SLB: K’Vaughan Pope, Logan Hittle
CB: Sevyn Banks, Tyreke Johnson
CB: Amir Riep
S: Josh Proctor, Ryan Batsch
S: Jahsen Wint, Owen Fankhauser
While Garrett is probably the player to watch on the Gray defensive line as the most likely player from that group to still earn a spot on the two-deep, Larry Johnson often rotates as many as three players at each defensive line position – so players like Jackson, Jean-Baptiste, Williams and Potter will also be trying to make a push for playing time on Saturday.
The starting linebackers for the Gray defense will consist of a talented trio of sophomores in Mitchell, Gant and Pope who are trying to push their way up the depth chart, with Mitchell still looking like a candidate to potentially push for the starting job in the middle. Lining up with the second-team defense, though, could give each of those young linebackers the opportunity to play nearly the entire game and gain valuable reps at linebacker while trying to make an impression.
Banks, Riep and Johnson should all get a healthy split of reps at cornerback, while Proctor is another player to watch for the Gray defense, as he has had an impressive spring that could enable him to still push for a starting spot at safety. Wint, like White, could play both safety and linebacker as part of his new role as a Bullet for the Buckeyes.