Skull Session: A Lack of Spring Practice Hurts Player Development, Larry Johnson Compares Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa and Chase Young, and Ohio State's Drills Actually Work

By Kevin Harrish on April 20, 2020 at 4:59 am
Justin Fields is blocking out the haters in today's skull session.

I, too, watched last night's episode of the documentary series about the second-best basketball player of all-time, and enjoyed it thoroughly, like the rest of online.

But with this series stretching out, I can't help but think it's gonna be a hell of a ride on social media for one particular All-American interior lineman.

I mean, he certainly ain't wrong.

Song of the Day: "MakeDamnSure" by Taking Back Sunday.

Word of the Day: Veracious.

 THE MISSING SPRING. Right now, we should be about a week removed from a fake football game we'll all read into way too much in vain attempts to prognosticate about next season.

Instead, the players have been doing the same thing we've been doing: staying at home, waiting out a global pandemic (full disclosure, if they've been doing exactly the same thing I've been doing, you can go ahead and write off a natty this year because my body is probably 2% takeout food and Dr. Pepper at any given moment).

It's definitely not ideal for them to miss an entire spring practice, for a variety of reasons.

Garrett Wilson went from outside receiver to slot receiver, Harry Miller slid from center to left guard and Baron Browning moved from inside linebacker to outside linebacker.

They were all trial runs, a hallmark of the spring season when coaches have more leeway to reconfigure rosters.

“When you’re in training camp and you have an idea, you’ll tweak with it a little bit,” Carpenter said. “But in spring, that’s when you experiment with all that stuff and see how it looks. Some of it looks good, you carry on, and then you keep paring it down. Some of it looks bad in the spring and you throw it out right away. But this is the opportunity of when you try to figure out, ‘Is there anything unique we can do?’”


Carpenter said younger receivers also stood to benefit from spring practice, as they had a chance to work on their timing with quarterback Justin Fields. That included four freshmen who were among the 14 early enrollees, as well as Wilson, who was a freshman last fall.

“They’re trying to figure out what those guys do well, how they get in and out of their breaks, how to run routes to the liking of the quarterback,” Carpenter said. “And then where are you going to try to fit them in?”

I know everybody across the country is dealing with the same thing, but it's impressively shitty timing for Ohio State to have the most early enrollees in program history when they can't benefit from it.

It's especially shitty when they pretty much need at least one of those early enrollee receivers to start this season. However, the fact that all four of them are top-100 players coming out of high school does abate my anxieties a bit.

 THE BEST OF THE BEST. Larry Johnson's produced three top-five picks in five years, but don't you ask him which one he thinks is best, because you won't get anything out of him! – until he talks some more.

“I’m not saying,” Johnson said with a laugh. “All three have the potential to be the best.”

But he did give a breakdown of the defensive ends.

“Nick is very strong and powerful, a great bender,” Johnson said, referring to his flexibility. “Joey’s a great technician. He stays in his wheelhouse to do exactly what he does best.”

Young, he said, might be the most physically gifted of the three.

“Those are all great athletes, (but) Chase is a different breed,” Johnson said. “He can run. He has great get-off. He can bend. He can drop into coverage. He’s got great hands. So he has a little more things in his toolbox that he can use, but they’re all great players.”

I'm sure my incessant online-ness has turned my brain to mush, but that all reads like "I ain't telling!" followed damn near immediately by "Chase Young. It's Chase Young. Good lord, it's Chase Young."

And who can blame him? The Bosa Brothers were ungodly good – I mean, they were both top-three picks and went on to win defensive rookie of the year – but neither looked like they were assembled in a lab, neither had nine sacks and four forced fumbles across two games against top-10 opponents, and neither averaged a tackle for loss on every tackle.

The Bosa Brothers could not have been better NFL prospects, and then came Chase Young.

 TALKIN' 'BOUT PRACTICE. We all remember that one shitty coach or instructor that made you spend hours on a drill you knew damn well wasn't going to help you in a game (like that atrocious swing over a high tee drill in baseball), but that's not what you'll see at the Woody.

I took Urban Meyer's coaching football class a few years back (I now consider myself a free agent coach considering I also have plenty of experience calling plays in Madden) and I remember Tony Alford talking a good bit about designing drills based what players are doing wrong in a game, not forcing drills on players just for the hell of it.

Drills should make you noticeably better during the game. Otherwise, you may as well be doing Hip Hop Abs with Shaun T.

 NON-OPTIONAL VIEWING. As if you weren't already willing to make altar sacrifices to ensure the safe return of Buckeye football, Ohio State's video team is out here giving me the good kind of spine shivers about the season (that better be) ahead.

You might want to find a safe space because I can't guarantee you won't get emotional.

"There is fun to be done, there are points to be scored, there are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball, will make you the winningest winner of all.”

I'll say this, quarantine is going to be a hell of a lot harder with no walls in my house.

 MAYBE NEXT TIME. Nick Mangold thought he'd woken up to an extremely specific holiday that applied specifically to his underappreciated line of work.

Instead, it was actually another extremely specific holiday that applied specifically to a very different, significantly more underappreciated line of work with a very similar name.

He was a little crushed, but he understood.

Is Thanksgiving not close enough, Nick?

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. A World War I soldier's bedroom has not been touched since his death... Five fishermen, a stormy night and £53m of cocaine... A man uses a chainsaw to stop a home invasion... Women kidnap a love rival, shave her head, beat her with brass knuckles and a socket wrench, then dump her naked in a canyon... Even sex parties have turned online... Why would someone steal the world's rarest water lily?...

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