This weekend is a pretty big Saturday and Sunday for sports. For starters, a tradition unlike any other tees off tomorrow — that’s right The Master’s Tournament is this weekend, but more on that Friday. Today we are going to talk about the last collegiate football event before labor day weekend: The Ohio State Spring Game. The Spring Game will take place this Saturday at 1:30 in The Shoe following the Ohio State vs. Michigan lacrosse game. The Spring Game serves as a reminded that after this bleak, and miserable cold winter, there is still football in the air.
The 2014 version of the Spring Game should be thematically dominated by “question marks.” With Braxton Miller out, the only position that isn’t totally fluid this Spring is the defensive line. If you smell what the theme of this article is going to be, then pop that apple pie out of the oven because you guessed it: 5 Questions to be Answered This Sunday.
With Braxton Miller recovering from shoulder surgery this spring, and thus sitting out Spring practice, all eyes turn to who will replace the smooth jazz that was Kenny Guiton. Cardale Jones is the favorite among coaches right now, and has apparently shown night and day improvement over last year. The kid has a canon for an arm, and has the size to play Quarterback. The only other in the mix will be JT Barrett, who is the recruited quarterback in the Urban Meyer era. It will be fun to see these two dual it out.
2. Running backs
Question number 2 has got to be who will replace that man-hulk that was Carlos Hyde. Ezekiel Elliot is the favorite among the media, as he has the size and speed to be a featured back. The others int he mix are Rod Smith, who’s veteran status and size should serve him well, Bri’onte Dunn, and Warren Ball. Those three backs are all typically built similarly, so it will come down to who wants it more. Bri’onte Dunn apparently has shown flashes of brilliance in practice as well. The other name to look out for is freshmen Curtis Samuel, who Meyer said, has earned himself a spot in the rotation.
3. Secondary Overhaul
For those who watched the last three games of 2013, it comes as no surprise that Meyer wanted a complete change in how his defense is run. This starts in the secondary, who got flat out, Johnny Storm, torched last year. Doran Grant, and Armani Reeves will assume the starting rolls on the outside, with Gareon Conley and Eli Apple backing them up. The main thing I want to focus on here isn’t who will play, but the new press scheme being implemented. Those of us who have watched the 2000 era Buckeye squad are familiar with a “bend but don’t break” defense implemented by Mark Dantonio and Jim Heacock. This defensive style let teams seemingly march down the field, but they would be kept out of the end zone. The overhaul will essentially scrap the old mentality and implement a “just try and throw on us” mentality. The cornerbacks will play press coverage and rely on our defensive front to get pressure on the quarterback.
4. Replacing Shazier
Question number 4 will be how this linebacking core will be able to overcome the loss of Ryan Shazier to the NFL. Curtis Grant, Josh Perry, and most likely Camren Williams will be the starters, however it would seem that only Josh Perry’s job is safe however, as Darron Lee and Raekwon McMillan are pushing for starting time, and Meyer has said they have earned they’re spots in the rotation. I’m going to interject a personal story here: In my high school years I played lacrosse. One of my fellow teammates would never practice that well, but would always show up for games. There was some intangible element he had inside of him that allowed him to dominate a defense. I am predicted that one of these young linebackers is going to have that sort of element, and will boot one of the upperclassmen out of the starting lineup.
5. Line Gel
The last question is how this offensive line is going to perform after having to replace a four starters on the offensive line. I’ve decided that offensive line coach Ed Warriner the equivalent of a Taoist master and will handle the responsibility nicely. In addition, all of these linemen are either 4-5 star recruits that Meyer handpicked, or players who are beating out 4-5 star recruits that Meyer handpicked.
I haven’t been this excited for a Spring Game since Urban Meyer took over. It’s looking like a gorgeous day as well, so get the family out and go enjoy some spring football.