10 Things We Learned from the Spring Game
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS — It’s hard to believe spring practice is over at Ohio State, but just like that football came and went in Columbus with Gray’s 17-14 win over Scarlet in the annual spring game.
There was plenty to be learned from Jim Tressel’s 10th spring at OSU, but here are 10 things we learned about the Buckeyes Saturday.
1. Kenny Guiton is the second best quarterback on the team. No if, ands or buts about it, after watching Kenny Guiton, not only in Saturday’s spring game but the rest of the spring as well, it’s clear to me that he is the second best quarterback on the roster. Joe Bauserman might be a heck of an athlete, but he does not throw the ball with confidence. Officially, he is probably going to be the No. 2 quarterback in the fall during practice because there’s no point in announcing a change when neither is going to see the field, but if Pryor were to go down there has to be a feeling that Guiton would be the guy to lead the Buckeyes.
2. Offensive line helped him look good. With his 11 completions for 167 yards and two touchdowns, there’s no question Guiton was the star of the 2010 spring game, but let’s not forget about the guys who made it all possible. As usual, the offense linemen were the unsung heroes Saturday. They provided Guiton enough time to make the plays he needed to win the game. He was sacked four times, but two of them were on back-to-back plays. The rest of the day the Gray offensive line of Andrew Miller, Justin Boren, Michael Brewster, Jack Mewhort and J.B. Shugarts gave him excellent protection against a very talented Scarlet defensive front; one that included Cam Heyward, John Simon and Solomon Thomas.
3. Mike Adams is the best option at left tackle. At least at the moment anyways. He wasn’t dominant by any means in the spring game and I personally saw him get beat on several occasions by Nathan Williams, but Adams has gotten a lot better in the last year. He held his own for most of the afternoon, having one of his better performances when it mattered most. On the other hand, I thought Andrew Miller struggled mightily for the Gray team at left tackle. He got beat a number of times by Keith Wells and even on Gray’s game-winning drive he seemed to be holding on just about every play. The battle will likely continue well into the fall, but it appears Adams has the momentum after the spring game.
4. Etienne Sabino is going to start. Another guy who may have locked up a starting spot Saturday was linebacker Etienne Sabino. Playing alongside starting Mike linebacker Brian Rolle on the Gray squad, Sabino seemed to be all over the field making plays. He finished with a game-high seven tackles, including five solo stops, to go with a forced fumble. His performance came on the heels of a solid spring as the first-team Sam linebacker. A tremendous athlete, Sabino has finally learned to trust his instincts on the football field, and he knows the defense well enough now that he should be a mainstay in the starting lineup. Certainly Andrew Sweat is going to get a chance to push him when he comes back in the fall, but it’s hard to see Sabino giving this one up.
5. T-Wash not done yet. The same could be true for Taurian Washington as the No. 2 receiver. After dominating last year’s spring game, Washington did it again Saturday. He caught three passes for a game-high 83 yards and two touchdowns. The second one, a 45-yard strike from Guiton, was the game-winner for the Gray team with under a minute to play. His third catch was a dazzling one-handed grab on a drag route over the middle, and altogether it was hard to give out the MVP award between T-Wash and Guiton. Washington was having an up-and-down spring as he battled Chris Fields for the third receiver spot. He will face even stiffer competition in the fall when 6-foot-7 wideout Tyrone Williams arrives and if Duron Carter is back with the squad, but he should enter fall camp with a lot more confidence.
6. Tight ends could actually be a part of the offense. After watching the jersey scrimmage a week ago, it was hard to buy into the hype that the tight ends might actually have a place in the OSU offense this year outside of blocking. Jake Stoneburner didn’t catch a single pass in the jersey scrimmage, but he was a favorite target of Pryor during the first quarter of the spring game. Stoneburner said during spring camp that he has developed a lot of chemistry with Pryor on and off the field, and it showed Saturday as the two hooked up three times for 43 yards. The first was a five-yard comeback route, but the second was a fantastic seam route by Stoneburner down the middle of the defense for 23 yards. He followed that with 15-yard out that was perfectly placed by Pryor.
7. Terrelle Pryor is going to throw more in 2010. If you couldn’t tell by now, Ohio State’s gameplan in the Rose Bowl was about more than just beating Oregon. The decision to have Pryor pass the ball 37 times was a precursor to the rest of his career at Ohio State. That’s not to say Tressel is going to call 37 passes every game, but it is clear they expect a lot more out of Pryor as a passer in year three than they did in his first two seasons. Although he played only one quarter Saturday, Pryor aired it out 12 times, completing eight of them for 108 yards a touchdown. He started off slow, but his 4-play, 78-yard touchdown drive on Scarlet’s second possession of the game was a thing of beauty. Like Peyton Manning dissecting AFC East defenses, Pryor drove the offense quickly down the field with patience and precision.
He started the drive with the 23-yard pass to Stoneburner down the middle on a perfectly placed ball in front of safety Jermale Hines. He followed it with a fabulous touch pass over the head of Sabino into the arms of Dane Sanzenbacher for 33 yards. He hit Sanzenbacher again on a quick slant that picked up 10 yards before finding Dane in the left corner of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown.
8. Zach Boren should catch more passes this season. Sanzenbacher may have been the favorite target of the Scarlet team, but on the other side it was an unlikely suspect who did most of the catching for the Gray. While T-Wash was busy racking up big plays, fullback Zach Boren quietly led the team with four catches for 44 yards. He showed himself to be a reliable pass-catcher late last season, and if this spring is any indication he should see a lot more balls coming his way in the fall.
9. Boom Herron still a solid No. 2. With guys like Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, Carlos Hyde and Jermil Martin on the roster, many fans were ready to write off Boom Herron as a reliable No. 2 back behind Brandon Saine. He did lead the team in rushing touchdowns last year, but his yards per carry were way down from his redshirt freshman season. But Herron showed up Saturday and had a strong showing for the Gray team as he racked up 32 yards on just four carries. He showed good toughness inside and good burst to the outside and averaged 8.0 yards per touch.
10. Punting game could be an issue again. It’s no secret Jon Thoma didn’t have a great year punting the ball in 2009, and the Buckeyes could be in for more of the same in 2010. Although Thoma is gone now, neither Ben Buchanan or Derek Erwin looked good punting the ball in the spring game. Buchanan did blast a 51-yarder, but average only 35.7 yards on his seven punts. He downed one inside the 20, but also had one sail into the end zone for a touchback. Along with his 51-yarder, Buchanan had punts of 28, 32, 33 and 16 yards in an altogether ugly day.
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