Spring Practice Thoughts
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the second time this spring, the media was allowed in to watch a half hour of Ohio State’s practice on Tuesday.
That is not exactly an overwhelming window of time to see everything that is going on with the Buckeyes this spring, but there were definitely some things that stuck out to me.
If you want a full report on Tuesday’s practice, check out our Spring Practice Insider , but I can’t help thinking about some interesting things I noticed at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Photo by Jim Davidson
1. There is something special about Braxton Miller. We have been hearing about this kid since he was a freshman in high school, so it’s nice to actually get a chance to see Miller up close in his first spring as a Buckeye. After watching him in the first practice of the spring, I was wondering if he has what it takes to really compete for this quarterback spot. Most freshmen probably don’t, but after watching him on Tuesday I can understand why the coaches think he has a real shot. Miller can do some things right now that none of the other guys can do. He has a great release. Unlike Pryor, who seems to heave the ball, or even shot-put it the way he did early in his career, Miller flicks it. It seems to come off his hand with ease and it goes a long way. I love the way he throws the out route, leading the receiver to the sideline. He has to work on his accuracy, but I also like what I saw from him throwing on the run.
Photo by Jim Davidsion
2. I’m starting to think Kenny Guiton could really win this thing. I know I just got done raving about Braxton Miller, but this quarterback competition is shaping up nicely for Kenny Guiton. He may not possess all the natural tools that a guy like Miller has, but he has some other attributes that I like to see in a quarterback. The coaches will love the fact he knows the system, but I like the fact he seems to be on the same page with his receivers. On Tuesday, he was accurate with his passes and hit his receivers in stride. They didn’t have to stop or slow down or wait on the ball. It’s amazing how much you come to appreciate that when you see it. Guiton also has a good mobility that could help to separate him from guys like Joe Bauserman and Taylor Graham.
3. It looks like Etienne Sabino is going to be on the field this fall. Speaking of separation, it looks like Sabino is starting to pull away from Storm Klein and Jordan Whiting for the starting middle linebacker spot. It’s always foolish to make sweeping conclusions based on one window of one practice, but there is a reason they have Sabino repping at Mike linebacker this spring and not Sam. They want him on the field and the Mike backer (which was played by Brian Rolle last year) will be on the field a lot more than the Sam backer. Sabino looks like he has embraced the opportunity and really looked effective as a blitzer Tuesday, which is something they started doing effectively with Rolle the second half of last season.
4. I could see them using Jordan Hall in the slot more this year. A lot has been made of the fact that Ohio State has only 10 offensive linemen this spring, and rightly so, but the Buckeyes are also thin at wide receiver. It won’t be as big of an issue in the off-season, because they have plenty of walk-on receivers, but they did feel compelled to move walk-on Taylor Rice from corner to receiver to help fill out the numbers. They have only six scholarship receivers this spring, including DeVier Posey, who is suspended for the first five games of the season.
Because of that, the Buckeyes have been using their wealth of talent at running back to help subsidize the receiver position. That is probably just to get them reps and help with their catching skills, except in the case of Jordan Hall. He has always struck me as a back who could excel in the slot, the way Brandon Saine did last year.
At 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, Hall is a much different player than Saine. He was a guy with tremendous straight-line speed, but Hall is an elusive player with great cutting ability and quickness to create separation in the open field. There are not many linebackers or even safeties who will be able to stay with him one-on-one if the Buckeyes do decide to use him as a receiver more often. That would also open the door for Jaamal Berry or Rod Smith to get more time in the backfield.
Photo by Jim Davidson
5. I like what Carlos Hyde brings to the running back committee. There hasn’t been a lot of talk about Hyde this spring, but that has more to do with the buzz surrounding guys like Berry and Smith than it does with Hyde. We haven’t seen much of him since he got to OSU last fall, especially after he suffered a hamstring injury during fall camp. As it turns out, Hyde might be that true power back Ohio State has been missing for a few years.
He probably isn’t going to pass anyone on the depth chart, but I love the way Hyde runs the ball. He runs angry and he has absolutely no fear of contact. In fact, I think he enjoys it. I think it drives him. I think he lives to lower his shoulder on a linebacker. He did it a few times in practice Tuesday and it made me wonder how the Buckeyes could possibly ignore what he brings to the table, especially in short-yardage situations. They typically haven’t done a lot of subbing in those short-yardage situations, but things might be different without Boom Herron. Berry and Hall clearly aren’t power guys, which means they should turn to Smith or Hyde when they need a yard or two for a first down.
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