10 Things we learned in the Spring "Game".

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Last updated: 04/23/2011 7:33 PM
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Football
10 Things We Learned from the Spring “Game”
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Saturday’s format for the spring game may not have been the best for fans trying to catch the action from home, but it was a lot more educational than the usual format.

Not only did we get to see the first team offense going against the first team defense, but we got to see a lot of different guys getting opportunities with those units. We got to see all four quarterbacks working with the first team and we got to see a little bit of a rotation that included Jordan Hall, Reid Fragel and Chris Fields.

Let’s take a look at the 10 things we learned from Saturday’s spring game at Ohio Stadium.

Boom Herron
File photo by Jim Davidson
Boom Herron

1. Boom Herron is still the best back on the team. All the talk this spring has been about the other backs on Ohio State’s roster, but Herron reminded us Saturday why he was the guy who ran for over 1,000 yards last season. He may not posses Jaamal Berry’s burst, Jordan Hall’s elusiveness or Rod Smith’s power, but right now Herron is a combination of all three. He is elusive, patient and runs with good vision. Everyone was waiting to see the other guys get their chance, but Herron showed off his talent with a few really nice runs.

Jordan Hall
File photo by Jim Davidson
Jordan Hall

2. Jordan Hall is a playmaker. He didn’t bust off any runs of more than nine yards Saturday, but Hall showed he is going to be a playmaker. His ability to move in traffic is exceptional, and he even showed off a little power on the five-yard touchdown run. Hall finished with 37 yards on eight carries, but also showed off his ability to be a threat in passing game with two catches for 21 yards. With Herron and DeVier Posey out of the lineup for the first five games of the year, the Buckeyes will be looking for people to step up. Hall will get a chance to make plays in the running and passing games this fall and he could make a big splash in the early season.

3. Carlos Hyde is falling to the back of the pack. Herron and Hall weren’t the only backs to have good days on Saturday. Rod Smith ran the ball hard and Jaamal Berry looked good. Even Spencer DeLande picked up seven yards on his one carry of the day, but Carlos Hyde averaged only 1.2 yards per carry on his six rushes. That’s not a large enough sample to draw any real conclusions, but there is so much talent at the running back spot and only one ball to go around. Hyde has shown he can be a tough-nosed runner, but he seems to be in real danger of going the way of Jermil Martin.

Braxton Miller
File photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

4. Braxton is going to be special when he is fully comfortable. There are those who watched Ohio State’s young quarterback guiding the offense Saturday who will say for certain that Miller is ready to be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes this fall. After all, the freshman out of Wayne did lead the Buckeyes with 73 yards through the air. He completed seven of his 12 passes, including a touchdown pass to Philly Brown, and guided the offense on a 92-yard touchdown drive. He also ran for 19 yards, but it’s important to add that Jim Tressel said he scaled back the offense for Miller Saturday. That allowed him to have fun and play comfortable, and we all saw the results. This kid is going to be special when he’s able to do that on a full-time basis, but he isn’t there yet.

5. Miller will have a chance to play. He may not be ready to step in and play tomorrow, but Miller won’t have to be. The season doesn’t start until September, which gives Miller four months, and 29 more practices, before he needs to have everything completely down. Tressel said after the game that he intends to play “whoever we need to.” That doesn’t exclude Braxton, he said, which means they are giving him a serious consideration to at least compete for the starting job this fall. If what he showed Saturday is an indication of how he has played all spring, it will be hard for the coaches to ignore what Miller can bring to the table while Pryor is out.

Taylor Graham
File photo by Jim Davidson
Taylor Graham

6. Taylor Graham is who we thought he was. Another youngster with a lot of potential, Graham seems to have impressed coaches enough this spring to move ahead of Kenny Guiton for the No. 2 spot in the quarterback rotation. He was the second guy into the game Saturday behind Bauserman, and he proved to be exactly who we thought he was. Graham struggled with his accuracy before he connected with T.Y. Williams on a 68-yard touchdown pass. It was a beautifully thrown ball that hit Williams right in stride. That’s something even Pryor has struggled to do in his three years at Ohio State. Graham has tremendous arm strength and would give the Buckeyes a dangerous vertical passing attack, but he’s a liability in the pocket. Unlike the other three, Graham is a true pocket passer, very statuesque. Of the seven sacks by Ohio State’s defense Saturday, five of them came on Graham. After the game, even Tressel said that Graham has to do a better job not taking negative plays, especially in the red zone.

Jake Stoneburner
File photo by Jim Davidson
Jake Stoneburner

7. There is hope for the receivers. As well as the quarterbacks played Saturday, it may have been even more encouraging to see the wide receivers actually making plays for them. Philly Brown had a couple of drops early and Jake Stoneburner lost one, but it had to be encouraging to see other guys step up considering the fact DeVier Posey will miss the first five games. Posey looked good himself, hauling in two catches for 26 yards, but the star had to be T.Y. Williams, a redshirt freshman who snagged three passes for 83 yards. One of them was the 68-yard touchdown catch, but Williams almost had a touchdown earlier in the game but just couldn’t get his foot down inbounds. Verlon Reed made a nice play on his 17-yard touchdown catch and even Philly Brown snagged a nice pass in front of Orhian Johnson on his touchdown. Chris Fields had a nice 15-yard catch out of the slot and freshman tight end Jeff Heuerman caught three passes.

8. The defensive backs are jinxed. One big reason the receivers were able to have such a big day was the fact Ohio State’s secondary was missing 11 defensive backs Saturday. Yes, that’s right, 11 defensive backs. Two of them were walk-ons, but the other nine were scholarship players, including Tyler Moeller, Christian Bryant, C.J. Barnett, Jamie Wood and Dionte Allen, all guys who are competing for a starting spot this fall. Donnie Evege is already out for the year and no position group dealt with more injuries last year than the secondary. It looks like they really may have been jinxed somewhere along the line.

Tyler Moeller
File photo by Jim Davidson
Tyler Moeller

9. This defense needs a healthy Tyler Moeller. Though guys like Bryant and Barnett should factor into the equation on defense, there’s no question the guy who really could have helped them Saturday was Tyler Moeller. Senior Andrew Sweat mentioned him after the game as the one guy who could have made a difference, and even went as far as to call Moeller one of the best players on the defense last year. He is a dynamic player with both speed and power who can make plays in the run game and also cause havoc as a blitzer from his Star position.

10. The defensive line should be all right. One positive thing we learned about the defense Saturday was that this Ohio State team should be okay on the defensive front. They lost Cam Heyward and Dexter Larimore from a year ago, but Nathan Williams and John Simon seem ready to take over as the two playmakers on the line. Inside, the Buckeyes have three guys they really like in Johnathan Hankins, Garrett Goebel and Adam Bellamy. All three should be contributors for the Buckeyes this fall and they have a number of other guys who could join them, including defensive end J.T. Moore, who had 6.0 tackles, a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. They are so high on Moore that they decided to move David Durham to fullback.

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