Few Thoughts about North-South Game
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s a shame the North-South All-Star game hasn’t been able to create more of a buzz since moving to Ohio Stadium four years ago.
Not because the game is a thrilling event packed with big-name stars, huge plays and flawless fundamental football.
Far from it.
Most of the best players in Ohio don’t even participate in the game. Many of them are already enrolled at different colleges around the country. That includes Vandalia Butler offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who was supposed to participate in this year’s game.
Instead, he will be playing tackle for the Buckeyes in this very same stadium tomorrow around 1:30 p.m. in the 2012 LiFE Sports Spring Game. According to an OSU spokesperson, there have already been more than 60,000 tickets sold for Urban Meyer’s first spring game at Ohio State.
There were less than 600 people on hand for the North-South game Friday evening, despite beautiful 60-degree weather. It was a little overcast, but much improved from last year’s rain-soaked field in the Horseshoe.
It is a fun game, however, for true football fans, especially when there are Ohio State kids playing in the game.
OSU sophomore Devin Smith made a few big plays in the game a year ago, including a touchdown in the north end zone, but game is never very exciting. The players come together during the week from all across the state of Ohio and have exactly 3-4 practices to learn the plays and develop some sort of chemistry on the field.
It’s often sloppy.
Punts get blocked.
Same with extra points.
The halftime score of Friday’s game was 7-6 in favor of the South before Buffalo-bound running back Devin Campbell burst through for an 88-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Campbell shed a Najee Murray tackle on his way to the end zone. The North ended up winning the game by a final of 21-16.
Here are a few of my thoughts on Murray and the other Ohio State kids.
1. All three of the Ohio State kids looked good Friday, with Murray and running back Warren Ball playing for the South and defensive back Devan Bogard playing for the North team.
2. Ball had the most interesting day, as the South coaches used him in a number of different ways. Their play of choice was to hit Ball out of the backfield on swing passes, and he took the first one running left for 31 yards down to the nine yard-line.
3. That led to a 10-yard touchdown pass from Michigan State-bound quarterback Tyler O'Connor to Air Force signee Jalen Robinette to give the South a 7-0 lead about a minute and a half into the game.
4. Ball had a number of catches out of the backfield Friday, and they also used him in the wildcat formation. The impressive thing about Ball in this game was the way he got out in space. He is known more as a power back, but Ball proved he can turn the corner on the outside.
5. Bogard and Murray also had pretty good days, although Murray gave up a 21-yard touchdown to wideout Quincy Jones (Eastern Michigan) late in the fourth quarter.
6. Murray is still learning the cornerback position, which is where he will start out at Ohio State. He is a safety at heart, and he loves to hit, which showed a few times in this game. The coverage skills have to improve if Murray is going to stay at corner when he gets to the next level.
7. The same could be said for Bogard, who is moving from linebacker to safety. He played mostly linebacker at Glenville, but was out there at safety in the North-South game.
8. Bogard made the play of the game on defense, reaching back for a diving, over-the-shoulder interception off quarterback Nate McGill, a product of Cincinnati Princeton. Bogard also had a number of big hits in the game, which is what he loves to do.
9. Luke Fickell and the defensive staff want Bogard to start out at the star/nickel position on defense, which is where Glenville products Jermale Hines and Christian Bryant have played in the past.
10. Much like Bryant, Bogard showed he has some swagger and he likes to do a lot of talking on the field.
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