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Last updated: 04/20/2012 11:10 AM
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Football
Around The-Ozone Water Cooler — What are you most looking forward to seeing in the Spring Game?

By the-Ozone staff

Spring football is a time of renewed hope, unless you are a fan of football in the state of Indiana. It is the beginning of a nine-month trudge through good times and bad times, all with a single purpose in mind—winning.

Or, if your athletic director mistakenly thought a bowl trip for a lost season was worth sacrificing the next season entirely, then it's a seven-month trudge through good times and bad times. But whatevs.

Now that the Spring Game is finally here, we can forget the future for a couple of days and just concentrate on the present.

This, of course, has lead to plenty of discussions around our water cooler, as I assume it has at yours. I'm sure our office isn't much different than yours, though we don't discuss 'Glee' around the water cooler, we mostly save that for group IMs.

The discussion this week led to us asking the annual Spring Game questions, what are you looking forward to, and who will be the star of the game.

Brandon Castel — The main thing I want to see Saturday is a renewed sense of excitement and enthusiasm as this team takes the field in front of thousands of fans at Ohio Stadium. After last year, I personally believe a lot of players were frustrated with the OSU fan base, starting with the way they booed Joe Bauserman early in the year.

Maybe I’m off base, but I just think the entire program needed a refresher. It doesn’t change expectations, which are still national championship or bust for Urban Meyer. Maybe not that this year, because of the bowl ban, but fans won’t wait long, despite the fact this fanbase had to wait 34 years between national titles before Jim Tressel arrived in 2001.

Realistically, fans just deserve an offense that is exciting to watch. This is a game, and it should be fun. It should be fun for the players and the coaches, but also for the fans. While Tressel did a lot of winning during his time in Columbus, it wasn’t always fun.

I guess I’m one of the rare people who subscribe to the theory that football should be fun, and seasons should be enjoyed, even if they don’t end in a BCS National Championship. For that to happen, the team on the field has to be exciting, rather than frustrating.

That may prove to be the biggest change under Urban Meyer. No one knows how many games they will win in 2012, but it should be exciting. One guy who could add to that excitement is Carlos Hyde. I don’t know what it is about Hyde, but I love the way he runs. I know he isn’t Beanie Wells, but few backs who have put on the scarlet jersey are.

Hyde has everything I love in a running back. He runs angry and he wants to go right through a defender rather than around him. He has burst and he can take off if he finds the right seem in the defense. He isn’t going to be a guy who changes direction quickly—which is why I never understood them using him on toss plays last year—but Hyde is my pick for breakout player in the spring game.

My other choice is Kenny Guiton, who should only build on his past Spring Game lore with another fine showing on Saturday.

Scott Dame — I’m looking forward to watching the new offense.

I was not a fan of the previous offensive philosophy that was so predictable and stubborn.

As we have learned from Ken Pryor’s ongoing series about Urban Meyer’s spread offense, the new philosophy will run multiple plays out of the same formation, instead of tediously running the same play out of multiple formations. (For reference, here’s a link to Ken Pryor’s primer on Urban Meyer’s Spread Option Offense. )

I’m looking forward to an offense that’s flexible enough to change plays at the line of scrimmage, instead of an offense that runs seven-step-drop play-action passes on third and 17 inside its own 10-yard-line.

I’m looking forward to an offense that can execute more than one snap-count and coaches who I hope have the sense to substitute for players who continually make the same critical mistakes.

Despite his stinger injury that could keep him from playing, I’m going with Curtis Grant as the player who I think will be the star of the game.

Grant, who was a five-star prospect coming out of high school in Virginia, will be a true sophomore in the fall and will be trying to hold off veteran Storm Klein for the starting middle linebacker spot.

The linebackers in general turned in an underwhelming performance last season, but Grant was unable to get onto the field for any meaningful playing time on defense.

Grant has been playing with the first unit this spring and his play has drawn accolades from teammates and coaches, including Meyer, who said “He has to be a player for us. If he's not, we've got problems.”

While that might fall short of a ringing endorsement of Grant, it certainly sounds like the coaches are counting on him enforcing the belly of the Buckeye defense this fall. I think his coming-out party will be Saturday.

If Grant doesn’t play, I’ll choose running back Jordan Hall to be the star of the game.

Tony Gerdeman — What I'm looking forward to most in the Spring Game is a two-fold thing. First, I'm looking forward to the fans finally getting a chance to see the new Ohio State offense. Granted, there won't hardly be any quarterback running, but they'll still get a glimpse of the ideology that will lead the way in the future.

What I mean by that is that they'll get to see the movement behind the line of scrimmage, the motion and the deception. This isn't simply a matter of a defense lining up more helmets than an offense and stopping Dave for a gain of one.

The fans will also get to see the pace at which this offense is going to want to move. Or at least they'll get to see how fast it moves now. When you're watching it, just keep in mind that offensive coordinator Tom Herman will want it faster come September.

It's a philosophical change, and it's one that fans have wanted for a very long time. I'm looking forward to them getting that.

As for who will be the star of the game, I'm going with redshirt sophomore receiver Tyrone Williams. I expect Braxton Miller to have decent time to throw, and when he doesn't and is flushed out, I expect him to be even more dangerous.

I'd go with Miller to be the star, but I also expect him to be sacked quite a bit via the two-hand touch, and with the number of passes thrown, I'm guessing he'll throw a couple of interceptions as well.

Going with Williams makes perfect sense to me, assuming Bradley Roby isn't shadowing him on every snap. When it's not Roby on the six-foot-six Williams, it will be freshman Tyvis Powell or five-foot-eight Adam Griffin. Either way, I like my chances with Williams. Plus, Williams absolutely fits the profile of Spring Game stars of the past.

Ben Axelrod — Not that this is going to shock anybody, but the Urban Meyer Era has been a little different from the Jim Tressel Era at Ohio State, thus far. Press conferences have been different, practices have been different, and even the team’s media availability has been different.

What I’m looking forward to most on Saturday is seeing how an Urban Meyer game day is different. Granted, Meyer’s first real game as the Buckeyes’ coach won’t come for another few months, but that doesn’t mean his impact won’t be felt on Saturday at The Shoe.

In recent years, the spring game became more of a formality than anything else, with Tressel varying the scoring system, rosters, and even rules as the game went on. I wouldn’t count on a staged showcase taking place on Saturday. Instead, I’d count on visible competition, with a real sense of winning and losing. No one ever seems to remember who was on the winning or losing teams of any spring game, but this year, even if it’s just thanks to twitter, that may be different.

As far as this year’s Bam Childress/Taurian Washington/Kenny Guiton spring game superstar, I’m going with TY/T.Y./Tyrone Williams. For one thing, he’ll have Braxton Miller throwing him the ball, which is a clear advantage over having Guiton throwing him the ball (although, this is the spring game, so you never know).

For another, he very well could be the best wide receiver on his team considering that the other two options are Chris Fields and freshman Mike Thomas. The latter has been dominant in practice recently, but even if so, that means he’ll likely draw Bradley Roby’s attention, leaving freshman Tyvis Powell to try to cover the 6-foot-6 Williams.

John Porentas It's good to be the king, it really is. In this case it means that you can cheat and see everyone else's Watercooler entry before you write yours. As a corollary to that, it also means that you have procrastinated writing your own entry, but I digress.

Somebody once told me that the art of poor conversation is pointing out the obvious. My colleagues have pointed out that there is interest in the new OSU offense. Well duh. No wonder they argue about whose turn it is to wash the paper cups we use around the water cooler.

I am not going to tell you I am interested in seeing the new offense. You already know that. If you fit the description of A) being interested in the Buckeyes and B) breathing and not comatose, you are interested in seeing that.

Since I fit both those criteria, I am interested in the offense, but I'm also very, very interested in the defense, most particularly the linebackers and defensive line, but for two very different reasons.

Last year's linebacking corps at OSU was probably the least reliable in the last 10 years, so I'm real interested in seeing if there is any hope that it will be better this year. If it isn't the offense may not be able to score enough points to win some games this year, and after all, nothing is more fun than winning, so the linebackers have to better. We've heard some good things about the linebackers this year, but there is nothing like game-like conditions to form an impression, so I'll be watching them in the spring game for that reason.

The defensive line is a bit of a different story. It wasn't real bad last year, though it got hurt by injuries late in the season, but there is reason to believe it can be really, really good this year. I can't wait to see that.

On offense, beside the intrigue of the new system, I am most interested in the improvement (or lack thereof) in all aspects of the passing game. That includes the scheme, but also includes the receivers and Braxton Miller's ability to throw the ball effectively. If I were playing quarterback and my receivers were Jim Davidson, Tony Gerdeman, Brandon Castel and Ben Axelrod and my tight end was Scott Dame, the scheme wouldn't mean a damn thing, because we wouldn't gain a yard, so I'm interested in seeing the players as much as the scheme.

Player of the game - John Simon

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