Spring Practice Insider: Defense Wins Again
By Tony Gerdeman
For the second time in as many Wednesdays, the Ohio State defense got the better of the offense during practice and was deemed the day's winner.
After practice, Urban Meyer said that it wasn't a surprise that the defense has dominated, as that is generally the case early on, but he also said he'd prefer the offense to be ahead of where it is now.
The day began with a hoot and holler drill, which could only be seen by those standing in the scrum.
Though it could be heard by everyone.
At Monday's practice, freshman defensive end Se'Von Pittman left the field on crutches, and on Wednesday he showed up in a yellow jersey, sporting a left knee brace and was held out of all drills. He spent his afternoon with assistant strength coach Anthony Schlegel riding a bike and working in the sand pit.
Defensive end Nathan Williams was also in his all-too familiar yellow jersey, as will be the case throughout the Spring. Meyer said Williams will begin jogging in June.
Safety Jamie Wood was also in a yellow jersey, but removed it for a couple of sessions before returning to the Land of Sand and Exercycles.
Safety Zach Domicone was still in yellow as well.
Defensive end J.T. Moore was in the same green jersey he has been in all of Spring, but he did get to participate in a few drills here and there.
A little over halfway through practice, cornerback Travis Howard had his "bell rung" and left the field for the day. Sophomore cornerback Doran Grant took his place with the first team and performed well.
Defensive tackles Garrett Goebel and Johnathan Hankins both got dinged up in the lower body region, but Goebel returned and was fine. Hankins' ding occurred at the end of practice, but didn't appear to be overly serious.
Sophomore defensive lineman Michael Bennett was working with the first team at strongside defensive end instead of Adam Bellamy, who worked with the twos.
Cornerbacks Tyvis Powell and Adam Griffin were the second unit due to Travis Howard's injury, as Doran Grant moved up to the first team.
Sophomore defensive end Steve Miller also got a few snaps with the first team at the Leo spot. Chase Farris moved inside to Bennett's vacated spot behind Hankins. He was behind Bellamy last week at strongside defensive end.
There were no other major changes of note from last week.
DE - John Simon / Steve Miller
DT - Garrett Goebel / Joel Hale
DT - Johnathan Hankins / Chase Farris
DE - Michael Bennett / Adam Bellamy
SLB - Etienne Sabino / Joshua Perry / Stewart Smith
MLB - Curtis Grant / Storm Klein / Conner Crowell
WLB - Ryan Shazier / Luke Roberts
CB - Bradley Roby / Adam Griffin / Tyvis Powell
CB - Travis Howard / Doran Grant
S - C.J. Barnett / Corey Brown
S - Christian Bryant / Orhian Johnson
The practice ended with some scrimmaging between the first and second teams. There really is no third team under Urban Meyer right now.
On the first play from scrimmage, Curtis Grant shot into the backfield and dropped the ball carrier for a loss of a couple of yards. On the second play from scrimmage, Carlos Hyde got the ball and ran towards the sideline. Grant chased him down and stripped him of the ball while tackling him.
John Simon was giving tackles Jack Mewhort and Reid Fragel fits all afternoon, and it didn't stop during the scrimmaging. He had a sack or two during this portion of practice. He also had a fantastic play on a read option where he shadowed Braxton Miller perfectly, and Miller had no choice but to get tackled.
Also of note, more than once when Simon was in the backfield, Etienne Sabino was right there with him.
Christian Bryant, Doran Grant and C.J. Barnett were all in the area of a blown coverage that led to a touchdown pass to Philly Brown. It's hard to pin it on one of them, but since Brown got behind all of them, I'm not sure how free of blame anyone is.
Despite the blown coverage above, Doran Grant also had some nice plays on the day. He laid a big hit on a Brown reverse, sending him flying out of bounds. He also had fantastic coverage on a pass down the sideline to Devin Smith that was overthrown.
Storm Klein had a pretty good day as well. He was making plays in the run game, and also did pretty well in red zone drills working against inside receivers.
Adam Griffin (5-8) against Tyrone Williams (6-6) is quite a sight. Too bad for Williams that the quarterbacks couldn't throw deep accurately.
Whenever a play collapsed from the inside, it seemed like Garrett Goebel was somehow responsible, though sometimes it was also Big Hank doing what he does.
Watching from the bleachers, I was given a bird's eye view of Anthony Schlegel working with the various injured Buckeyes. He had them sitting in the sand pit and working with ropes or weights.
He also, for some reason, made cornerback Taylor Rice crawl the entire length and back of the pit. You can actually see Rice's trail. It is the one that starts in the middle, then veers off to the right.
While Schlegel is monitoring the goings-on, he is also singing along to whatever song the softball stadium right next door happens to be playing.
When he wasn't singing actual songs, he would make up his own. At one point he began singing [to the tune of "Day-O"] "Se'Von! Se'Von come and me wanna go home!"
At one point he took time out of his singing to yell at Nathan Williams, saying something about his "skinny little legs".
While seeing 5-9 247-pound running back Darryl Wood doing some type of crunch, Schlegel said something to the effect of "working on your abs, eh?"
Later in the session they moved everybody over to one side of the pit, and almost immediately afterward, Ohio State softball player Evelyn Carrillo sent a pitch over the right field wall for a homerun that landed right inside one of Se'Von Pittman's butt grooves that he left in the pit.
Imagine the fun Schegel would have had with that one.
Emptying the Notebook
* During a defensive line drill, Mike Vrabel had a few words for his players. After a bit of a slow push by Steve Miller, Vrabel yelled at him, "Quit thinking, Steve! I need you to play." After an impressive go by Joel Hale, Vrabel told him, "Start distancing yourself, Joel. Get in that rotation!"
* Who knows how much this means now, but during safety drills, Christian Bryant caught everything thrown his way. Of note, fellow safety (and former quarterback) Zach Domicone was throwing passes during this particular drill.
* Vrabel was giving Hale a lot of personal attention, especially after getting pancaked by walk-on lineman Tim Trummer in a drill.
* During some blocking drills, Zach Boren took Sabino to the ground and Luke Fickell wasn't happy about it. He was in Sabino's ear for a bit after that.
* During those same drills, which features blockers trying to keep defenders from getting to a certain point and grabbing a cone, Ryan Shazier ran by Boren almost untouched for victory.
* Freshman running back Bri'onte Dunn stonewalled Storm Klein on that same drill, but let up after the initial hit and Klein went right by him. Certainly a lesson learned by the rookie.
* You can definitely see a noticable difference in Curtis Grant's play. Last year you could see him thinking first, then moving second. That is not the case anymore.
* Bradley Roby was his usual solid self on the afternoon. It seemed a couple of times the offense wasn't even interested in putting a receiver against him, so they split a tailback out instead.
* Steve Miller had a few impressive moments, getting by Fragel in a drill was one. He also showed up a time or two as a run stopper. Meyer made note of his play after practice as well.
* Michael Bennett discarded Taylor Decker with a simple hand slap during one-on-one drills.
* Meyer also singled out Bennett after practice, saying that Fickell was much higher on him during winter workouts than Meyer was. Meyer admitted that Bennett is playing very well at this point. He said he is "very hard to block".
* Meyer said that Curtis Grant was much improved and that he has spent an "inordinate amount of time trying to get better."
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