Spring Practice Insider: Basil’s Injury Costs Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Drew Basil felt like a hero during last Saturday’s practice, but he wasn’t able to answer the bell Wednesday.
After making a number of clutch kicks with a wall of students closing in on him inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Basil was forced to leave practice Wednesday after spraining his ankle.
That left freshman walk-on, and Dublin Coffman product, Kyle Clinton to face the pressure of a game-winning kick.
Time nearly ran out on the offense during a staged two-minute drill, but backup quarterback Kenny Guiton was able to spike the ball with 0.2 seconds on the clock. Clinton lined up for the game-winning kick, but defensive coordinator Luke Fickell used his only timeout to ice the rookie.
Clinton pulled his kick to the right, and it sailed just wide of the upright, allowing the defense to capture a victory for the fourth time in five tries on winner-loser day.
“You saw it come down to a field goal, win or lose,” OSU head coach Urban Meyer said.
“The energy was all there. How many times do you get to see a practice after two hours on the field in the heat and they still have that energy to go? That’s good stuff.”
Stoneburner to WR?
Meyer continued to rave about tight end Jake Stoneburner after practice Wednesday. He called Corey “Philly” Brown his No. 1 receiver this spring, but might have to reconsider his comment if Stoneburner continues to line up in the slot.
The former high school wideout from Dublin has been one of Ohio State’s top pass-catching options this spring, and Meyer is looking for new and better ways to get him the football. Stoneburner has been running drills with the receivers during practice, and he spent most of the day Wednesday spread wide, rather than being in tight like a tight end or H-back.
Meyer even admitted that Stoneburner is being used more as a receiver as they try to get him involved in the passing game. He made a couple really nice catches in practice Wednesday. One of them, a 10-yard touchdown, came in front of linebacker Curtis Grant during 7-on-7, which caused Luke Fickell and Kerry Coombs to get on Grant for letting Stoneburner get that clean of a look in the red zone.
Stoneburner also had a nice comeback route during the scrimmage, where he caught the ball in traffic, bounced off a tackle and cut to the outside. That’s where he showed some really good speed, racing down the sideline for a pickup of 30 or 40 yards to get the offense inside the 10-yard line.
Stoneburner wasn’t the only one who had a good practice Wednesday. Tyrone (T.Y.) Williams also had a nice day in the red zone. He is hanging on to more passes than he did last year and has proven he can go up and get the jump balls in the end zone, even if they are coming against freshman Tyvis Powell or 5-9 corner Adam Griffin.
Sophomore Devin Smith also had a nice day of practice and is proving to be one of Braxton Miller’s favorite targets this spring.
The Braxton Watch
It looked like another good passing day for quarterback Braxton Miller, who is proving that he has dramatically improved his short and intermediate passing game. Cornerback Travis Howard intercepted him once during the 7-on-7 drills, but Howard had the ball poked loose by Devin Smith.
Miller’s best pass of the day came during a scramble drill. The ball was placed on the 10-yard line and Miller had to scramble around until he found someone open. It looked like he was just going to launch the ball out the back of the end zone, but instead he dropped it in to Corey Brown in the back left corner. Brown tiptoed inside the line for a touchdown.
It was one of the best touch passes I’ve ever seen Miller—or really any OSU quarterback since Troy Smith—make.
Meyer plans to protect Miller and Kenny Guiton during the spring game. Neither will be live and neither will run the ball much, as Meyer plans to have a “pass-heavy” spring game.
Freshman QB Cardale Jones missed Wednesday practice due to illness and walk-on senior Ross Oltorik was actually working with the linebackers. Oltorik played some H-back at Arizona and the Buckeyes were thin at linebacker with Shazier and Storm Klein out, and Curtis Grant limited.
Decker Making Moves
Defensive end John Simon was simply unblockable, yet again. He really disrupted the first team offense during Meyer’s 2-minute drill. Simon went right around first-team right tackle Reid Fragel on 1st and 2nd down, which prompted them to replace Fragel with Taylor Decker.
The freshman out of Vandalia Butler got some help on a double team against Simon, but clearly the coaching staff wanted to see how the rookie would handle such a tough challenge. It’s hard to tell if this is an indictment of Fragel as a tackle, or if Simon is simply that much better than he was a year ago.
The rest of the line remained the same Wednesday; with backup center Brian Bobek returning from the ankle injury he suffered during practice on Saturday.
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