Five for Friday: Spring's Unanswered Questions
By Tony Gerdeman
Spring is over, which means that Urban Meyer can now finalize his spring evaluations. He has mentioned in the past that the spring is for finding his starters, and it's pretty clear that he has accomplished this. There are a few question marks, but nothing that will cause the earth to crack from stress.
But just because he may know what his starting 22 looks like doesn't mean there's nothing else to worry about. After all, for a coach there is always something to worry about. For us, however, we simply ask questions and then go and enjoy our weekend. So, as I get set to enjoy my weekend, I will leave you with these unanswered questions from Ohio State's spring practices. Feel free to go and enjoy your own weekend after you read this. (Consider this your doctor's note to leave work early.)
Photo by Jim Davidson
1. Can this defense stop the run?
With six new starters in the front seven, stopping the run is going to be a question that probably isn't fully answered until Wisconsin comes to town to open the Big Ten season. The main reason this question wasn't even close to being answered in the spring is because so much time was spent on throwing the ball. The offense knows that they can run the ball, so they didn't need to work on it during the spring with the same emphasis that they did the passing game. Plus, when they were running the ball, not much of it was being done by Carlos Hyde, who has already shown the coaches what he can do. It also didn't help that Ryan Shazier missed the entire spring.
Photo by Jim Davidson
2. Will Braxton Miller become a consistent passer?
Miller looked improved this spring, but he also looked improved last spring. He was indeed better in each of those springs, but he's had to come from so far back just to get where he is now. And where is he now? His ceiling needs an elevator, but as a passer, is he even to the ground floor yet? He can make every pass you want from a quarterback, but can he make it when it absolutely has to happen? And I'm only talking about simply dropping back and throwing the ball. What about when he takes off? Can he keep his mechanics in those situations? He looked good doing so in the Spring Game, but he won't be wearing a black jersey against Michigan. (Unless, of course, Ohio State agrees to wear black Nike uniforms against the Wolverines this year.) (Don't worry, though, it would just be a one-time thing.)
Photo by Jim Davidson
3. Is the defense better in base or nickel?
Because of Ryan Shazier's injury this spring, we weren't able to see Ohio State's top three linebackers on the field at the same time. Those three linebackers -- currently Shazier, Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry -- are all fast and athletic, but how do they handle spread defenses? In turn, we can only assume that Tyvis Powell will keep the nickel back spot, but we don't know for sure. With the way that Everett Withers raves about incoming freshman Vonn Bell, assumptions probably aren't a good idea. Don't forget about rising sophomore Devan Bogard, who was the odds-on favorite to ultimately win the job before the spring. Can the eventual victor of these three hold up against the run on first down? Basically, we don't know if the base defense is better than the nickel defense right now because we haven't seen either of them at their fullest and healthiest.
Photo by Jim Davidson
4. Can Jordan Hall stay healthy?
Watching Jordan Hall on the first day that we could attend spring practice, he was obviously a difference maker. Unfortunately, that was also the last time that we saw him on the practice field. It was quite a tease. Obviously, the fact that it was only spring was one reason that Hall didn't do much following the hamstring tweak early in practice. But it would have been nice to see him make it all the way through spring and contribute the way we saw on that first day. As it is now, all the fans have to go on is that one day of practice, and a lot of them aren't yet buying what's being sold.
Photo by Dan Harker
5. Can Curtis Grant keep his job?
Urban Meyer has had some strong words in Curtis Grant's corner towards the end of spring, calling him the starting middle linebacker, for one. When Luke Fickell was told about this on Wednesday, however, he seemed pretty surprised that the competition was suddenly over. Grant was also the starting middle linebacker after last spring, and while he didn't receive the kudos from Meyer last year like he has this year, we have seen this story before. Perhaps last year was just the rough draft. Grant has looked solid when we saw him this spring, but he also had his moments a year ago. Last year, Grant lost his job to a player who had been kicked off the team. This year is probably his last chance to lock this job down, unless he moves to fullback and then gets grabbed on a random Tuesday during his senior year to become the team's starting middle linebacker for a third time.
Bonus: Is there productive defensive end depth?
While there are raves adequately directed at Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, we don't really know if there is anybody behind them. Steve Miller has been around forever. J.T. Moore performs well in practice. Jamal Marcus has shown some flashes as a pass rusher, but what else is he? Tyquan Lewis and Tracy Sprinkle aren't ready yet. The Buckeyes might need incoming freshman Joey Bosa to be ready to go this year.
Bonus: If all goes as planned, who is going to stop this offense?
The possibilities are really quite intriguing: an aggressive offense, talented players, skilled play callers. It could be the offense that Buckeye fans have always wanted, but were too afraid to ask for. (Just kidding, they've asked for this offense every damn day for the past 12 years.)
Bonus: Who is the third-string quarterback?
Leaving the spring, the third quarterback is Cardale Jones. However, that job was won by default because true freshman J.T. Barrett wasn't able to fully participate. Once fall camp opens, the back-up back-up quarterback job opens as well. This spring was the last time that Cardale Jones will be able to win anything by default. Everything from this point forward will be won on merit. Meyer and Tom Herman have been very pleased with what they've seen of him since last season. That needs to continue through the summer.
Bonus: Who is the right tackle?
I only put this here so you wouldn't ask who the right tackle is going to be. It's going to be Taylor Decker.
Bonus: What about the defensive tackles?
I'm not going over this again.
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.