Hall Missing, Pitt Brown makes big play

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Football
Spring Football Notebook: Hall Missing, Pitt Brown Leads Goal Line Stand
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Every day Jordan Hall misses practice is another day closer to the arrival of Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall, who was in attendance for Ohio State’s sixth practice of the spring on Tuesday.

Jordan Hall
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jordan Hall

There are only eight of them left, including the OSU Spring Game at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on April 13. Urban Meyer would love to get a look at his new offense in action before the Buckeyes take another long break for the summer, but he hasn’t had everyone healthy at the same time.

“He’s got to take care of some business right now and he’s got a hamstring issue,” Meyer said of Hall, who missed nine games last year because of foot and knee injuries.

“I worry about all these guys. I think Jordan loves the game of football but he’s got to take care of his business, too. I trust he will.”

Hall was flying around making plays on the first day of spring practice, and it looked like the Buckeyes had found the missing piece for their offense. He was catching passes and making people miss in the open field, but hamstring injury had him on the sideline by the second week of camp.

It was reportedly a minor injury caused by over-use. Meyer blamed himself, considering Ohio State had not practiced for 105 days leading up to that first week of March, but it’s hard to blame anyone but Hall for the academic issue that kept him from attending Tuesday’s practice.

Power Run

Without Hall, the Buckeyes did a lot of inside power running during Tuesday’s workout inside the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. They worked on 4th-and-1 situations near midfield and also spent a good portion of practice in the red zone.

“It was a short-yardage day,” Meyer said afterward.

“Any time you do short-yardage and goal line there are a lot of collisions and guys chirping a little bit, so that was good today.”

The offense was set up with a second and goal at the four-yard line, and they had to score in two plays. There were was very little passing, as the first-team offense and first-team defense traded blows around the goal line.

‘Big Hungry’ Sets the Tone

Early on, it was the defense getting the better of Braxton Miller and the OSU offense. Chris Carter, a 340-pound defensive tackle out of Cleveland, did a good job of clogging up the middle on some of the inside runs, and there was a bad exchange between Miller and Rod Smith on the first series that led to a turnover.

But Tom Herman and his staff did an excellent job of adjusting on the second series. Sophomore tailback Bri’onte Dunn plunged into the end zone behind center Jacoby Boren and the tide looked like it was starting to shift.

Carter stuffed Warren Ball short of the end zone on the next series, but Rod Smith ran right over linebacker Luke Roberts on the fourth attempt. That got both teams chirping back and forth, and it angered defensive tackle Michael Bennett, who stormed into the backfield on the next play for a sack on Braxton Miller.

Ball Finally Breaks Through

Ball was stuffed short again on the next two series – once by linebacker Craig Fada and again by Roberts – but Dunn found the end zone again behind a key block from walk-on fullback William Houston.

With some help from C.J. Barnett, Chris Carter stuffed another run by Dunn the next offensive possession, but Ball found the end zone behind a block from Antonio Underwood. Linebacker David Perkins met him at the goal line, but Ball simply would not be denied this time.

“Warren Ball did good today,” Meyer said of the 220-pound back out of Columbus DeSales.

“He was actually slow and thinking too much (earlier this spring). Today was the first day he looked like a good back. He’s always been OK, but he was struggling. Today was his best day.”

Offense Making a Comeback

The defense held a 6-4 edge over the offense when Dunn found the end zone again, this time behind blocks from Darryl Baldwin and Jacoby Boren, who took big Carter out of  the play to open a hole for his tailback.

The offense would tie the score at 6-all on an option-keeper from quarterback Kenny Guiton. He faked the inside handoff, and everyone on the defense bit on the running back. Guiton walked into the end zone untouched to tie the score.

That set up one final possession for the offense. Herman busted out the pistol formation, with Cardale Jones at quarterback and Warren Ball in the backfield. It looked like Ball might break through for the score on the first play behind a block from Boren, but he was ruled down at the one-yard line.

Pittsburgh to the Rescue

On the next play – 3rd and goal from the one – safety Corey Brown came flying in to stuff Dunn short of the end zone. Linebacker Joe Burger helped him finish off the tackle to win the game for the defense.

“Pitt Brown won the game down there,” Meyer said of the fifth-year safety out of Pennsylvania.

“He made a great stop down there on Bri’onte Dunn on (3rd)-and-1 from the 1-yard line.”

It might have been a different story if Herman and the OSU offense had its top goal line weapon available for the drill.

“Carlos (Hyde) didn’t go much today because he doesn’t need much short-yardage work,” Meyer said of the senior tailback.

Center Corey Linsley also didn’t do much work during short-yardage situations Tuesday, as the Buckeyes got a chance to see Boren and Elflein play some center against Carter and the other defensive tackles.

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