Peering Into the Crystal Ball: Ten Predictions for the Ohio State Spring Game
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — You probably think that a Spring Game isn't worthy of my predictory expertise, and you are probably right. After all, given that it is just a practice, I can't be expected to hit my standard 20-85% accuracy rate. But that doesn't mean I won't still try.
Anyway, the purpose isn't necessarily to get every prediction correct. Rather, I just want to see me predicting from Point A to Point B in 4-6 seconds, and if I make any mistakes, I'll clean those up later. Mainly, I just want to see relentless effort from myself.
Let's see how I do.
1. Either Ezekiel Elliott or Curtis Samuel will score on a swing pass.
Against the type of defense that Ohio State is intent on playing, the flats are one area where the offense can attack. We have seen them do this quite a bit this spring, and with the speed that both Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel have, it won't take much for either of them to get the corner and score from 10-20 yards out.
2. Either Johnnie Dixon or Michael Thomas will have a long touchdown reception.
One of these two players will be matched up against walk-on Nik Sarac, and they will beat him deep down the sideline for a touchdown at some point. While Sarac has had a very solid spring, the quarterbacks have targeted him in favor of targeting the corner opposite him. In this game, that means Eli Apple, and considering how well Apple has played of late, it would be best to avoid him in this one.
3. Joey Bosa will have at least three sacks.
Joey Bosa will be going against Kyle Dodson on Saturday, and the left tackle from Cleveland hasn't had much success against him this spring. Expect some rollouts to avoid his pass rush, but he'll still notch a few sacks in this one.
4. Tyvis Powell will have at least one interception.
I'm not sure I've seen a practice this spring where Tyvis Powell didn't have an interception. He'll have quite a few chances on Saturday as Urban Meyer will have the offenses throwing the ball all over the place. Powell has excelled in coverage of shorter routes, and quarterback inaccuracy has helped him as well. That probably won't change much this time around either.
5. The will be a run of at least 40 yards by a running back.
There won't be many carries by the running backs, but considering that they have each broken long runs this spring, it would follow that the same will happen on Saturday. I don't know who it will be, but I feel confident that it will be somebody.
6. The cornerbacks will have at least three interceptions.
This covers both teams, and I expect the cornerbacks on both teams to come away with interceptions. Gareon Conley and Eli Apple have been relentless this spring, while Doran Grant and Armani Reeves have been quiet. The reason Grant and Reeves have been quiet, however, is because they're not really being thrown on. I wouldn't be surprised if Conley comes away with two picks in this one.
7. J.T. Barrett will be running for his life, and at least once it will lead to a big gain downfield.
Considering that J.T. Barrett will be facing a pass rush from Michael Bennett, Joey Bosa and Steve Miller, there will be a number of times where he gets chased out of the pocket. The good thing for the offense in these instances is that Barrett is perfectly comfortable looking downfield for his receivers. I expect a receiver or two to get behind the Scarlet secondary, and Barrett's accuracy on the move has been pretty good this spring.
8. Regardless of how well he plays, Buckeye fans will leave the Spring Game excited about Raekwon McMillan.
As long as freshman middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan makes a couple of standout plays, then fans will leave the stadium very excited about what they will get from him this season. The rest of the game could feature him filling the wrong gaps every single time, and it still wouldn't matter. But what happens if he plays extremely well and is in the right spots the majority of the time? Just imagine the excitement then. Either way, fans will leave happy because he is definitely going to make some plays.
9. The defensive line will be very, very disruptive.
The quarterbacks aren't going to have a lot of time in this game, which is why you are going to see a bunch of quick passes. Even though the bulk of the starting offensive line is on the Scarlet side, they will still be battling Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Tyquan Lewis. The Scarlet defensive line, meanwhile, has a very good shot at dominating the Gray offensive line. What I'm trying to say is that the defensive line is deeper than the offensive line right now, which is hardly a secret.
10. The attendance will be disappointing, causing Urban Meyer to make sure ticket prices for next year's Spring Game are lowered.
The Spring Game is the centerpiece of a very big recruiting weekend every year for Urban Meyer, and having 95,000 people in the stands will help them more than 50,000, which then becomes 30,000 by the third quarter. The Spring Game is not the most important thing in recruiting, or even in the top 10, but it's a nice card to play, and it's something that Meyer would love to have. It won't happen this year, however, and if he wants it to happen in the future, he will need to explain to Ohio State that it wasn't too long ago that people were allowed into the game for a can of corn. Literally. Ohio State fans are being priced out all over the place, and this used to be the one game a year an entire family could attend. That's not the case anymore. (Actually, after thinking about it, tickets won't be lowered. Instead, the game simply won't be shown live, forcing more people to attend, because that's how things actually work in the real world.)
[Editor's Note: Just moments ago the university announced that prices for this year's spring game have been reduced to five dollars and parking is free.]
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