Buckeye Football Mailbag: Pre-Spring Game Edition – Part I

Ohio State Buckeye Football Mailbag

Ohio State’s spring practice wraps up on Saturday with the annual spring game. Don’t expect any attendance records this time around, however, because there will be about 20,000 seats unavailable in C Deck due to renovations and repairs.

It has been a busy and productive spring for the Buckeyes, which makes now the perfect time for a Mailbag. There were too many submissions to put them all in one edition, so today will be the first half, with the second half coming later this week.

As always, if you don’t see your question addressed, please take it personally and know that my grudge for you has not lessened even a little.

What kind of performance will it take to feel confident that the passing game is fixed? — BUCKEYE_Bomber
It isn’t possible because even if the quarterbacks go out there and complete 80% of their passes, people will say that ‘it’s only the spring game,’ and they’ll be right. They’ll also chalk it up to an inexperienced secondary, and they’ll be right too. Given how bad the passing game has looked for two years, there is no possible spring game performance that can erase those concerns. All you can hope for are positive signs, like deep ball completions, as well as intermediate completions. Let’s not pretend like the only issues have been going deep. The passing game needs improvement on all levels, so watch to see if it’s there, but don’t expect to be convinced of anything.


If you had to predict, who is 2nd string QB by start of Big Ten season? — JoeK
Same guy I’ve been saying all along — Joe Burrow. Dwayne Haskins may throw the best ball on the team, but it takes more than that to move up the depth chart. Right now, Haskins is bright and shiny — and you’re probably going to love him on Saturday, but he doesn’t have enough mileage on him to prove his reliability yet. A nice performance here could certainly propel him into the offseason, though.


If the coach could ignore the fans, would he rather have another practice or two instead of the game? — Cannon Fodder
One of the benefits of coaching at Ohio State is that the spring game gives you an idea of who can handle playing in front of a large crowd. No practice can give you that, so Urban Meyer would definitely rather have a spring game instead of just another practice. Now would he rather have two regular practices instead of the spring game, that’s a good question, but I still think he would side on a bigger stage. This kind of practice answers more questions than a regular practice.


Will we see the Wilson/Day impact right out of the gate, or will they keep it vanilla for the spring game? — Urban Cowbuck
I think you’ll notice more passing, but that’s how the spring game always is. You might see some screens to the running backs for a change, which you likely won’t recognize because the passes will be completed and yards will be gained. I hope you enjoy your time travel back to 1995. You’ll definitely see more tempo than you have over the previous two years. The Buckeyes likely won’t be so worried about finding the perfect play because Kevin Wilson is usually one or two steps ahead. If it’s windy, however, then I take it all back because wind is super scary.


Pecking order in regards to early enrollees at CB? — Tatum
With Kendall Sheffield unavailable last Saturday, I don’t know exactly where to put him, but I do know he has gotten reps with the ones and twos, just like basically everyone else. From what I have seen, however, I would put that pecking order right now at 1) Shaun Wade; 2) Kendall Sheffield; 3) Jeffrey Okudah; 4) Marcus Williamson. I don’t think there’s much of a gap between Wade and Williamson, but Wade has taken more reps with the ones when I’ve been watching than any of the other early enrollees. I think Wade and Sheffield are the two guys closest to earning that No. 3 cornerback spot, but it’s a long summer and Okudah, Williamson, and Rodjay Burns will all have something to say about it. The interesting thing is that they don’t need to be better than anybody else, they just need to be good enough to play. It’s sort of like golf in that respect. They just have to play the course and not worry about anybody else. Yeah, it’s just like golf, except their caddy is always shouting at them.


Who is most likely to be awarded the Bam Childress Player of the Game Award? — TwinsBuck
I’m pretty tired of this meme. Bam Childress was playing in spring games 15 years ago and yet when somebody has a good spring game — as he did — their performance immediately gets diminished and Bam Childress’ name gets mentioned. I think we should move past the naming rights and simply remember that this is a spring game and current performances do not ensure future successes. On the flip side, a great performance in the game doesn’t have to be downplayed simply because of a great game Bam Childress had 15-odd years ago. Don’t take this as me lashing out at you, take this as me saying that generalizations don’t have a whole lot of value here. The coaches don’t dismiss the performances, and neither should the fans. But they also don’t blow them up, either. They assign the proper weight, and then get back to the drawing board with the additional information that the spring game provided. Every individual spring game performance is an actual result, but some results need to have finer print than others.


How will playing time get divvied up among the QBs? — ChronicWastingBuck
I’m wondering about this one myself. I don’t see a need for J.T. Barrett to get more than three or four series, which would then allow Tate Martell to get some snaps as well. If i was going to break it down, I’d like to see it like this:

First quarter (guessing on jersey colors): J.T. Barrett (Scarlet) vs. Joe Burrow (Gray)
Second quarter: Dwayne Haskins (Scarlet) vs. Joe Burrow (Gray)
Third quarter: Dwayne Haskins vs. Joe Burrow
Fourth quarter: Dwayne Haskins (Scarlet) vs. Tate Martell (Gray)

The real competition here is Burrow vs. Haskins, so why not get two good quarters of seeing it in action? This kind of breakdown would also allow Martell to get some good minutes that will be spent absolutely running for his life, which is always fun to watch.