Football

Ten Things We Learned From the 2018 Ohio State Spring Game

Tate Martell Ohio State Football Buckeyes

 

Spring practice is now wrapped up for the Ohio State football team. With Saturday’s spring game in the books, we begin our long, dark journey into the ether of waiting for football season to get here.

But before we go gentle into that good night, let’s at least talk a bit about what we saw from the Buckeyes on Saturday. More specifically, let’s talk about what we learned in our first decent glimpse at the 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes.

1. Joe Burrow should be the starter.

Joe Burrow was in control the entire game. He completed 15-of-22 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Dwayne Haskins is supposed to be the truest passer of the quarterbacks and Burrow is supposed to be the happy medium between Haskins and Tate Martell. Burrow was certainly happy on Saturday, but his performance was anything but medium. You saw him throw the deep ball well — he completed three passes of 30+ yards. Add in his ability to run the ball, and he can take the Ohio State offense to heights it has never seen.

2. Dwayne Haskins should be the starter.

Dwayne Haskins is the best football thrower on the team. If the Ohio State quarterback is truly a distributor, nobody else can distribute the way Haskins does. He stretches the field in every direction, and further than anybody else. Haskins didn’t have the best day on Saturday, but he has already earned the confidence of his teammates. He continues to show that he is worthy of both their trust and this job.

3. Tate Martell needs to play.

Tate Martell only completed 5-of-16 passes for 28 yards, but he did have some drops mixed in. Where he was most effective was running the ball, which is how he is going to get on the field this season. Martell carried the ball 10 times for 74 yards and a touchdown. The impressive part about those stats is that any touch from a defender counted as a tackle. Martell showed a J.K. Dobbins-like ability to make defenders miss. When the regular season rolls around, it’s difficult to imagine the Buckeyes not having room to get a handful of snaps for Martell each week.

4. Sean Nuernberger concluded a strong spring.

Sean Nuernberger had a very good spring kicking the ball. Urban Meyer made him the lone kicker on placements and made sophomore Blake Haubeil the lone kickoff specialist. This continued focus paid off throughout the spring and finished well on Saturday when Nuernberger was perfect on kicks from 40, 42, 47, and 52 yards. The NCAA’s new kickoff rule has put some confusion in Ohio State’s special teams moving forward, but at least the placements look like they’ll be okay.

5. There are a lot of cornerbacks on this team.

After the game, Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes had a solid three-man rotation at cornerback with Kendall Sheffield, Damon Arnette, and Jeff Okudah. Throughout the spring game, however, sophomore Marcus Williamson showed a physicality to his game that would fit right in. Redshirt freshman Shaun Wade also had a nice diving interception. The freshmen didn’t look out of place either. Given the play of Williamson and Wade, it wasn’t a surprise when Meyer said afterward that a fourth corner might make it into the rotation.

6. The deepest position on the team may be H-back.

Ohio State was without two if its top three H-backs from last year as K.J. Hill recovers from shoulder surgery and C.J. Saunders was held out with a believed-to-be minor leg injury. No worries, however, as Parris Campbell and Demario McCall proved dynamic enough for everyone. Campbell only played a limited number of snaps, but showed the speed that he has become known for. McCall, meanwhile, split time on both teams and caught 11 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. While we have seen the H-backs utilized well on crossing routes, where they have struggled is on the deep passes. Surprisingly, for being at H-back for about five months, McCall looked good on the deep balls, catching a pair. He was targeted 26 times in this game according to the box score, so that’s 15 times he and the QB came up empty. Further examination will have to figure out why that was. Regardless, McCall sure looked comfortable making life uncomfortable for the Ohio State secondary. Oh, and let’s go ahead and stop with the Spring Game Curse talk. Plenty of players have had great spring games and then contributed significantly that season. It’s not like winning the Par 3 tournament at the Masters.

7. Master Teague is going to be good.

It is silly to get too excited about a running back’s performance when half of the game is two-hand touch, but doesn’t it also say something that he was able to find his way so deep into the Ohio State defense before being touched? Master Teague rushed for 73 yards on 14 carries, and had it not been for the early whistles he would have done much better. Teague did most of his damage against the perceived second-team defense, but he left me wanting to see a whole lot more. You could tell he wanted to do more as well, but those early whistles kept him reigned in. I don’t know where the carries will come from this season, but it has to be a comforting thought for Tony Alford to know who he’s got waiting in the wings.

8. The inconsistent hands were consistent.

Parris Campbell and Binjimen Victor have been criticized in the past for their inconsistency in catching the football. On Saturday, however, they were both very consistent. Campbell caught all four passes thrown to him, and Victor came away with five of the seven thrown in his direction. One of those two that got away was actually caught by Victor near the goal line, but the pass took him out of bounds. The other incompletion was thrown over his head and uncatchable. One spring game doesn’t prove much, nor does one actual game. The key to losing the inconsistent label is to do it over a long stretch of time. Perhaps this was the beginning of that stretch. If it is, look out.

9. Nothing was settled at linebacker.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said after the game that even though there are a bunch of questions about the linebackers, he still feels as though this is a position of depth for the Buckeyes. Which means that the coaches believe they have a whole bunch of something, rather than a whole bunch of nothing. Neither Schiano, Urban Meyer, or linebackers coach Bill Davis has voiced any concern about the position. On Saturday, there were bright spots throughout, but it wasn’t all fantastic. The raw talent is certainly there, but a top three has yet to emerge. But as Schiano told me after the game, nobody says you can only play three linebackers in a game.

10. Nothing was settled at boundary safety.

Now we move to a position of concern for the Buckeyes. The OSU defensive staff — as well as Urban Meyer — has been waiting for a boundary safety to step forward, but it hasn’t happened yet. Sophomore Isaiah Pryor seems to be the guy the coaches would like to step forward — or  perhaps he is the guy with the slimmest of leads right now. Redshirt sophomore Jahsen Wint and sophomore Brendon White are the other two competing for the job. When true freshman Josh Proctor gets to town this summer, he could also factor in. Wint led all players with 11 tackles on the day — which was more than twice what anybody else had. Pryor, meanwhile, led the Scarlet with four solo tackles. This competition will continue into the fall. Schiano did say after the game that he believes they do have options who will be ready when the season gets here.

 

18 Responses

  1. I still can not believe Ohio state with all its money chose to end the turf about 3 feet past the sidelines. One of these days someone is going to bust their head on that hard concrete and sue the hell out of them.

  2. Mr. Mills(always Mr. Negative)
    You wouldn’t be satisfied if Spielman, Hawk and Lauranitis were on the team. The leader of the linebackers, as evidenced by his ability to read offenses and call the defensive plays, is out. That affects the play of everyone around the position. I have said the three best linebackers are Malik Harrison and Baron Browning at the Will and Sam(interchangeable) with Tuf Borland, when he gets back at the Mike. That leaves Werner and Jones as the backups outside with Hilliard backing up Tuf. Don’t forget the three freshman backers either. Say something positive once in awhile Mr. “Doubting Thomas” Mills. I DO have some doubt about the LB’s coach. Think they should have gone after Marcus Freeman.

    1. Linebackers stunk up Ohio Stadium last year, as well as being 2nd rate waste cases in Iowa. .

      I’ll say something positive about the linebackers we’re seeing when they actually do something positive. There’s a reason Schiano has spent a lot of time with Bill Davis. He sucks trying to develop even some of the best talent in the Country.

      Why talk about what works…….I leave that for Sunshine Pumpers. I look for what’s broke and needs fixed. Linebackers and offensive line are awful and all the glowing positives concerning other positions who are looking good won’t fix the linebackers especially OR the patchwork offensive line. Heck, even I gave praise to the only offensive lineman who showed up yesterday. Brady Taylor. Other than 2 instances of flashes by Baron Browning, the linebackers could have stayed home and they wouldn’t have been missed.

      1. For the record, Spielman, Hawk and Laurinaitis would never have allowed their level of play to be little school back-up level. Those guys and many others showed up and went to work every day. Wake me when the 2018 linebackers finally arrive this year

      2. James you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. The OL does NOT stink, it’s a very good unit as Urban has said. And Schiano isn’t spending anymore time with Bill Davis than any other position, again he’s already eluded to that. Unless you have special access to all the practices inside the WHAC, please stop blindly assuming.

        1. LOL…….The Oline is awful. I don’t care what the CEO says, depth does NOT equal good or even mediocre. I see why my eyes without the necessity of Scarlet colored blinders. Try taking them off and actually at least make a tiny bit of effort to watch rather than swallow nonsensical bait spit out.

          Greg Schiano has spent the majority of his “roaming” with the linebackers. Every single person in the Country knew before the season was half way complete last year that Davis was a wash even more bleached than Withers. Sciano has spent MUCH more time trying to get the linebackers up to speed and playing like Buckeye linebackers.

          You don’t have the slightest idea what I have or don’t have, so perhaps YOU should stop ASSuming. Again remove the Scarlet glasses, I don’t speak apologist for obvious nonsense.

  3. I’ve been conducting that Burrow Train and I’m staying on.

    1. Yep you have. Looked like he earned it yesterday. Now we just have to wait for the CEO to make the decision.

  4. the 11th thing we learned from yesterday, at least at this point. Offensive tackle play is awful. Had the defense been allowed to have their game face on the offense would have seriously had the crap kicked out of them. Granted they were missing a couple of key players, they remained the second biggest problem on the team next to linebackers. If they don’t fix the linebackers it’s even more essential for the offensive line to become a strength rather than roadkill.

    1. It was first string DE’s going up against 2nd and 3rd string tackles. What do you expect? You’re looking way too much into it.

      1. I’d advise that you rewatch the game. Prince and Mumford squared off against 1 one and the rest of the DE cast. The rotations changed as the scrimmage went on, but no matter who was in the game for the offensive line…….except Brady Taylor, gotr their asses handed to them. I don’t think you even looked at the game.

        1. Fortunately, there aren’t many DLs like OSU’s on their schedule.

          1. Of course, but, if they want to win titles they’ll be facing some late in the season and/or the playoffs. They’ve got time to get better I got really concerned last year after watching Jerome Baker and Chris Worley reduced to position dwellers rather than. It’s inexcusable that Baker wasn’t 1st team All Big 10. I’ll just leave it at, Jerome made the right decision to forego his senior year. Luke Fickell is missed in a huge way.

  5. Linebacker to me going into the scrimmage was of vital interest. Other than Baron Browning flashing a couple plays the linebackers were terrible.Depth was wrong when they were in coverage and a complete inability to prevent crossing routes underneath. Unless of course we factor it a credit to them when the receiver can’t catch passes that hit them in the hands. If linebackers don’t get better the offense is going to have to score an awful lot of points to escape the season with only 3 or 4 losses.

    It may be a position of “DEPTH” but it’s not a position of quality from bottom to top. Every single linebacker yesterday looked like players who should be competing for back-up roles, not starting.

  6. I wonder is it was a mistake to give Tate an equal number of touches during practices. It was very unlikely that he was going to overtake Haskins or Burrow, and there might have been more evidence for the coaches trying to make this decision. Tate may be the future at OSU (operative word being “may”), but we need a QB now.

    1. If they are truly running an open competition for the job, yeah, I personally believe reps should be equally distributed. But that should have ended with the final gun at the Spring game. Tate has some really good skills for the RPO, really similar to JT. Great runner, not so good in the passing game……….yet. As the pocket shrinks, and they shrink a lot faster than in HS, but a group of usually long (Sorry BiBi) linemen across the board, and linebackers who are just as big and long as the defensive fronts he faced in HS, so his LOS is reduced and his release point is going to have to be adjusted. But you can see he has a slippery ability once he pulls the ball down to run. IMHO I think the CEO should get him on the field a lot, especially against opponents who have been wasted by the starters. He’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. He’ll be like Frodo Baggins dodging in and out between the Orcs!

  7. Agreed that one Spring Game does not an [anything] make. You likely have seen more and know more than I about it. Query however, what does it matter if you sling it farther or faster if no one catches it?

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