Tag Archives: Kenny Guiton

Overheard at Ohio State: Urban Meyer’s Spring Preview Presser

The new Ohio State head coach said his first offseason in Columbus was a positive one, and much of that is a credit to the new strength and conditioning staff he brought in led by Mickey Marotti.

He was very concerned about the body types of the offensive linemen when he arrived, but he likes what he is seeing in them now.

Speaking of the team as a whole, he’s got a good idea of who wants to go to battle now after a competitive winter in the weight room.

Monday they will have a champions dinner in which the players who have done things the way he wants them to will be treated very well and the rest will have to make due with lesser food and treatment. That will let guys know where they stand.

They will practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays during spring football, and Wednesdays and Saturdays will be competition days. Someone will leave the field a winner and someone else a loser on those days. There will be rewards, like Gatorade, for the winners and extra work for the losers. The losers might have to drink out of hose or something like that.

Everything in the program is incentive based now. It’s a tough world out there, and they need to learn to deal with it. High achievers have better things than those who don’t work hard or compete enough in the real world, and that is reflected in the program.

He doesn’t want guys to wait until training camp to try to win a job. Those will be decided in spring. They will come out of spring ball with a depth chart established. Beginning in August, everything is about trying to win games. There could be changes, but he wants things pretty set.

He has developed a good feel for the personalities of the players in the program now, but he is still unsure of what they can do as football players until he sees them on the field. That will come. He enjoys going in the weight room and seeing guys compete when they are doing wall-sits, tug-of-war or whatever drills the coaches have created for them. That tells him who are the fighters.

The team is about where he expected it to be entering spring practice. It is full of good, tough kids, many of them from Ohio. They like to train, and they have showed toughness and a blue-collar, Ohio way of doing things.

They don’t have a depth chart at this time, but the first guys to take the field will probably be older guys. Those who show the best competitive nature will be starters. Guys like John Simon.

Meyer wants to see a distaste for losing. Those who don’t have that won’t play.

Reid Fragel has made a big turnaround in the class room, a result of a talk Meyer had with him when he got here. He thought the tight end, who has moved to tackle, was lazy with his academics, but that is no longer the case. He’s proud of the progress he’s already shown. Meyer challenged Fragel directly and the player responded.

Also moving to offensive line is Darryl Baldwin, a former defensive lineman. That came at the suggestion of defensive coordinator Luke Fickell. Apparently it was discussed last year but Baldwin was not real keen on the idea, but it is the best way he can help the team this year.

Meyer hopes there will be no more roster attrition. He generally thinks guys look back on their choices to leave and regret them.

He identified quarterback Kenny Guiton as having a good offseason. Meyer was not a big fan of him early on because he didn’t act like a quarterback, but that is no longer the case.

Quarterback Braxton Miller is a really good kid who wants to do well. The offseason was nothing but positive for him.

Meyer has enjoyed working with his new staff so far. They are making good progress getting things installed. The No. 1 thing he wants to make sure he sees happen is the staff members utilizing all their skills and abilities.

He does not see the players as having had to take time to get over the trauma of 2011 when they lost their head coach, endured NCAA scrutiny and penalties and lost seven games. Young kids generally just move on. There were no group hugs to work on that, just a matter of getting to work for next year.

New cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs brings energy and a love for the state of Ohio to the coaching staff. He fits the mold of what Meyer was looking for in building his staff in the first place.

Meyer was not a big fan of Bri’onte Dunn early in his recruitment because of his looking around at other schools, but he changed his mind after meeting the running back’s family. Then he decided that was a kid he wanted to have.

He mentioned Dunn and junior-to-be defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins as two of the best workers during the offseason.

Asked what he is looking for during spring ball, he said he needs to see some offensive skill players step up. Who will carry the ball? he asked. Jordan Hall has had a decent career but not one Meyer would call great. He followed that with a very good offseason. Fellow running backs Rod Smith and Carlos Hyde have come light years since the start of the year. Meyer was not real fond of where they were when he arrived.

As for the wide receivers, Devin Smith had a positive finish to the winter weight program and Philly Brown has probably been the best competitor of the group. He works hard and is a sponge soaking up what they have to teach him. He also praised Evan Spencer and Chris Fields while saying tight end Jake Stoneburner is impressive because he runs like a wide receiver.

He sees a lot of momentum from the running backs group, and that is a big deal. Momentum is always a big deal in games, especially on the road, and it is something he looks for in everything as the builds the team. They need to build positive momentum or change what they are doing.

Meyer has felt no resistance to the changes he is bringing after 10 years under Jim Tressel and his former staff under interim head coach Luke Fickell last year. That goes for the coaches who stayed and the players. Meyer respects the way things were done before but has his own way. Some of the new things, such as the tempo at which they work, has been a culture shock but it’s working out.

Fickell has been fantastic in his move back to an assistant, and Meyer sees him as a future head coach. He is handling the defense with newcomer Everett Withers.

Ohio State Football Post-Spring Review: The Quarterbacks

For one reason or another, it seems reasonable to conclude Jim Tressel took longer looks at young quarterbacks Taylor Graham and Braxton Miller this spring because he already knows plenty about veterans Joe Bauserman and Kenny Guiton.

Only Tressel knows for sure if that is good news or bad news for Bauserman and Guiton, but I’m leaning toward the latter.

They might know more of the plays, but that won’t take them very far if they can’t execute them at a higher rate than the guys who are still learning, and that’s what I saw during the three spring scrimmages and a couple of open practices.

They weren’t so much bad as I don’t think they set the bar very high, a big negative considering both of the young guys most likely have more overall talent than the two older ones.

Graham and Miller both have strong arms with the edge in velocity probably going to Miller. Both have some inconsistencies in their delivery, and I have to think that’s a much bigger negative for Graham than Miller because Graham doesn’t bring anything else to the table.

Graham was sacked five times Saturday and is the one of the four who can’t keep plays alive with his feet. I think that will hurt him a lot when Tressel makes a decision about who will start. Bauserman and Guiton can avoid rushers and will pick up the occasional first down on a scramble while Miller can do those things but also has the same ability to take one to the house as Terrelle Pryor.

Tressel seems to view that attribute with increasing importance from year to year, but the most important thing he looks for is the guy who knows what to do with the ball most often. And the No. 1 thing his quarterbacks must avoid is putting the ball up for grabs.

Despite their experience, neither Bauserman or Guiton stand out in that area, and that’s why the door is so wide open for Graham and Miller.

None of the four are ready to be the focal point of an offense. Tressel will not do much searching for small chunks of yardage through the air, as he did in the latter part of Troy Smith’s career and at times last season as Pryor matured.

If you can’t form a unit that will regularly march down the field in 3-6 yard bursts, you need one capable of breaking off at least a half dozen big plays per game. Both is ideal, of course, but you must decide which one you want to be if that’s not an option.

I believe if the mental side of things is close to equal, Tressel will go with the player most likely to do something great when the chips are down. That’s what worked most of the time during Pryor’s freshman year. The 2008 offensive line wasn’t very good and Pryor could not consistently execute short throws, so basically all of the team’s success consisted of Pryor or Beanie Wells breaking three tackles and outrunning everyone or Pryor hitting Brian Hartline or Brian Robiskie with deep balls against one-on-one coverage when the defense was worried about Wells. There was no in between, and that was by necessity.

This year the offensive line should be much better, enough to offset the difference between Wells’ considerable talent and that of the backs on hand (although there is a lot to like there) and create more opportunities for big plays down the field (I’m not sure if the receivers this year have proven they will catch the ball enough to make a controlled passing game go, either, but I am certain they have a few guys who can take the top off of the defense).

Fans get frustrated when teams spin their wheels, but the fact is you don’t have to win every play. You just can’t lose too many plays. If you have a good defense, a stalemate is OK for your offense as long as you’re not giving up the ball or giving up ground.

Being able to overpower everyone in your path is preferable, and Tressel had offenses that could do that in 2006 and 2010, but he is completely comfortable playing the counter-punching style we saw more often during his first decade on the sidelines in Columbus.

If you’re going to play rope-a-dope, having one-punch knockout power is essential because you never know how many opportunities you’re going to get to put points on the board.

So how do we interpret the results of the battle between the younger pair?

Teammates say Graham has a lot of football smarts, but is that enough to overcome his deficiencies? I’d say no as long as Miller can reach some undefined baseline of knowledge himself, and he appeared to make positive strides in that department this month.

In poker terms, Miller has the most outs on any given play. He’s most capable of getting the ball to more places on the field, whether that’s with the velocity to nail a throw from one hashmark to the opposite sideline or the fleetness of foot to leave a linebacker grasping for air when he has him dead to rights.

I look for that to be the ultimate difference.