Reporters were allowed to watch an hour of practice on the first day of Ohio State spring football, and then we spoke with Urban Meyer, Joshua Perry and Taylor Decker. There was not a whole lot to learn, but a few interesting things did pop up….
The issue of motivation becomes a cliched one, but Meyer and both players had some interesting things to say about the topic.
Well, Meyer actually said he’s not worried about it right now, which came as a surprise because I was under the impression he is ALWAYS worried about motivation and other various psychological issues surrounding his team. The coach said right now he just wants everyone in the mood to work hard, but I guess I would think that’s a matter of motivation, too.
Then I have to admit Perry and Decker both made fairly strong cases about how the Buckeyes — you know, the defending national champions who return 14 starters, including a whole bunch of guys who were really young and figure only to get better as more members of their recruiting classes move into starting roles — could actually be doubted.
I am going around the league recapping spring football around the Big Ten for BuckeyeSports.com.
While we’re still rolling out the reviews from the new West, the East is complete.
The race for the first East division crown figures to be interesting as Michigan looks to pick up the pieces from a lost season, Michigan State tries to maintain its defensive strength while growing on offense and Penn State adjusts to another coaching change and the continued effects of scholarship reductions.
Evaluating the offense the same way as the defense is hardly fair considering all of the injuries that beset the Ohio State scoring unit, but there were some lessons to take away from the spring nonetheless.
For one thing, the depth the Buckeyes were thought to have at running back is real. Ezekiel Elliott showed he brings a very enticing package of size and skill to the position. A smooth runner, he seems like the perfect back for this offense. I like the way Warren Ball keeps his feet moving and slides through holes, and Bri’onte Dunn leaves no doubt the physical ability is there if he can bring consistency to the table. Ditto Rod Smith, who could be the best of all of them but can’t seem to keep himself on track.
Then of course there is Curtis Samuel. Even with the unprecedented success of Carlos Hyde last season as a power back, Urban Meyer does get enamored with little guys who can go, doesn’t he? Samuel runs strong for his size, but speed and agility are the name of the game for him. It will be interesting to see if they carve out a role for him this fall.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman mentioned at one point the staff has come to like having a power back, which was new for Meyer’s offense since it was developed at his previous coaching stops, so you can bet they want to maintain that facet, but it’s alway nice to have options. Continue reading Ohio State spring football reactions: Offense→
So what to make of spring football at Ohio State for 2014? Is it possible to come away feeling good about the defense without also questioning the offense? I’m going to start off by saying yes, but I can’t promise not to change my mind.
The OSU secondary appears to have taken to the new, more aggressive approach brought by co-coordinator Chris Ash. Of course, we had not really gotten to see Gareon Conley or Eli Apple in action much before this spring, but veterans Doran Grant and Armani Reeves seemed to thrive in the new attack as well. All of them certainly seemed comfortable, even from the first day reporters were allowed to watch practice. They got right in the faces of the OSU receivers in position drills, seven-on-seven and scrimmaging. We saw a fair amount of coverage busts — especially involving the tight ends deep — on that first day, but those appeared to dissipate as the spring went on. Continue reading Ohio State spring football reactions: Defense→