Minnich’s Thoughts On The 2015 Ohio State Spring Game: Offense

Before discussing the spring game, huge compliments to Buckeye Nation for showing up strong, setting a national attendance record with 99, 391 filling Ohio Stadium. I am happy that my wife, three children, and I could help in that tally.

Anyone anticipating truly informative or revealing plays, formations, or schemes in a spring game are bound to be disappointed. The primary goal of any spring game, no matter what college program we are discussing, is to finish the game with no injuries. Save for sophomore defensive end Jalyn Holmes, who seemed shaken up but walked off the field under his own power, no Buckeyes were injured during the game. I do not believe Holmes’ injury was even discussed by Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer or reported by any of the customary Ohio State beat reporters, so it must not have been a serious injury, which is a great thing.

Below are some brief points on various offensive players who played in the spring game. A few of the names are going to be familiar with Buckeye fans, but many are newer players who are rising up the ranks of the depth chart…

Offense

Wide Receivers: Corey Smith, Noah Brown, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, and Jalin Marshall all had their moments. Corey Smith was a targeted deep threat for Cardale Jones throughout the game, and may have emerged as the replacement for Devin Smith. Noah Brown has lost weight from his freshman season, and was mentioned by Coach Meyer as being a probable starter in the lineup. Brown had an impressive one-handed grab from Cardale Jones in the first half. Parris Campbell scored a touchdown from the H-Back position for his designated Scarlet team, and was cited by Coach Meyer as having had an impressive spring. Terry McLaurin was targeted repeatedly on deep passes and scored a touchdown to end the first half for the Scarlet team. Jalin Marshall will expand his role beyond his H-Back position this fall as a wide receiver, but may keep his role as the primary punt returner – it was somewhat disconcerting to see Marshall bobble a punt that resulted in a fumble. Hopefully, Marshall can get that area of his game to be more consistent.

Running Backs: The running game was not much of factor, as the passing game was strongly emphasized. With Ezekiel Elliott sitting out the spring due to his surgery on his wrist, Bri’onte Dunn demonstrated a capability to spell Elliott if needed this fall. Curtis Samuel had a drop of a pass thrown by Cardale Jones in the first half, but also demonstrated his elusiveness on an impressive spin move. Samuel also had a fair catch for a punt later in the game; could Samuel possibly be a factor in the punt return game? Warren Ball will always provide maximum effort, but could incoming freshman Mike Weber surge past Ball on the depth chart during fall camp?

Quarterbacks: J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller were excluded from actual participation in the spring game, but impressed in different ways. Barrett competed in the halftime quarterback accuracy, winning versus former Buckeye Troy Smith and Cardale Jones. Miller competed against Elliott in the fastest student race, and possibly won. If Miller cannot play quarterback due to his shoulder issues, rest assured that Coach Meyer will figure out a way to involve Miller within the Ohio State offense this fall; Miller’s speed is too much to ignore and keep off the field. Cardale Jones was somewhat inconsistent, but Jones’ arm strength dazzled many with deep passes to Corey Smith. Jones easily won the halftime arm strength contest against Troy Smith and Barrett, throwing a pass 74 yards. Without Michael Thomas in the spring game, how much did that impact Jones on shorter or intermediate routes? Stephen Collier had some struggles playing behind a makeshift offensive line, and may only serve as a backup throughout his career at Ohio State, but I would remind people that Cardale Jones did not play at all in the 2012 spring game, and look at how well Jones has blossomed over the past few seasons. In other words, do not jump to conclusions about Stephen Collier just yet. Be patient.

If you are curious as to whether Cardale Jones has locked down the starting position after the spring game, I will say no. J.T. Barrett has the edge in accuracy, while Cardale Jones has the size and arm strength that opens up the offense for the deep throws that crushed Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon last season. My early guess, and I want to emphasize the words “early” and “guess”, is J.T. Barrett will win the job in fall camp, but Cardale Jones will play a lot. As for Braxton Miller, I am holding off judgment, as Miller’s shoulder has everyone associated with the program holding their breath. As with Stephen Collier, I stress patience on figuring out who the starting quarterback will be this season. I certainly do not envy Coach Meyer or the coaching staff with this challenging decision.

My offensive player of the spring game? Corey Smith, with 6 receptions for 174 yards and two long touchdowns (58 yards, 37 yards).

Part two will focus on the defensive players who impressed in the 2015 Ohio State spring game…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: