“Almost everything that is great has been done by youth…” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
For the past couple months, beginning in February, every Friday at 8am EST has begun with this quote on this site. I have written about what I perceived concerns about various position groups, and it culminated in a glorious 2016 Ohio State Spring Game on April 16th in Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer must be pleased with one crucial area as it relates to spring football – the Buckeyes left the spring game with no injuries that could impact the 2016 season. Fifth-year senior running back Bri’onte Dunn did not play in the spring game with a sprained ankle, but will be back in the mix for the starting running back spot for fall camp.
Showing my age, I can vividly recall Ohio State spring game performances that were tremendous, yet did not translate into fall game production. It is important to keep things in proper perspective. With those caveats in mind, below are three distinct impressions that were made upon me as I sat in D Deck of Ohio Stadium…
1. The 2016 Ohio State Defensive Line Will Rotate Frequently ~ Yes, Ohio State was playing as many offensive and defensive linemen as possible in the spring game. It was challenging for either the Gray’s or Scarlet’s offensive lines to protect Joe Burrow or Stephen Collier whenever either was playing quarterback. With all of that on the table, the defensive linemen who have been waiting in the wings used the spring game as an opportunity to show what they could do if given the opportunity. For example, I don’t want to call him a sleeper, but Jashon Cornell, a moved defensive end to defensive tackle, seemed to emerge during the spring game.
On a somber note, Donovan Munger’s Ohio State career has come to an end, due to health concerns. Best of luck to Munger in all of his future endeavors, and many thanks for all of his contributions to Ohio State football…
Donovan Munger's football career at Ohio State over because of blood clots. Wrote about his battle with them in '14 https://t.co/TCEDgWZURN
— Doug Lesmerises (@DougLesmerises) April 20, 2016
For the first time since Coach Meyer came to Columbus in 2012, Ohio State has so many defensive linemen that will allow Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson to continually refresh players who will be able to harass the opposition’s quarterback. Think about this – Nick Bosa is not yet on campus, and Coach Meyer has stated Bosa will play in 2016.
2. Do Not Sweat J.T. Barrett’s 2016 Spring Game Performance ~ J.T. Barrett had an uneven day during the spring game, but there were several extenuating circumstances that impacted his performance. First of all, Barrett wore a black jersey that did not allow him to scramble or face contact. As stated up above, the offensive line was more of a ragtag collection, with projected starters Pat Elflein and Billy Price being withheld from competition. And projected starters Noah Brown and Corey Smith did not play this spring as both are still recuperating from their respective 2015 injuries.
Did Barrett make some throws in the 2016 spring game that were puzzling? Absolutely. Do I believe Barrett would have made those same throws in actual game competition? Absolutely not. Look at Barrett’s spring game as someone who was dealt some specific restrictions, and was testing the boundaries of what was possible, with a mandate to avoid injury at all costs. Look for Barrett to come out impressively against BGSU on September 3rd looking more like his typical self.
3. The 2016 Team Will Continue To Improve Every Week ~ It bears repeating, but with so many young players, the competition for playing time will be fierce and continuous all year long. Will inexperience sometimes be frustrating, especially in the secondary? Without question. The game at Oklahoma in week three will be must-watch TV for not just Ohio State and Oklahoma fans, but the nation –
@jbook37 Youth & inexperience. Wk 3 at OK looms large. By season's end, this team will be fearsome with speed & aggressiveness.
— Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich) April 20, 2016
Don’t take my word for it; go back and listen to the podcast link that included Clair Crawford. Read my man Tony Gerdeman’s thoughts on Ohio State following the spring game. Remember that I wrote this in April – this is going to be a team that will be feared by the end of the 2016 season.
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) April 18, 2016