Tuesday, April 19, 2011

OSU spring game has many subplots

Ohio State will hold its annual spring football game on Saturday in Columbus.

The game will not be played as a customary game, primarily because Ohio State only has 10 offensive linemen participating in spring drills. Therefore, the game will be run like a jersey scrimmage - with the offense playing against the defense in pre-determined situational instances.

Even though the spring game isn't actually a spring game, there will be plenty of things to keep an eye on as the Buckeyes wind down their spring regimen and break until camp opens in early August. Such as:

- How have the four quarterbacks in camp progressed?

Joe Bauserman, Kenny Guiton, Taylor Graham and Braxton Miller - someone in that group is going to start the first five games of the season while Terrelle Pryor serves his five-game suspension.

Under the normal spring game format, two of these players would be on one team and two would be on the other. There would be plenty of opportunities to stand out.

But with all four being on the same team on Saturday, opportunities will be more limited. Between that and a weather forecast that is calling for rain and wind, playing well might be a problem on Saturday.

Whoever DOES play well could have the upper hand when fall camp opens.

- Will any receiver shine?

The elements might play a major role in the passing game. But so what? It's Ohio. This is the kind of weather - if not worse - the Buckeyes can expect to see during the season in the midwest.

That being said, reports from earlier scrimmages this month suggest the receivers - outside of DeVier Posey - haven't been all that spectacular. And Posey will be sidelined along with Pryor for the first five games of the season.

The last scrimmage featured drops and deflected passes that were intercepted.

I've heard that Harvey product Chris Fields has looked pretty good this spring, and that Corey "Philly" Brown has been up and down. Posey will play in the scrimmage on Saturday, but it would be nice for the Buckeyes to see someone else show that they can be a threat.

- How dominating are linebackers Andrew Sweat and Etienne Sabino?

Early reports are, "pretty darn dominating." They are both big, physical and quick. That's a good combination.

- Who will run the ball?

Plays will be scripted, in all likelihood, so getting Dan Herron, Jamaal Berry, Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith and Jordan Hall ample work is expected. But similar to the quarterback position, having them all on the same team and not divided onto two teams will limit things somewhat.

Smith and Berry have shined the brightest so far. The wet and slick conditions on Saturday could hurt the passing game and benefit the running game.

- Who is going to show up?

The spring game generally draws more than 90,000 fans to Ohio Stadium. The miserable playing conditions, the jersey scrimmage format and playing on Easter weekend might severely cut into the crowd.

- John Kampf


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