With not-ready-for-prime-time players in the offensive line most of the day, and some sprinkled into the skill positions on both sides of the ball, the annual Ohio State spring game - won 17-14 by the Gray - was a disjointed exhibition as expected.
With not-ready-for-prime-time players in the offensive line most of the day, and some sprinkled into the skill positions on both sides of the ball, the annual Ohio State spring game - won 17-14 by the Gray - was a disjointed exhibition as expected. Even coach Urban Meyer said "we did not improve as a team," and by that he meant there was a lot of haphazard execution. Stephen Collier, the forgotten man in the quarterback derby, threw two touchdown passes. But Cardale Jones, the celebrated star of the postseason roll to the national title, and the only one of the "magnificent three" who took part yesterday, did lead the Gray to the winning TD, a 37-yard pass to Corey Smith, with whom he had hooked up on a 58-yard TD pass just before halftime. So there was at least some excitement.
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Lot of watchers
Not only did the event draw what the school said was a national-record spring game crowd of 99,391, the fans weren't the only ones spectating most of the day. The members of what Meyer calls the "2,000 club," players such as left offensive tackle Taylor Decker, right guard Pat Elflein, defensive end Joey Bosa and others who have seen 2,000 or more reps the past couple of years, got much of the spring off, including most of yesterday's game. But Meyer liked the improvement of several individuals over the course of the past weeks, such as left guard Billy Price, right offensive tackle Chase Farris, running back Bri'onte Dunn, receiver Noah Brown, cornerback Gareon Conley, defensive ends Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard and defensive tackle Tommy Schutt. Price was a starter last year, Meyer said Farris has earned that right for this year, and that the others have earned extensive action, perhaps even starting status, in the fall.
>> Photos: Ohio State spring game
How's this for spectacular?
Two of the more interesting moments of the warm, sunny afternoon came at halftime. Braxton Miller isn't cleared to throw freely yet as he rehabs from shoulder surgery, but the "magnificent three" member did take part in the 50-yard dash student competition along with running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is rehabbing from wrist surgery. Elliott edged Miller at the goal line for the win, easing up a little in Usain Bolt fashion the last 5?yards. In the QB skills showdown, Jones faced off with J.T. Barrett, the other "magnificent three" member who is recovering from a broken ankle, and 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith. It dissolved into a long-pass shootout: Jones threw it 74 yards, besting Smith (68) and Barrett (59).
>> Scarlet vs. Gray spring game stats, via Ohio State (.pdf format)
How about those Smiths?
Corey Smith, overlooked by the media much of the spring while Meyer and his staff sought newcomers to step up in a receiving corps that lost Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, was the statistical star. Sophomore safety Erick Smith had two interceptions. The Scarlet's Warren Ball had 33 yards on nine carries to lead the rushers, and while Dunn had just three totes for the Gray, he proved proficient in blocking, both on pass protection and downfield at times, an area that helped him garner positive feedback from the coaches this spring.
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Running back Curtis Samuel's move to hybrid back for the spring sure looked like a work still in progress, in terms of the receiving part for the Gray. But former high-school star running back Parris Campbell, a redshirt freshman working for the Scarlet, seemed eager to prove himself, tying Jeff Greene for the team lead with five catches. One Campbell catch in particular caught Meyer's eye. Meyer challenged him to make a play on a shovel pass from the 3-yard line, and as Meyer said, Campbell caught the ball from Collier, "put his left foot in the ground," cut up and scored what at the time was a go-ahead TD. And early enrollee freshman linebacker Nick Conner from Dublin Scioto was in on the action all day and had a game-leading seven tackles, an interception and forced a fumble.