Spring games usually are pretty forgettable affairs, but Saturday's Ohio State intrasquad scrimmage might be different. With more than 100,000 fans expected, Ohio State is likely to break the national record it set last year. But what happens on the field will also matter. With 16 starters departed, much of the depth chart is unsettled.
Spring games usually are pretty forgettable affairs, but Saturday's Ohio State intrasquad scrimmage might be different.
With more than 100,000 fans expected, Ohio State is likely to break the national record it set last year. But what happens on the field will also matter. With 16 starters departed, much of the depth chart is unsettled.
"The value this year is greater than probably (ever before) in our four years here, to see how our young players perform," coach Urban Meyer said. "There's nothing like performing in front of 100,000 people and for me to watch that."
Here's a primer on what to watch:
Who can make their case for the two open spots on the offensive line?
Junior left tackle Jamarco Jones has earned a spot alongside returning starters Pat Elflein (center) and Billy Price (guard), Meyer said. Isaiah Prince has been with the first team at right tackle, but Meyer said, "I need to see a good day" from him. With junior-college transfer Malcolm Pridgeon arriving in June, it would behoove Prince to play well.
The open guard spot remains up for grabs among Michael Jordan, Matthew Burrell and Demetrius Knox, Meyer said.
Will the young receivers emerge?
Spring-game breakthroughs have tended to be fool's gold for Buckeyes receivers in the past, but that doesn't mean a lasting impression today won't matter. Meyer has been pleased with the performance of Austin Mack, James Clark, Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin. This also is a chance for Torrance Gibson and Johnnie Dixon to make their move.
Is Joe Burrow ready to be the backup to J.T. Barrett?
Barrett will wear a no-contact jersey, but redshirt freshman Burrow and third-year sophomore Stephen Collier will face real heat. Burrow has taken the upper hand in their competition. Burrow showed resilience in the Student Appreciation Day practice when he was relentlessly hammered by pass-rushers.
What about the secondary?
Cornerback Gareon Conley is the only returning starter. A large group is competing for spots at cornerback and/or safety. If healthy, Cam Burrows (foot) and Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) are top candidates. Youngsters Damon Arnette, Damon Webb, Denzel Ward and Malik Hooker also are battling for spots, Meyer said.
Can Dre'Mont Jones and Jashon Cornell continue their push at defensive tackle?
Coaches have consistently praised the development of Jones, and Cornell also is making a splash after moving from end. Michael Hill and Tracy Sprinkle have (slightly) more experience, but Jones and Cornell probably are more talented. That's a position where depth is essential.
Who grabs an edge at running back?
Meyer said that the competition between senior Bri'onte Dunn and redshirt freshman Mike Weber will continue into training camp. The conventional wisdom is that Weber is the long-term answer, but Dunn has impressed coaches with his growth on and off the field.