Walking up to Ohio Stadium on Saturday for the Ohio State spring football game, fans no doubt will see some tailgaters flinging a football back and forth, getting into the spirit of the day. But that's not football. Far from it. Real football is big fellas up front wrestling for position; determined linebackers coming up the middle or around the edge; defensive ends suddenly dropping into coverage but a blitzer taking their spot in the pass rush.

Walking up to Ohio Stadium on Saturday for the Ohio State spring football game, fans no doubt will see some tailgaters flinging a football back and forth, getting into the spirit of the day.

But that's not football. Far from it.

Real football is big fellas up front wrestling for position; determined linebackers coming up the middle or around the edge; defensive ends suddenly dropping into coverage but a blitzer taking their spot in the pass rush.

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Real football is chaos, especially from the quarterback's perspective. That's the point coach Urban Meyer said he wanted to get across to former Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, a curious visitor to a practice a couple of years ago.

"I said, 'Stand right here and watch what's happening,' " Meyer recalled of putting Richards behind the quarterback in a live scrimmage. "You've got two seconds and, by the way, where did you throw the ball? That's a very unique position."

As Ohio State wraps up spring practice, the coaches already know starting quarterback J.T. Barrett can handle such pressure. But Joe Burrow and Stephen Collier have been competing for the backup role - Burrow redshirted as a freshman last season, and Collier redshirted in 2014 and appeared briefly in one game in 2015, against Hawaii.

Coaches have allowed the defense to attack in all-out scrimmaging. It is the only way to test a quarterback's mettle, with today's game the last such chance until preseason camp.

The checklist for the video review already is in place, quarterbacks coach Tim Beck said.

"Poise, composure, getting himself back up - could he handle that? Is he going to be able to come back and make the next throw?" Beck said. "That's because, listen, anybody can play quarterback when it's sunny and 70, and it's seven on seven. Boy, even I look good doing seven on seven.

"But what happens when guys are hitting you, and the pass rush is coming. … It looks like dragsters coming at you. How do you handle all that?"

Such acumen is why Burrow has emerged as the leader in the competition.

"Joe has done a nice job with it, the same with J.T.," Beck said. "We can't get that enough, because that's real."

It hasn't been easy to watch, though, as the coaches also seek three new starters on the offensive line and new leaders at receiver. The latter was a search made more difficult by four top receiver candidates not being available as they recover from various surgeries.

Chaos often has reigned.

"The main thing is, control what you can control," said Barrett, expected to see only limited playing time. "That's something coach Beck helps us with. We know we've got young guys" on the line and at receiver, "and those are, I guess, excuses you want to make for yourself, but that's not the point of it.

"The point is trying to get better as a quarterback … so just focus on what you need to do."

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports