COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two of the 15 spring practices are completed for the Ohio State football team and directly ahead is a week off as students and athletes depart for spring break activities, festivities or down time during the week of March 12. The Buckeyes will return to the football practice field Monday, March 19, and then continue a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule of practices through the spring game, set for April 14 at 1:45 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.
Some key notes about what we have learned about this team after just two practices:
- The QBs: Coach Urban Meyer likes his quarterbacks, thinks “we’ll be fine” at the position but can’t say at this point who he expects the No. 1 signal caller will be among the trio of junior Joe Burrow, sophomore Dwayne Haskins and freshman Tate Martell.
- Center is a key concern: Meyer is concerned about the center position, where a near-handful of players will be vying for the critical spot. Ohio State has produced the top two centers in the nation over the past two years with Pat Elflein winning consensus All-American honors and being named the Rimington Trophy winner in 2016 and Billy Price achieving the same in 2017.
- D-line update: “It’s still really early and we haven’t put the pads on yet, but we’re fast, we’re athletic, we’re young, we’re agile, we go hard, we’re tough.” – Robert “BB” Landers, junior DT
- Au contraire: Dante Booker is a Buckeye. Meyer confirmed he’s had two shoulder surgeries since the season ended and that, contrary to a recent report, his focus is on his rehabilitation and being an “Ohio State Buckeye.”
- Speaking of shoulders: Three additional key players will not take part in spring football drills this year and will instead focus on rehab of shoulder issues: two-year starting guard Michael Jordan; the leading receiver in 2017, K.J. Hill; and Jeffrey Okudah, who will compete for a starting cornerback position in the fall after playing in all 14 games last year.
- Walk – or run – like a man: Meyer likes that both of Ohio State’s 1,000-yard rushers, J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, are acting like they are the No. 1 man at the position. “It’s a coach’s dream to have two people with that quality swinging,” Meyer said. And then he added Antonio Williams into the mix: “Antonio walks around like he wants to be the tailback.” He said this is a “perfect scenario.”
Inside the Defensive Line and Wide Receiver Units
Goodness gracious was Thursday ever a good day to be covering the Buckeyes as eight members of the receiving corps – Parris Campbell, Johnny Dixon, Terry McLaurin, K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, Binjimin Victor, Demario McCall and C.J. Saunders – all met with the media and six defensive linemen were available as well: Nick Bosa, Jonathan Cooper, Robert Landers, Davon Hamilton, Jashon Cornell and Chase Young. Here’s some good stuff on the two groups:
- The returning receivers combined for 44 of the team’s 50 receptions of 20-or-more yards in 2017. McLaurin and Dixon lead the way with eight apiece while Campbell and Hill had seven each and Mack had five.
- The 136 pass plays over 10 yards last season was the most for an Urban Meyer-coached Ohio State team.
- Include Jaylen Harris’ stats (two receptions for 35 yards) and Ohio State’s returns a receiver corps that combined for 209 receptions for 2,931 yards and 30 touchdowns.
- All seven receivers who lettered last year return; and led by Campbell’s 26 starts and McLaurin’s 18, this receivers group has a combined 61 starts.
- First-team All-American Nick Bosa leads this unit. He was named the Big Ten Conference’s Smith-Brown defensive lineman of the year last year, the fourth consecutive Buckeye to earn the honor after brother Joey Bosa won it in 2014 and 2015 and Tyquan Lewis won it in 2016. All have been coached by Larry Johnson.
- Ohio State led the nation last year – actually, was tied with two others – in tackles for loss with 114, just three off the school record of 117 set in 2000. The Buckeyes did lead the nation in TFL yardage, totaling 479 yards.
- Ohio State’s defensive linemen contributed 73.5 of the team’s 114 TFLs, but even after losing totals from guys like Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard, Ohio State’s returning defensive linemen still had a significant amount of the team’s TFLs in 2017: 43 (for minus 178 yards in losses).
- With Jashon Cornell moving to defensive end, Ohio State has an even split of eight returning lettermen, four at end and four at tackle. The ends: Bosa, Jonathan Cooper, Chase Young and Cornell; the tackles: Dre’Mont Jones, Robert Landers, Davon Hamilton and Haskell Garrett.