Practice No. 9: Best session of the spring drills
Senior fullback Zach Boren.
April 11, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Practice No. 9 (of 15) is in the rear view mirror as the Ohio State football team spent just over two hours indoors at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Wednesday. No. 9 will be remembered as the best practice of the spring – it was described as “A-1-A” by Coach Urban Meyer – and the day the offense finally topped the defense in the winner/loser competitions.
“Intensity gets an A. Competitiveness gets an A. Coaching gets an A,” Meyer said to about 45 assembled members of the media afterward. “That was a ‘ball’ practice. The offense won their first scrimmage. They kept winning the third-and-5 plays, but the defense battled back at the end.”
The win for the offense was the first after three defeats in a row to the defensive squad.
Notes from the day
Big, 358-pounder Cris Carter practiced on the defensive line today for the first time. Coach Urban Meyer said they didn’t know if Carter would stay there, but they wanted to get him some reps on defense this spring and now was a time to move him over. … Meyer said Jacoby Boren, who had shoulder surgery earlier this week, had positioned himself at No. 2 on the depth chart at center. He said the hope is for Boren to be back and ready to go by the end of fall camp. … Carlos Hyde, who caught and ran for a long touchdown at the end of a Braxton Miller scramble, had an excellent practice today, according to Meyer. … Coaches moved practices indoor today to get out of the wind and give the passing game a better chance at experiencing success. … Meyer said coaches had hoped to get freshman DT Se’Von Pittman (knee sprain) back by next week but it now seems doubtful.
And a few seasonal notes of interest from the nine practices so far reveal:
- The first-team offensive line has consistently been LT Jack Mewhort, LG Andrew Norwell, C Corey Linsley, RG Marcus Hall and RT Reid Fragel with true freshman Taylor Decker also getting work at RT. Fragel is the only senior of the group.
- Senior John Simon and junior Johnathan Hankins have led a hard-working defensive line that also includes senior Garrett Goebel and sophomore Michael Bennett among the “ones.” Adam Bellamy, J.T. Moore, Steve Miller, Joel Hale and Chase Farris continue to get significant reps at one of the deepest positions on the roster.
- Judging by the number of times Simon gets pulled out of a last part of a scrimmage or drill, his effort and play seem quite unstoppable and unblockable.
“A warhorse; he is Ohio State football,” Meyer said about Simon on the Big Ten teleconference Wednesday. “He is ‘Tebowish’ in terms of his commitment.”
- The pace and tempo of the offensive attack is unlike anything the members of this team have experienced. The offense sets up quickly with quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton taking plays from the sidelines. Frosh Cardale Jones is running No. 3. Grasping this new Ohio State spread offense is taking some time, understandably.
“The area where we are significantly behind is in the throwing game,” Meyer said Wednesday on the Big Ten teleconference. “That’s not just the quarterback, that’s the protection, the guys around him. Our emphasis the next couple of practices is getting Braxton comfortable in our passing game.”
- There are a number of potential playmakers on offense – Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde, Jake Stoneburner, Corey Brown, Chris Fields, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer and Tyrone Williams to name a few – but Meyer wants to see more players step up and make plays.
“Jake Stoneburner and Jordan Hall are the two playmakers on offense,” Meyer said, “but that’s obviously not near enough.”
- Senior Etienne Sabino and sophomores Curtis Grant and Ryan Shazier are spending lots of time together as the No. 1 linebacker unit with Storm Klein seeing action as well.
- There are lots of starts in the secondary – 62 combined – so regardless who is on the field at cornerback – Bradley Roby, Travis Howard or Doran Grant – or safety – C.J. Barnett, Christian Bryant or Orhian Johnson – there is significant experience and savvy.
- The offense started making some noise on Monday, though, with the backs finding more and more running room, so today’s win may not have been that surprising.
“We had a very good day Monday in the perimeter run game, which is going to be a big part of what we do,” Meyer said. “That was the first time I saw that this spring. It was very good.”
Looking ahead: The Buckeyes practice Friday at the WHAC and again Saturday at Ohio Stadium in a special student, faculty and staff appreciation event. All those from those groups, with a valid BuckID, can get into the practice. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. with the practice starting at 10:45. Students can get on the field at 12:45 to mingle with their peers on the football team afterward.
First Big Ten teleconference: Coach Urban Meyer led off the Leaders Division coaches earlier Wednesday, the second day of the Big Ten Spring Teleconference. He was complimentary about a number of players on the team, including John Simon, Braxton Miller, Zach Boren, Jack Mewhort, Johnathan Hankins, C.J. Barnett, Bradley Roby and Jordan Hall. He responded to a variety of topics, including:
Braxton Miller: “I’m very impressed with Braxton; a great worker and great work ethic. … He has competitive spirit.”
His time at Florida: “I’m extremely proud of what our players and coaches accomplished. We were hired to graduate players and we did that – we were top three every year in the SEC in graduation rate and APR. We were hired to win games, and we did that, and follow the rules.”
Zach Boren on the teleconference: Zach Boren, who leads all Buckeyes entering 2012 with 32 career starts, did fine work representing the Buckeyes on the Big Ten teleconference. Speaking via phone to a national audience for the first, but probably not the last time, the fullback who ranks second on the team with 20 career receptions had these thoughts ...
On practice: “It’s a joy going to practice every day.”
About Coach Meyer: “Coach Meyer is a great coach and what he expects from you every day in practice is competitive excellence. It’s fun going out there and competing.”
UM: “We respect them. We always have. It's the greatest rivalry in all of sports.”
The team’s offense: “We see ourselves getting better and better going up against what I think will be one of the outstanding defenses in the nation this year.”
Spring game format
Expect spring game Scarlet and Gray teams to get drafted sometime the middle of next week. A few of the mechanics of the spring game:
- There will be four 10-minute quarters with a 15-minute halftime;
- The play clock will stop during the first and second quarters with a continuously running clock in the second half;
- No kickoffs (all drives at start of halves or after scores will start at the 35);
- All punts will be fair caught; and
- Field goals and extra points will be live with first team FG unit with each team’s kicker.
The Best Damn Band in the Land will perform no less than five times in Ohio Stadium on April 21. It will have a pregame show before the 11 a.m. men’s lacrosse match vs. Air Force; it perform at halftime of the lacrosse game; it will play the national anthem before the football game; it will perform a 10-minute halftime show at the football game; and it will perform post-game after the football game.