breaking news

Springfield police investigating pedestrian strike and reported shooting

Post-spring Buckeyes trending upward


By Tim May

The Columbus Dispatch

Every college football team leaves spring with more work ahead to become all it can be in the fall, but there are signs Ohio State is well ahead of schedule compared with this time a year ago.

Back then, first-year coach Urban Meyer had deep concerns about his receiving corps, the offensive line had been shuffled and he didn’t know who his right tackle was going to be. Curtis Grant was penciled in as the middle linebacker, the secondary was shaky and Braxton Miller was a quarterback long on running ability but raw in the rudiments of the passing game and leadership.

That team proceeded to go 12-0 and finish third in the Associated Press media poll. Although banned from the postseason, the Buckeyes carved a deep niche as just the seventh team in school history to finish undefeated and untied.

Compare that with the group Meyer steered through the entertaining spring game on Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati:

  • Miller, off limits to big hits and thus from running much, stepped up in the blustery conditions and showed the ability to throw all manner of passes — from a game-opening deep one to Evan Spencer, to the touch-lob for a touchdown to Devin Smith and the back-shoulder laser to Corey Brown for another TD. Just for show, Miller also outran the defense to the pylon for a touchdown.
  • Those receivers were also no “clown show,” as Meyer called them a year ago. In fact, he now says Brown has all-Big Ten ability. Senior Chris Fields, almost a forgotten soul last April, now is considered a starter, Meyer said. Smith and Spencer made their mark, and Michael Thomas, though he might have a way to go in terms of consistency, proved during the spring that he can make big catches.
  • Right tackle still is a worry. Last season’s fast-rising winner, Reid Fragel, a converted tight end, is now prepping for the NFL draft. And neither Taylor Decker nor Chase Farris laid claim to the starting spot the past few weeks. But unlike a year ago, the other four starters on the line are back.
  • Grant, shelved as the starter after a couple of games last season, was declared the bona fide starter in the middle by Meyer last week after a strong spring. Weak-side linebacker Ryan Shazier, the team’s leading tackler in 2012, missed most of spring drills recovering from sports hernia surgery, but he is expected to be full-go in August. If the team uses three linebackers — it didn’t do that a lot in the spring — Joshua Perry likely would be the other.
  • With three starters back in the secondary, including all-Big Ten cornerback Bradley Roby, the spring was about finding the other starting corner, a job Doran Grant grabbed, and about building depth. Armani Reeves, Adam Griffin, Eli Apple and Cam Burrows had cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs excited about the future, as does nickel back Tyvis Powell.

Then throw in the fact that Meyer and his assistants are excited about the playmaking potential of the defensive line — even if it will include four newcomers — because ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington and tackle and Centerville High School graduate Michael Bennett have given it an athletic flair. And there is a confidence that running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith, neither of whom played on Saturday, and tight ends Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett match up with any such tandems in the Big Ten. The offense returns nine starters.

The big question is whether the leadership void left by the departure of Zach Boren and company will be filled. But at last check, left tackle Jack Mewhort and center Corey Linsley, safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant and even a once-reluctant Miller are stepping up to that challenge.

Coming out of this spring, the overall trend is upward.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

HS Football: With 13 starters back, Triad coach ‘excited’ about 2017
HS Football: With 13 starters back, Triad coach ‘excited’ about 2017

The high school football season hasn’t started yet, but the Triad Cardinals are already ahead of the game. The Cardinals return seven starters on offense and six on defense from a team that at this point last season was still getting to know first-year coach Joe Cardinal. Cardinal was hired just before the start of two-a-day practices. Triad...
Reds starter has surgery, out of rest of season
Reds starter has surgery, out of rest of season

Reds starter Scott Feldman had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the Reds announced Tuesday. Feldman was placed on the disabled list twice this season due to inflammation in his knee. <div></div><br><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">RHP Scott Feldman...
Reds prospect Trammell electrifying in Single-A Dayton 
Reds prospect Trammell electrifying in Single-A Dayton 

Reds outfield prospect Taylor Trammell is making noise in Single-A Dayton. Trammell is slashing .283/.367/.448 in 118 games. He’s increased his walk rate from 9.1 percent to 12.1 percent, while slightly lowering his strikeout rate from 22.4 to 21.3 in the last year. <div></div><br><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"...
Castillo may be budding ace for Reds
Castillo may be budding ace for Reds

Luis Castillo might be better than the Reds expected. Traded twice by the pitching-needy Marlins, Castillo has looked dynamic in Cincinnati. At times, his repertoire has amazed, showcasing potential that may have Reds fans dreaming of an eventual Hunter Greene-Castillo duo at the top of the rotation. Eno Sarris at FanGraphs took a closer look...
Bengals need first-team units to convert in D.C.
Bengals need first-team units to convert in D.C.

The Bengals’ first-team units haven’t stood out in two preseason games. Quarterback Andy Dalton and his offense have had four drives: Two ended in field goals, one a three and out, and another an interception. The team hasn’t capitalized in two red zone chances. What appeared to be its best drive, the opening possession against Tampa...
More Stories