Ohio State kicked off what will be their most anticipated season in over a decade in front of 37,643 people at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati yesterday, and Buckeye football was back in all its glory.
The Buckeyes have a lot of expectations along with a lot of questions, and we got some of both in Cincinnati. Great plays on both offense and defense, the emergence of some new stars and starters, and the renewal, once again, of something that connects us to our grandfathers and will connect us to our grandchildren...Ohio State Football.
And although our view was only a glimpse of things to come, we were at least able to roll away the stone, if only for a couple of hours. I'll just let Mr. Mumford and his 'kids' explain:
Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find
Don't leave me alone at this time
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside
Your Mumford & Sons fueled Stock Market Report follows:
Blue Chip Stocks:
Braxton Miller, QB Miller's Achilles heel last year was throwing the ball, but yesterday he looked more polished, more poised, and more accurate on his throws. I'll concede 16-25 is fairly pedestrian in terms of straight numbers, but he was more accurate on his deep ball, which has been his kryptonite within said Achilles heel. He also seemed a lot more comfortable running the offense, and let's face it, only a guy with an exceptional amount of self confidence would walk around with a bleach blonde mohawk.
Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, DE's Holy crap, were these guys fierce off the edge. Granted, with the 'no hit' rule on the quarterback, a couple of those might be somewhat subjective, but I'm really excited about how disruptive Washington and Spence are going to be, and at times it seemed like they were almost unblockable. It looks like they have progressed and are ready to terrorize Big Ten quarterbacks.
Curtis Grant, MLB Grant was mentioned by Meyer as one of the guys who had impressed him the most during spring practice, and he showed why during the game. Grant, who has had trouble adjusting to the college game, was seemingly everywhere--decent in coverage, solid tackling, and he flowed well to the ball. He missed a couple tackles, but a new and improved Curtis Grant goes a long way in shoring up the front seven.
Devin Smith and Michael Thomas, WR's Smith and Thomas both had nice TD grabs (Thomas in particular) and both had big plays. I thought they could've been a little more aggressive in going after a couple balls, but they were the two receivers who stood out and made plays.
Eli Apple, CB I've read a lot about Apple this spring, and how well he's played as an early enrollee freshman. Apple showed up yesterday in a big way, breaking up a TD pass in the first quarter, and getting the sack/strip/fumble recovery trifecta on Cardale Jones in the third quarter. It was a very impressive debut for a guy that would normally be getting ready for prom this time of year.
Scarlet starting tackles The flip side of Washington and Spence having their big days is that the guys trying to block them, well, couldn't. Taylor Decker and Chase Ferris both struggled, and after the game Coach Meyer said the offensive line issues were a concern. The RT job was up for grabs heading in to the game, and although the protection got better in the second half, I don't think we got any answers as to who will be atop the depth chart come fall camp.
Drew Basil, K Basil just didn't impress me on Saturday. In the first half, he had some ugly field goal attempts that resembled something akin to a golfer with a bad slice or duck hook. Yeah, some were from a decent distance (50+ yards), but the results were just not there.
Cardale Jones, QB You can tell that Jones has a ton of raw talent, but he looked every bit a freshman. He turned the ball over twice, wasn't very accurate on his intermediate and deep stuff, and made several poor decisions by throwing the ball into traffic several times. And he kind of got a raw deal by not getting to wear the black jersey--dude took some shots yesterday. He did have a sweet TD pass to Michael Thomas, though.
Buy: Braxton Miller to Evan Spencer on the first play It's nice to see the offense show progress in the passing game, and so far, it looks like Miller's extra off-season work helped. That was a touchdown if Spencer doesn't lose his footing, but nice touch on the deep ball.
Sell: Drew Basil missing his initial FG 27 yarder...gotta make those, whether it's April or November.
Buy: TE Blake Thomas' rumblin' bumblin' stumblin' 1st quarter catch On the Gray's initial drive, QB Kenny Guiton hit Thomas on about a 15 yard out pattern, and Thomas just carried the defender for another 20 yards. Loved it.
Sell: LB David Perkins' tackle on Thomas Perkins literally jumped on Thomas, and was essentially fireman carried for 10 yards. And then Perkins hurt his wrist at the end of the play. High comedy, but I haven't seen a report on the seriousness of the injury, so I'm going to assume he'll be fine.
Buy: Having the game in Paul Brown Stadium It was a smaller crowd than recent spring game crowds, but a larger crowd than I thought they'd get in Cincy. It was a good initial effort, and I hope that they keep doing this and that it bears more recruiting fruit in the future.
Sell: Devin Smith switching to jersey #9 When he caught that suh-weeeet over the shoulder TD on the Scarlet first drive I was all like "woo, awesome #9...who are you?" It was cleared up pretty quickly, but it's going to take some getting used to.
Buy: Kenny Guiton as a backup Guiton looked good, for the most part, and you get the sense that if Miller goes down the offense will be in good hands with the senior.
Sell: The blonde mohawk on Miller LOLWUT...
So spring football comes to an end. For me, the takeaways were the impressive play of Braxton Miller, Curtis Grant, and the sophomore stud defensive ends Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence. My biggest concerns were the offensive line and Drew Basil, who looks like he needs a swing coach.
Overall, it was nice to see a sneak preview of the 2013 Buckeyes. It will be interesting to see what happens to the receiving corp depth chart when James Clark, Jalin Marshall, and Corey Smith come to town, and how the rest of the newcomers will fit in, but for now we roll the stone back into place until fall camp begins. Sigh...