Ohio State football. Is. Back ... Well, sort of.
Team Scarlet and Team Gray renew acquaintances with landscaping duty at Buckeye Grove on the line in your first look at the 2017 Ohio State football team (and our first since that Playoff game we shan't speak of).
Once again, OSU looks to reload after a decently sized exodus to the next level, and while there aren't some of the marquee positional battles of yesteryear, there's still a new look to the secondary and an offense under a first-year offensive coordinator that has to get miles better -- and in a hurry.
The massive national record setting attendance of recent years' spring games is unfortunately logistically impossible; Ohio Stadium's C-Deck is undergoing renovation which means capacity is hard-capped at 84,000. There’s a 20% chance of rain which means if you're going to Saturday's festivities, be sure to bring an umbrella/poncho — even if just in case.
What is the Ohio State spring game?
The Ohio State 2017 LiFE Sports Spring Game, presented by Nationwide, is the football program's annual mid-April intrasquad scrimmage between Team Scarlet and Team Gray at Ohio Stadium. This year it takes place Saturday, April 15 at 12:30 p.m, and should last roughly an hour and a half (an ordinary football game is about three to three and a half hours long).
Breaking with tradition, the spring game will not be preceded this year by an Ohio State men's lacrosse match in The 'Shoe. The men's lax Buckeyes are on the road facing That School Up North, but that's on BTN immediately before the spring game at 10:30 a.m. if you're into that sort of thing.
How similar will this be to a real game?
It's a football-like substance!
The game will feature four 10-minute quarters with a running clock in the second half. Expect shenanigans though, with Urban Meyer and co. routinely stopping live action and treating things like a practice. If you're ready to see if Sean Nuernberger can make six field goals of varying length in succession after a touchdown, get excited.
Due to construction and possible rainy weather, the environment probably won't be as game-like as in some recent years. But you can still expect the coaching staff to put some of their young freshmen in situations that might push their comfort zone as this will be their first time ever playing in Ohio Stadium.
Will Ohio State smash attendance records again this year?
No. For starters, they literally won’t be able to, since capacity at Ohio Stadium will be limited to around 84,000, since Ohio State is doing construction on C Deck. But even with that, and a chance of rain, officials are expecting a sellout.
But don’t worry that Ohio State football has peaked and recruits won’t want to come here if only say, 60,000 people show up to watch a practice. It’ll be fine.
How can I watch the spring game?
The Big Ten Network will be broadcasting the spring game Saturday. The game will also be available for streaming online (and on your tablet and smartphones) on BTN2Go.
You can find BTN on Spectrum Columbus/Delaware on Channel 333 HD/58 SD, on WOW! at channels 219 HD/87 SD, nationally on DirecTV on channel 610, on DISH on channel 405/410, and on AT&T U-verse channel 1650 HD/650.
Former Ohio State coach Glen Mason will be in the booth providing commentary for the game along with former Buckeye linebacker Bobby Carpenter on the sidelines. BTN staple Kevin Kugler will be on the mic for play-by-play. The familiar duo of Paul Keels and Jim Lachey will be on the radio call.
What are the rosters for each team?
You can find that right here.
What (if any) are the recruiting implications of this weekend?
Of course there are recruiting implications. If you can get 60,000+ fans to show up for a practice, wouldn’t you want recruits to see that? Some of Ohio State’s biggest recruiting targets should be in attendance, from the top player in the state, offensive lineman Jackson Carman (who the Buckeyes are battling Clemson for), to top-ranked defensive end, and Penn State commit, Micah Parsons, to current Buckeye commit Emory Jones, to five-star defensive back Patrick Surtain Jr, and many more. Don’t be shocked if a player pulls the trigger and commits to the Buckeyes during, or after, the game.
What are the anticipated position battles?
There are a few that are probably worth a closer look.
J.T. Barrett is clearly entrenched as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, and as a redshirt senior, probably won’t play too much on Saturday. But the Buckeyes have recruited a bevy of blue-chip options, and the exact pecking order behind him could potentially change.
The leader in the backup clubhouse is Joe Burrow, a redshirt sophomore from Athens. Burrow looked good last season as Barrett’s backup, and has the most experience. But two other recent additions, redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins, and true freshman Tate Martell, have much stronger recruiting pedigrees, and could potentially pass him with a strong offseason.
With Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day itching to repair Ohio State’s struggling passing game, figure to see passes flying early and often in the spring game. This should be a fun chance to get a glimpse at the future of the most important position for the Buckeyes.
Another will be in the secondary. This position group experienced a ton of attrition, as Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley are about to become exceptionally wealthy men thanks to the NFL Draft. Early enrollees, like JUCO Kendall Sheffield, and mega recruits like Jeffery Okudah and Shaun Wade, will show off and be in the mix, along with returning players, like Rodjay Burns, Damon Arnette and Jahsen Wint. The continued excellence of this position group will be critical for the Buckeyes to make another run at the Playoff, and it’ll unquestionably require some newcomers.
Finally, you’ll want to check out who is catching passes. The spring game could start the resurgence of the tight end position as an offensive threat, now that Wilson is calling the shots, so players like A.J Alexander, Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann could have big games. And of course, which wideouts perform will be worth watching. Will Buckeye vets, like Johnnie Dixon or Parris Campbell, finally start to reach their potential? Will Eric Glover-Williams shine in his new position? Will younger players, like Binjimen Victor or Austin Mack, stake a claim for more playing time? We might get a clue tomorrow.