From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about our Biggest Concerns. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our Biggest Concerns here.
Ohio State fans are not exactly known for being level-headed, so it’s no surprise that following last month’s spring game, some folks have some intense emotions about the team based on what they saw in the 15th and final practice of the spring.
Last week, we asked Buckeye fans to share their thoughts on what they saw from Ryan Day’s team before heading into the offseason and unsurprisingly, there were some points of concern. While I agree with some of the responses to our LGHL Asks and SB Nation Reacts survey, I am a little bit surprised by the intensity of some of the results.
Check out the results below and make sure to sign up for the email surveys at the bottom of this article.
Question 1: Following the spring game, what position group are you most excited about?
Obviously, the wide receiver position at Ohio State is always going to be one of the best on the team, but it is arguably the best in the country this year with three incredible true freshmen coming in to complement the returning studs. But, at this point — not to under-appreciate how special what Brian Hartline has done is — it’s almost to be expected, so the fact that the Buckeyes might have the two best wide receivers in the country... again ... isn’t a surprise.
So, I would have gone with the defensive line, because it feels like that group has finally turned the corner. After about five years of being good, but not great, it feels like they are ready to turn the corner. If J.T. Tuimoloau can take another step forward after a super solid sophomore season and Jack Sawyer can reach his potential when he’s finally moved back to his natural position at defensive end, there is a lot of havoc to be wreaked. Then, when you throw in Mike Hall Jr., Ty Hamilton, and Tyleik Williams in the middle, that has the potential to be unbelievably problematic for opposing offensive lines.
I am always a bit wary about how Larry Johnson rotates his guys (rotating is fine, but, LJ, in crucial situations, let’s get the No. 1s on the field), so if he can just keep his top players out there for the majority of the most important snaps, this line could make a huge difference for the team.
Question 2: Following the spring game, what position group are you most concerned about?
I mean, is there really any other option? The offensive line is in trouble, and unfortunately, it didn’t have to be. To see Dawand Jones and Luke Wypler fall as they did in the NFL Draft last weekend has to give fans a few extra pangs of regret. With those guys back, the offensive line would have been in much better shape than it is now and — while it still would have been a bit thin in terms of depth — could have been a source of comfort given that whoever starts at quarterback next season will be essentially new to the responsibility.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that there is talent in that room and that position coach Justin Frye is capable of getting them into shape by the time September rolls around, but there really is no other position group on the team that even rivals my level of concern for the offensive line.
Adding San Diego State transfer Josh Simmons should help the depth, and he has starting experience, but I’m not sure that’s enough to alleviate any of doubt that I feel about that group right now.
Question 3: Did the spring game change how you feel about the 2023 team?
This is the result that I am most surprised about, but perhaps it has more to do with general concern, rather than stuff learned from the Spring Game. I think the concerns coming into the game were pretty clear and the results of the game itself didn’t really change that for me, but maybe for folks who hadn’t been completely dialed into spring practice reports, the offensive line and quarterback situations hadn’t been completely clear.
We’ve discussed the offensive line already, but one thing that I want to say about the QB competition is that we shouldn’t worry. Neither Justin Fields nor C.J. Stroud had lights-out performances in their first OSU spring games and things worked out pretty well for them. While I am not yet ready to say that Kyle McCord is at their levels (though I will be happy to see him get there), he is clearly talented and has four months of work to go before he takes his first snaps as OSU’s starter — unless Devin Brown has an unbelievable offseason.
He’s a former five-star prospect and has worked with Day and Corey Denis for two years and has probably thrown more balls to Marvin Harrison Jr. than any other quarterback in the world, so that’s got to count for something right?
In Day’s time at Ohio State, he’s never not had an incredible QB behind center, so I feel pretty confident that whether it’s McCord or Brown, whoever is the starting quarterback will be fantastic... now we just have to hope that the offensive line can give them time to do their thing.
Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NCAA. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Ohio State fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.