It was cold, rainy and otherwise horrible day weather-wise and 81,112 Ohio State fans still showed up for the LiFE Sports Spring Game in the Horseshoe. If there was any doubt as to how excited Ohio State fans are to purge the horrible tastes left in Buckeye Nation’s collective mouths after last season, this should squash it.
The Ohio State Men’s Lacrosse team started the day off by thumping Air Force 14-4. We, admittedly, spent a large chunk of this time under cover watching the BTN feed of the game due to the very cold and annoyingly spitting rain. We did watch the last quarter from our seats and noted that B Deck at The Shoe was completely full. Not a surprise as this is the covered portion of the stadium.
The LAX team was clearly feeding off of the fact that the Ohio Stadium crowd was much larger than what they are used to. The team was 6-6 on the season coming into this game and they completely dominated. I think it’s great that the format for the Spring Game allows for this to take place first as it is a great opportunity to see a Buckeye team that many might not check out otherwise. It’s also a great opportunity for the players to show off in front of a larger crowd.
The crowd, of course, erupted when the Buckeye football team appeared in the tunnel. While this may sound crazy to say, seeing Urban Meyer on the field as Ohio State’s coach was pretty surreal. I was not the only one feeling this way. I’d noticed that the fans near us were watching him like a hawk and making comments about his style and how intense he was. He was making an effort to go to every single player and pump them up.
Then…the moment of the pre-game.
Urban Meyer called the team to midfield, right on the Block-O. He then let them put on a clinic of buttkicking for the fans that were in attendance. He called one player each from Team Scarlet and Team Gray to go head-to-head in what he calls the Circle Drill.
The final battle was the one that not only got the fans fired up, but the teams as well. He called the starting QBs from each team, Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton, into the center. Guiton took Miller down, which touched off a celebration from Team Gray. The teams then went back to the locker room for a bit, though I think it was mostly to give them the opportunity to take the field as they would on a regular old game day.
I couldn’t get over the intensity that had been on display for warm-ups. Never mind the fact that these were warm-ups for a SPRING GAME. It was, admittedly, refreshing and I imagine that somewhere, Woody was smiling.
Meyer had stated all week that he was going to showcase the passing game at the Spring Game, stating there would be about a three-to-one ratio of pass vs. run. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who witnessed a rather abysmal passing game last year. This ratio is also likely not indicative of how the offense is actually going to go next year, so one has to wonder if Meyer was also trying to not show all of his cards just yet.
We didn’t get to see everyone that will be a key player for OSU next season. Two that jump out are John Simon and Jordan Hall. Simon certainly doesn’t need to prove himself, as is evident by Meyer’s constant praise of his work ethic all Spring and Hall was left out as a precaution. Hall figures to play a Percy Harvin type role in the offense next year. As a result, you can’t blame Meyer for not wanting to jeopardize his health. That position figures to be a very important one in the offense and losing him in the Spring would be quite a jolt.
Some random Spring Game observations:
OK, probably not really, but it is interesting that both Guiton and Miller were left in for the entire game. Meyer had stated that this game was a chance for a few people to prove themselves. Miller must have something left to prove, otherwise why would you leave a sure-bet starter in for the duration of a Spring Game? I honestly don’t remember this occurring often in the past, so it is something I have to wonder about. It’s likely just a part of the mental game that Meyer likes to play.
In the end, it’s probably nothing, but I didn’t think one QB vastly outperformed the other. Miller ended the day 24/31 for 258 yards and one INT. Guiton finished 17/26 for 191 and one INT. Guiton netted 10 yards rushing while Brax netted a disappointing -19. Granted, that is misleading as they were quick to blow the whistle when a QB was touched and I’m pretty sure Miller could have busted a few more yards, if given the chance.
Oh, about Miller’s INT…
The guy who snagged it has a pretty familiar name. It was Adam Griffin, the son of OSU legend Archie Griffin.
Some of the young guys had a chance to show off a bit. The one that jumped out was Freshman WR Michael Thomas. Thomas was the go-to receiver for Braxton Miller for the majority of the game. He finished with 12 receptions for 131 yards.
Also, Bri’onte Dunn looked pretty good for a guy who wasn’t initially sure if he would fit into an Urban Meyer offense. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry for Team Gray and he also caught 3 passes for 27 yards. There was a lot of buzz about Dunn possibly switching his commit to TTUN because of the spread, but I think he will do just fine.
Kicker madness…catch it…
OSU kicker Drew Basil nailed a 41 yard FG for Team Scarlet in the second quarter. Meyer wanted more. He had him kick another from 41 (also good), then backed him up to 45 (blocked), 45 again (good), 53 (good), 58 (wayyyy short) and a final 58 yard attempt (just barely short). On the 58 yarders, Meyer motioned to the crowd to get loud and the fans obliged.
This was probably the only thing that reminded fans of the Tressel days. After all, Tress had a huge emphasis on special teams when executing Tresselball. Even at that, there were differences. I’m speaking of course about Meyer encouraging the fans to get loud and make Basil execute under pressure. Have I mentioned how much more intense Meyer is than Tress? Yes? OK.
Ohio State, as a whole, has had a pretty good year.
Ohio State recognized a few National champions, as well as the Men’s basketball team for reaching the Final Four during the first half. The championship teams were Ohio State’s synchronized swimming team and fencing team. The individual champions were wrestler Logan Stieber (who couldn’t be there because he was attending the US Olympic Trials in Iowa City) and indoor track athlete Christina Manning (who also could not attend due to Olympic obligations).
Not surprisingly, the men’s Final Four team got the loudest applause and a standing ovation. It’s worth noting, however, that the synchronized swimming team was the dynasty represented on the field. They brought home Ohio State’s 28th National Championship in the sport. As most schools will not have championship athletes spreading between the 35 yard lines, this was certainly a moment of Buckeye pride.
I hope the football team follows suit in a couple of years…
Team Scarlet won the game 20-14. The complete stats can be found here for those that are interested. Had Guiton not shown a lapse in judgment, Gray could likely have taken this one.
And what was possibly the most important thing…the team still went to sing Carmen Ohio with the band. Though there are several changes, there are just a few things that should never change.
While I’d like to say the game served as a way to calm College Football withdrawals, it didn’t. It just makes me excited for more. Even though the team is not eligible for a Bowl next year, there are a ton of reasons to be excited.
Thanks for the show, Buckeyes.