Another year, another sold-out Horseshoe for the Buckeyes’ annual spring game. With just over 82,000 in attendance, the Ohio State Buckeyes were given their first chance to flaunt their revamped offense under new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson.
The score, which ended 38-31 in favor of the Scarlet, was the highest total in the Urban Meyer era, featuring two underclassmen quarterbacks gunning for the backup job.
And although tackling was hardly a concern for the Silver Bullets on Saturday, plenty of takeaways are to be had following the Buckeyes’ glorified scrimmage.
Haskins or Burrow?
Senior quarterback J.T. Barrett is expected by many to shine this season under new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, but it was his two understudies that stole the show in the senior’s last ever spring game.
Joe Burrow (rSo) and Dwayne Haskins (rFr), who are competing for the backup quarterback spot this fall, had a Big 12-esque shootout during most of the spring game.
Burrow finished the day with 262 yards and three touchdowns on only 22 attempts, while Haskins threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns on 37 attempts. Burrow, who was the backup to Barrett all of last season, displayed great touch on his deep passes, completing several throws over 40 yards to a bevy of receivers.
Haskins, who was no slouch himself, missed on a couple of open throws but kept the Gray side in the game throughout.
Burrow looks to be the favorite for the backup job heading into the summer, but don’t count out Haskins, who ranked as the seventh-best pro-style quarterback coming out of high school in 2016.
Plenty of Talent at Wide Receiver
With Haskins and Burrow slinging the ball all over the field on Saturday, Ohio State’s talented group of receivers had plenty of opportunities to shine.
Johnnie Dixon, who sat out most of the 2016 season due to injury, was the unquestioned star of the group, hauling in six catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. The junior receiver figures to have a much larger role in the Buckeyes’ offense this season, displaying great burst and acceleration in the open field.
Hot on Dixon’s tail was fellow junior receiver Terry McLaurin, who caught four passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Plenty of deep balls were thrown by both quarterbacks on Saturday, and for the most part, the Buckeye receivers came down with them.
Also on the scoresheet was tight end A.J. Alexander, who has been the Buckeyes’ most improved player this offseason, and h-back Demario McCall, who totaled 131 yards and one receiving touchdown.
The wide receiver position was a weak spot for the Buckeyes last season, but with Kevin Wilson’s revamped offense and a host of former four-star and five-star talent, perhaps “Zone 6” will come back stronger than ever in 2017.
Freshman struggles in the Secondary
Ohio State had nine early enrollees this season, two of which were five-star cornerbacks Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade.
Both Wade and Okudah suited up for the spring game last Saturday, but both of their performances left a little to be desired. Wade, playing for the Scarlet, was beat a few times by the Buckeye receivers, most notably to Terry McLaurin, who caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Dwayne Haskins with Wade on the coverage.
Okudah, who ranked as the number one high school corner in the country last season, exhibited similar struggles to Wade, also getting beat by Terry McLaurin; this time on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Dwyane Haskins.
Wade and Okudah figure to be large parts of the Buckeyes’ future, but with only a few collegiate practices under their belt thus far into their careers, it looks like it will be a hile before either of them make a case for breaking into the starting lineup.
The Kevin Wilson Effect
As previously mentioned, Saturday’s score of 38-31 was the highest spring game total since Urban Meyer took the Buckeye head coaching job in 2012. Barrett, Burrow, and Haskins combined for over 600 yards passing, and the running game wasn’t too bad either.
One can’t help but attribute most of that success to new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who last was the head coach for the Indiana Hoosiers. Wilson’s revamped offense featured plenty of downfield passing – a characteristic missing from last year’s attack – and wasn’t afraid to take a few risks.
Now, granted, this was the spring game, and both defenses were hardly at full speed, but 600 yards of passing is nothing to scoff at. In season’s past the Buckeyes’ spring games have ended with scores like 28-17 or 17-14; with Kevin Wilson at the helm, the Buckeyes blew those scores out of the water.
If Ohio State can amass the kind of passing production displayed in this year’s spring game, there likely isn’t a team in the Big Ten – maybe even the country – that can keep up with them.
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