March 31, 2011

Spring Practice Begins: Wasserman's Thoughts



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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Amidst the most controversial time at Ohio State in the Jim Tressel era, there is still football to be played.



The Buckeyes took the practice field for the first time Thursday to kick off the latest spring football session and the media was invited to catch 30 minutes of the action at the tail end of practice.



Given all the talent Ohio State lost last year and the looming suspensions of some critical players on offense this season, this year's spring practice may be the most important spring the Buckeyes have had in some time.



Here are some of my thoughts from the limited time spent watching Ohio State's first spring practice:


  • Suspended players worked with first team - Despite what I thought, it looked like the coaching staff felt it would be best to get all of the healthy suspended player out on the field repping with the first team Thursday. The only player not taking reps with the first team was Terrelle Pryor, who was held out of practice while still recovering from off-season foot surgery. Though he was out of the boot, he didn't participate in practice.



    Given the fact the Buckeyes will have to go the first five games of next year without Pryor, DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, and Mike Adams, all of them were out there with the first team. Though there is no telling what the remainder of spring practice will look like, Ohio State continued to put those seasoned veterans out there during the scrimmage portion that we were invited to watch.



    It has to be a tough decision for the staff. What should they do? Put in the younger players that are going to have to take over for the first five games with the first team or treat spring normally and keep the suspended guys out there? Though the first day doesn't mean that decision was made, Ohio State stuck with the older players.



  • Braxton is going to have to earn it - Despite the fact quarterback Braxton Miller comes into spring practice as the most highly touted recruit since Pryor was in high school, he's going to have to earn his reps with the first and second team this spring. In the first practice Thursday, Miller was the fourth quarterback on to the field, behind Joe Bauserman, Kenny Guiton, and Taylor Graham, respectively.



    Miller looked good in the limited time we got to see him. He has a nice over-the-top release and showed off his arm a little bit with some throws down field. However, Miller is going to have to prove he is the best option before he starts taking reps away from guys who have been in the program for some time. Some expect it is only a matter of time until he is out there with the first team, but he has some work to do.



  • Howard making a case early - There is only so much a person can tell from watching practice for 30 minutes, but of any player out on the field it was cornerback Travis Howard that made the most noise. Registering the only interception of the day that I saw off of Bauserman, Howard was in on a handful of plays in the defensive backfield that grabbed the attention of the media. Still in a competition to take over the top starting cornerback position, Howard asserted himself as a playmaker and a leader in the short window of time the media was permitted. Right now he seems like the favorite to start, but Thursday he made sure he didn't take that for granted.



  • The offensive line is thin - Tressel alluded to the numbers on the offensive line being a tad low, which could eventually alter Ohio State's spring game format. In practice Thursday afternoon, the Buckeyes were shuffling guys all over the place to fill in a complete line. Perhaps the most surprising thing I saw this afternoon was Andrew Norwell playing most of his reps at left guard. Granted, that could be because Adams was still playing left tackle with the first team, but Jim Bollman alluded to the fact that guys would be playing all over the place. Marcus Hall played solely at guard too while freshman Tommy Brown, who changed his to 55, got all of his reps at the right tackle position. This spring will be an interesting journey for the offensive line, but nobody will have a shortage of reps.



    Odds & Ends



  • I was standing next to Malcom Jenkins and he was calling out Ohio State's offense under his breath. It was pretty cool because he was doing it based on pre-snap tendencies he noticed from the offense. One assistant coach came up and said, "It's nice to see you see those things now that you're in the NFL. We tried to tell you while you were here."



  • Tyler Moeller was not participating during the team drills. He is still taking it slow as he recovers from surgery to his pectoral muscle.



  • Other guys in yellow jerseys signifying they're banged up: Pittsburgh Corey Brown, Spencer Smith, and [/db]Ryan Shazier[/db].



  • For an entire list of practice observations from Thursday, click here to read them all in the Horseshoe Lounge.



    Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.









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