Ohio State may have fell short in attendance, having only 80,143, but did not fall short in action. The Scarlet team won 38-31 led by Joe Burrow. The Buckeyes showed everyone that they will be ready to throw the ball downfield in 2017 after combining for 626 yards between the top three quarterbacks. This was mainly due to confidence that was not seen by the Buckeye wide outs throughout the 2016 season. There was some controversy to come out of the game, sparking internet debates about the lack of tackling through a little more than the first quarter of the game. Here is the LWOS Ohio State spring game recap.
Ohio State Spring Game Recap
The Buckeyes top four quarterbacks all got some action in this year’s spring game and all of them showed potential. J.T. Barrett didn’t play much but showed he is ready to have another 2014-esque year. He threw for 71 yards on 12 passes with a touchdown and an interception. The interception was caused from contact in the pocket by his own lineman. Barrett also showed that he is willing to start using his tight ends more in the redzone on a touchdown pass to A.J. Alexander.
Burrow was the most notable quarterback and proved he is all but guaranteed the backup role for 2017. He threw for 262 yards on 22 passes with three touchdowns. Two of his touchdowns came on deep passes of 35 and 44 yards. Burrow also showed Buckeye fans that they are more willing to run more plays utilizing their receivers down-field speed as opposed to screen plays.
Dwayne Haskins Jr. started for the Grey team for the majority of the game, completing 26 of 37 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns. He showed off his arm strength which stood up against Burrow and Barrett. His strength in the pocket will certainly be his strength in 2018 when the Buckeyes are looking for a new starter.
Tate Martell also got in on the action. He scored on a five-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter on his first play of the game.
Even though the spring game is meant to highlight the talent for the 2017 season, it also gives recruits an opportunity to see what they will be going up against if they choose to commit. This year’s spring game was enough to sway two 2018 recruits towards the Buckeyes.
The first commitment came just hours before the game kicked off. Four-star offensive tackle Max Wray is the sixth 247sports Top 100 to commit to Ohio State for the 2018 class. Wray stands at 6’6″ and weighs 289 pounds. He was expected to go to the SEC, with offers from Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn.
The second commitment of the day was Josh Proctor. Proctor is also a Top 100 athlete, and joins Jaiden Woodbey in the 2018 defensive back class. He is a four-star safety from Oklahoma and was predicted to go to Oklahoma with other Big 12 offers from Oklahoma State and Texas. However, Ohio State was able to sway him from the Big 12 to add to their already impressive secondary.
While it plays in with the quarterbacks, it is important to note that the Buckeye receiving corps looked like a completely different group than in 2016. The receivers looked like they had no confidence in themselves downfield in the last few games of the season, forcing Barrett to have to check down on almost every play.
Johnnie Dixon led all receivers on the day with six receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Dixon’s two touchdown catches were for 18 and 44 yards, proving he can be a threat in the red zone and down-field. He struggled with injury problems the first three seasons of his collegiate career, but broke through on Saturday. He had a total of 119 yards, with an 11 yard rush, which is more than he had in all three seasons combined to date.
Another breakout receiver who will be fun to watch in 2018 is Terry McLaurin. McLaurin also had two touchdowns but only caught four passes for 80 yards. His two touchdowns came in the second quarter from Haskins Jr. on 22 and 30-yard passes. The 22-yard touchdown was debatable, but was given to the Grey team. McLaurin stands two inches taller than Dixon and will likely be more of a redzone target in 2017.
There are a lot of positives to take from this spring game. All the expected starters looked to be firing on all cylinders heading into the summer, and the backups gave a lot of hope for the future. The battle between Burrow and Haskins Jr. will certainly be one to watch. However, given last year’s successful spring game performance as well, Burrow looks to have an advantage as of now. Kevin Wilson’s new offensive game plan also looks to be running effectively so far with all four quarterbacks shining early on.