Ohio State Spring Game
The 2019 Ohio State spring game was a great look at some new faces at close to game speed. In front of a crowd of 61,102, the Buckeyes played “thud” rules, essentially hard two-hand touch. The biggest take away was that this is a team that has a lot of growing to do but with a plethora of talent. The Gray team won 35-17, but of course, the scrimmage is more about assessing the progress made in Spring camp. The offense got off to a slow start, as is the case in many Spring games that pit starters vs starters.
Just Fields and Matthew Baldwin saw the majority of the playing time. Chris Chugunov saw the rest. Both Fields and Baldwin showed flashes of what they are capable of, but each had plenty of mistakes. Head coach Ryan Day and staff have plenty of teaching moments from today, but overall have to be pleased.
Fields struggled in the passing game, finishing just 4 of 13 for 131 yards. Ninety-eight of those yards came on his best throw of the day, a touchdown to Benjimin Victor. Fields was much more impressive on the ground, where he ran eight times for 38 yards. He looked quick and decisive on the designed runs and displayed great vision on a couple of scrambles. Fields looked like he could be the best athlete on the field with the ball in his hands. Struggles in the passing game are not something to be to concerned with yet, as he has only been on campus since January. That’s not nearly enough time to build the quarterback-wide receiver relationship needed to be on the same page.
Baldwin threw the ball more often than Fields, completing 20 of 36 passes for 246 yards and two interceptions. If not for the two errant throws on the interceptions, one into double coverage, the conversation coming out of this game could be about a quarterback battle. In his post-game presser Day said that the quarterback competition will continue through the preseason. But Baldwin did not do enough today to supplant Fields as the front runner for the starting job. Baldwin had good pocket awareness all day and was surprisingly accurate throwing on the run. He threw a few good deep balls as well. He was most comfortable throwing across the middle of the field. Pushing the ball to the sideline was a difficult throw for him to make, often coming up short or wide.
The most impressive group on offense was the running backs. Aside from missing a few pass-blocking assignments, the running back group looked very good. Master Teague was the most impressive. He looked big and fast running, seven times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. It felt like he had the ability to take this game over and be a real chain mover. Teague appears to be a great compliment to J.K. Dobbins. Marcus Crowley also was very impressive. The freshman has yet to shed his black strip but he was a major contributor today with 10 carries for 50 yards.
The receiver’s group did enough to deal with worries about replacing most of last years production. The group looked good, and created separation on their routes. Benjamin Victor got loose for a 98-yard touchdown, Austin Mack and K.J. Hill looked more than capable of stepping into bigger roles in the offense this year and Jaelen Gill had 7 receptions for 95 yards. Perhaps the biggest ray of hope though was Five-star freshmen Garrett Wilson who had 4 catches for 44 yards. Wilson also had an impressive touchdown grab.
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) April 13, 2019
The biggest area of concern was the offensive line. The quarterbacks were sacked eight times. This was no-tackle football, so it is safe to assume some of this number is skewed. But still, the defensive line was the better group today. Associate Head Coach Larry Johnson again has the defensive line performing like a well-oiled machine and one of the best in the nation. Run blocking was good when the offensive line could just get down-hill and try to overpower the guy in front of them. But pass blocking was a different story. It was a struggle through the day. Pass blocking is something like a synchronized swimming routine though, it takes longer than the Spring period for everyone to be on the same page. The Buckeyes are replacing four starters from last season and Thayer Munford did not practice this spring. The offensive line should be better come August.
Tuf Borland carried an “injured” designation and did not play today. Still, as a unit the linebackers did a good job overall, especially early on. The area they did struggle with was covering crossing receivers. Cj Saunders was able to take advantage on a couple crossing routes that kept the offense on the field. All game long they did a good job of forcing running backs to bounce outside into the open arms of a defensive lineman or press corners that had beat their blocker. Linebacker is the most difficult group to judge from a “thud” game. Still, though the group looked good.
Silver Bullet, Silver Bullet, Silver Bullet. Is three times enough? Jeff Hafley’s unit was great and bad. There were some exceptional plays on the ball like this interception by Amir Riep.
— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) April 13, 2019
But defensive backs were also burned deep a few times. It was a mixed bag for sure but there was more good than there was bad. The defensive line should be good enough to allow the secondary to be very aggressive all season. This group is likely to be aggressive.
Drue Chrisman popped the question at halftime, and she said yes. The entire team rushed and celebrated with the couple. It was cute. This year’s Ohio State spring game won’t be one this happy couple will forget.
— Drue Chrisman (@DChrisman91) April 13, 2019