Youth on the D-Line Continues to Impress
Subtitle: biggest problem from 2011 defense addressed with a vengeance.
If you had to pick the biggest issue with Ohio State’s defense last season, most people wouldn’t hesitate to mention the inability to pressure the opposing backfield and quarterback.
Losing Nathan Williams to injury in the first game had a negative impact up front that lasted the entire season.
Simply put, the line lacked the speed and explosion necessary to consistently and effectively disrupt opposing backfields.
Fans were hoping that a superb group of linemen in the 2012 recruiting class would help address that issue, and if reports from practice are any indication, those hopes were well placed.
Noah Spence in particular has stood out thus far and has received praise from fellow players, coaches and members of the media alike.
In fact, Spence performed so well in Saturday’s scrimmage that he had his “freshman stripe” removed during an impromptu ceremony on the field immediately afterwards.
Words like “unblockable” have been used to describe Spence, and that is an encouraging sign for this year’s pass rush to say the least.
Adolphus Washington is another player that has plenty of people around practice talking. Although he doesn’t address the “speed rush” issue quite as directly as Spence, Washington combines amazing athleticism with surprising size (6’3″ 289) given his listed weight out of high school (245 lbs).
It looks like Washington is destined to use his unique combination of size and speed primarily on the interior of the D-line as a backup to Johnathan Hankins this season. An infusion of talent like that to the DT rotation certainly isn’t a bad thing, although experience is a concern (for Spence as well, obviously).
Oh yeah, and Nathan Williams is set to return to the rotation- experience is not an issue with him.
Yes, it should be an exciting time watching what the youth movement along the D-line can bring to the field this season- and they will almost certainly be bringing it early and often.
Practice reports indicate that things are heading in the right direction after the problems last season and the future is very bright.
Search for Playmakers Continues on Offense
With Jordan Hall out until at least game two, the search for who will play the “Harvin role” on offense is one of the ongoing storylines during camp.
Hall is the most obvious candidate to fill that role and there isn’t really a close second- which is why this continues to be a topic of discussion.
Although it may seem futile to fill a position with players ill-suited for the task, it makes sense to at least try given that this flex position is such a big part of Meyer’s overall offensive philosophy.
Right now, Corey “Philly” Brown and Chris Fields appear to be the primary candidates to fill the dual-threat role, although their lack of experience running the ball is a concern for me (and probably the coaches as well).
I suspect (and I have said before) that the flex position won’t be ideally filled until players from the 2013 class arrive on campus.
Until then, approximating the impact of an Urban Meyer caliber playmaker will be a major undertaking for the offense.
In other “filling a former Florida player’s role in the offense” news, Jake Stoneburner has reportedly been moved primarily to WR to fill the “Aaron Hernandez” role. Meyer seems to think that this move will be at least a piece of the “approximating an impact player” puzzle for the offense.
If coach Meyer thinks it’s a good idea, then hey, I’m willing to go for it. This also means that sophomore Jeff Heuerman and redshirt freshman Nick Vannett will be the two primary TEs in the offense. Meyer seems to think they are up for the task, and well- you know.
Meyer has also talked about making sure to utilize Zach Boren in the offense, although I am not sure what “Florida role” he will be playing.
If I had to guess, Boren will be primarily filling the “Tebow role” minus the whole QB thing.
While I was initially annoyed by the constant references to Florida players and concepts being used when discussing Buckeye football, I am now resigned to that being a part of the ongoing discussion in Columbus. It is the easiest way to become familiar with a brand new offensive system.
Hell, Meyer himself talks about the “Harvin role” on the recruiting trail. I guess you could consider them Meyer’s positions and terminology rather than Florida’s.
My only hope is that someday soon a Buckeye will surpass Harvin (and others) as the most famous player to fill particular roles in the offense.
The bottom line is that until Meyer’s handpicked recruits start showing up on campus, it will be quite interesting to see what the offensive staff comes up with in order to fit the current players into the system.
Battle at Right Tackle
Each player has their strengths and weaknesses.
Fragel is still new at the position, having moved from TE following last season. Reports from practice indicate that he excels at run blocking but struggles in pass protection.
Decker, on the other hand, is reportedly more comfortable in pass protection. The downside is that he is a freshman. Accordingly, he has all of the concerns that typically go along with any first year player.
No matter who wins the battle for RT, we can take comfort in knowing that they are not being coached by Bollman anymore.
Urban Meyer has been impressed with both of his quarterbacks in camp so far. So impressed that he says he is thinking about putting them both on the field at the same time.
Call it a strong case of Tressel-itis, but I have two main reactions to this news.
#1 I’ll believe it when I see it.
#2 I’d rather see Carlos Hyde bulldozing his way over defenses instead of anything extra fancy with double QBs.
Two QBs on the field at the same time or no, Kenny Guiton has really stepped up during camp- earning praise from Coach Meyer is no small task.
I am just happy that the team has two viable options at the position after the second half against Nebraska last year.
If you’re not boycotting ESPN, remember that the “Training Days” access into this fall’s practices start today.