Wednesday Night Rumble: Dynamic Duo

Written April 17th, 2013 by Jason

The Scarlet and Grey game for 2013 is in the books. Who stood out? Who can change the game? It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!

Scarlet and Grey 2013

Remember back around the last week of December and on through New Year’s when everyone was upset and moaning about the Buckeyes not being bowl eligible? Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? I told you time would fly by, and here we are with summer camp and the 2013 season opener as the next events on the Ohio State football schedule. Game-of-Thrones

Like a lot of you I wasn’t able to logon to the Big Ten Network’s live stream of the game or listen to the radio play-by-play online. I followed along on twitter for some of the pregame and a little bit of the first quarter and decided to wait it out and stay away from it until the BTN broadcast at 7 on Saturday night. Then I didn’t even have a chance to see it at 7. Good thing for DVR’s.

My first impression when looking live on tape delay was the underwhelming crowd that showed up in Cincinnati. My natural first reaction was “This should have been in Cleveland, it would have been sold out.” And while that’s likely true, I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture. Having the game in Cincy, which is in no way as big of a “Buckeye City” as Cleveland is, gave the program some much needed exposure in the area and showed they care about the region. The crowd of 35,000 was actually a pretty solid turn out. Especially if you consider TTUN only had 17,000 and they played their fire drill of a scrimmage in their home stadium.

Brax on Brax on Brax

Ok, I agree: Braxton Miller is not only a candidate but he is going to push Johnny Manziel to the limit for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

In our first chance to see him perform after spending time with George Whitfield and having a full year of Urban Meyer tutelage under his belt, Braxton Miller looked decisive, calm, elusive and even more than ever before the teams undoubted leader.

Braxton Miller letting it fly!

Braxton Miller letting it fly!

His footwork in the pocket looks massively improved. His release seems a little more (not a ton) over the top, the “bring it with your thumb from behind your ear” philosophy. I noticed his ball placement was better as he rarely if ever dropped it below his numbers. He looked off defenders and threw to the backside. He checked down and hit the backs and tight ends, took what the defense gave him when it called for it.

And his legs were essentially rendered useless compliments of the black “no contact” jersey he rightfully was made to wear yet he still made plays with his feet on the ground.

Yes, folks, Braxton Miller is the real deal, the whole package. There’s just one glaring issued I hoped to see Saturday and unfortunately it wasn’t there: Tight spirals on throws down the field and hitting guys in stride giving them the opportunity to run with the ball after they catch it.

Look, everyone wants to compare Miller to 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith. I get it, I see where you’re going with it: Both are great leaders, have great players around them and after a great spring were poised to make a huge splash on the national stage. But I’m here to tell you, Miller is no Troy Smith, at least not yet.

Will he get there? Maybe. He’s got to tighten up those deep throws first. He’s has to anticipate the route and lead the man more effectively. Something to think about, though, is whether Braxton may be too short to be as deadly accurate as Smith was from the pocket. The counter to that is that Braxton is listed at 6-2, while Troy was listed at 6-0.

I thought improved footwork might iron out this problem since everything a quarterback does comes back to their feet. No such luck despite massively improved footwork in the pocket.

Regardless of the issue, be it height, timing, whatever, if and when Braxton Miller starts hitting the deep balls, and especially those 15-20 yard passes, with Troy Smith accuracy… look out “Johnny Football”, XBrax360 is on his way to taking your trophy.

Backs for backs, receivers all over the place and an o-line too

Carlos Hyde sat. Rod Smith sat too. Jordan Hall was limited to fair catching punts. So Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball carried the load in the backfield Saturday for the Scarlet and the respectively. I thought they looked pretty good. That said, to me it’s hard to get a grasp on how well the backs are doing running in a game where there is literally zero commitment to a running attack. I understand why they did it, they wanted to see Braxton and Kenny Guiton throw and work the receivers to the max. So it’s not an indictment on the running game that Ball lead all rushers with a whopping 45 yards, they simply were not focused on running.

Warren Ball

Warren Ball

 The offensive line wasn’t as good as it will be once the right tackle position is settled and the returning four starters and their new horse begin to gel. I couldn’t help but feel bad for Chase Farris. He badly whiffed on several attempts at slowing down Noah Spence and got pushed around by Adolphus Washington. Hey Chase, what don’t kill ya make ya more strong. Poetry by Hetfield.

The receivers appeared to be the most improved group on the field. Evan Spencer looked like he may be a legit number 2 guy across from Devin Smith with Philly Brown in the slot/H role. Michael Thomas was solid for the second spring in a row. Let’s hope he can put that same type of performance together in August and get on to the field in September. Chris Fields had a nice day and was named a starter by Urban Meyer for his performance.

Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Chris Fields and Philly Brown: Not a bad quad at all.

Overall offense

It’s tough to put a grade or score on either unit in these type games. There’s just too much patchwork happening, guys playing who won’t see the field in the fall and guys who will be big time in November standing on the side watching. Continuity is the key and Urban Meyer knows it. The aforementioned circumstances make continuity in an inter-squad scrimmage nearly impossible.

Regarding position battles, after the game Meyer repeated his philosophy of how he wants to essentially end the roster position battles by the end of spring to begin focusing on winning football games in the fall.

Personally I love that line of thinking. There are no moral victories in Camp Meyer. Every drill, every sprint, every rep has a winner and a loser. Making the guys who win in the spring the “incumbent” come fall is good for everyone. It makes the offseason workouts all the more intense.

The terrible two? The tank and the falcon?

If you want to make some money this fall, start right now trying to come up with a nickname for Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence. Figure it out and put it on a t-shirt and get your butt on Lane Avenue. These two are going to be a real problem for Big Ten offenses and (hear me out) may just change the way the Big Ten recruits and plays football.

Adolphus Washington in 2012

Adolphus Washington in 2012

Everyone is worried about the loss of starters from the Silver Bullet line. To be fair, those are some serious players that are headed out for NFL camps, one of them being the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. However, I’m not worried about Ohio State’s defensive line. No, not in the least bit.

Michael Bennett is an SEC type defensive tackle playing in the Big Ten. Joel Hale is massive and saw plenty of playing time last year. Chris Carter looked solid Saturday as did Tracy Sprinkle. There are a few guys who can fill-in spots here and there, and let’s not forget the influx of talent coming aboard as true freshman in Billy Price, Michael Hill and Joey Bosa.

But the two I’m fascinated with and cannot wait to watch are Washington and Spence. We haven’t seen a combination of southern speed and northern strength flying off the edge like these two bring. Big Ten offensive tackles are going to have major, major problems keeping up with and slowing these two down. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the rest of the league will look at these two (should they play how I think they will) and realize that if you can’t beat’em (and they won’t) you’d better join’em and start recruiting hybrid linebacker-defensive ends to play on the corners.

Sure, in theory everyone has been supposedly doing it for years. We watched JJ Watt, Ryan Kerrigan, and Cam Heyward just to name a few. But let’s be honest, they’re prototypical of what the Big Ten has always tried to recruit in a defensive end: Decent speed, strength and a large athletic body. I’m not saying those guys weren’t great (and one is maybe the best defensive player in the NFL now) I’m just saying they didn’t have the combination of strength and speed that Spence and Washington have.

The reality is that this year Ohio State has something nobody in the Big Ten has had in recent years and quite possibly ever.

That’s your homework: In the comment section below, name for me in the history of the Big Ten a duo of defensive ends with the speed and power of Spence and Washington.

More defense and football quick hitters

As was pointed out to me by @GregDoubleU, the first throw of the game should give Buckeye fans all the reason in the world to believe Vonn Bell can be a factor in the Silver Bullet backline immediately. Watching CJ Barnett and Christian Bryant get split by a streaking Devin Smith for what would have been an easy touchdown if not for Miller not putting the ball on Smith where it need to be was scary. Thank you, Vonn Bell, for selecting Ohio State.

"Paging Vonn Bell. Mr. Vonn Bell. Your presence is needed at safety. Mr. Vonn Bell."

“Paging Vonn Bell. Mr. Vonn Bell. Your presence is needed at safety. Mr. Vonn Bell.”

Curtis Grant was good but not great. He was in position a lot, in on a lot of tackles. He also was being dragged a lot or chasing a receiver. He clearly made strides this offseason, but is it enough?

Doran Grant was solid. Nothing more.

Did I mention how good Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington can be?

Craig Fada: Is he this year’s Tyler Moeller or Storm Klein? Or do we even see him at all when the fall rolls around?

I think David Perkins has a future and not just because he knocked out Brutus ten days ago. He should be a good compliment to Ryan Shazier.

Cardale Jones was solid. He isn’t going to beat out Kenny Guiton as Brax’s wingman, but he is a big athletic body with a cannon arm. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him used in the offense in spots somewhere other than QB. I don’t think they’ll change his position, especially with only having three QB’s on scholarship. But somewhere he can help this team.

Eli Apple was visible and made himself known to the viewers. He’s a true freshman early enrollee with big time potential.

Wrap it up

And that’s all folks. Football is done until August when things get cranked back up and it’s time to play for keeps. I’ll still be here weekly at WNR and all of our great writers at the BBC will be here nightly as well. So stick with us! Until next week, Go Bucks!

Metallica track of the week

Ok, so for this week MTOTW I’m going to be a little selfish. Here’s one of my favorite (yes it’s hard for me to pick favorites, but this one qualifies) Metallica songs in a blistering performance from the 2009 Mexico City dvd, here is Ride The Lightning!

5 Comments

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    April 17th, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Good Rumble today, Jason. I didn’t see the Spring Game, but did listen to it, and I came away with similar impressions.

    For today’s homework assignment; the only comparable duo I could think of might be Bubba Smith and George Webster of MSU in mid-60′s. However, I think that Webster played LB and not DE, so maybe partial credit, at best.

    Jason, is this your “guest post” from winning the Staff Spring Game Poll, or does Mali owe you one? (Actually, I guess, you’d owe him one..)

    [Reply]

    WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    April 18th, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I concur . . , tBBC is a better place because of Jason’s writing abilities and I for one am GLAD I recruited him! :D

    great stuff Jason, I was intrigued by the notion that there can be as many as 9 rotate on the D-line this fall and a reported 7 in the secondary. We will honeslty need it because we are NOT completely there at LB

    [Reply]

    KenNo Gravatar
    April 18th, 2013 at 11:56 am

    No question, WVa, you do have an eye for talent.

    [Reply]

  2. RyanNo Gravatar
    April 17th, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Great rumble. I wasn’t able to see the Spring game, only hilights, but this summed it up pretty well.

    This is a really great time to be a Buckeye. I was worried about the defense at the end of the season, but Washington and Spence seem to be killing it. We’ll have 2 (possibly 3) great years with the dynamic duo (no, I don’t really like that) tearing up offensive lines. In the secondary we have so much young talent on the defense that really makes me feel comfortable, more so than I can remember ever having as a Buckeye.

    We have some great young playmakers on offense, and I knew our receivers from last year would only get better. It sounds like Braxton is improving at a nice pace. You’re right, he’s no Troy Smith, and I don’t really think he will be. But he has an amazing work ethic, and while ‘Johnny Football’ was out partying with pro athletes and movie stars Braxton was studying with the guru. I don’t expect him to win a Heisman unless he can tighten up his long ball, but he is an amazing athlete, will continue to be a great leader and give everything for this team. I couldn’t ask for more.

    The only thing I worry about is the O-line. They have a ton of experience and if they even perform at the same level as last year it will be great, but they don’t seem to be playing with that chip anymore due to having such a good 2012. And if we get an injury to anything but the right tackle (where we have 2 almost starters) it could be devistating. Good thing we have such a stable of backs that look like they can plow through any big ten defensive lines.

    [Reply]

  3. JasonNo Gravatar
    April 18th, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    You guys are too kind! Thanks for reading! And it’s EVERYONE at this site that makes it THE best!

    [Reply]

Comment On Article