Well, here we are at our new digs. We hope that you are enjoying the experience. As is pretty typical, we’ve had one or two speed bumps, but this transition is far, far smoother than anything similar I’ve experienced.
Hats off to our tech guys and Bloguin’s support for making this smoother than expected. Thank you.
Are you ready for some football? Let’s talk about the recent happenings on the gridiron through the eyes of James Grega Jr. from the Lantern, who is covering Ohio State’s training camp.
“(Redshirt-senior) Darryl Baldwin is the starting right tackle,” Meyer announced Saturday. “He is one of the most improved players on the team.”
Meyer said that makes Baldwin, redshirt-sophomore Pat Elflein and junior Taylor Decker the three named starters along the offensive line. He added junior Jacoby Boren, senior Joel Hale, redshirt-junior Chase Farris, redshirt-freshman Billy Price and redshirt-junior Antonio Underwood are in the running for the final two starting spots.
I’m glad to see Baldwin step up to claim a starting OL position. So, now they have both tackles and the right guard position accounted for at this point. The other two likely starters, I believe, will be Boren at center and Hale at left guard. I think that Farris, Price and Underwood see significant playing time, and some combination of them may start at different times during the season. Coach Warriner is getting his charges in line, so to speak.
“(Redshirt-freshman) J.T. Barrett has moved slightly ahead of (redshirt-sophomore) Cardale (Jones) in the quarterback derby,” Meyer said. “That is because of his opportunities…he has grown up a little bit. He was always kind of a quiet guy and he is starting to act like a quarterback.”
Which is a good thing, because with recent news out of Columbus of Braxton Miller’s shoulder injury, the J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones QB combination will need to start acting, and performing like quarterbacks. I think that in the recesses of our minds, we’ve figured that Braxton would be injured at some point during the season; it seems to be an unfortunate by-product of his game. We’re being cautioned not to panic yet, which is good advice, actually. Let’s just be patient to see how J.T and Cardale develop. They will still need to to quarterback “stuff”; fortunately, Ohio State has some talent and depth at running back. Meanwhile, we’ll be optimistic that Braxton’s injury is not season-ending and that he makes a triumphant return to the field.
Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott missed a few practices due to a minor wrist surgery, which gave redshirt-sophomore Bri’onte Dunn and redshirt-senior Rod Smith an opportunity, something Meyer said they embraced.
“Zeke (Elliot) is back in the rotation just non-contact. Both (Dunn) and Rod Smith have made every practice and done really well,” he said. “I give credit to (Dunn) and Rod Smith, every day they have shown up and they have worked their tails off so they are in the mix.”
With Miller’s injury, being deep and talented at running back has turned from an” embarrassment of riches” to “you gentlemen may be seeing a lot more carries this season”. Although I hate to see Zeke sidelined for some time, I’m glad to see Dunn and Smith step up and evidently perform pretty well, or at least up to Meyer Standards. I think the development of running back options is key to this year’s offense for a couple of reasons. First, having potent ballcarrier options should take the pressure off Miller’s replacement at QB. The second advantage to having a talented corps of running backs is that they may have to, at least initially, make their own holes, running behind a reconstituted offensive line.
One of the few concerns on the OSU defensive line is who will replace junior Noah Spence, who will miss the first two games of the 2014 season due to suspension. Meyer said there are a number of players in competition for extra playing time while Spence is out.
“(Senior) Steve Miller, (redshirt-senior) Rashad Frazier are the two that will fill his spot,” Meyer said. “(Freshman) Jalyn Holmes is really making a push right now. When we go Navy period, which we have been going pretty much every day, he (Spence) is on the scout team. We do keep him training with the one defense though.”
The Ohio State defensive line has the talent and potential to be very good, even with Spence’s two-game “sabbatical”. I hate to see Noah sit for a couple games, too, but look on the bright side. This let’s Coach Johnson tinker with the early season lineup, and Spence will be a bit “fresher” as the season plods on to a conclusion. According to The Lantern, Johnson feels that he has “a group of nine to 10 guys we can shuffle in and out in no particular order.”
Really nothing much to see here. The defensive line will provide the focus of OSU’s defensive “stoppage” until the back seven gel into cohesive units. Once that happens, watch out. This will be a formidable defense.