Countdown To THE GAME 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

@SammySilv of Ohio State: Be Elite

Check out the sweet graphic Samuel Silverman (@SammySilv) created for Ohio State.

Go Bucks!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 OSU Spring Football - Questions Answered, Questions Remain (Part 2)

Part one reviewed the least concerning areas for Ohio State after the conclusion of spring practice.  This article will focus upon the top five concerning areas for Ohio State, heading into summer workouts.  Have any position groups changed from before spring practice?  Let us review...


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5.  Defensive Back:  One of the biggest changes, after spring practice.  Previously ranked as the third most concerning area, I would lower this area after spring practice.  Even though there are two open positions at cornerback and safety, my reasoning for feeling better about the defensive backfield lies in the more aggressive approach that was evident during the spring game.  Instead of playing off the wide receivers, Ohio State's defensive backs were pressing right from the line of scrimmage.  Throw in the dominant Ohio State defensive line that figures to continually pressure opposing quarterbacks, and it would seem likely that the defensive backs will be in a great position to excel, despite their inexperience.

4.  Wide Receiver:  Another position group that moved, and this actually increased in concern following spring practice.  Talent is on the roster, yet it was evident in the following comments by Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer following the spring game where his thoughts were about his wide receivers after the spring game ~ "We're not where we need to be. I think we're better that we were two years ago, and I'm hoping we're a better notch than we were last year. We got a ways to go...Receiver, I can't name you one that's going to start. Which is concerning, but it's comforting to know I can name about six that have the ability.  Those would be Devin Smith, Johnnie Dixon, Michael Thomas, I think Jalin Marshall, before he got hurt he was having a great spring, Dontre Wilson and Evan Spencer; we have some depth there.".  Keep an eye and ear open for news about this position group over the summer workouts and fall camp. 

3.  Linebacker:  A position group that has improved since before the spring practices, yet remains in the same area of concern.  While rising junior Joshua Perry has earned a starting outside linebacker position, battles for the other two spots remain between rising senior Curtis Grant and true freshman Raekwon McMillan for the middle linebacker job, and Darron Lee and Chris Worley are both in the mix at the walkout linebacker spot.  Considering Ohio State opens up the 2014 season at Navy,  a triple option attack, it will be crucial for Ohio State's linebackers to play disciplined; will that be possible with such inexperience at this position?

2.  Backup Quarterback:  Another position group that has been elevated since spring practice began, and it truly has less to do with the spring game than the reality of the situation.  Rising redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones has emerged as the top backup quarterback, with rising redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett third string.  While Coach Meyer seemed pleased with Jones' development over the course of the spring practices, it must be asked - is Jones truly ready to lead Ohio State if rising senior Braxton Miller is injured this upcoming season?

1.  Offensive Line:  The biggest concern I had heading into spring practice, and nothing has changed since spring football concluded.  In the words of Coach Meyer, "Offensive line, we've got to really go, we gotta really go from here. I saw Jamarco Jones, Demetrius Knox is coming in, Brady Taylor. Those are three bodies that are going to be coming in in June and I look them right in the eye and said "You're not red shirting; you're playing," and that's hard for an offensive lineman, so we're gonna -- that's an area that we have got to get back to where we -- maybe not where we were, but close...On offense you got Pat Elflein and our left tackle, Taylor Decker, and everyone else is wide open, no other spots taken.".  My first thoughts, as I read those comments?  Be grateful that Ohio State was able to retain offensive line coach Ed Warriner. 

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Thomas Edison once stated, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.".  Ohio State fans can rest easy knowing that the Ohio State coaching staff and players will seize these opportunities to work over the coming summer months.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Ohio State Spring Football: Questions Answered, Questions Remain

The Minnich family had a great time at the 2014 Ohio State spring game on April 12, 2014.  This was the first time the entire family attended, and we were able to enjoy the festivities with my sister, nephews, and my cousin John's family.  The beautiful weather, combined with pre-game tailgating, made for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon.




Before Ohio State's 2014 spring practices began in March, I posted questions ranked from least concerning areas to most concerning areas as I perceived them.  Are the categories in the same sequence?  Let's find out.

10. Special Teams Units:  Ranked tenth coming into the spring practice, and I believe this important area still ranks low in terms of concerns heading into the summer.  During the spring game, Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer did not practice kickoffs, and punt returns all resulted in fair catches.  Furthermore, with the influx of freshmen talent who will arrive in June, it would be reasonable to expect a number of freshmen to compete for playing time in this often over-looked area.

9.  H-Back/Pivot/Hybrid/Slot:  An area that was ranked eighth heading into spring practice, it seems to be in fairly capable and competent hands.  Coach Meyer withheld rising sophomore Dontre Wilson from the spring game, and Wilson should have ample opportunities to play H-Back when the season begins next August 30th.  Rising redshirt freshman Jalin Marshall and true freshman Curtis Samuel should also have chances to contribute in this area; Samuel had several moments during spring practice that impressed Coach Meyer.

8.  Tight End:  Ranked ninth, I elevated this area for two relatively minor reasons.  First, rising senior Jeff Heuerman missed a considerable portion of spring practice a foot injury that required surgery, and will keep Heuerman in a cast and walking boot until summer workouts.  Secondly, rising redshirt freshman Marcus Baugh had some impressive moments this spring, but is still trying to regain the confidence of the coaching staff.  Rising junior Nick Vannett will play considerably this fall.  Overall, a solid group, but Heuerman's absence and injury led me to rank this as an area of more concern after the spring than before the spring practices.

7.  Running Back:  This position area is in the same location as it was when spring practices began.  My concerns rank in the same general area - will the coaching staff be able to keep all of these players happy and involved?  Rising sophomore Ezekiel Elliott seems to be the prohibitive favorite going into summer workouts, but rising redshirt sophomore Bri'onte Dunn, true freshman Curtis Samuel, and rising redshirt sophomore Warren Ball all played well throughout the spring.  Throw in rising senior Rod Smith, who had a strong spring, in the words of Coach Meyer, and perhaps you can see why I question how the coaching staff will be able to keep all of these players involved and happy.

6.  Placekicker:  Another adjustment, post-spring practice.  This battle will continue throughout the summer, but true freshman Sean Nuernberger may have a slight lead over rising senior Kyle Clinton.  Nuernberger was able to successfully kick both field goal attempts from 52 yards, while Clinton was unable to do so.  It is early in the process, but considering Nuernberger is a scholarship player, it would seem plausible that Nuernberger may have the edge on this spot going into summer workouts.

Part two will focus upon the five areas of highest concern, as Ohio State leaves spring practice behind and prepares for summer workouts and fall camp.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The 2014 Ohio State Spring Game: Youth Will Be Served

"Youth will be served, every dog has his day, and mine has been a fine one."

 ~ George Borrow

Attending the Ohio State spring game has always been one of my favorite spring time events.  The very first spring game I attended was in 1996, eagerly anticipating how the newly-signed quarterback Mark Garcia would do in his Ohio State debut, as he battled Stanley Jackson for the starting quarterback position.  Little did anyone know a third quarterback by the name of Joe Germaine would outperform both quarterbacks in the spring game, giving fans in attendance an early glimpse at one of the best quarterbacks in Ohio State football history.

Another fond memory was the 2003 spring game.  Not only was Ohio State basking in the glory of the 2002 national championship, but fans were treated to an aerial duel between Justin Zwick and Troy Smith.  It was the unofficial beginning of the quarterback battle for the 2004 starting job.

My wife and three children will be joining me for this spring game.  I have taken my wife before, and my sons came with me three years ago, but this will mark my daughter's first visit to Ohio Stadium.  My sister Sue and my two nephews are making the trek to Columbus, as my nephew is considering Ohio State as a college choice.  My cousin John and his family will be meeting up with us.  I am also planning on meeting up with Shannon Sommers, a contributing writer from menofthescarletandgray.com, as well...






Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has already stated that true freshmen Curtis Samuel and Johnnie Dixon figure prominently in Ohio State's upcoming season; the spring game will give fans that first look at both as Buckeyes.  Freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan and freshman placekicker Sean Nuernberger will also be counted upon this fall; I am anxious to see how both perform for what should be a pretty decent crowd.

The player I am most anxious to see?  Linebacker Darron Lee, who has been starting all spring.  Lee has been consistently cited by Coach Meyer for his aggressiveness and intensity all spring.  Considering the level of disappointment that Coach Meyer and the fans had of the 2013 linebackers, watching Lee's performance will be foremost for me at the spring game.

A close second?  Cornerback Eli Apple.  Apple redshirted in 2013, but has recently had his black stripe removed, symbolizing that he is now a player that will be relied upon in game situations.  Like the linebackers, the 2013 secondary left much to be desired.  Apple and Gareon Conley have been playing well this spring, and will be challenging for playing time this season.

Yes, youth will be served during the spring game.  Youth may also be served this coming season.

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