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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.

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