As my colleague Scott pointed out in his report from the Ohio State Spring Game, one of the most interesting and perhaps the most insightful moments of the day occurred before the game even started as players when head to head in a heavily padded version of sumo wrtestling. And without question, the most interesting and most insightful moment of the drill was when starting quarterback Braxton Miller squared off against backup quarterback Kenny Guiton.
Facing a season without championship or even bowl hopes, for a few moments we got to see first hand the intensity and excitement that 2012 will bring. With all the controversy brought on by the rankings and the BCS, bring back old school football I always say. Football where nothing matters as much as beating Michigan and there is only one bowl game, the Rose. For this season at least, we will get a taste of that vision (like it or not) and from what we saw in the opening of the day, it looks like the Buckeyes are up for the task.
Miller Growing Into Role
After watching the Buckeyes spend the last 11 or so games attempting to pound the ball up the middle (again and again), it was good to see starting quarterback Braxton Miller developing as a passer. Yes, there is still concern regarding some of the decision making which both worked and didn’t work so well. Watching him deliver some impressive passes on the run however, you can see that his passing game has come along way since last season.
As it was pointed out many times by the BTN commentators, Miller has been throwing 70+ passes a day. If he continues at this level, he can do nothing but improve by fall. Meyer has also made it very clear that he doesn’t feel that Miller is there yet. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Meyer gives Miller an A on his release point and a B or C on accuracy.
What we didn’t get to see was the Miller scramble/run that could very well be the X factor in the Ohio State offense. During the spring game you could see Miller itching to spin out and pull a Terrell Pryor sprinting down the field. The big difference between Pryor and Miller is that Miller is much further along as a passer than Pryor was as a sophomore. He also appears to have the ability to keep eyes down field and maintain potential passing opportunities on the broken play.
Kenny Guiton a Good Backup for Miller
I liked what I saw from Kenny Guiton in the 2011 spring game and I like what I see from him again this year. He’s got a style very similar to Miller and you can sense that he’s got a healthy dose of potential. Unlike a Joe Bauserman/Miller (or Pryor) combination, the Buckeyes won’t need a completely different play book when Guiton comes on the field. Along with a going a decent 17 for 26 passing for a 191 yards, Guiton also demonstrated the potential to scramble out of a broken play and make the pass.
Guiton also demonstrated that he’s getting into the Meyer style offense as he gave us a couple of peeks a the hurry up offense. Although it looks as though his offensive line still needs to catch on, Guiton was able to catch the defense off guard on at least one play late in the game. That same play also gave us the chance to see him spin out on a broken play (hello O-line, I’m taking the ball) and salvage yards.
What We Didn’t See
Seeing the emphasis Meyer put on the passing game, we can assume that he is happy with the running game at this point (and he has said as much). He’s got speed in Miller and Jordan Hall, who didn’t even dress, could form the foundation of lethal stable of multi-talented running backs with the potential to do some serious damage to the Big Ten.
Although I’m still a fan of Big 10 style threeyardsandacloudof football, at some point even a successful Jim Bollman offense gets frustrating (not to mention the emotions associated with an unsuccessful Bollman offense). Meyer has said that this is still Ohio State and that we can expect to see a solid running game come fall. Unlike 2011 however, not only will there be the threat of a passing game (which was non-existent at times last year), we should actually have a solid passing game in place.
It will be interesting to see how the Meyer offense plays in the Big Ten but his impact could have the potential to significantly change football in the Big 10.
As for Meyer
Readers of this blog know that I’m struggling with Urban Meyer as coach. His circle drill and singing of Carmen Ohio are helping but I can’t get over the idea that he’s doing it because he knows what has to be done at Ohio State. James Lauranitis did bring me one step further down the path of acceptance with his sideline comments during the game. Lauranitis said that Meyer called him and a number of Buckeye alumni and welcomed them to the spring game. According to Lauranitis, Meyer “gets it” and understands the importance of tradition at Ohio State.
During the television broadcast we also saw two other images that helped again guided me down that path toward Meyer acceptance. Meyer opened recent practice sessions to both Ohio State students and Ohio coaches and when the weather turned bad, he brought them right into the indoor practice facility to watch close up. What a great picture to see students and fans standing about 20 feet from what looks like a full contact kicking practice.
As I said in a comment on an earlier post, in the words of Jules Winnfield, “I’m trying Ringo. I’m trying real hard…”