Well that was fun. On a wet, bitterly cold Saturday that felt more like November than April, over 81,000 fans showed up to welcome the Urban era. And we were not disappointed! The Scarlet defeated the Gray 20-14, but as usual, the score in a scrimmage like this was unimportant in the big scope of things. However, many very important things took place in the Shoe today, and a number of them jumped out at me from my seat about 20 rows from the field. Here are a few of the items and players that stood out to me:
1) Urban is a very hands on coach. Standing directly behind the offense all day with a whistle in his mouth, Urban was right in the middle of the action. Actually, before the game even began, he had the players circled at midfield, getting them keyed up. I loved the fact that he wore shorts on a day when the wind chill was in the mid 30's. Urban is THE man, and there is no doubt that he is running the show in Columbus. I also enjoyed the segment of the game when he had Drew Basil attempt one field goal after another, moving him back a few yards each time, all the while standing about a yard behind the action. This is a hands on coach that will inspire his players, in my opinion.
2) Braxton looks comfortable in the spread...and Guiton's got game too. Miller played the whole game for the Scarlet and wound up 24-31 for 258 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He couldn't really use his legs, because he was considered down as soon as he was touched. But he was sharp on his passes, hitting lots of short throws, including more slants than I have seen at OSU in a long time. Meanwhile, Guiton showed that he is no slouch, finishing 16-24 for 185 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for a score, while guiding the Gray the entire day. What did seem bizzare was the fact that Cardele Jones never left the sideline, although he appeared to be healthy. I'm not sure what was up with that.
4) Bri'onte Dunn is impressive, too. While Thomas was the star of the incoming freshmen, Dunn looked very good to me, as well. He ran with authority, caught the ball out of the backfield, and looks like another star in the making. Jordan Hall was held out of action, so the only other running backs to see the field were Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith. Clearly, Dunn has passed Smith on the depth chart, but don't count Rod out yet. He looked very good when he entered the game in the fourth quarter, rushing 8 times for 46 yards and a TD. I think OSU is loaded for bear in the offensive backfield.
5) The defense played second fiddle, but will be just fine. This was a day for the new Urban Meyer offense to take center stage. But a veteran OSU defense is stacked with talent. We all know what players like John Simon, Johnathan Hankins (who did not play) and Bradley Roby can do. But lots of young guys made plays today. Steve Miller had a couple of sacks, Ryan Shazier had 7 tackles and a sack, Adam Griffin finished with 9 tackles and an interception, and Doran Grant looked very active to me, as well. Roby actually struggled at times, but we all know he is a player at CB so I'm not worried. I also noticed Sabino, Bellamy, and Bennett in on a lot of plays. One guy who did not impress me on this day was Curtis Grant, who just didn't seem to get off blocks to make many plays. Still, the Spring Game is really just one of a number of scrimmages, so it is wise to not draw too many conclusions from it. In fact, some of the better players, like John Simon, didn't log many minutes, since the staff is confident in their abilities, and knows what they can do.
6) The offensive line looked solid. Although there were a lot of sacks, I was impressed with the O-line. When the quarterback is down as soon as he is touched, it messes with the rushing statistics, and the sacks add up. But overall, I thought Miller and Guiton had nice pockets from which to throw. One interesting side note is that converted guard Chris Carter looked pretty good at defensive tackle and actually had a couple of "touch" sacks. He may have a future in the middle of the D-line, at least in short yardage situations.
Those are my initial thoughts. I will try and come back later with a few more details and maybe some more pictures (taken by my wife who braved the cold weather at my side). It was a fun day in spite of the low temperatures, and a giant step towards our beloved Buckeyes having an explosive offense again.