Ohio State football: 5 takeaways from the spring game

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State’s annual Scarlet and Gray Game provided a little bit of everything for folks to feel good about.

The sun even came out by the time it was over, adding some warmth to a day that started off as dark and chilly as most of them have in Ohio this spring.

ExploreWhat we learned prior to the spring game

“What I liked was just the physicality of it,” head coach Ryan Day said after the Scarlet (offense) beat the Gray (defense) 34-26. “Guys running around tackling was something that we wanted to get done this game. Having said all that, the depth of the D-line is definitely going to be a strength of ours, but it was good to see those guys run around and tackle. We’ll take a look at the film and see but it was more about fundamentals and tackling and playing with effort.”

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. The offense started hot.

The Scarlet scored on four of the first six possessions, including touchdown passes by C.J. Stroud and Kyle McCord.

Stroud connected with Jaxon Smith-Njigba for a 29-yard catch-and-run score to cap the first possession, and McCord hit Joe Royer fro 24 yards out to finish the second.

Third-string running back Evan Pryor scored the third touchdown on a 22-yard scamper in the second quarter, and Jake Seibert made a 42-yard field goal to end the sixth possession of the game.

Stroud finished 14-for-22 passing for 120 yards while McCord was 14 for 20 for 129 yards. Third-string true freshman Devin Brown his 11 of his 24 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown but also threw the game’s only interception.

2. The defense got tougher as the game went on.

This was fans’ first chance to see the scheme of new coordinator Jim Knowles, but he did not show much.

They showed multiple coverages but did little exotic, no doubt saving plenty of tricks for the season opener against Notre Dame.

Despite that, the Gray forced the offense to drive the ball and avoided giving up the type of home run plays that have hurt the Ohio State defense the last two seasons.

The offense managed seven plays of more than 20 yards, but the longest was a 36-yard run by Miyan Williams in the third quarter.

The defense scored points via sacks, turnovers and forced punts.

3. There were few surprises from a depth chart perspective.

The No. 1 offensive line consisted of tackles Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones and guards Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones with center Luke Wypler, but the lack of depth there this spring was evident with Jackson playing left tackle on the second unit along with Grant Toutant at right tackle, Jakob James at center and Enokk Vimahi and Toby Wilson at the guards.

The defensive line started with veterans Zach Harrison and Javontae Jean-Baptiste at end and fellow seniors Taron Vincent and Jerron Cage inside. Sophomores Jack Sawyer, J.T. Tumoloau, Tyleik Williams and redshirt freshman Mike Hall backed them up.

Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers got the first crack at linebacker with Chip Trayanum and Teradja Mitchell backing them up and freshmen C.J. Hicks, Gabe Powers and Reid Carrico also seeing time.

The No. 1 secondary had Denzel Burke and Cam Brown at cornerback with Josh Proctor, Ronnie Hickman and Tanner McCalister at safety as expected.

The second unit saw J.K. Johnson, Ryan Turner and Jordan Hancock share time at cornerback with Kye Stokes, Andre Turrentine and Cam Martinez at the safety spots.

4. The running backs looked good.

Spring games are rarely a showcase for running games, but this one was a bit of an exception despite No. 1 back TreVeyon Henderson carrying only three times for 12 yards before being done for the day.

Williams and Pryor more than picked up the slack, combining to gain 163 yards on 24 carries in a game that had some live tackling and some periods where the whistle blew on first contact.

Pryor showed some burst on his touchdown run, outrunning the backside linebacker through the hole then busting a couple of angles and picking up blocks down the field.

The redshirt freshman also had the longest reception of the game, a 35-yard grab out of the backfield.

Williams showed off his well-known wiggle on his long run, meeting Mitchell Melton at the line of scrimmage and leaving him grasping nothing but air.

Melton left the game with an apparent leg injury later, and Knowles said he did not have an update on him after the game. The redshirt sophomore linebacker, who played one of the end positions Saturday, missed all of last season with a leg injury.

5. The tight ends got to catch the ball.

Those fans always aching to see more passes thrown to the tight ends had to like what they saw Saturday.

Five tight ends combined to catch 12 passes for 115 yards, including Royer’s touchdown on a contested catch.

Gee Scott Jr., a former receiver in his second year at tight end, had a game-high five catches for 40 yards while Royer caught two passes for 37, Patrick Gurd caught two passes for 13 yards, Bennett Christian caught two for eight and Sam Hart had one catch for 17 yards.

“It’s very difficult come in and play as a young player, and so those guys are developing and putting in the work and that’s a position of strength for us moving into August,” Day said.

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