Ohio State football: 5 things to know from the spring game

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

COLUMBUS — Ohio State completed spring practice Saturday with an offense-defense scrimmage in front of an announced crowd of 80,112 fans at Ohio Stadium.

There were not a lot of “wow” plays on the afternoon, but the Buckeyes appeared to avoid any major injuries, and many young players got a lot of snaps.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

1. The offense won.

Despite four turnovers, the offense (wearing scarlet jerseys) held on for a 34-33 victory against the more veteran defensive unit in a game utilizing a scoring system that awarded points to both sides for various plays.

The defense led 17-13 at halftime after holding the offense to one touchdown, forcing two punts and snagging two interceptions.

With reserves getting most of the snaps in the second half and full tackling allowed, the offense scored three touchdowns to pull ahead on the scoreboard.

2. The ground game was the difference in the second half as three different Buckeyes ran for touchdowns.

All-conference rushers TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins combined for 11 touches, which is probably more than expected, leaving plenty of opportunities for the other running backs left on the roster.

Junior walk-on T.C. Caffey and true freshmen James Peoples and Sam Williams-Dixon all ran for touchdowns in the second half as the offense got into something of a groove on the ground.

Williams-Dixon had the long run of the day (22 yards) and a game-high 75 yards on 11 carries while Peoples ran 10 times for 36 yards, Judkins had 31 yards on four carries, Henderson had 18 yards on four carries and Caffey ran five times for 16 yards.

“I thought all the running backs did a nice job today,” Day said. “Certainly for James and Sam getting their first opportunity to get tackled was good.”

3. The veteran quarterbacks only played one half.

That was a bit of a surprise as Day spoke before the game of wanting to maximize opportunities to evaluate everyone.

Will Howard, the transfer from Kansas State, got the first snap with the first team. He ended up completing 9 of 13 passes for 77 yards with a long of 18.

Rising sophomore Devin Brown went next. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 66 yards and threw the only touchdown pass of the game, a slant to walk-on receiver Brennan Schramm.

Redshirt freshman Lincoln Kienholz was 10-for-17 passing for 71 yards with a pair of interceptions, and true freshmen Julian Sayin went 10 for 17 for 85 yards and a pick while classmate Air Noland was 5-for-7 for 47 yards.

4. Offense consisted mostly of zone runs and short passes.

That may or may not be an indication of what new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly has in store this fall.

Day noted that he did not arrive until shortly before spring practice began, so the focus of those 15 practices was evaluating the talent the Buckeyes have on the roster.

This summer the coaching staff figures to work on how best to use it.

“Some of those passes are like long handoffs for us,” Day said. “We want to be able to stretch the field horizontally, and we want to be able to stretch the field vertically. We didn’t get as much of an opportunity to do that today, but there were a couple of play-action passes they kind of ran out of there and we checked it down.”

5. Reserve defensive linemen had some moments.

Senior Jack Sawyer was credited with one of the team’s six sacks, but the rest went to reserves who figures to be counted upon for depth this fall.

Senior end Mitchell Melton generated a noticeable amount of pressure all afternoon and had one sack among his four tackles.

Caden Curry, Hero Kanu, Jason Moore and Eddrick Houston also had sacks on the afternoon, and Day said afterward the right side of the line is still not solidified.

Stat of the Game: 4

The four interceptions could be a good thing or a bad thing. Ohio State has been working on developing the secondary and generating more takeaways, but some of them were on throws that looked questionable. Aaron Scott Jr., a true freshman from Springfield, had his hands on a potential fifth interception but couldn’t hang onto it.

Game balls

Williams-Dixon was the most productive offensive player, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, while Alter grad C.J. Hicks posted a game-high eight tackles from his spot as a first-team linebacker.

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