Ohio State football: Get caught up before the spring game

Ohio State players, including Sam Hubbard (6) and Tracy Sprinkle (93), practice on Tuesday, March 6, 2017, at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Combined ShapeCaption
Ohio State players, including Sam Hubbard (6) and Tracy Sprinkle (93), practice on Tuesday, March 6, 2017, at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

The Ohio State spring football game is set for Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

While that's the capstone of the spring – the most public spectacle of several weeks worth of work – it is just part of the story.

Here is what we have learned so far about Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes:

1. The defensive line should be even deeper. 

This is a position we knew would be strong thanks to the return of nearly everyone from last year, but the group of ends has been so good the Buckeyes might use a package with five natural defensive ends in the game at the same time.

Wayne graduate Robert Landers is holding it down in the middle while Dre’Mont Jones has been one of the most-praised players of the spring at any position.

2. The offensive line could still use some more work.

Has much changed since last we saw the Buckeyes on the field? Demetrius Knox was the first man off the bench when a starter was hurt against Clemson, and he has been called the front-runner for the lone starting position available all spring.

Pushing him are Malcolm Pridgeon and Matt Burrell, but there’s been little buzz about anyone else and Meyer has lamented he still wants to see more from the No. 2 line.

RELATED: Meyer gives three keys to improving pass game

3. Running back is shaping up to be interesting

On the first day of spring, true freshman J.K. Dobbins was among the standouts – mostly because he didn’t look much like a freshman physically.

He is noticeably bigger than Demario McCall, last year’s change-of-pace to Mike Weber, and seems in line to be the No. 2 running back.

The ripple effect could mean more McCall in the slot – and that’s not a bad thing at all for the Buckeyes’ chances at being dynamic on offense.

4. Backup quarterback shouldn’t be a problem.

No team wants to lose its starting quarterback, but nobody knows better than Ohio State fans injuries are part of the game at that position.

Meyer said Joe Burrow has maintained his status as the No. 2 quarterback (and he was impressive in spot duty last year), but redshirt freshman Duane Haskins has generated some buzz.

True freshman Tate Martell has earned the praise of his head coach, too.

Combined ShapeCaption
Ohio State’s Tate Martell practices on Tuesday, March 6, 2017, at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Ohio State’s Tate Martell practices on Tuesday, March 6, 2017, at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Combined ShapeCaption
Ohio State’s Tate Martell practices on Tuesday, March 6, 2017, at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

5. There is still a lot of competition at receiver and defensive back.

Receiver hasn’t been a question during spring football every year at Ohio State – the forward pass wasn’t legalized until 1905, after all – it just feels like it.

This time around, senior Johnny Dixon, juniors Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin and sophomores Binjimin Victor, K.J. Hill and Austin Mack are the leading candidates to make Ohio State receiving great again while converted defensive back Eric Glover-Williams has turned some heads in the slot.

RELATED: Meyer runs down starters at this point in spring ball

On the flip side, Meyer says senior safety Damon Webb, the only returning starter in the secondary, has made great strides this spring while about a half dozen players are fighting to be next in line at the other spots.

Senior Erick Smith could break through in his last go ‘round unless highly touted sophomore Jordan Fuller grabs the open safety position.

Junior Denzel Ward and sophomore Damon Arnette have held off JUCO transfer Kendall Sheffield and a trio of true freshmen, but it remains to be seen if that lasts.

READ MORE at Marcus Hartman’s “Cus Words Blog.”

About the Author