Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
The Ohio State football team capped off its spring practice session with its annual Spring Game Saturday in Cincinnati, but the coaches and players believe there is still substantial work to be done.
OSU’s assistant coaches met with the media Wednesday to discuss the improvements that need to be made, which players have stuck out during the spring and how they hope the leadership of last year’s seniors will be replaced.
Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith: separating themselves from the rest
Senior running back Carlos Hyde ran for 970 yards in his first season as a full-time starter in Meyer’s spread offense. His 16 rushing touchdowns led the team, and according to running backs coach Stan Drayton, Hyde and junior Rod Smith are going to be the main contributors for the position this fall.
“I do believe that Carlos and Rod have separated themselves from both (sophomore Bri’onte Dunn and redshirt freshman Warren Ball),” Drayton said. “I feel like we have depth that can bring productivity to our offense which is something that is an unbelievable luxury to have. Carlos is clearly the starter, and I think Rod has separated himself from those guys right now.”
Drayton went on to say Hyde has grown into a “phenomenal leader.”
“It was critical that he establish himself with a young group of guys,” Drayton said. “He was like a coach out there. It was really good to see.”
For the front seven, leadership is the key
With former starters John Simon and Johnathan Hankins gone, linebacker coach and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said the biggest thing that the defense has lost is leadership.
“I think you’re always concerned about the leadership and the mentality and the way those guys are handling everything,” Fickell said. “You worry about how they gel together, how the leadership guys step up, how they make the other guys around them better.”
Fickell said he was happy to see a number of guys “really maturing” this spring though, including junior middle linebacker Curtis Grant, who Fickell sees in the starting lineup with junior Ryan Shazier and sophomore Joshua Perry.
Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel said the line made “good progress” during the 14 spring practices. The coaching staff and the players, though, are “not putting a lot of stock” in the 11 sacks the defense had during the Spring Game.
Vrabel said the defensive line was more productive during scrimmages earlier in the spring than during the game because “you saw more consistent plays in the run game, runs that we’re going to see. Some of those guys in that first group didn’t see a whole bunch of runs (during the Spring Game).”
Vrabel said that juniors Joel Hale and Michael Bennett in particular have made significant progress.
“I think Joel Hale improved. I think we saw some things from him that we hadn’t seen from him last year,” Vrabel said. “Michael Bennett had a good spring. He was consistent, he was there every day. He was a leader for us and gave us a physical presence inside.”