Lantern file photo
For the first time since late November, the Ohio State football team is scheduled to play in front of the public since beating Michigan on Nov. 24. The Buckeyes will make the approximately two-hour trip to Cincinnati and Paul Brown Stadium Saturday for the 2013 LiFESports Spring Game.
Here are things to keep an eye on during the 2013 edition of OSU’s Scarlet and Gray scrimmage.
Cincinnati Buckeyes returning to their hometown
Coach Urban Meyer called playing in Cincinnati a “great idea” and hopes fans fill the stadium even though the game will not be on campus. He said he knows that the players from Cincinnati are looking forward to playing in their hometown. Starting left guard Andrew Norwell is one of those players, and he said he “couldn’t help to be excited for Saturday.”
“I love playing in the ‘Shoe, but playing in Cincinnati hits home to me,” the senior from Anderson High School said. “Playing in Cincinnati is going to be great.”
Defensive end Adolphus Washington said he is looking forward to playing in an NFL stadium and hopes to play well in front of the 15 friends and family members that are coming to watch.
“I got a lot of people coming to the game, and everybody keeps saying they can’t wait to see me play,” Washington said. “If they make it down there, they’ll get to see me.”
Both Washington and Norwell said their respective lines are improving each day. Norwell is one of four returning starters on the offensive line, with right tackle being the only vacant position. Sophomores Taylor Decker and Chase Farris are looking to fill the void, and Norwell said the starting job has yet to be decided, but currently Decker is running with the first-string offense.
“(Taylor) had one of his best practices on Monday and is improving a lot, the same with Chase,” Norwell said. “They’re still battling out, it’s not in stone yet, and it really could be either one of them.”
Meyer said not having that position filled is something that is “very bothersome” to him and the coaching staff.
“The offensive line kind of set a nice little standard last year. I thought we were the best offensive line in the Big Ten,” Meyer said. “As of practice 13, we are not the best offensive line in the Big Ten.”
Washington said the defensive line is looking the best it has all spring. “At the beginning, we were kind of unsure about what we were going to do, but we came out those first couple practices and we went at it with the offensive line,” the sophomore from Taft High School said. “It just built up confidence and now we are doing pretty good.”
Kerry Coombs: Cincinnati is “my town”
Defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs, a former 50-year native of the Queen City and former coach of football powerhouse Colerain High School, said he could not wait to show the public what the Buckeyes have been working on this spring.
“I am just thrilled to be able to go down there with these kids, to share that experience with them and to be in that stadium with them,” Coombs said. “That’s my town. I love that place, so I am excited to be going home Saturday.”
Coombs said no matter where OSU plays football, it will help in recruiting, and the people of Cincinnati are looking forward to the chance to watch the Spring Game.
“Anytime we can put our product in front of people, that’s going to be a plus for us,” Coombs said. “For the entire city of Cincinnati, I think the people that come to the Spring Game are going to be really excited about that, and I think that any young player that saw that is going to want to be a part of it.”
Plenty of passing will be done
Meyer said he and the other coaches will spend a lot of time evaluating the team Saturday and will expect the offense to try and move the ball a lot through the air.
“There will be a lot of passes in the game, especially with the (first team),” Meyer said. “I thought about sitting some of our offensive lineman but then if you do, you won’t learn how they can control the line of scrimmage. It’s really important to play in that environment.”
Junior quarterback Braxton Miller will wear a black jersey in the game, as will senior Kenny Guiton, to signify no contact on the Buckeye quarterbacks. Meyer said he will have a close eye on Miller in order to keep a hit like the one Miller took on Saturday from sophomore defensive end Noah Spence from happening again.
Meyer also said that he “is going to carry a baseball bat” with him in order to make sure.
Curtis Grant: starting middle linebacker
Meyer said he is very pleased with how junior Curtis Grant has developed this spring. Grant, the much maligned top-rated middle linebacker coming out of Virginia in 2011, is widely expected to make an impact next season alongside fellow junior linebacker Ryan Shazier. Meyer named him the starter at the position for now, and said Grant has a totally different mindset than last year.
“He’s the starting middle linebacker of Ohio State right now,” Meyer said. “He wasn’t fully engaged (last year). He is a fully engaged guy right now, and that’s very settling.”
Bradley Roby will not play Saturday
Redshirt junior defensive back Bradley Roby’s shoulder injury has kept him out of practice, and will prevent him from playing Saturday. Meyer called keeping him out of the game a precaution.
The 2013 Spring Game is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday. Tickets will cost $18 for club seats, $12 for general reserved season and $5 for children ages 2-6. OSU student tickets will be free and be general admission.