The defending national champions of college football are set to return to a game-like atmosphere for the first time since the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship.
While the Ohio State football team is scheduled to return to Ohio Stadium on Saturday for the annual Spring Game, coach Urban Meyer said in a Thursday teleconference that the starters will not see much playing time.
“We are going to let the 1-A’s of the 2,000 rep club — we are going to go the first two series of the game. It will not be to the ground tackle. It will be very structured and pass-type situations. I think the fans deserve to watch the Joey Bosas of the world go out and play,” Meyer said. “Then we will start taking those guys out of the game and continue on with the scrimmage.”
With the starters not seeing many live reps Saturday, Meyer said he is hoping to see younger players make an impact, specifically mentioning two players — one on each side of the ball.
“There’s going to be a bunch of guys who have never played. (Sophomore wide receiver) Noah Brown and (redshirt-sophomore cornerback) Gareon Conley are two guys that are penciled in to start somewhere,” Meyer said.
There is a good chance that Brown and Conley will go head-to-head at some point during Saturday’s scrimmage, and the question of who will be throwing the ball in their direction is limited, but well documented.
Redshirt-junior and title-winning quarterback Cardale Jones is set to lead one of the teams with redshirt-freshman Stephen Collier on the other sideline.
While Jones’ story is much more known since his emergence late last season, Collier will be receiving the most playing time since taking the final two snaps in last year’s edition of the Spring Game.
Redshirt-sophomore J.T. Barrett and redshirt-senior Braxton Miller will be sitting out the exhibition as they rehab injuries. However, Barrett is set to compete on a different scale.
Barrett is set to join Jones and former OSU Heisman-winning quarterback Troy Smith in a “QB Skills Challenge” at halftime at Ohio Stadium. Miller will not participate as his shoulder is not yet at 100 percent.
As for who will be taking the first snaps when the 2015 season starts, Meyer said he wants to give Jones, Barrett and Miller a fair chance.
“Every one of them deserves that opportunity and two of them aren’t getting it,” Meyer said. “So by the middle of training camp, I think you have to have a handle on this thing.”
Senior linebacker Joshua Perry said no matter who the Buckeyes name at quarterback, he is confident the team will continue to win games.
“It’s not as important as people would want to make it seem,” Perry said on the teleconference. “The great thing is we know we have guys who stepped in and made big plays in big games, so we trust everybody.”
As for the game itself, Perry said he is looking forward to seeing some of his younger teammates get playing time in front of a crowd.
“Guys like (sophomore linebacker) Dante Booker, and (freshman linebacker) Nick Conner. Those guys I am really excited to see because they have put in a lot of work this spring and it’s really going to be their first shot out there,” Perry said. “It’s going to be fun to see how those guys react and respond.”
The Spring Game is set to kick off at 1:30 p.m. following the OSU vs. Maryland men’s lacrosse game, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. Both games are set to be played at the ‘Shoe.