Ohio State Football: 5 Things to Look for in the Spring Game
On Saturday, Ohio State's second spring under Urban Meyer will culminate in the 2013 Spring Game, held this year at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
The spring has had plenty of intriguing storylines play out, and we've seen plenty of youngsters starting to make their presence felt.
Ultimately, we won't know how much we learn about the spring until the end of August when we see just how much of that progress carries over into the season because the spring game will only showcase so much.
But there's still plenty to keep an eye on and take note of going into the long summer before the return of the season.
Here are five things to watch.
Braxton Miller's Improvement
Nearly all eyes in Columbus will be focused on Braxton Miller, who finished No. 5 in the Heisman Trophy voting after a breakout 2012 season.
The question will be how much more he continues to grow, after spending some time in the winter working with George Whitfield Jr., who has worked with so many talented quarterbacks in the past few years.
The results from the practices are pretty good in terms of continuing to grow as a thrower and making big plays in the passing game.
It will be a different test when we get to see it at full speed in a scrimmage atmosphere.
Ohio State's front seven is going through a massive reconstruction, replacing all but one starter from the 2012 team—Ryan Shazier is the only returner.
Highly touted defensive linemen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington will likely lead the front four as expected along with Michael Bennett and Joel Hale.
This OSU defense will be very young, but it should be very fun to watch as well.
Different Offensive Packages
Earlier in the week, we mentioned that the Buckeyes had been experimenting with a new formation in their offense: the diamond formation, which is run very well by the San Francisco 49ers during their Super Bowl trip.
While odds are good that we're not going to see it on Saturday, it will be interesting to see how many new wrinkles to the Buckeyes' offense are unveiled.
Ohio State already proved last year that it can score as well as most teams in the country, especially when it comes to running the football.
Now the question is how much will be added on now that all the starters have a year of practice in Meyer and Tom Herman's offense.
Sophomores Growing into Their Own
The biggest breakout star of the spring has been DE Noah Spence, who has been nearly unblockable throughout the spring.
Spence and Washington were among the most coveted recruits in Meyer's first recruiting class. Now that they have a year's worth of experience, they look to make a significant impact on the starting lineup.
The player who Spence has been going after quite a bit in practice, fellow sophomore Taylor Decker, is probably going to start at right tackle, filling the only void on the Ohio State offensive line.
Other sophomores like Bri'Onte Dunn, Camren Williams, Josh Perry, David Perkins and Armani Reeves among others will try to make an impact of their own on Saturday.
Young Offensive Depth Hopes to Impress
It's a given that veterans Carlos Hyde, Jordan Hall, Corey Brown and Devin Smith will get the majority of offensive touches both in the spring and during the season.
Saturday will be a chance for the offensive backups like Rod Smith, Michael Thomas and Bri'Onte Dunn to state their cases for more plays, especially considering the offensive talent signed and sealed to OSU for the freshman class of 2013.
Thomas, who shined in last year's spring game, has continued to improve, and hopefully, as the year goes on will prove to be more than the "spring game star" like former WR Taurian Washington.
Smith and Dunn have each had their moments and continue to battle for the No. 3 RB job, while redshirt freshman Warren Ball has been catching some positive attention as well.
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