Ohio State is coming off of an undefeated regular season with wins over three ranked opponents, including rival Michigan. The Buckeyes hope to replicate that result next fall. It's a process that begins with the spring game on Saturday.
They don't have a ton of marquee position battles going on right now, which means that the game will be more about seeing the progress that's been made. One thing's for sure: Urban Meyer is building quite a roster in Columbus.
Let's take a look at three players that will be in the spotlight during the spring game. All of them will need to play key roles if the Buckeyes are going to have any chance of running the table for the second straight regular season.
Miller had a terrific second season. He accounted for over 3,300 yards of offense and showed a much better understanding of how to attack defenses. Yet, it still seems like the dual-threat quarterback has only scratched the surface on his potential.
The biggest area where he can make major improvement is his completion rate. He checked in at 58 percent last season, which is reasonable given everything else he brings to the table, but there's no reason he can't eventually push it to 65 percent.
It probably doesn't seem like a major difference on the surface. But that's a lot of extra third downs converted to keep the ball moving. At the same time, it would force defenses to respect the pass more, giving him more running lanes. His accuracy is what to watch on Saturday.
Spence arrived in Columbus with a lot of hype. It's always tough for a young player to handle all the added pressure, especially while playing for a high-profile program like Ohio State. The team also had a deep rotation, which limited his impact.
Now, it's time for him to shine. His potential is through the roof. He's got all the physical tools necessary to become a huge star off the edge, so it just comes down to gaining experience and learning the finer points of the position.
It's a quest that continues on Saturday. No matter how well a player performs in practice, the spring game is really a chance to show the coaching staff that it carries over to game situations. Spence appears ready to do exactly that.
Much like Spence, it's time for Grant to take the next step. He's shown flashes of ability throughout his time with the Buckeyes, but consistency has been an issue. At some positions, players can overcome that—but not at middle linebacker.
Ohio State needs Grant to make a his presence felt on almost every snap. If he reaches that level, the impact it will have on the Buckeyes' defense is enormous and would eliminate one serious question mark about next season.
While a good showing in the spring game isn't enough by itself to prove himself, it would be a good step. Listen for his name throughout the game. If you hear it a lot, then it will be apparent he's making the plays he needs to in order to further lock down his spot.
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