Ohio State Football: Week 4 Spring Practice Stock Report

David Regimbal@davidreg412Featured ColumnistApril 3, 2014

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer watches his team during their Spring NCAA college football practice Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Associated Press

The weather finally broke in Ohio, and for the first time this spring, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes felt the sun on their shoulders as they ran through drills on the outside practice field this week.

It was a short-lived experience, though, as extreme winds forced Ohio State back into the confines of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center midway through Tuesday's practice.

Under roof or sunshine, however, the Buckeyes kept grinding through spring drills. Here's the latest news out of Columbus.


Biggest Storylines

Another week of practice produced another significant injury to a key starter.

It was announced on Tuesday that starting tight end Jeff Heuerman would be out for the remainder of spring practice after suffering a foot sprain and undergoing surgery last week.

It was Heuerman's second injury of the offseason—he broke his nose in a weight-lifting accident in March—but he's only expected to miss six weeks.

Jeff Heuerman caught 26 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns for Ohio State last year.
Jeff Heuerman caught 26 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns for Ohio State last year.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Heuerman joins a long list of walking wounded for the Buckeyes. Braxton Miller hasn't seen a bit of action as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Vonn Bell went down with an MCL sprain during the team's first spring practice, an injury that sidelined him until the summer. Two weeks later, Ohio State lost Jalin Marshall for the spring after he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

Needless to say, it has been a tough spring on the injury front.

On the field, the Buckeyes are working through some dramatic changes defensively.

Meyer brought in Chris Ash to replace Everett Withers as co-defensive coordinator, and with that, the Buckeyes are adapting his aggressive pass defense.

Over the last two years, Ohio State had its corners playing off the line in scrimmage. The theory behind that strategy was to give the corner a better view of the play as it evolved, but the results weren't there. The Buckeyes ranked No. 110 out of 123 teams in pass defense last season, prompting Ash's dramatic change.

This spring, the Buckeyes' corners have played exclusively in press coverage.

If the secondary can pick up the new scheme quickly, there won't be as many holes for opposing quarterbacks to exploit this season.


Position Battles 

The backup quarterback competition has been one of the biggest and most important battles this spring, and with Miller sidelined, the contenders have been seeing a lot of action.

After four weeks, a leader has emerged.

Cardale Jones, a redshirt sophomore who played in three games last season, has pulled ahead of freshman J.T. Barrett. 

Despite having a bad practice this week, Meyer praised Jones, saying, "Without question he could play quarterback at Ohio State, and he's done a good job."

Jones is also gaining respect from his teammates.

With Miller's injury history, it's pivotal for the Buckeyes to have a viable backup. Kenny Guiton filled that role perfectly over the last two years, but Jones appears to be stepping up.


David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.