The Ohio State Buckeyes will help turn the page on last season's disappointing finish, as they conclude spring practices with the annual LIFESports Spring Game.
Essentially, a spring game is a glorified scrimmage. It provides an opportunity for the athletes to show coaches they are ready for a big role in the upcoming season. This game will factor into position battles, and it will be a chance for fans to get a look at some of the new recruits.
Along with this, it should be an entertaining game. As ESPN's Austin Ward notes, the teams are typically evenly split to help provide a good product and put players in important situations.
Here are the vitals to catching the action, and then I'll highlight some of the more interesting facets to keep an eye on.
When: Saturday, April 12 at 1:30 p.m. ET
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Big Ten Network
Rosters: Ohio State tweeted the rosters for the teams:
What to Watch
The Ash Impact
New co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash joined the Buckeyes after handling the defensive coordinator position for Arkansas last year. He will be in charge of the secondary, and the secondary needed a new direction.
As the Buckeyes dropped two games to finish the season last year, they allowed Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook to combine to throw for 682 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
Don't look for Ash to recite those putrid stats, however.
“I’m not concerned about what’s happened here in the past,” said Ash in a quote captured by Tim May in The Columbus Dispatch. “I’m more concerned about the direction we’re going to go and how we get the players aligned to what our vision is going to be, and that we get better.”
Ash has only had a handful of practices to make his mark, but that won't stop anyone from looking for improvement in coverage.
Battle for Backup QB
Incumbent starting quarterback Braxton Miller had shoulder surgery at the end of last season and won't be suiting up. In the case of this game, his absence works out well. Ohio State has to figure out who will be his backup.
Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett and redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones are battling for the honor. As Ari Wasserman of the Northeast Ohio Media Group explains it, Jones has a slight edge in the battle, but the scales could easily tip.
Clevelanddotcomosu caught the two signal-callers in this Instagram:
Jones has all the physical tools. He is 6'5" and 230 pounds and has plenty of arm strength. Meanwhile, Barrett doesn't match up in tools, but Wasserman noted he has impressed coaches with his leadership. Wasserman passed along Barrett's thoughts on leadership:
My biggest thing is to just lead by example. You can't lead anybody if you're not doing right. You have to have that personal integrity, and I tell that to my guys. I wouldn't actually be able to do it if I didn't do it, so that's biggest thing. Then also developing that trust over time so they can believe in you and believe in what you say.
The job of Miller's backup is a valuable position for the Buckeyes. Hopefully, Miller will be able to make it through the season, but his style of play puts him in harm's way. The Buckeyes need one of these two talented youngsters to grab the backup job and run with it.