The Ohio State Buckeyes were one victory away from playing in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game against Florida State last season, so there was a lot of focus on the team's spring game on Saturday afternoon.
Of course, the main focus of the day was pass defense. Urban Meyer's secondary got lit up down the stretch, allowing 1,133 yards and 12 passing touchdowns to Michigan, Michigan State and Clemson.
The Buckeyes are lost their best cornerback, Bradley Roby, who will likely be a first-round pick in the NFL draft next month, star linebacker Ryan Shazier and No. 1 running back Carlos Hyde, so this game was more than just an exhibition to show off the new toys.
Also absent from the game was starting quarterback Braxton Miller, who had shoulder surgery earlier this year. His presence, or lack thereof, certainly left a void that gave the whole affair an incomplete feel.
Always loyal and passionate, Ohio State fans came out in full force for this spring game, as Jerry Emig of OhioStateBuckeyes.com provided the attendance numbers.
A nice spring game crowd today at Ohio State: 61,058. And that's fans in the stands and bodies in the stadium. Go Bucks!— Jerry Emig (@BuckeyeNotes) April 12, 2014
Those 61,058 fans were treated to a look at the incoming crop of talent, as well as a 17-7 victory by the Gray side over the Scarlet squad.
ESPN's Joe Schad noted that Meyer planned to open up the offenses today in order to see where the secondary is at right now.
Urban Meyer planning to pass often in Ohio State spring game in order to test Buckeyes' secondary— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) April 12, 2014
There were some positive developments on defense. Freshman linebacker and 5-star recruit Raekwon McMillan made a brilliant play down the field that most players at his position wouldn't be able to.
Raekwon McMillan runs down a WR in the open field, so there's that— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 12, 2014
Eli Apple, Meyer's prized 5-star cornerback recruit last year, also made his presence felt in the game with a nice play to shove Michael Thomas out of the corner of the end zone to save a touchdown.
Marcus Hartman of Buckeyes Sports Bulletin was very pleased with the play of Apple in the game.
Eli Apple has been as advertised so far. Aggressive corner— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 12, 2014
Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash also raved about Apple's improved performance days before the spring game, via ESPN's Big Ten Twitter feed.
Ohio State co-DC Chris Ash says CB Eli Apple might be the most improved player on defense this spring.— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) April 9, 2014
On the offensive side, sophomore running back Warren Ball had a nice game with a touchdown and almost seven yards per carry, via Eleven Warriors.
Warren Ball with a three-yard touchdown to push Gray's lead to 10. Ball has 55 yards on eight carries this afternoon.— Eleven Warriors (@11W) April 12, 2014
Of course, not everything goes perfectly, even in an exhibition game. Urban Meyer was not pleased with the performance of the offensive line, also via Eleven Warriors.
Meyer: "Our right guard right now is a kid who should be getting ready for his senior prom. And it looks like it."— Eleven Warriors (@11W) April 12, 2014
Who knew that Meyer had such a wicked sense of humor? He kept the laughs coming after the game was over, providing this quote about how the game played out, courtesy of Land-Grant Holy Land.
“Have some fun, tailgate. It’s certainly not quality football” Preach, Urban.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) April 12, 2014
Who was the most impressive player in Ohio State's spring game?
That about sums up the afternoon in Columbus. It wasn't always pretty to watch, though it certainly wasn't indicative of what fans can expect to see from the Buckeyes in 2014 because Miller was unable to play.
At least Meyer was honest about what he saw, understanding that there is a lot of raw talent on the field that has to start playing disciplined in games.
Ohio State is going to be at the top of everyone's Big Ten preseason rankings because Meyer is such an excellent recruiter of talent. He's also done well to go 24-2 in his first two seasons with the program, but the end of 2013 was an eye-opening experience for everyone.
The Buckeyes are losing a lot of high-end talent to the NFL, so this upcoming season will likely tell us about Meyer's ability to recruit star power and depth.
Get excited, Columbus, because Ohio State football took its first steps toward building on last season's Orange Bowl appearance.
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