**12:12 p.m. – Big Ten Network isn’t bringing you the action live today, but we are here at Bucknuts.
Welcome into our live blog for Ohio State’s spring game at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati where there will be plenty of storylines that will undoubtedly emerge. The Buckeyes are coming off a 12-0 season in Urban Meyer’s first year at the helm and expectations could not possibly be higher entering the 2013 season.
It should be a fun day here in the Queen City where there is no chance of rain, it’s a sunny day and temperatures should be in the low 50’s by the time the game kicks off at 1 p.m. However, it’s a blustery day and wind could be a big factor today.
Glancing at the rosters, the Scarlet squad has huge advantage on the offensive line. And with only 14 healthy offensive linemen on Ohio State’s entire spring roster – seven on the Scarlet and seven on the Gray – even the veteran returning starters are going to need to play. And yes, that total of 14 includes all the walk-ons. (There are a total of 15 offensive linemen on OSU’s roster, but junior Antonio Underwood is out and will miss the 2013 season with a torn ACL.)
Just how much of an advantage does Scarlet have on the O-line? They have five of the top-six linemen on the Buckeyes’ 2013 team. That’s right, Scarlet loaded up with left tackle Jack Mewhort, left guard Andrew Norwell, right guard Marcus Hall – who are all fifth-year seniors – and the two players vying for the right tackle spot: sophomores Taylor Decker and Chase Farris. Sophomore Jacoby Boren will be the starting center for the Scarlet and junior walk-on Ben St. John is also on the roster.
Fifth-year senior Corey Linsley, the returning starter at center, is going to be a lonely man on the Gray team as far as experienced O-linemen are concerned. He will be joined by one of the pleasant surprises of the spring – redshirt freshman Pat Elflein – but they play the same position (which makes the whole situation even odder). Obviously, one of them will have to move to guard. They will be joined by sophomore Tommy Brown, redshirt freshman Kyle Dodson and junior Darryl Baldwin as the other scholarship offensive linemen on the Gray squad. Walk-ons Ivon Blackman, a senior, and Eric Kramer, a junior, are also on the team.
Scarlet also has the quarterback tandem of junior Braxton Miller and fifth-year Kenny Guiton (the latter will play for both teams). However, Miller is unlikely to play very much and will be wearing a black, no-contact jersey. Guiton will also be off-limits. However, Gray QB Cardale Jones – who received exactly zero reps in last year’s spring game – will be live and the redshirt freshman could be headed for a big day. He will certainly get plenty of opportunities to show what he can do.
At running back, it might turn into somewhat of a battle between junior Rod Smith (Gray) and sophomore Bri’onte Dunn (Scarlet). Carlos Hyde (Gray) is unlikely to play much and Warren Ball will suit up for both teams. Knock on wood, but Ohio State has been fortunate that all four scholarship tailbacks have stayed healthy this spring. Fifth-year senior Jordan Hall is no longer a tailback as he has moved to the “hybrid” position. (And I refuse to call it the “Percy Harvin” position. Whoops.)
[UPDATE: Scratch that about Rod Smith. He's out with a concussion today, an injury that occurred yesterday in practice.]
One major advantage the Gray team has is on the defensive line as they boast junior tackles Michael Bennett and Joel Hale, as well as sophomore ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. That’s how the first-team defensive line has been lining up during spring without a split squad. I personally think sophomore Tommy Schutt (who will play for the Scarlet today) will beat out Hale for a starting spot this fall, but even if that happens, three-fourths of the Buckeyes’ starting D-line will be on the Gray squad today.
Meyer has said we can expect a lot of passes, which will be interesting considering it’s a windy day. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of passes sail on the quarterbacks. Then again, all three of the signal-callers you will see today have enjoyed sharp springs. They’ve looked good at the practices that have been open to the media (almost half the practices this spring) and the coaches have raved about all of them as well.
My prediction for attendance is 43,500. That’s almost 10,000 more fans than the University of Cincinnati’s home stadium even holds (capacity at Nippert Stadium – the first home of the Cincinnati Bengals – is 35,097). All right, that was an unnecessary low blow. Nah, it was completely necessary. As for Paul Brown Stadium itself – which holds 65,000 – it is used to not hosting sellouts as it is of course the home to the Cincinnati Bengals. Hey, I can make fun of the Bengals as a Bengal fan.
By the way, if you're not a subscriber, you should do yourself a favor and take advantage of our free 30 day trial and get all the news on Ohio State football and recruiting. This has been another spectacular recruiting season for the Buckeyes and 2014 recruiting promises to be more of the same. Get total Buckeye coverage from Bucknuts.com - just click the link below!
Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll be back with much more later and you’ll want to keep it locked here during the game if you want live updates.
** 12:24 p.m. -- TE Nick Vannett (concussion), CB Bradley Roby (shoulder) not in uniform. LB Ryan Shazier is in uniform, as is Hall, although I can't imagine either of the will play. Check out Daily Battle Cry here for more storylines on the game.
**12:38 p.m. – There will be no kickoffs today; the ball will be placed at the 35 instead. All punts will be fair caught. Senior Drew Basil will kick and punt for both teams, but I'm sure some walk-ons will also get some action. In addition to Ball Basil and Guiton, sophomore linebacker Cam Williams will play for both teams.
**12:55 p.m. – Late-arriving crowd. Traffic was a mess on I-71 South close to the stadium, so I have no question that is playing a big role. I saw many cars decked out in Buckeye signage on my way down from Columbus. Ohio State sold roughly 30,000 pre-sale tickets and I predicted there would be about 13,000 walk-up sales for a total attendance of 43,500. We're a long way from that now and we're fast approaching kickoff. ... It does not appear as though the Buckeyes will do the popular "circle drill" before the game today.
**12:58 p.m. – Game time has been pushed back 20 minutes to 1:20. ... My pick for the Bam Childress Award is fifth-year senior Chris Fields. Remember, one of the caveats of the Bam Award is that you have to tear it up in the spring game and then barely see the field in the fall. Other top candidates in my estimation include Warren Ball, Tyvis Powell and Blake Thomas.
**1:05 p.m. – Check that, circle drill is on! I'll report back with details.
**1:12 p.m. – Circle drill was entertaining as always. However, there were a lot of stalemates. Some highlights: Michael Thomas drove back Tyvis Powell and won their battle. ... Chris Carter and Pat Elflein battled to a stalemate, but then it was Carter getting the best of the former high school wrestler on their second and final try. ... The two-top quarterbacks went at it for the second-straight year, but this time it was Miller getting the best of Guiton. ... One of the best stalemates was Adolphus Washington against Taylor Decker.
**1:16 p.m. – 7 minutes away from kickoff according to the official clock here at PBS. ... The Best Damn Band In The Land is playing right now to the delight of the crowd. ... I think an ex-Buckeye/current NFL player who is here today (I'm sure there will be a few, there always are) should wear the Brutus uniform and at some point take the field and jack David Perkins up. As long as Perkins doesn't get hurt, because Perkins has had one hell of a good spring.
**1:28 p.m. – First play of the game, Miller goes deep and hits Evan Spencer for 49 yards. It would have been a touchdown if Spencer could have stayed on his feet. Broken coverage in the secondary.
**1:31 p.m. – Noah Spence "sacks" Miller on second down for a four-yard loss. (If Miller or Guiton are touched, they are considered down.) Then Miller makes a great play on third-and-14 to keep the play alive and loft a perfect pass to Devin Smith for a 20-yard touchdown. Scarlet takes a 7-0 lead with 9:08 left in the first quarter (10-minute quarters today).
**1:35 p.m. – The tempo is extremely-fast for both offenses as you can imagine. Guiton comes out and fires a strike to Michael Thomas for 13 yards. Then Guiton hooked up with Blake Thomas who went for a whopping 34 yards on the play. Thomas dragged Perkins for the final 10 yards at least. On third-and-6, JT Moore got a hand on a scrambling Guiton who only gained one yard. ... Basil's 28 yard field goal attempt is ... no good. Ouch. Wide right. Score remains 7-0 Scarlet.
**1:42 p.m. – Powell made a nice play to break up a deep pass from Miller intended for Jeff Heuerman. ... Looks like Jack Mewhort is not playing today as a precaution. Decker is the left tackle and Chase Farris is the right tackle for the Scarlet. ... Spence just racked up his second sack already as he beat Decker off the edge with ease. ... On third-and-17, Miller threw an excellent deep ball that was intended for Spencer as pass interference was called on Armani Reeves. Again, great job by Miller to keep the drive alive. If he doesn't put the ball exactly where it needs to be, pass interference isn't called. Reeves had good coverage on the play initially, but made too much contact before the ball arrived. ... Philly Brown just dropped a pass on a crossing route. He was wide open, Miller led him perfectly, but Brown just dropped the ball. He reverted back to the old Philly there. ... Washington gets on the board with a sack and makes sure everyone knows it. He beat Farris on the play. ... The drive ends on a sack from walk-on LB Craig Fada. It was a coverage sack.
**1:51 p.m. – Nice job by Thomas hauling in a low pass from Guiton and then breaking a tackle from Eli Apple for a gain of 12 yards for the Gray team. Thomas continues his excellent spring. He's not a candidate for the Bam Childress Award today in my estimation because he will play a lot this fall (even if he's not a starter). ... Tracy Sprinkle just barely missed getting a hand on Guiton for a sack. Instead, Guiton scrambled for six yards.
**2 p.m. – They're working on field goal drills now that have no impact on the scoring of the game. Basil missed a 49-yarder wide right, but came back to drill a 49-yarder on his next kick. ... He then badly missed a 54-yarder that appeared to be partially blocked. ... Basil then missed another 54-yarder (wide right) and Urban Meyer looks like someone just shot his dog he's so disappointed. ... Basil then missed another 54-yarder (short and wide left) and now we're about to get back to game action. Not a sharp day for Basil to say the least.
**2:05 p.m. – Miller throws a pinpoint pass to Heuerman for seven yards. CJ Barnett had good coverage on the play, but Miller fired a dart. ... Then Bri'onte Dunn makes an impressive 6-yard run for the first down up the middle. ... Moore then sacks Miller who stayed in the pocket way too long. ... Then Washington racks up his second sack. And yes, Diesel LOVES alerting the crowd when he gets a sack. He raises his arms to let everyone know it was him. ... Miller lofts a nicely-thrown deep ball to Devin Smith, but Reeves makes a great play to break it up. ... Basil's punt travels just 30 yards as his rough day continues. Gray takes over at its own 27 with 2:02 left in the second quarter.
**2:08 p.m. – As everyone predicted, JT Moore is dominating. What? Exactly. The fourth-year junior from Youngstown Boardman just made a nice move to sack Guiton on a third down play. ... Miller and his Scarlet team will get one more crack before the half. I bet it will be Miller's final possession of the game.
**2:10 p.m. – Basil unleashed a 39-yard punt! Ray Guy, anyone? (I've got jokes. Bad ones.) ... Curtis Grant just jacked up Philly Brown over the middle on a short pass from Miller. Brown then caught another pass over the middle for a first down and was swung to the ground by his jersey by Grant.
**2:13 p.m. – I bet Guiton will be the QB for the Scarlet the entire second half and Jones will run the show for the Gray. Either way, this will be it for Miller I would guess. ... On second-and-15, Miller hooks up with Spencer (who is having a good day) for nine yards. ... On third-and-6, Miller connected with Dunn who did a good job of going north-south and getting what he could after the reception as he picked up 14 yards. ... Then on the very next play, Miller hits Dunn for 17 yards. Timeout, Scarlet as they have a first-and-goal at the 8 with 25 seconds left.
**2:17 p.m. – Miller scrambles for 5 yards on first down. It would have been a TD in a real game, but Christian Bryant got a hand on him at the 3-yard line. ... Buckeyes going with 100 percent shotgun today as expected (although they have worked on some plays under center this spring). ... Miller hits Brown in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Nice ball placement from Miller and Brown did a good job of holding on to the ball with Doran Grant draped all over him. ... At halftime, Scarlet leads 14-7.
**2:27 p.m. – Some notable halftime stats: Miller is 11-of-17 for 143 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. ... Guiton is 9-of-13 for 116 yards with a TD and no picks. ... Michael Thomas has four catches for 63 yards. Blake Thomas (no relation, shockingly) has two receptions for 40 yards. Chris Fields has two catches for seven yards, including a TD. Also for the Gray, Ball has five carries for 14 yards. ... For the Scarlet, Dunn has two carries for eight yards, and has two receptions for 31 yards. Brown has one carry for nine yards, and four receptions for 20 yards and a touchdown. Spencer has two catches for 61 yards (and helped draw a pass interference call), while Devin Smith has two catches for 25 yards and a score. ... Rod Smith is not playing due to a concussion suffered in practice late last week that we were not privy to.
**2:32 p.m. – Defensive stats: Spence has a whopping three sacks for the Gray and Washington has chipped in two. Also for the Gray, Grant leads all tacklers with 8 (4 solo) and also has a sack. ... Joshua Perry leads the Scarlet with six tackles. Moore has the only sack for the Scarlet but he's been extremely active.
**2:33 p.m. – Second half will start at 2:37 p.m. Players are warming up now.
**2:40 p.m. – Some trickeration to begin the half for the Gray team as Guiton throws a lateral to Jones, who then threw back across the field to Guiton, but the fall fell incomplete. ... Jones, who is live, then ran a QB keeper for three yards. ... On third-and-7, Jones runs up the middle in impressive fashion for the first down. The defense almost looks like they're not used to actually tackling a quarterback today. (Because they're not.) Jones picked up 12 yards on the play.
**2:42 p.m. – Another nice run from Jones who broke a tackle from Moore in the backfield and then scampered for 8 yards. Ron Tanner made the tackle. ... On the next play, the Scarlet calls a corner blitz and Apple eats up Jones for a sack-fumble. Apple recovered the fumble at the Scarlet 41-yard line with 7:52 left in the third quarter. ... Surprisingly, Miller is still in the game for the Scarlet. Shovel pass to Brown on first down for a short gain of 3 yards.
**2:44 p.m. – Very-sharp pass from Miller to Smith on an out route for 9 yards. ... Then on the very-next play, Miller throws a beautiful ball to Smith who beat Powell for 42 yards down to the Gray 5-yard line. Miller lofted the ball perfectly and is having a great day.
**2:45 p.m. – On second-and-goal from the 5, Miller darts to the left and beats Grant to the pylon for a touchdown. Scarlet takes a commanding 21-7 lead with 6:25 left in the third quarter.
**2:49 p.m. – Jones fumbles the snap and Scarlet recovers at the Gray 34. Walk-on linebacker Joe Burger from right here in Cincinnati with the recovery. Miller is still in at QB for the Scarlet, surprisingly. ... Nice pass from Miller to Dunn for 14 yards as Scarlet is knocking on the door once again.
**2:54 p.m. – Basil's 25-yard field goal is good as Scarlet takes a 24-7 lead with 3:55 left in the third quarter.
**2:59 p.m. – This Gray offensive line is not giving Ball much room to run. Also, one of the walk-ons was just called for holding. Corey Linsley was the only projected starting O-lineman on the Gray roster and he did not play today due to a sprained ankle. ... Jones looks really good running the ball. He's a load at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, and has good speed to boot. ... Jones just missed hooking up with a diving Fields on a deep ball. ... But Jones is able to gain 9 yards on the ground the very next play. ... That's the end of the third quarter with the score 24-7 Scarlet. Gray has the ball at the Scarlet 32 and will be facing a third-and-1 when play resumes.
**3:04 p.m. – Fields just made a great catch from Jones on the sideline. Just when you think Fields is no longer a Bam Childress Award contender today, he makes a play like that. ... Attendance is 37,643. I was off by about 6,000. C'mon Buckeye Nation! You let me down.
**3:06 p.m. – Michael Thomas makes a fantastic grab for a 4-yard touchdown from Jones. Apple had decent coverage, but Thomas would not be denied and snatched the ball out of the air and somehow got a foot down inbounds. With 8:44 left in the fourth quarter, Gray trims Scarlet's lead to 24-14.
**3:14 p.m. – Curtis Grant just delivered another nice shot to Philly Brown. It wasn't a difficult play for a linebacker to make, but Grant sure made it. ... Dunn continues to do a good job of catching the ball out of the backfield for the Scarlet side. He had good hands and always squares his shoulders and goes north-south. Backs have to be able to catch the ball in Meyer's offense and Dunn looks good. ... Guiton just had about a 20-yard run for the Scarlet who is driving.
**3:17 p.m. – On third-and-10, Guiton throws a nice ball to Spencer who hauls in a 13-yard reception down to the Gray 19-yard line. ... Guiton sprints out to the right and hits Fields for 8 yards and a first down at the 6. All the wide receivers look sharp to me. ... Buckeyes run an end-around to Fields who easily scores a touchdown. Fields showed excellent speed on the play as he took the pitch from Guiton. ... With 4:41 left in the game, the Scarlet has this one wrapped up with a 31-14 lead.
**3:25 p.m. – It's hard to get a read on some of the young D-linemen like Tracy Sprinkle, TyQuan Lewis and Jamal Marcus. Sprinkle did just get nailed with a late hit on Jones though. ... Perry just jacked up Jones just after he released the ball. Wow Perry is an imposing presence out there. It will be exciting if he puts it all together. ... On fourth-and-2 from the 26, Jones, easily picks up the first down on a QB keeper. Hey, Steve Miller actually makes a play (tackled Jones). ... Nice play by walk-on corner Nik Sarac to break up a would-be TD from Jones to Michael Thomas. ... Jones goes right back to Thomas, but it falls incomplete again.
**3:28 p.m. – On third-and-10, Jones makes a good play to keep the play alive and he fires a strike for 9 yards to Thomas. ... However, on fourth-and-1, Jones is intercepted by safety (and converted punter) Kevin Niehoff, whose father played for the Bengals back in the day. ... That should wrap things up here from Paul Brown Stadium. Thanks for following along on this wild ride and I hope you enjoyed it. Keep it locked to Bucknuts for my What We Learned column, Steve Helwagen's game story, sidebars from Helwagen and more.
**3:30 p.m. – Washington just picked up his third and fourth sacks on back-to-back plays -- what a nice way for the Cincinnati Taft product to end his impressive day (four sacks total). ... The Scarlet prevails 31-14.
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