It wasn't real football, but there were still takeaways from Ohio State's spring game
Touch football? Really?
The first quarter or so of Ohio State’s spring game wasn’t easy to watch. Spring football isn’t supposed to be smash mouth football, but the Buckeyes were extra cautious about keeping players healthy in the intrasquad scrimmage.
Fortunately, we did get to see some sort of live action as the game progressed. As a result, there were some takeaway points from Saturday:
-Johnnie Dixon’s knees looked just fine
The former blue-chip recruit was certainly one of the stars of Saturday’s spring game. Dixon’s Ohio State career has been full of knee injuries, which prevented him from carving out any sort of role in the Buckeye offense. If Saturday was any indication, Dixon’s time might have finally come.
The speedy wideout had five receptions for 90 yards and a pair of scores in the first half alone. No, he wasn’t going over the middle and exposing himself to big hits, but Dixon still made plays all over the field. He even hauled in a couple deep balls, which was obviously an area OSU lacked in 2016.
Dixon showed an ability to get himself open and catch passes in traffic. If he can stay healthy, Saturday showed that he’ll certainly have a chance to finally get regular reps.
-Ohio State’s receivers got plenty of separation
Speaking of those wideouts, OSU’s receivers won the battle against the defensive backs. Perhaps part of that was due to the lack of physical play, but the Buckeye wideouts looked like the superior unit on Saturday. That might not be the case come fall considering how young OSU is in the secondary.
In addition to Dixon, Terry McLaurin made no shortage of plays downfield. Demario McCall found the end zone on a wheel route and even walk-on Ke’Von Huguely got open for a score. It seemed like there were Buckeye pass-catchers open all first half.
Keep in mind that a few of those plays came against early enrollees Shaun Wade and Jeffrey Okudah, who while talented, should be in high school right now.
Still, that was what Meyer wanted to see out of an inexperienced group of wideouts. If they were getting dominated by young defensive backs in a spring game, it would’ve been a cause for concern.
-Jonathon Cooper looked ready to make next step
No, there weren’t really sacks in the spring game. But seeing Cooper get two first-half “sacks” was a positive sign from the sophomore, especially coming off that hamstring injury.
Cooper happens to play at arguably the most loaded position group in the B1G. There are no shortage of edge-rushers who can and likely will see more snaps than him.
Still, it’s never a bad thing to stand out in a group that talented.
-J.T. Barrett didn’t morph into a deep-ball specialist the last three months
Just in case you were wondering, Barrett’s deep-ball woes haven’t been solved just yet. The Ohio State senior had very limited action — and not much of a pass-rush — yet his two understudies looked better throwing the ball downfield than he did.
In fact, Barrett was picked off by Damon Arnette after being bumped into. Barrett’s line of 8-for-12 for 71 yards wasn’t anything to write home about, but there shouldn’t be many judgements made about OSU’s all-time touchdowns leader in a spring game.
Barrett’s best play of the day wasn’t even a throw. Who knew Mike Weber was a lefty?
Mike Weber drops a left-handed dime to J.T. Barrett (you read that right) during some Kevin Wilson trickery. pic.twitter.com/vb753KLXFa
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) April 15, 2017
-Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins won’t win the No. 2 job by default
If you wanted to look way too far into a spring game, you’d say that Burrow and Haskins would have a chance to compete for the starting quarterback job in 2017. You’d be wrong, but a comment like that would reflect how well Burrow and Haskins looked in limited action.
Their first half numbers alone were dominant.
Haskins is 14 of 18 for 191 yds and 3 TDs in the first half. Burrow is 12 of 16 for 240 yards and 3 TDs.
— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) April 15, 2017
More importantly than numbers, Haskins and Burrow looked comfortable. They sat in the pocket and stepped into throws downfield.
Haskins, the redshirt freshman, probably made Ohio State fans salivate with how effortless he made accurate deep throws look. He’s the same guy who Meyer said threw the best ball of any quarterback he ever recruited.
Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow in a backup quarterback duel for the ages right now. pic.twitter.com/jIVKER4BFY
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) April 15, 2017
And Burrow, who might not have had the hype that Haskins did, had some Trace McSorley to his game. He wasn’t afraid to throw jump balls and let his wideouts make a play. At the same time, he showed that he has mobility, which he would obviously need to run Meyer’s offense.
The question now is which quarterback will win the No. 2 job. If Saturday was any indication, Burrow and Haskins will have quite the battle come fall.