Duane Long's Spring Review, Pt. 2

The offensive line is still a concern. Depth is still a huge concern. We saw that in the spring game and in the official 2-deep posted after spring practice. We saw several walk-ons in the 2-deep ahead of scholarship players. The rumor mill had Ryan Cook having a good spring, but he didn't show it in the spring game and was one of those scholarship players who was not on the post-spring 2-deep despite the fact that without the freshmen on campus, there are only 10 scholarship OLs on the roster currently. That number includes 2 walk-ons awarded scholarships, Ivan Douglas and Michael Stafford. Scott Kuhnhein is not on the 2-deep either. That is not good. When you are thin to begin with and those that merited a scholarship cannot beat out walk-ons, the 2-deep is a nightmare.

Another concern is Adrien Clarke's weight. It can't help that he was out much of spring with the broken wrist. With his weight down, he is probably the best OL on the roster. At guard, he can get away with being heavier, and it looks like he will be playing guard this year. The good news is how well Stepanovich looked this spring stepping in for All-American LeCharles Bentley. Andre Tyree looked really good as his backup and can play anywhere inside. Ivan Douglas still needs work, but he was better than I thought he would be after being off for nearly a year. I have learned never to count Douglas out. His fortitude is pretty amazing. He is better-suited for the right side, and that is where he is penciled into the starting lineup.

It would be in the best long-term interest of Ohio State football to redshirt all the incoming freshmen at OL. Offensive linemen and quarterbacks are the only players I would be reluctant to play as true freshmen. But I don't know if the Buckeyes have that luxury. I see Datish and Morris playing. The Buckeye offensive line depth problem is most acute at tackle. Douglas and Cook are the only players on the current roster who are natural tackles. The inside talent at center and guard is quite good. Unfortunately Ohio State has at least one of those guards -- Olivea -- at tackle. Last year, Clarke played a lot of tackle. They were the best OLs on the team, so they lined up there. Both are better off at guard. Datish and Morris are both tackles. I see them working in all year at the tackle spots.

I will end this on a couple of positive notes. Most offensive lines are going to get smacked around the field by this defensive line. This starting OL with everybody healthy should be a solid unit overall and could be a very good run blocking unit.  

Jim Tressel is known for being a quarterback coach. I was very disappointed that Craig Krenzel did not step up to another level in the Outback Bowl after getting all the first team's reps at QB from the Illinois game through the bowl game. He was pulled for the rusty Steve Bellisari. I think he made that step up this spring. He was solid and made really good decisions. For every turnover more than the opponent, a team cuts its chances of winning 25%.

In the NFL, we are seeing teams win championships with QBs who don't lose games. They manage the game well and can be highly effective players. Craig Krenzel is that kind of QB now. He is a very effective runner and has a strong arm. If he makes another step up, we will see Zwick and Troy Smith redshirt. People are giving the job to Zwick should Krenzel and McMullen falter, but don't count out Smith. He is a far better quarterback than people realize. Both of the incoming quarterbacks redshirting is the best thing long term for Ohio State football. I see nothing out of Scott McMullen that leads me to believe he will take the job from Krenzel. 

Maurice Clarett will be the starting RB at Ohio State. He is a special talent. Even his teammates saw it, making him the # 1 back taken in the spring game draft. In the game, he showed why. With so much depth on the DL and none to speak of on the OL, the divided team did not do a good job of creating holes. You could still see Clarett was special. He was knocked backward one time. He is a powerful runner with great balance and determination. Several times I saw him rode down. Defenders were just grabbing on and waiting for help. There is a definite Eddie George quality about him.

Maurice Hall had a great spring and is probably going to be the second name called at RB. I saw nothing in the spring game out of Lydell Ross and didn't hear anything all spring about him being a threat to crack the 2-deep rotation. I heard more about Ja Ja Riley this spring and in the spring game he showed he could be an asset catching the ball. The problem is Clarett is so effective in the passing game that he was split out a number of times in the spring game and they threw to him. Fullback was a concern, but Brandon Joe and Brandon Schnittker both stepped up and showed they were up to the job with excellent springs.  

What a beautiful mess at WR. Talk about an abundance of riches. The two big surprises were Drew Carter coming back from his knee injury and looking like he is ready to make his bid to win back the starting job. The incumbents, Chris Vance and Michael Jenkins, had solid springs, but Chris Gamble showed he is a game breaker and so is Bam Childress. He is small, but that seems to bother everybody but Bam. All he does is make plays. I heard a couple of times that John Hollins had a nice spring and Mo Lee too. He was moved back to WR after a stint at corner. About the only WR I didn't hear anything about all spring was the highly touted Angelo Chattams.  

Tight end concerns me. I was not concerned going into spring, but when Redgie Arden was moved over that sent up red flags. This is not on the scale on Cie Grant moving from LB to CB last year, but is says a lot about where the TE corps stands. Ryan Hamby had a great spring as a pass catcher but still leaves something to be desired as a blocker. Jason Caldwell has still not overcome his lack of experience. He has not made an impact yet. This year's offense should be a run-dominated team with this offensive line, and having two TEs who can block is crucial. Arden was a scout team star last year, so the move was a surprise to say the least. The one knock on Arden has always been his speed. Of the positions he could play the speed factor is going to be least important at TE. Of the top 10 consensus TE recruits last year, only one was under a 4.8. Arden is a very physical player so blocking is not going to be a problem.  

Mike Nugent is the kicker. He looked good all spring. A walk-on was picked over Josh Huston when the teams picked sides for the spring game. That is a monster statement. Andy Groom is a solid punter. Last year, it was the kicking game that hurt the Buckeyes, not the punting. The kickers were freshmen. At any other position, we would take that into account. Fans don't seem to want to do that with kickers. I think the kicking game will be sound this year.


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