No rush judgment about Ohio State QBs, offensive line

Published 5:39 pm Sunday, April 14, 2024

By Jim Naveau

COLUMBUS – Spring football games, Ohio State’s included, probably should come with warning labels.

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Something like, “Warning: What you see in April is not necessarily what you will see in September, October, November, December, and January.”

Fans want specifics but generalities are what most spring games deliver.

Applying that standard to Ohio State’s spring game on Saturday, in general, the Buckeyes appeared to have a lot of talent and depth at several positions with the defensive backfield, the wide receivers and the defensive linemen at the top of that list.

But there were no specifics to be found about the two areas of greatest curiosity for the 80,012 fans who watched the spring game at Ohio Stadium.

The two major areas that are still being sorted out are the quarterback situation and the offensive line, which were also the two biggest areas of concern in the preseason and during the season last year. They’ll continue to be studied between now and the season opener Aug. 31 against Akron.

When OSU coach Ryan Day was asked how he felt about his quarterbacks after the spring game he said, “I wouldn’t say that I’m going to make any declarations right now but we’ll look at the film and see what it looks like and go from there. But I don’t have much to say about it right now.”

He assessed the offensive line this way: “I don’t think we’re there right now. The goal is to find our best five.”

It’s possible OSU could look for offensive line talent in the transfer portal when it reopens next week.

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The spring game was played in an offense-against-defense format, with the defense getting points for third down stops, defensive scores, negative plays and turnovers. The offense was declared the winner of the game by a 34-33 score.

Five quarterbacks played and combined for only one touchdown pass. Kansas State transfer Will Howard was 9 of 13 for 77 yards and last year’s backup Devin Brown was 5 of 7 for 66. Neither of them played in the second half.

Freshman Julian Sayin was 10 of 17 for 85 yards, with one interception. Last year’s No. 3 quarterback, Lincoln Kienholz, was 10 of 17 for 71 yards with two interceptions. Freshman Air Noland was 5 of 7 for 47 yards, with an interception.

Freshmen Sam Williams-Dixon (75 yards on 11 carries) and James Peoples (36 yards on 10 carries) both ran for touchdowns.

Alabama transfer Seth McLaughlin and last year’s starting center Carson Hinzman got playing time at that position. Hinzman and Tegra Tshabola played right guard and Luke Montgomery also played some right guard.

It was a quiet day for freshman wide receiver Jeremiah Smith, who had been one of the most talked about players in OSU’s first 14 spring practices. He caught two passes for 12 yards. Egbuka led OSU’s receivers with four catches for 47 yards, including a one-handed grab.

Lima Senior graduate Diante Griffin, a walk-on defensive back, intercepted a pass by Noland on the game’s final play and appeared to return it for a touchdown but the play was apparently blown dead during his return, which was listed as 29 yards in the post-game statistics.

“He was rolling out like he was going to take a shot at the end zone and I jumped the route and caught it,”

Griffin said. “It’s my dream – to score a touchdown in The Shoe.”

Griffin had three tackles in addition to the interception.

His interception was brought up in Day’s press conference when a reporter asked if this meant a Griffin was going to score the last touchdown in the spring game every year, which was a reference to his grandfather, two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, scoring a ceremonial touchdown in last year’s spring game.