By Matt McCoy
To hear Urban Meyer's assessment of the Buckeyes spring practice as well as Saturday's spring game click HERE:
When spring practice started in early March, Buckeye football coach Urban Meyer talked about how critical the next six weeks would be. Because of the 2012 bowl ban, the Buckeyes missed out on 15 bowl practices that all of the top national contenders had and Meyer felt his team had to make up for lost time.
"I think we're on track. I think we're halfway caught up so (this summer) they have to catch up," Meyer said after Saturday's spring game. "That's what that whole 'chase' principle is."
A banner hangs at the Woody Hayes indoor practice facility that reads "The Chase." Meyer had it put up as a reminder that the Buckeyes are in pursuit of not only victories and championships on the field, but those 15 lost practices that need to be made up with extra work by his players.
"I think we're halfway home," Meyer said. "If we can pick up those eight practices between now and our first game then I think we'll be fine. We're still behind but we're on track."
Meyer was concerned about the defensive front at the start of spring and why not? Ohio State lost all four starters, John Simon, Garrett Goebel, Johnathan Hankins and Nathan Williams. At the end of spring however, Meyer singled out the defensive front seven as the most improved area of the football team.
"Remember last year our offensive line was very poor to start the spring (and improved?), I'd say (that's like) our front seven on defense," Meyer said. "Curtis Grant's a real MIC linebacker right now...he wasn't...and we have a front four that's very active."
Sophomore's Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence each played well Saturday and were among those Meyer singled out.
While the defensive front has Meyer feeling better, the same is not true about the offensive front...specificially, right tackle.
With Reid Fragel's departure, the battle was on this spring between Taylor Decker and Chase Farris. Meyer was hoping one of them would emerge as the clear cut starter this spring but neither did and at Saturday's spring game, both had moments when they were beaten badly by outside rushers.
"That's going to cause me some nights to wonder what we're going to do with the right tackle spot," Meyer said. "We have a legitmate concern as to who that player is (going to be.) I feel good about four of the five starters and unless we get that fixed, there goes the best offense in the Big Ten because you can't play with four linemen."
Miller makes strides
2012 Big Ten MVP Braxton Miller had a productive spring according to Meyer and made improvments in his fundamentals.
Miller led the Scarlet to a 31-14 victory Saturday, completing 16-25 of his passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
The next step in Miller's development according to Meyer, has a lot to do with the growth of the rest of the offense.
"We have to improve everyone around him. We have to become legitimate at where we're at," Meyer said. "I think we have the people (to do it) and we also have some guys coming in in June. We have our work cut out for us but Braxton did have a good spring."