Tuesday, April 27, 2010

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED THIS SPRING ABOUT THE 2010 BUCKEYES

Ohio State senior wide receiver Taurian Washington took advantage of Duron Carter's (not pictured) absence this spring, locking down the No. 3 spot out on the edge. (Photo by The Buckeye Times' Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)

COLUMBUS — Now that spring practice at Ohio State is in the rearview, it's time to look back, process all of the information and come up with the five most important things we learned about the 2010 Buckeyes football team.

THE GAME HAS SLOWED DOWN FOR PRYOR ... Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has become much more comfortable in the pocket this spring, not only with his improved passing mechanics and foot work, but also with the way he's making decisions, especially under pressure.

Pryor said the game is really beginning to slow down for him, coming into his third season in Columbus.

"It's all about decision making," Pryor said this spring. "I'm making a lot better decisions and the game has really, really slowed down. When you first get here you are kind of thinking like, 'is this ever going to slow down? Is this ever going to get easy like high school?' But, finally it has really slowed for me."

SIMON IS A MONSTER ... Sophomore defensive tackle John Simon was flat out unblockable this spring. The 6-foot-2, 270 pounder from Youngstown wreaked havoc on the Buckeyes interior offensive line all spring long.

During the jersey scrimmage on April 17, the big man flourished in live action, collecting two sacks, two batted down passes at the line, as well as recovering a fumble in the end zone for the only touchdown of the day.

Simon earned his way into the defensive line rotation late last season. His incredible play and unlimited potential has earned him a starting spot in 2010.

"I think John Simon's going to be a really good player," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said, after the April 17 jersey scrimmage. "In fact, if you watched us last year by the end of the year, he was on a very deep defensive front and he was earning some reps, which tells you a little something."

CARTER CAN'T BE TRUSTED ... After missing last January's Rose Bowl game due to grades, sophomore wide receiver Duron Carter was expected by coaches and players to make amends this spring, by becoming more mature off the field, while locking down the No. 3 receiver spot on it.

Instead, Carter missed the entire spring because of ... you guessed it ... GRADES!

Now, I didn't see Carter at all this spring, but I was able to read some of his tweets, and I've come to the conclusion that Carter, although very talented, still doesn't get it. And I'm really beginning to doubt that he ever will.

Either way, he's definitely in Tressel's doghouse — a place no OSU player ever wants to be (just ask Antonio Henton and Ray Small).

According to Tressel, senior Taurian Washington will fill the role at the No. 3, whether Carter makes it back or not.

"Even with Duron, Taurian Washington will be our No. 3 receiver," Tressel said this spring. "He did a good job in the bowl preparation and the bowl game itself."

Translation: He that works his butt off, gets to play — even if he's not as talented as the other guy.

STONEBURNER BRINGS A WHOLE NEW DIMENSION ... Redshirt sophomore tight end Jake Stoneburner appears to have become a favorite target of quarterback Terrelle Pryor this spring.

The 6-foot-5, 245 pounder from Dublin Coffman, was virtually uncoverable this spring, using his size and speed to get open in the secondary pretty much at will.

Coaches and players have been giddy when describing Stoneburner's role in this season's offense.

"I tell you what's going to help us this year and that is Jake Stoneburner," OSU assistant head coach Darrell Hazell said this spring. "He brings an added dimension of speed up the middle of the field and that can create a lot of problems for people. It keeps the safeties on the hash, it gets the wide outs open and if they don't cover him, he's going to run right by them and catch the ball."

Pryor agrees with Hazell.

"Man, we've got Jake stepping in. Jake's a whole other dimension," Pryor said. "I think he is going to be a big time play maker. He's been great this spring."

In just one quarter with Pryor on the field during Saturday's spring game, Stoneburner hauled in three receptions for 43 yards.

GUITON DESERVES TO BE NO. 2 ... It was abundantly clear that redshirt freshman quarterback Kenny Guiton outperformed junior backup Joe Bauserman for the the No. 2 spot under center.

Guiton's senior teammates agree with that assessment, as well, selecting him as the Gray team's starter in last Wednesday's spring game draft.

The Texas native didn't disappoint his senior teammates, by going 11-of-21 passing for 167 yards and two touchdowns, including a 45-yard scoring toss to Taurian Washington with 55 seconds to play, giving the Gray a 17-14 victory on Saturday.

"He proves himself every day in practice and his confidence has risen lately," Washington said of Guiton. "He has played extremely well this spring and I think there are great things in the future for him."