Thursday, April 19, 2012

SCARLET LOOKS TO BE FAVORITE OVER GRAY IN OSU SPRING GAME

Braxton Miller
(TBT Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
COLUMBUS — Ohio State selected its rosters on Thursday morning for Saturday's annual spring football game, and the teams (Scarlet and Gray) certainly present some interesting match-ups for what the players are calling "The Show in the 'Shoe."

With new offensive coordinator Tom Herman (Scarlet) and defensive coordinator Luke Fickell (Gray) selected as head coaches for Saturday's tilt at Ohio Stadium — by Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer — the two were in charge of drafting the rosters for each squad.

It wasn't disclosed which coach selected first or which player was chosen No. 1 overall.

I will breakdown the rosters position-by-position and offer my opinion on which unit has the advantage.

QUARTERBACK

SCARLET: Braxton Miller, Justin Siems. GRAY: Kenny Guiton, Cardale Jones.

BREAKDOWN: Miller is the most talented by far of the group. In fact, he's one of the most electrifying young players in all of college football. This spring, under the tutelage of Meyer and Herman, Miller has improved dramatically, not only with his foot work, delivery and overall mechanics, but also with his leadership.

EDGE: Scarlet.

RUNNING BACK/FULLBACK

SCARLET: Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith, FB Zach Boren. GRAY: Jordan Hall, Bri'onte Dunn, FB Adam Homan.

BREAKDOWN: Hyde has been the most impressive back in camp this spring. He has not only ran the ball with power and burst, but he's also shown to be a major threat in the passing game. Hall has also been a force in Meyer's new spread attack, displaying great quickness in the backfield and out on the edge. Where I give the Scarlet the nod is at fullback. Boren may be the best all-around at his position ... in the nation.

EDGE: Scarlet.

WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END

SCARLET: Chris Fields, Evan Spencer, Michael Thomas, Tyrone Williams, Frank Kangah, Ryan Ross, TEs Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett and Derek Burkholder. GRAY: Corey Brown, Devin Smith, Verlon Reed, Peter Gwilym, Taylor Rice, TEs Jake Stoneburner and Kyle Schuck.

BREAKDOWN: Although Smith and Brown are returning starters and have looked decent this spring, the most impressive receivers in my opinion through camp have been true freshman Michael Thomas and sophomore Tyrone Williams. In terms of experience I'll give the edge to Smith and Brown. However, when you add in Fields and Spencer to the mix, I have to give the overall advantage to the Scarlet once again at receiver (Note: Spencer may not be available due to injury). 

What puts the gray back in play is the fact they have Stoneburner at tight end. No disrespect to the young Heuerman and Vannett, but they aren't in the class of Stoneburner quite yet.

EDGE: EVEN.

OFFENSIVE LINE

SCARLET: Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall, Reid Fragel, Darryl Baldwin, Eric Kramer, Tim Trummer. GRAY: Andrew Norwell, Ivon Blackmon, Brian Bobek, Jacoby Boren, Tommy Brown, Taylor Decker, Ben St. John, Antonio Underwood.

BREAKDOWN: The Scarlet team possesses the starting left tackle (Mewhort), center (Linsley), right guard (Hall) and right tackle (Fragel). How in the world did that happen? Left guard Norwell is the only starter on the Gray's offensive front.

EDGE: Scarlet (Big time).

DEFENSIVE LINE

SCARLET: Michael Bennett, Johnathan Hankins, Chase Farris, J.T. Moore, Se'Von Pittman, Logan Beougher, Joel Hale, William McCary, Kharim Stephens. GRAY: John Simon, Garrett Goebel, Adam Bellamy, Nathan Williams, Dalton Britt, Chris Carter, Steve Miller.

BREAKDOWN: Each team possesses two first-teamers in DE Bennett and DT Hankins on the Scarlet, while the Gray have DE Simon and DT Goebel. I personally like the depth of the Scarlet better with Farris and Moore (Note: Williams not available for Gray). However, there is no way I'm going to tell Mr. Simon that is unit isn't the best.

EDGE: Gray.

LINEBACKERS

SCARLET: Ryan Shazier, Connor Crowell, Storm Klein, Stewart Smith. GRAY: Curtis Grant, Etienne Sabino, Joshua Perry, Luke Roberts, Ross Oltorik, Andy Reed.

BREAKDOWN: The best linebacker on the team, Shazier, will be wearing a Scarlet jersey in Saturday's showdown. However, I like the Gray squad's overall talent much more than that of the Scarlet's. With starters Grant and Sabino making up two-thirds of the Gray's linebacking unit, along with freshman standouts Perry and Roberts also getting some run, makes this a no-brainer. It's not a shock that Coach Fickell would clean up at linebacker.

EDGE: Gray.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

SCARLET: C.J. Barnett, Christian Bryant, Doran Grant, Travis Howard, Zach Domicone, Jamie Wood, Vincent Petrella, Ron Tanner, Julian Vann. GRAY: Bradley Roby, Corey Brown, Ohrian Johnson, Tyvis Powell, Adam Griffin.

BREAKDOWN: Herman's squad ends up with three quarters of the starting defensive backfield in safeties Barnett and Bryant, as well as cornerback Howard. Also, they possess in my opinion the best corner on the team — albeit, not a starter (yet) — in Doran Grant.

EDGE: Scarlet.

KICKING GAME

SCARLET: Drew Basil, Kyle Clinton, Kevin Niehoff, LS Bryce Haynes. GRAY: Ben Buchanan, Kyle Clinton, Russell Doup, LS George Makridis.

BREAKDOWN: There will not be kickoffs in this game or returned punts. However, Basil has been very impressive this spring and his ability to score field goals gives the Scarlet the edge in the kicking game over the punting of the Gray's Buchanan.

EDGE: Scarlet 

OVERALL

BREAKDOWN: The Scarlet's offense consists of Miller, Hyde and the entire starting offensive line, not to mention four receivers in Fields, Thomas, Williams and Spencer who will put a lot of pressure on the Gray's defensive backfield which consists of just one starter in Roby.

I like the linebackers of the Gray squad a lot, but other than that and Simon up front, I just don't see where they have an advantage anywhere else.

I predict a lopsided victory for the Scarlet.

EDGE: Scarlet ... Final: 27-7

OTHER NOTES

—The game will consist of four, 10-minute quarters. However, the second half clock will be continuous. Again, there will be no kickoffs or returned punts.

— Assistant coaches for each team ... Scarlet: Everett Withers, Mike Vrabel, Tim Hinton. Gray: Kerry Coombs, Ed Warinner, Stan Drayton, Zach Smith.

— Captains for each team ... Scarlet: Zach Boren and Jack Mewhort. Gray: John Simon and Etienne Sabino.

— The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m.

— You can follow Lee Hudnell on Twitter @LeeHudnell_TBT