Saturday, April 21, 2012

SCARLET WINS SPRING GAME 20-14

Braxton Miller (AP)

COLUMBUS — Braxton Miller threw for 258 yards and freshman receiver Michael Thomas hauled in 12 catches for 131 on Saturday, leading the Scarlet squad past the Gray, 20-14, in the Ohio State spring football game at Ohio Stadium.

In the first opportunity for the fans to see new head coach Urban Meyer's team in action inside the Horseshoe, the 81,000-plus on hand witnessed intense competition with fast paced, up-tempo offenses and hard-hitting defenses.

For the Scarlet team, the win earned each member a ride back to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, while the players on the Gray squad had to hoof it back to the facility. They also have to lay mulch around the trees at Buckeye Grove outside of the stadium.

However, Saturday's game wasn't about bragging rights and gardening, it was about the film the Buckeyes' coaching staff will get to break down.

"You teach off the video tape," Meyer said following the game Saturday. "That was the purpose today."

Priority No. 1 for Coach Meyer and the staff was seeing if the Buckeyes' passing game can be successful this fall. Although Miller had a decent game statistically, and looked very comfortable and efficient at times, there were others where he looked like a freshman again.

Meyer said right now the passing game needs a good bit of work.

"What we don't know, and unfortunately even after this spring game I still don't know, can we throw the ball?" Meyer said. "We're taking one of the worst passing teams in America a year ago and we've got to find out if we can do that."

Meyer did offer up a grade Saturday for his most important pupil.

"(Miller's) release, I'll give him an A," Meyer said. "Arm strength, I'm probably going to say a B. But I'm very critical. Accuracy, a C to B. We've got to get him more accurate, but he's getting better.

"He had a very productive spring, but we grade our guys real hard. He's got a lot of talent."

Kenny Guiton, who quarterbacked the Gray team, finished 16-of-24 passing with 185 yards, a 28-yard touchdown pass (to Devin Smith) and an interception (by Christian Bryant) inside the red zone on the team's final possession of the game.

Meyer gave his analysis of his backup passer, as well.

"Kenny Guiton is a much-improved player, his arm strength is there, he just doesn't let it go for some reason," Meyer said. "His accuracy is not bad, but he doesn't let it go.

"We have to figure out why. He threw a pick today (late). If he lets it go it wouldn't have been a pick."

Meyer said he feels very good about his defense, and stated they are not far from being up to Buckeye standards. To the new Buckeyes coach, it was all about the passing game and identifying "playmakers."

Perhaps he found one in the freshman Thomas. The 6-foot-2, 193-pound pass catcher from Los Angeles, has been the most impressive receivers in all of spring camp — according to this writer — and proved his worth in front of a big crowd in the 'Shoe, snagging a game-high in receptions and yards, while displaying a few tight-rope acrobatics on the sidelines.

He was clearly Miller's No. 1 target Saturday, and according to the Buckeyes' signal caller, it wasn't by mistake.

"We work all the time in the weight room," Miller said of he and Thomas. "I pick him up and we get in a workout and watch film and catch the ball."

Meyer identified Thomas as a potential playmaker coming into the spring.

Now the Buckeyes, who wrapped up the spring session Saturday, will have plenty of film to go over before they resume camp again in August.

Meyer said the growth has to be monumental for the Buckeyes to find success this fall.

"We identified our issues and we also identified our strengths," Meyer said. "This has to be the best off-season in the history of college football.

"It has to be."

DUNN LOOKS LIKE A PLAYER ... Thomas wasn't the only true freshman to make a statement on Saturday, as tailback Bri'onte Dunn displayed his potential in the backfield for the Gray.

Dunn, who started for the Gray in place of the banged up Jordan Hall, rushed for 32 yards on seven carries (4.6 avg.) and did it with power and an instinctual style of running.

Dunn also proved formidable in the passing game — something very important in the Meyer spread attack — hauling in two receptions for 21 yards. He was the only running back in the game to record a reception.

Meyer said that Dunn will be part of the backfield competition this fall.

'YOUNG ARCH' SHOWS HIS STUFF ... Red-shirt freshman cornerback Adam Griffin, son of Buckeyes two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, made his presence felt on Saturday afternoon.

The Columbus-native led all players in tackles with nine, and also recorded an interception of Miller. 

Griffin has been running with the second-team defense all spring long.

— You can follow Lee Hudnell on Twitter @LeeHudnell_TBT