Bullet Points: Offensive Spring Season Takeaways

Carnell Tate scores touchdown for Scarlet in the Ohio State Spring Game | Image Credit: The Ohio State University Department of Athletics
Carnell Tate scores touchdown for Scarlet in the Ohio State Spring Game | Image Credit: The Ohio State University Department of Athletics

As of last Saturday, the spring season has officially reached its end. Ryan Day’s staff had a chance to learn a lot about what they have going into the summer break and in preparation of this up coming season.

Being on the sidelines for practice and the spring game, in this Bullet Points session I’ll recap what we learned about the offense going into the Summer break.

One of the best parts about the Spring is you get a chance to see who’s really picking up the concepts out of the gate as early enrollees, as well as which underclassmen are taking the next steps to earn their way up the depth chart.

Starting with the early enrollees, it’s no secret that True Freshman wide out Carnell Tate is the hot topic. The 17 year old route running technician is as polished as they come for someone who had just over two months of practice at the collegiate level going into the Spring game. Obviously, he caught a big time TD in the game and I fully expect him to move his way up the ranks by fall time.

Another guy who has yet to lose his black stripe, but has also been very impressive early on was Noah Rogers. The Buckeyes staff continues to be over the top impressed with what they’ve seen from the young pass catcher to this point. Rogers also broke loose for a big time score in last Saturday’s game and is another player who can be expected to have an impact as a young player late in games this year.

Of note, Kaleb Brown has shown elite progress as well, but speaking to a few staffers there seems to be some belief that he could eventually become the starting punt and kick returner for the Buckeyes by fall time. One staffer noted to me that “He just has all the fast twitch movements and break away ability that we haven’t seen at Ohio State in a very long time.”

If you’re a fan of big plays on special teams you’ll be happy to know Ohio State is looking to change their traditional conservative ways of approaching the game to look for some more aggressive approaches. That’s not because they believe they have to, but rather because they have the personnel to do so. Guys like Kaleb Brown and Jayden Ballard are going to be relied upon to take their chances and set themselves up for the “Home-run” shots.

Obviously we need to discuss the elephant in the room which is the QB depth chart. What’s my initial reaction and thoughts? So here it goes, McCord is the guy until proven not to be. Does a shaky spring game mean that he should not be considered QB1? Absolutely not, if that was the case the NCAA should give out the Heisman before each season to the best spring game QB performance.

Is there some worry? Yes there is, McCord has had some glimpses where he has looked awesome at time in practices and is using the elite weapons he has on the outside but then there has been times when it seems like he’s not going through his progressions and forcing balls into dangerous spots.

I had the chance to speak to a couple staffers on this hot topic and the growing belief seems to be that McCord is in the lead not because he has been passing the ball better or is more athletic than Brown but it’s simply because he seems to have a way better grasp on the offense. In fact, I was told if Brown understood the playbook as well as McCord it would probably be a pretty easy decision at this point. Brown seems to have the better ball placement, stronger arm, and obviously comes with about two extra inches of height.

On top of that, Brown does provide that ability to make teams miss as a QB. He’s very athletic and will have the chance to extend plays. We did not get a chance to see Brown spin it in the spring game due to a surgery on his thumb. So where does that leave the QB competition? Well, it sounds like if Brown can take some major leaps forward in terms of reading the field and going through his progressions quicker, then he’s going to have a legit shot to take the spot of QB1.

The offensive line I will briefly touch on. As everyone is aware, there are only two returning guys in the starting group with Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones. We’ve seen a lot of different personnel going through each spot but I’ll stay away from commenting on how that looks at this time as it is more than 90% likely to change before the fall.

The Buckeyes staff are actively out on the recruiting trail looking to bring in a polished transfer portal offensive tackle. Whether that be one or two, that should tell you about how confident the staff feels about the performance the OL had at the spring game last Saturday. The biggest take away from that, is the few underclassman that new OL Coach Justin Frye brought in have really looked good early on and continue to be developing at a fast pace.

The down side of that though, is they still need some time to grow into their bodies and need development with Ohio State strength coach Mickey Marotti. With that being said, the OL group is definitely going to be changed come fall time. I do not think anyone can really say at this time what that starting five will look like outside of Jackson and Jones but regardless I would expect some shake up by the time fall camp kicks off.