Now in his third spring with the Ohio State football team, Drew Basil has been there and done that when it comes to the Buckeyes’ annual Scarlet and Gray Game.
As a result, the junior kicker is well aware of how many fans to expect when the game kicks off Saturday around 1:30 after the OSU lacrosse game that will precede it.
“Honestly, even if it’s raining out, I’m still thinking there’s gonna be more than 50,000 people, easily, just because of how exciting this time is,” Basil said. “If it’s a sunny day, I expect a full house. I can see people tailgating and having to watch from the parking lot.”
That’s exactly what head coach Urban Meyer, perhaps the reason for all the excitement, is hoping for when Saturday afternoon rolls around. He’s seen some good crowds for spring games from his time at Florida, but his hope is to be blown away by the experience tomorrow.
Think the 95,722 fans – a national record set in 2009 by the Buckeye faithful.
“I hope we fill that (stadium),” he said Wednesday. “Wouldn’t it be fun? It means a lot. It’s what you expect at Ohio State. If I remember, Ohio State has always had great crowds at the spring game. One year, we had almost 100,000 if I remember right. I just hope the weather is nice and we have a good day.”
Though the weather remains a stumbling point – rain is called for in the morning, though partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 50s are expected by afternoon – Ohio State has already sold more than 53,000 tickets.
More than bragging rights will be on the line between the two squads – which will be led by offensive coordinator Tom Herman and defensive coordinator Luke Fickell – when the game does kick off. Meyer said the losing team will be complete a community service project the next week, hopefully one that includes beautifying the Buckeye Grove outside the stadium that honors the program’s All-Americans.
“We’re going to have some fun with it,” Meyer said. “The intent is to watch the guys perform in the game-day atmosphere. I’ve been fortunate enough to coach in some of these big spring game environments, and there’s nothing like it. It’s priceless. You can’t simulate that on the practice field. We’re anxious to see them do it.”
Quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton – along with backups Cardale Jones and Justin Siems, if they see time, though Miller and Guiton have received most of the reps in practice to this point – will not be live, meaning they’ll be sacked when touched by opposing defensive linemen.
As a result, the coach will want to see his quarterbacks make plays with their arm.
“We won’t run (the quarterbacks) as much as normally do,” Meyer said. “It’s going to be a very vanilla, throw-heavy scrimmage. I want to see some guys make plays. We’re not going to be running a lot of the quarterback. I know he can do that. I want to see him do the other stuff.”
What follows are some notes to get you ready for the day.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
**Obviously, one of the major drawing points will be the performance of Miller. Though Miller’s mobility will be limited by the black jersey, fans will join Meyer in wanting to see how the quarterback fares in what is expected to be a pass-heavy offense. He has thrown a better ball this spring and the passing game has improved, but there is still work to do. He’ll be helped out by the fact that four of OSU’s five starting offensive linemen through the spring – left tackle Jack Mewhort, center Corey Linsley, right guard Marcus Hall and right tackle Reid Fragel – will be on his Scarlet side, but on the other hand, the two players Meyer just said are the best pass-catchers on the team – Philly Brown and Jake Stoneburner – are on the Gray side.
**The offense on both sides will be of interest to Buckeye fans just because it is so new. Ohio State is spreading things out under Meyer and Herman, meaning you’ll see a lot of shotgun, one-back sets and little out of the I-formation. Then there’s the pre-snap motions, H-backs and more creative personnel groupings, all of which will be somewhat new. The quarterback running game will be largely shelved, but fans will still get a sense of what’s been going on at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center all spring.
**With the offensive lines split into two and depth always in short supply in spring, defensive line play is always a determining factor in the spring game. That could be even more important tomorrow given the dominating performances this spring of Johnny Simon, who will be on the Gray team, and Johnathan Hankins, who will represent Scarlet. The two of them will present a challenge to each offensive line; it would have been trouble if they were on the same squad. The depth at the position is so strong that any number of players could make an impact; watch Michael Bennett and Joel Hale on Scarlet.
General admission tickets, which include both the lacrosse and football games, are $7 each in advance. Tickets will be $15 on game day (cash only). As in the past, Ohio State students and children 6 and under will be admitted free of charge in all general admission sections.
Tickets are still available online through OhioStateBuckeyes.com, charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or in person at the Athletics Ticket Office in the Schottenstein Center, or at any Ticketmaster location.
For more info on the Ohio Stadium policies for the game, click here.
LACROSSE GAME INFO
Gates open at 10 a.m. and the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team will take on Air Force at 11 a.m. in a critical game for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is just 6-6 overall but 3-1 in the ECAC Lacrosse League, while Air Force enters at 6-5 (1-3 ECAC)
This is the fifth annual “Showdown in the Shoe,” and the 2010 game drew 31,078 people, a national on-campus attendance record. For more on the contest, check out Ohio State’s preview here.
SPRING GAME ROSTERS
Those in italics have missed practice time because of injury and may not be able to play.
Head Coach – Tom Herman
Assistant Coaches – Everett Withers, Mike Vrabel, Tim Hinton
Game Captains – Zach Boren and Jack Mewhort
QB 5 Braxton Miller, 17 Justin Siems
OL 76 Darryl Baldwin, 77 Reid Fragel, 79 Marcus Hall, 69 Eric Kramer, 71 Corey Linsley, 74 Jack Mewhort, 70 Tim Trummer
RB 34 Carlos Hyde, 2 Rod Smith
FB 44 Zach Boren
TE 86 Jeff Heuerman, 88 Derek Burkholder, 81 Nick Vannett
WR 80 Chris Fields, 85 Frank Kangah, 84 Ryan Ross, 16 Evan Spencer, 83 Michael Thomas, 18 Tyrone Williams
DL 63 Michael Bennett, 98 Logan Beougher, 57 Chase Farris, 51 Joel Hale, 52 Johnathan Hankins, 91 William McCary, 50 J.T. Moore, 11 Se’Von Pittman, 96 Kharim Stephens
LB 36 Connor Crowell, 32 Storm Klein, 10 Ryan Shazier, 59 Stewart Smith
DB 4 C.J. Barnett, 2 Christian Bryant, 12 Doran Grant, 16 Zach Domicone, 7 Travis Howard, 35 Vincent Petrella, 28 Ron Tanner, 13 Julian Vann, 21 Jamie Wood
K/P 24 Drew Basil, 39 Kyle Clinton, 26 Kevin Niehoff
LS 41 Bryce Haynes
Head Coach – Luke Fickell
Assistant Coaches – Kerry Coombs, Ed Warinner, Stan Drayton, Zach Smith
Team Captains – Etienne Sabino and John Simon
QB 13 Kenny Guiton, 12 Cardale Jones
OL 64 Ivon Blackman, 51 Brian Bobek, 50 Jacoby Boren, 55 Tommy Brown, 64 Taylor Decker, 78 Andrew Norwell, Ben St. John, 79 Antonio Underwood
RB 25 Bri’onte Dunn, 7 Jordan Hall
FB 49 Adam Homan
TE Kyle Schuck, 11 Jake Stoneburner
WR 10 Corey Brown, 87 Peter Gwilym, 9 Verlon Reed, 29 Taylor Rice, 15 Devin Smith
DL 93 Adam Bellamy, 56 Dalton Britt, 72 Chris Carter, 53 Garrett Goebel, 88 Steve Miller, 54 John Simon, 43 Nathan Williams
LB 14 Curtis Grant, 19 Ross Oltorik, 15 Joshua Perry, 48 Andy Reed, 42 Luke Roberts, 6 Etienne Sabino
DB 3 Corey Brown, 9 Adam Griffin, 19 Orhian Johnson, 23 Tyvis Powell, 25 Bradley Roby, 33 Nick Sarac
K/P 17 Ben Buchanan, 39 Kyle Clinton, 20 Russell Doup
LS 56 George Makridis