Ohio State held a spirited practice Tuesday night highlighted by a goal line scrimmage and some extra work for some of the reserves while established players rested.
Both sides got their shots in during the back-and-forth battle with running backs Rod Smith, Brionte Dunn and Warren Ball all having notable power touchdown runs, but it came down to a play at the 1-yard line that went the defense’s way.
That was thanks to linebacker Luke Roberts and safety Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown, who stood up Dunn and drove him back to end that part of practice.
“Any time you do short-yardage and goal line there are a lot of collisions and guys chirping a little bit, so that was good today,” said Meyer, who acknowledged giving some extra reps to reserves he wants to see step up.
Among that group was quarterback Cardale Jones and defensive tackle Chris Carter, both of whom played a large number of snaps.
“Spring practice you develop scheme but more importantly develop guys,” Meyer said. “Once again, at some point the free training table, you’ve got to get something back. They seem like good kids, but at some point you’ve got to give back to the program and play. So we’re force-feeding some guys. There are guys who have ability but for 100 different reasons they haven’t played.”
Jones showed off his powerful right arm but had an inconsistent day throwing the ball.
“Cardale’s got to play,” Meyer said of the redshirt freshman. “You saw it – it wasn’t very good, so we’ve got to knock the rust off him and get him ready to play.”
Starting quarterback Braxton Miller had his share of ups and downs, too, including a fumbled snap during the goal-line scrimmage and a few well-thrown deep balls during the two-minute drills. His best play of the day came on a 90-yard catch-and-run to tight end Jeff Heuerman, who hauled the ball in near the 40 behind a linebacker and took care of the rest.
“He’s not doing great, but he’s doing very good,” Meyer said of Miller. “I thought he did good last year. It’s just you wish he hadn’t played that first year. He wasn’t ready to play. He still won Big Ten Freshman of the Year, but that just tells you how talented he is. His quarterback development is behind a little bit. As a player, it’s not. He’s a good player.”
There were a few noteworthy personnel developments, including junior receiver Evan Spencer leaving practice with what appeared to be a right shoulder injury and sophomore defensive lineman Tommy Schutt playing with a heavily taped right ankle.
Meyer said he thought Spencer just had a stinger and that Schutt merely has a sprain. He also said linebacker Joshua Perry was slowed by an asthma attack.
Also of note was the absence of senior running back/slot receiver Jordan Hall. He has been slowed by a hamstring pull, but that was not all.
“He’s got to take care of some business right now and he’s got a hamstring issue,” Meyer said. “I worry about all these guys. I think Jordan loves the game of football but he’s got to take care of his business, too. I trust he will.”
The Buckeyes are nearing the midway point of their spring drills and will return to the practice field Thursday for day seven.
Meyer hopes they will be able to go outside then or Saturday but did not sound concerned about being stuck on the indoor field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center so far.
“It’s more important we get reps throwing the ball,” Meyer said.
For more updates and observations from today’s open practice via the BuckeyeSports.com staff, see the Ask the Insiders message board.