Depth Concerns Remain At Several Spots

Depth Concerns Remain At Several Spots

The sixth spring practice is in the books for the Ohio State football team and head coach Urban Meyer spoke afterwards about a variety of topics. He said that only DL, RB and WR have true depth at this point and said that several incoming freshmen who aren't early enrollees will help change that when they arrive.

With Ohio State's sixth spring practice in the books, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer acknowledged that all but three position groups will rely on incoming freshmen who haven't enrolled early to provide depth for position battles.

Meyer said that defensive line, wide receiver and tailback are all positions that are well-stocked enough to provide meaningful battles in spring but noted that every other area will likely have to wait until some younger reinforcements arrive.

In all, he cited seven players – offensive linemen Jamarco Jones and Demetrius Knox, safety Erick Smith, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and linebackers Kyle Berger, Donte Booker and Sam Hubbard – as guys who will provide valuable depth in fall camp and perhaps compete for starting roles.

"The offensive line, we're just trying to put that thing together," he said. "We don't have enough depth there. That's where Jamarco Jones and Demetrius Knox have to come in and help us.

"That's not atypical. That's spring practice. That's where you've got to count on Erick Smith to come in, Marshon Lattimore to come in and Berger, Donte Booker and Sam Hubbard to come in and push the linebacker crew a little bit. The three that I mentioned, you see some competition in there because there's depth."

Among the positions in which depth chart jockeying is already taking place, Meyer said the top running back spot, which was vacated by workhorse Carlos Hyde, is still very much up in the air. Although sophomore Ezekiel Elliott has been considered likely to land the starting job, Meyer pointed out that senior Rod Smith had a very good practice Tuesday and nobody had gained any separation.

In the wide receiving corps, Meyer doled out the current order at receiver – Devin Smith, Michael Thomas, Corey Smith and Johnnie Dixon, while also noting that Evan Spencer has been hurt and Jeff Greene needs to keep pushing.

He also said that Dontre Wilson had taking a commanding lead on the hybrid "H" role that was occupied by Corey "Philly" Brown last season.

"He's the starting H. He took Philly Brown's spot, so he's a full-time receiver," Meyer said. "We did take him today and put him in some backfield action. I use the term ‘Percy Harvin' very loosely because there's probably only one of him, but that hybrid position is really a key guy if we could do that. The good thing is, Jalin Marshall before he got hurt was doing really well. He's got the body type for that. And then a kid named Curtis Samuel. So we've got three body types, but by far Dontre is the number one spot."

Meyer also expressed faith in the team's ability to fix two troubled areas – the defensive secondary and the offensive line.

The third-year coach noted that the collaboration between defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash has meshed together liked he'd hoped. He said that the injury to safety Vonn Bell was a setback and said Cam Burrows has helped to fill that role in Bell's absence.

"It's going well," Meyer said. "You've heard the term ‘overhaul.' We've been pretty good against the rush defense the last few years, not very good against the pass defense so we're completely revamping the back end and how we go about our business. So far, it's been pretty good."

He also said that while he envisions a productive offensive line in the fall, it may take some time for those players to reach the level of last year's group. Still, he praised offensive line coach Ed Warinner as a man who could get the job done.

"As bad as we want an offensive line like we had last year, it's going to take a while to develop that," he said. "I think at some point because we recruited well and our line coach that it'll happen. But we're going to have to lean on some perimeter ways of getting first downs, where last year when you rush for 300-plus yards a game it's because that offensive line was so good. We have other weapons, but it will have a different taste to it than last year."

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