Today's spring game Green & White spring game fitted the ever notorious foes, the Ohio offense and the Ohio defense, and featured some none-too-familiar names making some notable plays.
With 2014 being a transition year for Frank Solich and crew in Athens, expectations will be higher in 2015 for an offense that struggled mightily at times in its first year post-Tyler Tettleton/Beau Blankenship/Donte Foster.
Ohio switched on-and-off between Derrius Vick and JD Sprague at quarterback last year. Today, Vick sat out, and the snaps (all out of the gun) were shared between Sprague, redshirt-junior Greg Windham, redshirt-freshman Joey Duckworth and recent Minnesota transfer Conner Krizancic. Sprague went 15-21 with an interception, and Duckworth looked impressive at times, going 7-11 for 53 yards.
"I like where we're at right now. I think we're ahead of where we were last year," said Coach Frank Solich. "Part of that is because we have more experience on this team than what we had last year. Some of it is because we got a full winter conditioning workout and usage by the indoor facility (the new Walter Fieldhouse), and that's huge coming into spring ball."
Overall, the 'Cats looked better offensively at times than they did last year, and changed up its philosophy slightly. The team incorporated a lot of inside wide receiver screens and motioned backs out of the backfield a lot, be it AJ Ouellette, Papi White, Maleek Irons Bo Hardy or whomever. Daz'mond Patterson didn't see time in the backfield on this day. Offensive Coordinator Tim Albin called plenty of quick pitches to the backs, with few of those calls going for good yardage.
The offensive line, fairly experienced with many of the same guys starting as lats year, was a bit banged up on this day so guys like Lucas Powell (coming off shoulder surgery) and Durrell Wood sat out.
A 41-yard bomb from the presumed 3rd string backup QB Greg Windham to redshirt-sophomore Jared Mahefka might have been the play of the day, as he finished the catch through contact down the far sideline. Marhefka showed a great set of hands, grabbing three receptions for 79 yards.
Curtis Bronson caught a JD Sprague under-throw and returned it about 40 yards.
The last drive of the half featured two 21-yard gains, with Brendan Cope, a surprisingly effective redshirt freshman last year, hauling in the second.
Mason Morgan made two catches for big yards. The big 6'6" redshirt-sophomore Tight End out of Cincinnati (Sycamore High School), was capable in the open field, running through some arm-tackles for extra yards.
Redshirt freshman Maleek Irons ran for 31 yards on tough runs between the tackles. He notched a touchdown but also fumbled.
Redshirt junior Jordan Reid snagged five catches for 47 yards and was one of several guys featured in Ohio's heavy inside-screen game.
A big hit early from linebacker Jovon Johnson helped to set the tone early for the defense, as the linebacking corp (noticeably missing Quentin Poling) moved and hit well on the day.
"We have a defensive unit I think that has got really good team speed," said Solich." And so flashes of that shows, and we can be a really good blitzing football team, and a team that runs to the football and generally a team like that creates turnovers.
The defense won the day based on a funky points system when the coaches had the officials throw a flag after a Josiah Yazdani made field goal that would have won the day for the offense. Instead, they lined it up again and Yazdani missed the second try as the defense celebrated. One thing was for sure, the team looked much sharper today than it did at this point last year.