Although spring practice is almost over, senior defensive tackle Michael Bennett said the months ahead might have more to say about how Ohio State’s season will go.
“Spring ball is going really well, as a team,” Bennett said. “Defense is starting to rally around each other really well. Offense still has some stuff to work out. The offensive line has made a lot of improvement, but you’ve got a lot of young guys … so it’s just a learning curve.
“But we still have a couple months to get everything ironed out, and I think, personally, these are the most critical months, and the months where people make the most growth.”
Bennett joined a Big Ten teleconference just after coach Urban Meyer spoke and left no mystery what the Buckeyes had achieved and not achieved in the first 13 of their 15 spring practices. The 14th will take place today during the Ohio State coaches clinic, and the 15th on Saturday at Ohio Stadium in the spring game.
“First-down pass defense is one that’s drastically improved,” Meyer said.
As for the area where achievement has lagged, Meyer did not hesitate.
“The offensive line,” he said. “We’ve had the luxury of having a very good offensive line the last two years, and (with four starters gone), you were hoping some guys would step up. Some guys have gotten better, but not to the point where I (could) tell you who the starting offensive line is.”
Meyer said two starters have been determined, left tackle Taylor Decker and guard Pat Elflein, but added, “You need five.”
When asked to name a player who has leaped from obscurity this spring, he picked two: linebackers Chris Worley and Darron Lee.
“Those are two guys that were redshirted, nonexistent, really not even part of the program (last year),” Meyer said. “Near the end of last year, in bowl practice, you started seeing these two.
“They’re great people, and they understand the culture, and that’s what I want. I think they’re thriving in the culture of go as hard you as can, not worrying about mistakes, and playing fast.”
Two other offensive players caught the eye of Bennett, although he checked the names of four.
“I’d say the freshman, Curtis Samuel (a running back who took off on a 50-yard run up the middle during an open scrimmage on Saturday). Cardale (Jones, a quarterback working mostly with the first team while starter Braxton Miller recovers from shoulder surgery) has been pretty well, along with (quarterback) J.T. Barrett. … (Running back) Ezekiel Elliott, I think you could see last year how he was really showing up, and he keeps working hard and getting better.
“I would say probably my biggest ones, though, would be Curtis Samuel and Cardale.”