COLUMBUS, Ohio – Mother Nature dialed up some fall camp weather for spring drills Friday as the Ohio State football team practiced in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets for a second, extremely warm day. Temperatures rose throughout the day and were in the mid-80s during much of the practice session.
“Eighty-five degrees with a nice little breeze…just perfect,” said one individual who enjoyed the two-hour practice session.
Spring Game Tickets Available Now
The spring game is three weeks from tomorrow – Saturday, April 24 at 1:30 p.m. in Ohio Stadium – and fans can now purchase tickets for the game at the Athletics Ticket Office, online at OhioStateBuckeyes.com, and through Ticketmaster. Purchase tickets online by clicking here. The price of each ticket is $5 in advance and $10 day of the game (day of game sales are cash only).
Ohio State students get into the game free with a valid ID.
Tix Good for “Showdown,” Too
Spring game tickets also allow fans to attend the third annual “Showdown in the Shoe” lacrosse game featuring the Buckeye lacrosse team against Air Force in Ohio Stadium at 11 a.m. April 24. The event has set national lacrosse attendance records the past two years, with 30,192 in attendance at halftime last season.
Position of the Day: Offensive Line
Offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and two senior stalwarts along the line – Bryant Browning and Justin Boren – met with members of the media following the Friday drills.
Offensive line – excluding tight end – is a position that returns seven of the top nine players from the 2009 season, including four regular starters. Gone is 33-game across-the-line starter Jim Cordle and reserve Andrew Moses. But returning are players who combined for 55 cumulative starts last season:
Boren was first-team all-Big Ten by the media last year (and honorable mention as a sophomore in 2007), Brewster was on the Rimington Trophy watch list, and Browning was honorable mention all-Big Ten.
And when one considers this foundation of linemen helped Ohio State to eight games of 200-or-more rushing yards last season – a record for a Jim Tressel-coached Ohio State team – the unit has the potential to be very, very good.
“It is evident that we have a lot of guys with experience,” Bollman said, “seven, to be exact. Plus we have some redshirt freshmen who look to have potential. We should have some depth if we can avoid injury.”
A Critical Area Despite the numbers and the talent returning, there are needs along the line and Bollman addressed a critical one at the conclusion of practice.
“The most critical spot coming out of spring drills along the offensive line is finding more guys with the ability to play center,” Bollman said. “We lost a lot of juice at the position last year [both Cordle and Moses could play the position] and we have got to make sure we have people who can run the show in there if Brewster were to happen to get nicked.”
Bollman said that red-shirt freshmen Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley each has to be able to play the position. He also said that fifth-year senior Scott Sika is tremendous “knowledge-wise” at the position.
Four at LT Bollman addressed the situation at left tackle, where Cordle ended up starting the last six games of the season last year, by saying the team is fortunate to have four experienced players vying for the position. Mike Adams and Andrew Miller combined for seven starts there last year, but right tackles J.B. Shugarts and Marcus Hall will also spend time playing the position this spring.
Under the Sun Also mixing it up along the line Friday, in addition to those already named, were these offensive linemen who were with the team in 2009: guards Evan Blankenship, Chris Malone and Connor Smith, and tackle Sam Longo.
Nothing Subtle About the Competition Boren said that every player along the line is competing for a position, and no one came into the spring comfortable just because they may have been a starter last year.
“Every position is open,” Boren said, “and so everyone is competing for a position. We have some leaders back and it looks like we are going to have some depth, but the young guys have potential and they are doing good.”
Building Block Browning was asked about the excitement generated by the line play last year and if this spring was any different because of the fine season last year.
“Every year you have to come out to spring ball fired up, and the coaches do a good job of getting us fired up,” Browning said. “We can’t live off last year, though. We have to come out with a clean slate this year. This is not last year. It’s a new year and we have a chance to be good because we have a lot of guys back with playing time. But we have to build on that this year.”
15 – Number of returning (from 2009) offensive linemen practicing under the direction of Jim Bollman Friday.
Four – Number of fulltime starters returning along the line from 2009: RG Bryan Browning (13 starts in 2009); C Mike Brewster (12 starts); RG Justin Boren (12 starts); RT J.B. Shugarts (10 starts).
Seven – The most games in one season prior to 2009 that Ohio State topped 200 yards rushing as a team under coach Jim Tressel. The team did it seven times in 2008.
Eight – Number of times Ohio State rushed for over 200 yards in a game last year, including five consecutive at the end of the season, an effort that helped clinch the Big Ten title.
11 – Ohio State record for most 200-yard rushing games in one season: this coming in 1973.
78 – Number of combined starts for Ohio State’s offensive linemen. Browning leads the way with 26 starts, all consecutively the past two years. Brewster is next with 23 consecutive starts the last two years. Boren (12), Shugarts (10), Adams (four) and Andrew Miller (three) are the others with Scarlet & Gray starts.
92 – Number of combined starts for the line when the 14 starts Boren had while at Michigan are factored into the total. He started once as a freshman in 2007 and all 13 games in 2008 (eight at center and five at left guard).