The Hooley, Tuesday, April 11

posted by Bruce Hooley -

True confession time...I don't find spring football enormously compelling.

Or even, remotely compelling.

I know some of you do, and I respect that, particularly in a year that will follow a very un-Urban-Meyer-like loss in the college football playoff.

That 31-0 defeat against Clemson rocked Meyer's world and shook the foundation of Ohio State football, such that both of his then co-offensive coordinators were encouraged to find employment elsewhere before the door hit them in the derriere.

OSU soon had a new quarterbacks coach and a new offensive coordinator and we'll get to see whether they can restore senior quarterback J.T. Barrett to what he was as a freshman when the Buckeyes play their spring game on Saturday.

The cool thing about that game is it gives many true Ohio State fans the chance to get into Ohio Stadium, many for the first time. These are the people who truly love the Buckeyes, but don't have the bank account or the corporate connections to jump through the financial hoops Ohio State requires to get tickets to an actual game.

So for the unwashed masses, the spring game is a chance to get into the football shrine that is the Horseshoe, where everyone from Vic Janowicz to Eddie George made Ohio State football what it is.

That's what's cool about the spring game.  And if that's your reason for going, more power to you. You're the forgotton part of what makes Ohio State football special.  

If you're into the Xs and Os of a spring game, try to divert your eyes from the battle everyone will make a big deal about and keep them focused on something that will give you a better idea of whether OSU will be a true national championship contender.

I know the backup quarterback battle is the sexiest thing to watch, but the more telling scouting report involves the OSU secondary, and how it looks after losing Marshawn Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Malik Hooker to the NFL Draft.

Conley was the only one of those three who people thought might be ready for the pros at this time last year. But, you know what happened. He, Lattimore and Hooker took advantage of openings created by the departures of Tyvis Powell, Vonn Bell and Eli Apple and played themselves into the first round of the draft.

So, for the second year in a row, the Buckeyes are faced with replacing three starters in the secondary.

That wasn't as big of a concern a year ago because Lattimore and Hooker had been in the program for two years and were poised to step forward.

OSU thought it would have both of those guys for 2016 and 2017, so it would have time to get some five-star recruits ready for 2018 with a year of seasoning.

Instead, one or more of those young guys are going to have to step forward. Incoming freshman Jeffrey Okudah and JC transfer Kendall Sheffield would be good bets to contribute immediately.

OSU opens the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 31 at Indiana. That gives the Buckeyes several extra days to prepare for its home opener Sept. 9 against Oklahoma.

The Sooners and Buckeyes are expected to be Preseason Top 10 picks. Of course, we still don't know if Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield will be allowed to play in that game.

Mayfield was arrested in Fayetteville, Ark., on Feb. 25 on charges of public intoxication,  resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

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