In a scrimmage that featured 75 passing attempts and just 12 rushing attempts by running backs, a 17-14 final score might seem underwhelming.
But Ohio State’s Spring Game on Saturday at Ohio Stadium wasn’t about showing how much the team has improved. In fact, after the quasi-game, coach Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes were worse than they were in January when they won the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Regardless of that regression, Meyer said he was looking for certain young players to stand out. Some didn’t make the grade, but others — like redshirt-freshman wide receiver Parris Campbell — put on displays that could earn them playing time going forward.
Meyer said he called on Campbell to score from four yards out with Campbell’s Scarlet team trailing Gray, 10-7.
“He looked at me, like, ‘Heck with this, man.’ He took the ball, put his left foot in the ground and drove in, made a great cut and scored,” Meyer said of the play. “And I saw his celebration in the end zone. That’s one I remember from the Spring Game. That’s going to help him get into the rotation.”
But the fourth-year OSU coach added that not every player he called on to step up succeeded in the same fashion as Campbell.
“I asked a couple guys to make a play and they didn’t do it,” Meyer said. “Now I have to find out why when I meet with them next week and just get into the psychological impact of playing in the stadium has on a player.”
While players like Campbell used the Spring Game to make their final strides toward the rotation, others simply cemented their spot after a strong spring overall.
Redshirt-freshman defensive lineman Sam Hubbard had the coaching staff raving throughout the 15-practice slate, and built on that with two sacks and a fumble recovery in the scrimmage. Meyer said Hubbard has locked up a spot in the rotation, but the former safety and tight end said he still has more room to improve.
“I have a long way to go before I’m one of the guys that’s routinely in the rotation,” Hubbard said after the Spring Game. “It’s only been a few months at defensive end and to be in the position I am, I’m very thankful.”
Regardless of how far he feels he has to go, Meyer confirmed that Hubbard will rotate along with redshirt-sophomore defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis, as the duo helped replace Steve Miller opposite junior defensive lineman Joey Bosa.
As for Campbell, receiver might be the position where OSU took the biggest hit, with Devin Smith and Evan Spencer turning their focus to an NFL future. Like Hubbard, Campbell has a chance to find his way on to the field next season after catching his coach’s eye on Saturday.
But for now, the Buckeyes have some time off before returning to fall camp, and ultimately opening the 2015 regular season against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Va.