I am going to give a few more specific position group reports as to what I saw, but here is a quick overview to get you all going:
1. The Offensive Line: This group is a little rough, but is getting there. With a few key guys out, I think they are going to be fine. I really liked what I saw in team drills in terms of intensity, attitude and some of the inside blocking. I think that they have some guys that are almost ready to be solid contributors but still need a bit of work. Overall I would give say it was a good effort today and I feel a bit better about the line going into the fall, assuming that they continue to work like they are.
2. Defensive Line: I am not sure how it happens, but the defensive line this year is going to be totally different than last year and far better. The tackle situation is so much improved it is scary. Delva looked like a chunky guy last year, but he looks like a beast this year. Jalen Grimble looks scary and Siale Hautau moves a lot better. They are going to have 600+ pounds in there often at the tackle slot. And it is an athletic 600 pounds. I thought Wynn looked even more explosive and Obum Gwatchum is going to do better than I thought. More on this group later, but if OSU has this line last year, they win four more games.
3. Quarterbacks: Mannion looks good, but the big story to me is the work that Garrett is doing getting them to work on the little things. I still see some issues with fly motion not being consistent and some mistakes here and there, but it is spring and early in spring at that so I don’t expect perfection. But Garrett does, and they work on drills like covering fumbles, avoiding having the ball batted from their hands in their drop backs, moving out of the way of rushers and a bunch of other stuff that is just good, smart details to make players better.
4. Receivers: This is a young group and to be honest, I think they need the most work. I saw a lot of good stuff from Cavanaugh, Carroll and I really felt like Jones gets some good separation on short passes. I thought that as a group there were good things and then not so good moments, but they also need the time. I really feel that Gilmore needs to be the man in a lot of cases and I think he can. We as fans cannot anoint these guys as the next “Hass” or next “Cooks” and ignore how spepcial those guys are. This group will need to form their own identity and like 2007 when OSU needed to basically start over at receiver, I see that here. Gilmore and Bolden are the names we know, but Jones, Jarmon and hopefully Villamin need to be the names we remember when we think of this year.
5. Linebackers: Fast. Aggressive. There were about ten plays that would have been blown up if they could have gone full speed into the runner. This group is ready.
6. Running Backs: Better vision and more aggressive than I have seen in a while. I would say that Woods stood out to me the most, but Ward had some great runs and Brown had some pretty good plays. Ultimately, this group is intense and they walked around practice like they had business to do. It was pretty stark to the past, they practiced like it was a game
7. Secondary: These guys are good. They were everywhere all day. I think that the receivers need to push them more, but they are going to be a strength, especially if the defensive line continues to improve.
8. Coaching: It was interesting. Garrett looked like he was running practice. He was everywhere, working with a ton of guys and giving guys praise when they did well. There was a lot of teaching going on and a lot of one on ones as players came back. I saw two full team periods and one LB, DL, OL, RB and QB session that was pretty spirited and had Garrett doing a lot of coaching. I have heard a lot of stories that said he was a great hire and the kids are getting better with him, and after watching practice, and the up tempo way it was run, I was in agreement. I still saw some things that bothered me (walking around after plays… those are just wasted reps) and I still think there are some areas they can get better in, but you could see players working hard on the little things and that was awesome.
Oh, and plays that took to long were called sacks. That was nice. Just letting them play when the QB cannot be sacked hurts the defense and gives the QB’s an unrealistic inner clock. At least in my opinion. So that was really nice to see.