The rain stopped. The sun shined. The fans came, as they always do, whether it’s a practice game in April or The Game in November.
Eight players found their way to the end zone — a big difference from the last time the Ohio State Buckeyes performed in front an audience Jan. 1 when they were shut out 31-0 by Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.
Urban Meyer couldn’t have asked for much more from the spring game.
“It was a beautiful day,” he said. “Got a lot of work done. The best thing was we’re injury-free today.”
Here are seven takeaways from the game, won 38-31 by the Scarlet team on Saturday at Ohio Stadium:
1. Quarterback play: J.T. Barrett played the least of the four quarterbacks. That made sense. He’s a fifth-year senior who has started every game of the regular season two of the last three seasons.
Meyer didn’t need to see much from Barrett. He’s the starter. His numbers mattered little. He completed 8 of 12 passes for 71 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“I thought once again his accuracy was right on target, like it’s been most of the spring,” Meyer said.
Dwayne Haskins switched back and forth between the Scarlet and the Gray. He completed 26 of 37 passes for 293 yards with three touchdowns.
Joe Burrow competed 14 of 22 passes for 262 yards with three touchdowns. Freshman Tate Martell saw action in the second half. He didn’t attempt a pass but rushed twice for 24 yards with one touchdown.
“I think one of the main things we talk about now is you control what you can,” Barrett said. “Be poised when things break down. We didn’t have any meltdowns out there. Each quarterback did a good job being poised in the time they had.”
2. Surprise score: Meadowdale High School graduate Ke’Von Huguely, a junior walk-on wide receiver, caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Burrow for the Scarlet team in the first half. Huguely had one other catch for 11 yards.
“He had a really good spring,” Burrow said. “He does nothing but what he’s told to do, gets open and catches balls. I think he could play here at a high level.”
3. Not ready: The Buckeyes, who were 12-2 last season, likely will be a top-10 team when the season begins Aug. 31 with a Thursday night road game at Indiana. They return 15 starters and 48 letterwinners. They had 15 practices this spring, including the spring game, to build momentum for the offseason.
Linebacker Chris Worley likes where the team is. He also knows it has a long way to go.
“I definitely think we got done what we wanted to get done,” Worley said, “but I don’t believe we’re ready to go play for a national championship right now. The good thing is we don’t have to be ready right now. We’ve got a lot of time to put in work. Since I’ve been here, this is the closest we’ve been at this point in the year.”
4. Standout performance: Wide receiver Johnnie Dixon caught six passes for 108 yards and scored two touchdowns. He matched his reception total for all of last season.
Meyer called Dixon an enigma because they know what he can do but he’s rarely been healthy enough to live up to his potential. He did that Saturday.
“I was so happy to see him have great success today, because we really need him,” Meyer said. “He just has to have a great summer. He stayed healthy. That’s the most important thing.”
5. New faces: A couple of young players who could be breakout performers in the fall put up big numbers. Redshirt freshman Demario McCall rushed six times for 83 yards and caught two passes for 48 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown catch. Sophomore Antonio Williams carried six times for 37 yards.
Junior Eric Glover-Williams, who’s moving from defensive back to wide receiver, had seven catches for 64 yards. Sophomore linebacker Justin Hilliard led the defense with seven tackles.
Junior Terry McLaurin, who had 11 receptions last season, had four catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
6. Big crowd: A crowd of 80,134 watched the spring game. Last season, Ohio State set the national spring game attendance record with 100,189 fans. With construction in the C Deck, 20,000 seats were unavailable.
7. Special moment: Jacob Jarvis, a teenager who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, came onto the field in his motorized wheelchair in the final minute. The entire team surrounded him.
Then Jarvis took off for the end zone. Players dove, as if trying to tackle him, but let him drive into the end zone. Then they surrounded him and celebrated.
Jarvis has been around the team for almost four years. Meyer said he’s part of the family. Senior defensive linemen Tyquan Lewis and Jayln Holmes approached Meyer on Friday with the idea of getting Jarvis involved in the game.
“It really lifts your spirits, seeing things like that,” Lewis said, “because it’s not about you anymore. It’s about Jacob now. Doing things like that, it changes peoples’ lives.”