Spring practice for college football is just that - practice - although new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has said he expects to have a starting lineup in place by the start of preseason drills come August.
Meyer wants more speed from and less mass on his players a la an SEC team this season as he is seeking a more-explosive offense.
With Braxton Miller in place as the starting quarterback, a lot of the spring has been spent with both getting the offensive line slimmed down and speeded up. ''We want big, powerful guys, but you've got to be able to run,'' said Meyer.
Plus, besides Miller, Meyer is looking for playmakers as well on the offensive side, whether it is a consistent running back or a game-breaking wide-receiver threat. And on the defense too, there's a need for difference-makers in the secondary with interceptions or locking down opposing receivers.
On the current roster itself, ''there are some positions that are glaringly-weak right now,'' said Meyer. ''They have to get better.''
Of course, Meyer's major recruiting focus this year was put into getting more quality defensive linemen, which he did in bunches looking toward the future some as the Buckeyes still have senior end John Simon and junior tackle Johnathan Hankins as a pair of solid players holding down the line.
Analyzing Ohio State's 2012 schedule, only one of the Buckeyes' non-conference opponents made it to a bowl game in 2011, and all four of those games will be played in Columbus.
True freshman Miller was thrown into the mix early last season, but showed that he should be a good, if not excellent, college quarterback. He showed that in his play in the Michigan game last year, where he sort of came into his own, so no doubt should be improved in 2012.
The only thing that I think irked me the most about last season were some of the close losses that should probably have been wins, especially the one in overtime at Purdue, but also the second-half collapse at Nebraska and defensively playing well, but not scoring enough points versus either Penn State or Michigan State at home to pull out wins.
One good point to build on though was that none of the five Big Ten losses were by more than seven points. Ohio State was 2-6 in games decided by seven points or less, but those are the games that you've got to win and the ones that gnaw at you for a long time afterward.
This season, Ohio State has tough trips to Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin, and hosts equally-tough games against Nebraska and Michigan. And remember, with no bowl game to play for this fall, the Buckeyes' bowl game will be in their season finale against Michigan.
But in the meantime, we'll see how much they've progressed under Meyer next Saturday when the Scarlet and Gray spring game is played at 1:30 p.m. in Ohio Stadium.
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org