- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The official score of Saturday's Ohio State spring game was 59-27 in favor of the offense. But it wasn't that one-sided. In fact, the defense dominated early, holding the offense without a touchdown until the ninth series. And the offense scored often after being placed at the defense's 25-yard line.
The score didn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. Here a few things that did:
Coach Jim Tressel was happy the team managed to avoid injuries, for the most part. Defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins appeared to suffer a head injury on the 12th series and didn't return. Tressel said Hankins got "dinged up" and should be fine for the fall.
The injury bug, though, hit the Buckeyes pretty hard in the secondary and on the offensive line this spring. Tressel said his top eight offensive linemen played every one of the 89 snaps of the scrimmage, mixing and matching throughout the day. "They got a workout today," he said.
The depleted position groups did give some young players a chance to show their stuff. One who did just that was freshman safety Jeremy Cash, who spent a lot of time on the field and finished with six tackles, including a sack. "We wanted to have a competitive offense-defense scrimmage," Tressel said, "but more important was putting guys out in front of some people and see if they can line up. Sometimes it's good for young guys to see just how far they have grown."
Overall, though, the secondary struggled, especially late. It also wasn't a great day for running back Carlos Hyde, who had just seven yards on six carries.
Linebacker Etienne Sabino, who appeared ready to step into a role this time last season before eventually taking a redshirt season, was all over the field. He was credited with six tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
One thing Tressel had to love: there were no turnovers during the scrimmage.
Tressel sounded happy with the progress of the receivers, a real point of concern heading into the spring. "After about three practices, I'm thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, we might be in three tights, a fullback and a tailback because they're so young,'" he said. "And I think they came along and are starting to understand. [But] they need to have tremendous progress between now and September."
This will be an inexperienced team, with seven defensive starters gone and -- at least for the first five games -- seven starters from the offense not available. But Tressel liked the approach of the players this spring. "Sometimes in the spring when you've got this veteran team coming back, guys sit in the back of the room and think, 'I'm not going to play anyway.' They're not razor sharp. I sensed our guys knew that every person in that room will have to make a difference in 2011."
Center Mike Brewster said the best outcome of the spring was the maturation of the younger players, which didn't come easily. "We really used these 15 practices to our advantage. We didn't sit around doing a little bit here and a little bit there. We had live reps every day. There were a couple jersey scrimmages a week, to be honest with you. That's what you have to do when you have young guys. "
Ohio State announced an official crowd 44,276, though many of those likely bought tickets in advance and stayed home because of the threatening weather. The crowd looked to be about half that official number, as the upper decks and end zones at the Shoe were mostly barren.
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