MotSaG look at the Wide Receivers

OSU Football

OSU Football

Last spring, as Meyer took over the Buckeyes, he referred to the wide receivers as a “clown show”. To be frank, it was. Our leading receiver from the previous year had only 14 receptions, and our pass offense was ranked in the 100’s, so for Meyer to call the offense, receivers specifically, a clown show, was probably a bit of an understatement. Meyer did see potential in the young receiving core; however, there was much work to do, by young receivers coach Zach Smith, in order to get them functional.

Last Year Performance
Throughout the season, Devin Smith provided us with one handed catches, game-breaking touchdown receptions, and also a lot of inconsistency. Philly Brown was the most consistent Buckeye receiver last year, as he tallied 60 receptions in his 2012 campaign. He was also used frequently in the hybrid role, as Jordan Hall suffered from injury, and Chris Fields was not prepared to step in to that role.

Jake Stoneburner was moved to receiver in the spring, and that transition seemed to be painful for all parties involved, as he grabbed an underwhelming 16 receptions, only two more than the previous year. Chris Fields and Evan Spencer added in a couple of key receptions throughout the season, that gave them some value, but they were pretty underwhelming as well. Overall, if I were to provide a grade for the 2012 Ohio State wide receivers, I would give them C+. While there was much improvement from the previous year, the receiving core was functional at best last year.

Starters Lost
Jake Stoneburner- 2012 Stats- 16 Receptions; 269 Yards; 4 Touchdown receptions

Player to Watch
Chris Fields- If you have read any of my previous posts you will not be surprised by this pick, as I am pretty high on Chris Fields coming in to this year. My reasoning originates from Meyer’s depth chart he released after the Spring Game, which listed Fields over Jordan Hall at the slot receiver/hybrid role. For me, that was a huge indication that Fields has finally turned the corner. Meyer has a lot of trust in Hall, but he has not been able to stay healthy, and Fields has taken full advantage of that. Fields had a key touchdown reception in last year’s Purdue game, along with a very productive Spring Game. Immediately after the Spring Game, Meyer named Fields the starter during his post game interview. Look for Fields to emerge as a reliable slot receiver, that runs very crisp routes, with complex route combinations, and will cause safeties and nickel backs a lot of trouble with his mixture of size and speed.

smith_brown

Player that Needs to Step Up
Devin Smith- Last year Smith provided Buckeye fans with a lot of clutch receptions, most notably against Michigan State. However, his inconsistency bothers me immensely. Smith has the size and speed to be a great wide receiver. I believe Philly Brown will continue with his consistent hands, however, we cannot put all of the pressure, of being a game breaker, on the shoulders of true freshman Dontre Wilson. As Urban Meyer said last year in Training Days, “When the Offense takes the field, everyone should take notice.” Devin Smith needs to be a guy defenses point to and ensure he’s accounted for. He is definitely capable of being that threat, but in order for that threat to exist there has to be more consistency from Smith. A lot of his consistency issues come from his weak route running abilities. In order to fix that Smith has to spend extra time in the offseason dedicating himself to becoming a complete wide receiver. That comes with great discipline and willingness. If he does not improve his route running, and consistency, Smith will see his targets go down due to his limited ability, and this team will suffer from missing that game-breaker.

Sleeper Pick
Jalin Marshall- I know I know, where’s Michael Thomas? Michael Thomas will continue to improve, but I think he is one year away from breaking out. I selected Marshall here because of his versatility. Marshall is already lighting things up in Fall camp making plays down the field as a receiver. Marshall is also capable of carrying the ball as a running back, which has generated comparisons to one of Meyer’s former players, Percy Harvin. Marshall played quarterback in high school, but judging from his highlight tape he will be used in several different roles this upcoming season. If you’re not convinced he can be that electric watch the tape. As Trent Dilfer often says: “The tape doesn’t lie!”

Prediction for the 2013 Season
I am expecting a lot from the wide receiving group this year. What I am expecting may be unfair, but if this team wants to compete as a national title contender, the receiving core may put the Buckeyes over the top. There is a lot of versatility and potential with this group. However, it is time for potential to become production. I am predicting that being the competitors that they are, these receivers will answer the call of their coaches. I’m expecting Philly Brown to have around 65 catches, for about 700 yards, and for 6 touchdown receptions. Devin Smith will have 55 catches, for 800 yards, for 9 touchdown receptions; Chris Fields will have 35 catches, for around 350 yards, and squeak in 4 touchdown receptions; Jalin Marshall will have 20 catches, for 300 yards, and 4 touchdown receptions as well. Will they live up to the hype? I guess we will have to check back at the end of the year to see how accurate, or inaccurate, I was.

Depth Chart (starters in italics)
Split End (X)Devin Smith, Michael Thomas
Flanker (Z)Corey Brown, Evan Spencer
Slot/HybridChris Fields, Jordan Hall/Jalin Marshall

(Image courtesy of HoneyChild Photography)

Comments

  1. Great stuff Ronnie… I am really looking forward to better WR play this year. If these veterans dont step up their game the Young bucks will take their spots. Should be a great year for them all though.

    • Yeah Jeremiah I think that a guy like Philly Brown could really break out this year. He is being taken out of the slot so I’m expecting his YPC to go up. The only thing that concerns me with this position is the lack of a guy who can really go up and get a ball. I would look for Michael Thomas to be used some in red zone packages as a big, fast guy who can go snag a ball if they need it.

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