Today marks 100 days until The Ohio State Buckeyes kick off the 2016 season against Bowling Green. Yet there are still lurking questions about this team that will not be answered in full, perhaps until week five or six. For example, with all of its youth and inexperience, will the 2016 Buckeyes be able to compete on the same level as last year’s team? What will the offense look like in Tim Beck’s second year as Offensive Coordinator? What will the defense look like in Greg Schiano’s first year as defensive coordinator? Has Ohio State been written off, as a serious championship contender, already?
If you get the chance to read Coach Meyer’s book “Above the line”, I highly recommend it; not only for the life lessons it provides but for the insight into who Urban Meyer, the man, really is. In the book Meyer talks about his distaste for what he calls “BCD” or blaming, complaining and being defensive. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a shock that, in a time when fans were calling for Coach Tim Beck’s job after last year’s loss to Michigan State, Meyer didn’t blame Beck. Meyer realized that Ohio State’s offensive struggles went deeper than Tim Beck’s abilities as a coordinator; and firing him would not have made this team better. In spite of it all, Beck is back this year; and I fully expect him and Co-Offensive Coordinator Ed Warriner, to have the offense firing on all cylinders this season. A year after one of the biggest quarterback controversies in recent memory, Meyer, Beck and Warriner are completely committed to JT Barrett as this season’s starting QB. The change of pace and the lack of being able to establish a rhythm, that comes with repeatedly substituting the quarterback, were the offense’s biggest issues last year. The solution was never more evident than in the final two games of the season. JT Barrett was the sole starter for the Buckeyes and Coach Warriner moved upstairs to coach from the box. Ohio State’s offense dominated the competition by scoring 42 points against our rivals; and 44 points in the Fiesta Bowl. I simply don’t expect OSU to revert back to its old ways. Finally, with all of the talented that left Ohio State for the NFL, this offseason, the Buckeyes will rely heavily on the play of their on-field OC, JT Barrett. They will also need big contributions from players like Noah Brown, Mike Weber, Brionte Dunn, KJ Hill and Curtis Samuel. All things considered, it looks like this year’s offense is in great hands.
When I think Greg Schiano, I think Miami. I think about Ed Reed and Dan Morgan; Coach Schiano’s two best players during his tenure at “the U.” In his last Defensive Coordinator position, Schiano led the Hurricanes defense to being the number twelve ranked defense in college football in 1999; and the number five ranked defense in 2000. In his first year as OSU’s Defensive Coordinator, Schiano’s secondary is going to look quite similar to how the Bucks have looked the last two years under Chris Ash. However, Schiano likes for his to defense to be “flying around.” In other words, he likes to call a wider variety of blitzes to confuse opposing quarterbacks and offensive lineman, so expect Ohio State’s front seven to spend a lot more time in the backfield.
Overall the 2016 Buckeyes are going to start the season as a young team, an inexperienced team, but an extremely talented team. Most of OSU’s twenty-two starters will have never started a game in college, when kickoff comes on September 3rd. Most of these players did not have a major role in the Big Ten championship or the national championship from 2014. Most of these players have not contributed on Saturdays to Meyer’s 50-4 record at Ohio State. Most of them haven’t accomplished anything and they have already been written off by ESPN and others, as incapable. Now its their turn to prove themselves. Though they are young, they are hungry. Their opportunity to leave their mark at Ohio State will begin in 100 days.