Here we are a day prior to the start of the 2016 season and with Bowling Green on deck we look ahead to seeing our Buckeyes in action. With the mass exodus that occurred after last season, Coach Meyer will be looking to replace the plethora of talent that he lost to the NFL Draft this season. Meyer has retained the services of 6 players that have returned for at least one more season at Ohio State and this will be by far his most challenging task while at the helm at Ohio State. Unfortunately for the rest of the country, Coach Meyer and his staff have to look no further than their depth chart at the talent that they have stockpiled throughout the years. They are secretly being developed while they wait patiently for their opportunity to take the reins from the upperclassmen that have left for the NLF or that have moved on after graduation. So in reality, the Buckeyes should be just fine, but with the influx of inexperienced and unproven players it will take some time for them to adjust.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett will return for his Redshirt Junior season and he will lead the charge for the Buckeyes. He will act as the key cog in the offense and he will usher in the new stable of starters across the offensive side of the ball. Barrett brings experience and leadership to the offense and Meyer and company will depend on him throughout the season. Barrett provides problems for opposing defenses with his innate ability to hit targets in stride, his ability to scramble, and his instincts when plays break down. He will not have the same weapons on offense from the previous two seasons, but Barrett will find ways to maximize and improve the talent around him. He will continue to make others around him better and provide leadership that is crucial to this season because during week 3 the Buckeyes will have a date at Norman and J.T. needs to use the first two weeks to fine tune his offense for the huge showdown with Oklahoma.
With all the drama during his recruitment, Mike Weber’s future with the Buckeyes remained in question for the remainder of his recruitment, but now two years after the fact he has secured the role as starter for Coach Meyer’s “Cadillac Position”. Weber will be the starter this year and after a great showing during this years spring game, I think he will become the next great Running Back that Ohio State will produce. Weber is a workhorse. He was the speed to blow past defenders and he has the power to run them over as well. He learned and developed under one of the greatest backs at Ohio State, Ezekiel Elliott. I look for Weber to come in with that lunch pail mentality and continue the legacy and tradition at Ohio State. For now, he will be an unproven commodity at Running Back and he will look to carve out his own path during his tenure at Ohio State.
Samuel was singled out by Urban Meyer during the offseason and he stated that Curtis Samuel is his best playmaker on offense. That comes with high praise considering what the Buckeyes lost after last season. Samuel will split time at multiple positions. He will be tasked to play in the Slot, some Running Back and he will be the starter at the H-Back position. Needless to say, we will get a huge dosage of Curtis Samuel and we can only hope that he will become that go-t0 player for Urban Meyer’s new look offense.
One of two returning starters on the offensive line, Pat Elflein will shift from Guard to Center and he will look to guide and mentor the three new slobs that had earned starting spots alongside himself and Right Guard, Billy Price. Elflein will provide leadership and stability for Michael Jordan, Jamarco Jones and Isaiah Prince. He will ensure they are up to standard for the new look offensive line. It also helps that J.T. Barrett sees a familiar face along that young offensive line. With the move to Center, Elflein will be involved in every facet of the game. He will call out and adjust the protection as needed and he will be snapping the rock to Barrett. New challenges will arise and he will be all for it.
The proud tradition of Middle Linebackers continues as McMillan returns for what most assume will be his final season at Ohio State. Once again, McMillan will be the Quarterback of the defense and he will provide experience and stability to the unit. With Daron Lee and Joshua Perry moving onto the NFL, he looks to lead new starters, Chris Worley and Dante Booker. Remember the term reload? Yeah Worley and Booker have different traits that make them lethal and McMillan will help them along the way and similar to the offense, it will take some time. McMillan would never let the Silver Bullets mantra and tradition slip away, so we will all have to be patient with the lack of experience. He along with the coaching staff will prepare them for the grind of yet another season.
Bowling Green seems to always have a potent, if not lethal offense. With Senior signal caller, James Knapke, they will look to utilize Senior Wide Receiver Ronnie Moore in every possible way they can. It’ll be a tough task to do, but with the lack of experience on Ohio States defense, who knows. I for one see them putting up at least two touchdowns during this contest, but Ohio State will be looking to unleash hell on the hapless Falcons. With a lot to prove, I can see both scenarios play out, but this is why I love College Football. Hell, we almost witnessed Tennessee get wrecked and upset at home this week, so why not right?
On defense, Bowling Green boasts a pair of playmaking linebackers that will lead this years unit. Austin Valdez, a Middle Linebacker who had earned 1st Team All-Mac honors and Trenton Greene, an Outside Linebacker who had earned 2nd Team All-MAC honors look to stop the Buckeyes dead in their tracks. It will take a ton of effort from both of these players, but it might be possible. The Buckeyes have three new starters on the offensive line and they are young and inexperienced. They have a new Cadillac Back and new playmakers starting at the Wide Receiver.
After considering everything, I see this game getting ugly before halftime. Ohio State will be playing at home and Buckeye Nation will come in full force. The noise levels will be insane throughout the game. The Buckeyes will start slow, but they will piece together, a blow out to start the season on the right foot. I am not taking away from the Falcons, but it’s hard to see Ohio State losing this early in the season. Couple that, Urban Meyer being the Head Coach and the 4-0 All-Time record against Bowling Green and you have this: 44-17 Ohio State over Bowling Green