Archives for April 2018

Spring Game: What We Learned

It is now 24 hours ahead of the annual Scarlet versus Gray Spring Game and man–there are a lot of difficult decisions that need to be made by Coach Meyer and his staff regarding the many open spots for his team on both sides of the field.

This is the annual reloading period where the coaches evaluate their players to reload and to identify the best player for the job.  A batch of forgotten, but talented unknowns will take their shot to earn a starting gig and blossom into the next Buckeye superstar.  Here are three things that stood out.

Burrow VS Haskins VS Martell:

This battle was everything that we thought it would be and it looks like it is a two-way competition between Burrow and Haskins with Martell trailing as the third Quarterback in the pecking order.

In no way am I saying that Martell lacks the talent, but Burrow and Haskins just separated themselves with a more balanced and efficient display during the game.  Tate showed that he can run the QB Option with ease and his elusiveness and speed will be another valuable weapon for the team this season if the coaches create a package of plays for him.

Burrow and Haskins made a lot of noise in the passing game this spring.  Burrow finished 15 for 22 for 238 and 2 TD’s while Haskins finished 9 for 19 for 120 yards and 2 TD’s.  Both signal-callers showed their fans what the future could look like, further adding to the fierce debate on who should be the heir to the QB Throne.

Burrow is accurate with a little less zip on the football when comparing his game to Haskins.  Haskins has the wow factor and the arm strength, but he is slightly less accurate than Burrow.  Both QB’s did a lot of switching between the first and second team offenses, but they showed that once they get into a rhythm, they can be unstoppable.  Both have poise in the pocket, but it is looking like their ability to run the offense and their leadership qualities will look like it will be the deciding factor in this battle.

A difficult choice needs to be made and it will be interesting to see what develops within the QB room.  Every one of the Quarterbacks on the roster can be a starter on another team, but we will see what happens and who gets the job.

Playmakers Paradise At Skill Positions:

The wealth of talent at just about every level on this team on offense is evident.  From the Running Back position all the way to the O-Line, they have enough baller for a three-deep depth chart.

At Running Back, they have Dobbins and Weber, the returning 1,000-yard rushers from a season ago.  Behind them, they have three stablemates in Williams, Teague, and Snead, who will join the team in the summer.  Not to mention, they have a talented bunch of walk-ons to boot.  Deep is an understatement at this position and with what we saw with Weber on that long TD run, and what Teague was able to accomplish, carries will be scarce, but the Brotherhood will continue to push each other until the fall comes.

Wide Receiver is also deep.  They returned all of their starters from last season and with the prospect of a more pass-friendly offense, they will look to make an immediate impact.  Hill, Campbell, Mack, Dixon, and Victor will be dangerous weapons this season.  Their backups also pose a threat to defenses.  Demario McCall had a game and is the projected to be the third H-Back on the depth chart.  Harris and Gardiner are huge targets that showed promise as well.

At Tight End Rashod Berry will be slotted to return as the starter, but he didn’t participate in the game due to injury.  Behind him, Hausmann, Farrell and the number one TE in last years class Jeremy Ruckert will be vying for playing time this season.

DBU Reloads Again:

Marcus Williamson has secured his spot in the rotation at Cornerback.  Aside from the TD catch by Harris, he locked him down and was disruptive for most of the game.  With Okudah out with an injury, he along with Wade, Banks, and Davis were given snaps to see what they can do, but from what I saw from Williamson, he gained traction in this battle.

Pryor and Johnson showed promise as both are fighting for the starting Safety spot opposite of Fuller.  Johnson nearly stopped Weber on his long TD run, showing the determination to not take any plays off, and he is a true freshman.

Ohio State has become DBU as of late and the tradition of having a DB getting drafted in the first round has been a trend.  With that, Ohio State has yet another loaded depth chart, but they will all find a way to earn playing time.

 

 

 

 

 

Battleground: Scarlet VS. Gray Spring Game 2018

It is about that time again Buckeye Nation–it is time to see what the future has in store for us.  The last year of the Barrett Era will usher in a new signal-caller to lead the team and boy, they are loaded at the position this year and the competition will be fierce.

In the new era, we will see what a trifecta of talented quarterbacks can do to help the team and more importantly, lead the offense during crucial moments this season.  From there most of the Wide Receivers from last season have returned for depending on whichever quarterback wins the job, for a chance to thrive in what could be a more pass-heavy or balanced offensive attack–along with a new starter at Tight End.  The O-Line retained all but two starters from last season, but the competition along the line has been another dominant storyline as well.

There are many directions that I can go, so let us get down to it.

Quarterback Proving Grounds:

The central focus and one of the most covered stories have been the pending decision for Coach Meyer when choosing J.T. Barrett’s heir.  He has a cupboard full of talent and a difficult decision is on the horizon.  Each player on the depth chart, minus incoming freshman Matthew Baldwin adds a different dimension to the offense, but they are all talented in their own way.

Dwayne Haskins is viewed by many as the obvious choice to lead the team this season after leading Ohio State to another victory against TTUN, and he did it after Barrett left the game with an injury–playing in front of a rowdy Ann Arbor crowd.  He iced the game going 6-7 for 94 yards and three rushes for 24 yards, showing that he is ready if they need him and showing his talent to get a leg up on the competition at Quarterback.

Joe Burrow was the backup to Barrett, but an unfortunate injury to his hand gave Haskins the nod as the backup while he recovered.  Burrow has been on the team a year longer than Haskins, but he is fighting to live out his childhood dream of being the starting Quarterback at Ohio State.  While he doesn’t have the arm strength like Haskins does, he is as accurate with his passes.  He isn’t as shifty as Martell, but he can move when he needs to do so.

Finally, Tate Martell is a bit of a dark horse in this competition because he possesses most of the traits of the previous two players, but he is definitely faster and more shifty runner that is similar to J.T. Barrett.  He is also accurate and throws accurate passes downfield.

All in all, whoever wins helps the team the most.  During the game, they will give the audience a show despite the potential for bad weather, but it will be fun.  Either way Coach Meyer goes, the offense will become more balanced.

Trench Warfare:

Opposing defenses beware, the Buckeye Offensive Line is developing a mean streak that will serve up pancakes and extra-curricular activity if needed in between plays.  The Buckeyes returned three starters from last season but lost two key players in Jamarco Jones and Billy Price.

These losses hurt, but the depth of talent at Ohio State’s disposal cannot be overlooked and the competition is making everyone better.  Iron sharpens iron, and there are two starting spots available and 5 for the two-deep.  Which two will separate themselves from the rest of the pack and which five will serve as game-ready backups on the depth chart this season?  Even though it is just the Spring Game, it will be exciting to see these guys in action.

Defensive Turnover:

Defensive players, especially at Ohio State lie and wait for their chance to help the team and earn a starting role and this year is no different.  This year the Buckeyes lost starters at every level.  Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, Tracy Sprinkle, Michael Hill, Jerome Baker, Chris Worley, Denzel Ward, Damon Webb and Erick Smith–also featuring a few former walk-on standouts.

That is a boatload of positions to replace, but they have the talent to go unscathed.  DE’s Nick Bosa and Chase Young along with DT’s B.B. Landers and Dre’Mont Jones will give opposing lines fits.  With a talented group of younger players coming in, you will see depth along the defensive line.

Linebacker has the most questions, especially after the injury to Tuf Borland.  Upperclassmen and the younger players also will make things interesting this Spring and into the Fall.  Everyone plays fast at this position, and it is only a matter of time until someone shines like Baker did.

Cornerback is pretty much set with Kendall Sheffield, Damon Arnette, and Jeffrey Okudah, but they are searching for a fourth this Spring.  With Okudah out with an injury, Marcus Williamson has a chance to get more reps.  Shaun Wade is now healthy, and he too will be in the conversation.

Safety returns Jordan Fuller but lost Damon Webb to graduation.  Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint will compete along with the other underclassmen, which like every position at Ohio State will be a dogfight, but necessary to push each other to get better.

For the time being, all we can do is predict until tomorrow morning, but until I see it for myself, it is difficult to get a good feel for what could and could not happen so I will wait until tomorrow to do so.  For now, as a fan, I will enjoy it with the rest of you and give my projections based on what I have seen.  Go Bucks!

 

 

What If Former Michigan And Ohio State Players Joined Forces To Make Their Own NFL Team?

What has 19 national championships, ten Heisman trophy winners, 80 Big Ten titles, bitter hatred yet mutual respect, and 1,841 total wins? That, my friend, is the Ohio State-Michigan college football rivalry, which has produced a ton of NFL talent. In fact, as of the 2017-2018 season, 33 former Michigan Wolverines players and 42 former Ohio State players were on NFL rosters. Well, what would happen if all 75 of those players joined forces and created their own NFL team? Let’s find out, shall we? Without further ado, below I have constructed the best two-deep roster possible for former participants in ‘The Game’

Quarterback: Tom Brady, Cardale Jones

The Game features Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback of all time under center. Brady is widely recognized as being one of the most clutch quarterbacks of all time and has a ton of accolades to back that up, being a five-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, and thirteen-time Pro Bowler etc.

Behind him is Cardale Jones who has proven throughout his career that he is a reliable backup.

Running back: Ezekiel Elliott, Carlos Hyde

At running back, The Game features two former Ohio State stars in Ezekiel Elliott and Carlos Hyde. Despite the fact that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for the first six games of the year, he and Hyde rushed for a combined 157.1 rushing yards per game in 2017. To put that in perspective, the Jacksonville Jaguarsled the NFL in 2017 with 140.2 rushing yards per game as an entire TEAM!

Wide Receiver: Michael Thomas, Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr, Jalin Marshall, and Braxton Miller

In Michael Thomas, The Game has arguably the NFL’s best possession receiver who was sixth in the league with 1,245 receiving yards. It also has big-bodied Devin Funchess (840 receiving yards) and speedster Tedd Ginn Jr. (787 receiving yards) – both of which present big problems for secondaries.

Tight EndNick Vannett, Jeff Heuerman

Although Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman provide solid blocking and are legit receiving threats, their 21 combined receptions for 266 yards and three touchdowns last season weren’t all that impressive. However, you better believe that those numbers would increase with Tom Brady under center. 

Offensive Tackle: Taylor Lewan, Taylor Decker, Darryl Baldwin, Chase Farris, Erik Magnuson

Led by rookie Pro-Bowl Selection Taylor Lewan, The Game has a respectable set of offensive tackles. Taylor Decker started in all 16 games as a rookie in 2016, but due to him undergoing shoulder surgery had to sit out for 2017. Nevertheless, the talent’s still there.

Offensive Guard: Andrew Norwell, Kyle Kalis, Patrick Omameh, Ben Braden

Anchored by All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell and an ultra-reliable Patrick Omameh, who started in all 13 games he saw action in last year, The Games guards aren’t so shabby. Kyle Kalis would make a solid option, too.

CenterPat Elflein, Corey Linsley,  

Pat Elflein started in every game of his rookie season for the Vikings, making the 2017 PFWA All-Rookie Team. Ironically, three years earlier, Corey Linsley made the PFWA All-Rookie Team as well and is the proven leader for the Packers up front. 

Defensive EndJoey Bosa, Cameron Heyward, Brandon Graham, Frank Clark 

I don’t know if there’s a rivalry in all of college football that has produced a better collection of defensive ends than ‘The Game’. Highlighted by pro-bowlers Joey Bosa and Cameron Heyward, the combination of those two and Michigan alumn Brandon Graham and Frank Clark recorded a combined total of 194 tackles and 44 sacks last year. 

To put that in perspective, only four out of the 32 NFL TEAMS AS A WHOLE produced more sacks in the 2017-2018 season!

Defensive TackleAdolphus Washington, Michael Bennett, Ryan Glasgow, Willie Henry 

Defensive tackle is by far the weakest of all positions for The Game. Adolphus Washington, Michael Bennett, Ryan Glasgow, and Willie Henry started in just 15 games combined in the 2017-2018 season.

But you better believe that with four stud defensive ends, the two that weren’t starting at their normal position could fill that void. 

LinebackerRyan Shazier, Darron Lee, John Simon, Joshua Perry, Raekwon McMillan, Curtis Grant

Despite Ryan Shazier’s late-season injury, he is included on this list because he played throughout the entire regular season, having a solid, 89-tackle season, and putting up similar numbers to fellow Ohio State alumn Darren Lee. John Simon and Raekwon McMillan would also provide respectable skillsets at that position. 

SafetyMalcolm Jenkins, Malik Hooker, Vonn Bell, Kurt Coleman

With veterans, Malcolm Jenkins and Kurt Coleman coupled with younger rising stars like Malik Hooker and Vonn Bell, The Game has a pretty good group of safeties. Ohio State has become defensive back-U over the last decade or so. 

Cornerback: Marshon Lattimore, Bradley Roby, Doran Grant, Gareon Conley, Eli Apple, Channing Stribling, Jourdan Lewis, Jeremy Clark

Having two cornerbacks like Marshon Lattimore and Bradley Roby on your roster would be an NFL coach’s dream come true. Veteran Bradley Roby could teach a younger and arguably more talented Lattimore a lot, and Lattimore – who led all rookies in interceptions – could put some wide receivers in check.

The verdict: 

I imagine that with Tom Brady, Ezekiel Elliott and Carlos Hyde, the stable of wide receivers, the dominance on the defensive line, and all of the play-makers in the secondary, not only would The Game win in dominant fashion versus most teams in the NFL, it would produce a team that could easily win the Super Bowl.

The NFL talent produced by The Game is by far the best of any and every other rivalry, which further iterates the fact that there’s no better rivalry in college football.