Archives for January 2021

Buckeyes C.J. Stroud, poised to be great:

The 6-3, 205-pound quarterback is primed for a breakout career for the Ohio State offense.

C.J. Stroud will be in a quarterback battle all summer into fall camp with fellow quarterback Jack Miller III and incoming 5-star freshman Kyle McCord, all competing for the job — but Stroud is certainly the favorite. 

According to 247sports, Stroud was a four-star in high school ranked #42 in the country and #2 pro-style quarterback.

Stroud is from Rancho Cucamonga, CA. where he threw for 6,569 yards and 70 touchdowns in his career at Rancho Cucamonga high school. — His senior was extraordinary as he threw for 3,878 yards and 47 touchdowns leading his team to the state semifinals. 

During his senior campaign, he competed at the Elite 11, the nation’s premier quarterback competition, and won MVP. — Scouts have compared Stroud to NFL quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

As a true freshman, Stroud’s significant moment came against Michigan State when he sprinted off for a 48-yard touchdown run — He never attempted a pass but was the first to replace Justin Fields off the bench versus Michigan State and Rutgers.

Stroud has all the tools to become the next great Buckeye quarterback.

He has a solid frame and his high school film shows he has one of the strongest arms with a smooth tight release and has unreal athleticism to make plays outside of the pocket. Along with that, Stroud throws the deep ball with great touch and accuracy.

Stroud may be the favorite heading into next season, but the three-way quarterback battle will be surreal, and this Ohio State offense will be highly-powered and explosive come the 2021 season.

Chris Olave returning for senior season with Buckeyes:

With all eyes expecting Ohio State’s star wide receiver Chris Olave to enter his name into the 2021 draft, he announced he’ll return for his senior season.

“I’d like to thank God for this life, without him none of this is possible,” Olave wrote on Twitter and thanked coach Ryan Day, wide receivers coach Brian Hartline, strength coach Mickey Marotti along with Buckeye nation.

“There are so many great memories, but we’re not done yet, I’ll be returning for my senior year at Ohio State,” says Olave.

In his three-year career as a Buckeye, Olave has caught 110 catches, 1,766 yards, and 22 touchdowns.

He was projected as likely a first-round NFL pick and shocked Buckeye nation with his return.

The announcement is huge for the offense heading into next fall.

Key offensive pieces entered the 2021 draft, as expected — Justin Fields, Wyatt Davis, and Trey Sermon.

Olave’s value is magnificent and was on full display this past season as he was unable to participate in the Big Ten Championship game due to COVID protocols — the Buckeyes struggled in the passing game as Justin Fields completed only 12 of 27 passes for 114 yards.

Olave’s return, along with tight end Jeremy Ruckert and left tackle Thayer Munford is enormous, especially within the quarterback room.

The Buckeyes will see a new face at starting quarterback come next fall with sophomores CJ Stroud, Jack Miller, and 5-star true freshman Kyle McCord all competing for the job — the return of Ruckert, Munford, and Olave will help break in a new quarterback.

Olave’s revenge game against Clemson was surreal as he caught six passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

Against the Crimson Tide in the national title game, Olave caught eight passes for 69 yards.

His career as a Buckeye has been special — But he’s not done yet and has one goal in mind.

C02 is back.

The Reload: Running Backs

The running back room is also affected by uncertainty with Trey Sermon’s status up in the air. He suffered an injury that took him out of the game and it cost the Buckeyes. It is his decision to make but all signs point to him pursuing his NFL dream. The talent that is in place and the backs that are coming in will be exciting to say the least.

Master Teague played in place of Sermon and he did what he could, scoring twice and running for 65 yards. This season, he will be in his third year with the program and he is the early favorite to be the bell cow for the Buckeyes. Yes, he’s no Sermon, but he could fill a leadership role and he brings experience in a mostly green room of backs. He could take his game up a notch while guiding the younger backs under the tutelage of Tony Alford, but this is if the redshirt sophomore decides to stay.

Marcus Crowley is the next talented back and he is a former Gatorade Player of the Year in the talent-rich state of Florida. He saw a few snaps in the championship game when the game was out of reach and he showed some burst but not a ton. As talented as he is, all he is waiting for is his shot for some meaningful snaps. I hope he sticks around for the long haul.

Steele Chambers, out of Roswell, Georgia is the third back on the reload and he is coming off a year where he was recovering from an ACL injury and we will see how he feels in 2021. When he was in the game, he always got his yards and I’m hoping the rust shakes off quickly.

Miyan Williams is the third and “bowling ball” really went out there against Clemson and played like a man possessed. He will ride that momentum moving forward and watching the tape, he really is a downhill runner that isn’t afraid of contact. He is also deceptively shifty which won’t hurt either.

The incoming freshman are TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor, two talented back that will come into the fold soon. Henderson, a five star out of Hopewell, VA has a lot of potential to overtake the talent above. Electric and sudden, he will give the Buckeyes a potential game breaker in the backfield. His stablemate Pryor from Cornelius, NC is a four star but also has the same traits that compliment Henderson. The pair are the #1 and #2 players at their position and they will look to make an immediate impact as freshman.

Regardless of who stays or goes, the room is in good hands. Coach Alford has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal and I know we will be fine. Attrition wouldn’t shock me either, but until we know enjoy the talent we have been stockpiling.

#GoBucks

5-star Buckeye commit Quinn Ewers, Caroll Dragons ready for state title game:

Ohio State five-star commit Quinn Ewers, the country’s No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2022 is ready for the big stage.

Ewers, and his Carroll Dragons will take on Cade Klubnik and Austin Westlake for the Texas 6A Division 1 title game.

Despite missing six games due to a sports hernia, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Ewers has been a force for the Dragon’s offense all season long.

Ewers has played in seven games, throwing for 2,091 yards, 25 touchdowns, with a 125 QBR.

Last season the Dragons suffered a fourth-round playoff loss to Duncanville — Ewers, as a sophomore threw for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns despite the losing efforts —

The Dragons got their revenge this season defeating Duncanville 34-27 advancing to the state title. Ewers threw only 11 times for 168 yards with 2-total touchdowns — one rushing, one throwing. —

According to Maxpreps.com, the Dragons are currently ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 21 nationally while Austin Westlake is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 10 nationally.

Ewers and the Dragons will take on Westlake at AT&T Stadium with a 7 p.m. CST (8 p.m. EST) start time.

The game will be streamed on Fox Sports Southwest:

foxsportssouthwest.com

The Reload: Quarterback

The combination of the current group of Ohio State quarterbacks and the incoming freshman over the next two seasons helps Coach Day and Coach Dennis build toward the future of the program. They certainly have the talent at their disposal, but even that could be put into jeopardy with a surprise return from Justin Fields. Let’s say he leaves and what do we have left? Who is available to make some noise? Who will come in in the future?

Jack Miller III and C.J. Stroud the understudies to Justin Fields in the 2020 season and they have had their moment when called upon. When games were out of play, they were put in and when each got their shot, the electricity was evident for each. Jack Miller III was the first of the pair to be thrust into the game against Nebraska. He had no pass attempts but carried the ball twice for 23 yards and a score. C.J. Stroud on the other hand played in the Michigan State game and carried the ball once for a 48-yard scamper for six. Both will have a leg up on the incoming players, but even their talent is notable.

Joining Miller and Stroud in the summer, Kyle McCord and is another player that will show up and add to the competition within this position group. McCord, according to 24/7, is a quarterback from Pennsylvania is the #25 overall player in the nation, the third-best quarterback and oh, he’s one of the five five-star players that is coming in. Spicy, but having competition never hurt anyone, especially at a blue blood school like Ohio State.

Looking into the future, we have Quinn Ewers currently committed. Obviously, he is a 2022 recruit and the McCord of the class that will hopefully add to the QB room. He is a big-time player that will be playing in the Texas State Championship Game and he is one of the few players to have a perfect grade of 1.000 on the 24/7 composite. It is still a long way until he signs, but he looks like a gunslinger, and imagine if he is fully developed under Coach Day.

Each of these quarterbacks brings a diverse set of skills. It is up to Coach Day to develop them as men and as players, and the competition this spring will be a storyline to watch. It’ll be a three-way deadlock and the competition will be fierce to be “the man” at Ohio State.

The future at Ohio State is bright. There is no taking away from that. The reload is here. Buckle up.

#GoBucks

Silver Linings, Onto The Future

The offseason is usually a rough time for me, but being able to continue writing about the Ohio State Buckeyes puts my mind at ease. The passion I have and the sheer love for the team prevents me from walking away and here I am talking about the future of the program.

Players will often take some time to make up their minds about their future and here we are in limbo for the time being. Fields, Olave, Fields, Wade and the majority of the linebacking core are likely to leave but the greatest mystery would be to see who stays.

Now, when we find out whoever does stay, it’ll be interesting to see the attrition process play itself out too. Younger players with no shot at being “the guy” for their respective positions—let’s see how mentally tough they are and if they can be patient. This is probably the most interesting part of the year where anything can happen leading up to the annual spring game.

While you can’t bet on the Buckeyes in Ohio just yet, there is optimism in 2021. Sports betting legislation is in the works. If you can’t wait and are in the Michigan area, sports betting in MI is going live this week. You can wager on all the Buckeyes futures bets on DraftKings, FanDuel, or BetMGM, Lineups has the latest news and reviews if you don’t know which book to use.

Anyway, this team should look different this year and the future is too bright to discount the efforts and the strives it took to have a season. These kids are here for our entertainment and for their future. Do not blur the lines. Being able to not let wins or losses dictate our lives is a blessing and for me, I’m just happy that I have found that silver lining in this.

Buckeyes future is… BRIGHT

When the Big Ten’s fall season fell apart, the thought of Ohio State playing in the national championship seemed like an imagination. 

Coach Ryan Day, Justin Fields, and the Buckeyes fought hard for this season and made it a reality. Fields started a #WeWantToPlay petition which received 250,000 signatures and it took off from there.

That’s all this Buckeye team wanted, a chance. On Sept. 16, when the Big Ten announced a season will take place in October, they got just that.

The Buckeyes ran with the opportunity and didn’t disappoint. This team faced more obstacles then imagined throughout the year. They faced COVID difficulties from week 6 of the season until the end but didn’t stop the fight.

This team was doubted from the start and proved all the doubters wrong winning the Big Ten championship, beating Clemson in the Sugar Bowl championship, and finished the historic season with a heartbroken national championship loss to one of Alabama’s most talented teams we’ve seen in years. 

Looking ahead

Leaving (accepted senior bowl invite or most likely to enter draft.): Justin Fields, Wyatt Davis, Shaun Wade, Chris Olave, Trey Sermon, Jonathan Cooper, Tuf Borland, Baron Browning, Marcus Williamson, Drue Chrisman, Justin Hillard.

POSSIBILITY of returning: Tommy Togiai, Haskell Garrett, Pete Werner, Sevyn Banks, Nick Petit-Frere, Jeremy Ruckert, Tyreke Smith.

2021-2022 Season

The Offense

The Quarterback Battle…during the offseason will be as competitive as it gets. CJ Stroud and Jack Miller will be looked at as the front runners for the job heading into the season, but incoming 5-star freshman Kyle McCord may add a three-way race to be the Buckeyes next quarterback.

  • CJ Stroud: Class of 2020 (4 star, #2 QB, #42 overall)
  • Jack Miller: Class of 2020 (4 star, #13 QB, #334 overall)
  • Kyle McCord: Class of 2021 (5 star, #3 QB, #25 overall)

Offensive Line…remain dominant. Nick Petit-Frere, Matthew Jones, Harry Miller, Dawand Jones, and Paris Johnson Jr. will be a force up front.

Running Backscompetition will be interesting. The Buckeyes will have Master Teague, Miyan Willams coming back, but incoming #1 ranked, 5-star running back TreVeyon Henderson will add some fuel to that competition.

Wide Receiversloaded. Garrett Wilson will be returning for his junior season and looks to have a Heisman type of year. He has the talent and ability to put up record-breaking numbers for this Buckeyes offense next season. The WR core will also bring back Jameson Williams and stud freshmen Jaxon Smith-Njiba and Julian Fleming. The Buckeyes also bring in the #1 and #8, and #15 WR’s in Emeka Egbuka, Jayden Ballard and Marvin Harrison Jr.

The Defense

D-Line…dominant and ready. The D-line will consist of Tyreke Smith (if returns), Taron Vincent, Jerron Cage, Zach Harrison, Tyler Friday. Along with these five, Incoming freshman Jack Sawyer (ranked #4 in the country) will make an immediate impact for the defense.

Linebackers…will consist of some new faces but will be poised for a big year: Dallas Gant, Craig Young, Cody Simon, and Javontae Jean-Baptiste

Secondary…improved and prepared. Sevyn Banks and Josh Proctor will be returning and looking for a strong offseason translating it into next fall. Cornerback Cameron Brown will be back after suffering a Torn Achilles against Penn State early in the season. Along with these three true freshman Lathan Ransom showed his star potential to be a stud for this secondary.

The Buckeyes will also have the #3 and #4 ranked cornerbacks in the country coming in (Jakailin Johnson, Jordan Hancock).

The 2021 Recruiting Class: according to 247sports

  • Jack Sawyer, DE (#4 player, #3 pos)
  • Emeka Egbuka, WR (#9 player, #1 pos)
  • Donovan Jackson, OG (#17 player, #1 pos)
  • TreVeyon Henderson, RB (#24 player, #1 pos)
  • Kyle McCord, QB (#25 player, #3 pos)
  • Jakailin Johnson, CB (#47 player, #3 pos)
  • Mike Hall, DT (#49 player, #4 pos)
  • Jayden Ballard, WR (#66 player, #8 pos)
  • Jordan Hancock, CB (#67 player, #4 pos)
  • Evan Pryor, ARB (#81 player, #2 pos)
  • Reid Carrico, LB (#84 player, 5 pos)
  • Marvin Harrison Jr, WR (#91 player, #15 pos)
  • Ben Christman, OG (#124 player, #6 pos)
  • Tyleik Williams, DT (#161 player, #12 pos)
  • Andre Turrentine, S (#167 player, #9 pos)
  • Denzel Burke, ATH (#191 player, #8 pos)
  • Jantzen Dunn, S (#202 player, #12 pos)
  • Zen Michalski, OT (#318 player, #23 pos)

Early 2022 Recruiting Class look: according to 247sports

  • Quinn Ewers, QB (#1 player, #1 pos)
  • Jahiem Singletary, CB (#10 player, #5 pos)
  • Caleb Burton, WR (#14 player, #1 pos)
  • Gabe Powers, LB (#33 player, #2 pos)
  • C.J. Hicks, LB (#38 player, #3 pos)
  • Dasan McCullough, ATH (#54 player, #6 pos)
  • Jyaire Brown, CB (#123 player, #13 pos)
  • Tegra Tshabola, OT (#138 player, #15 pos)
  • Benji Gosnell, TE (#265 player, #12 pos)

Future is bright.

MOTSAG Sign Off: Thank You Guys

The season has come to a heartbreaking close and give props to these young men that made it happen. Making it to the title game in the manner in which this Buckeye team did is an achievement in its own—and they deserve the praise through the highs and the current low.

The Buckeyes were outmatched and it only took a half to see that. There are few silver linings in this story, but they are left with another question-filled offseason. Who will be leaving, who will be retuning, who will transfer in or out, which coaches will leave or come in—a lot can be said after this crushing defeat at the hands of Alabama.

Whether it was due to poor preparation or poor game planning, there is no reason to abandon ship just yet. Yes, the Buckeyes were whooped with everyone watching but what is another lesson for Coach Day? Or even Coach Coombs? I have no insight as to what will or won’t transpire in the future but this looks to be a turbulent offseason for the players, coaches and us fans.

I am not one for handing out trophies during situations like this but I think Fields deserves a huge pat on the back after fighting until the end. Yes, we had injuries and Covid issues but there is no excuse. We were hit hard with injuries right off the bat and it hurt this team and it only got worse as the depth along the defensive line was lacking, just like the pressure or the lack of tackling.

Regardless, great season, great players, great memories. Thank you for all you’ve done to make this missable year go by. Always behind you guys.

Go Bucks.

Ohio State vs. Alabama national championship key player matchups: by Mike Scharf

We are officially one day away from the 2021 National Championship between Ohio State and Alabama. Both the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide are coming off dominant performances in the CFP semifinals and are prepared for the biggest game of the year.

Both teams are led by star players in key positions, and the outcome will come down to these players and the matchups that present themselves on both sides of the ball.

The four key matchups for Monday night are seen below:

Trey Sermon vs Dylan Moses

Trey Sermon has been rolling and making a name for himself this postseason dominating on the ground in the Big Ten championship and CFP semifinals rushing for a combined 524 yards and 3 touchdowns. The ground game has been near perfect for Sermon and this Buckeye offense but come Monday the biggest threat to the Tide may be Sermon in the pass game. Sermon had 61 receiving yards on 4 catches against Clemson and will look to be more of a factor in this aspect against this Alabama defense.

This is when the matchup with Alabama’s star linebacker Dylan Moses comes into play. Moses has been dominant stopping the run as he has 38 tackles this season but has struggled in pass coverage as of late. 

Look for the Sermon-Moses matchup in open field — with Sermon taking full advantage of it. —

Devonta Smith vs OSU’s Secondary

Coming into the biggest game of the year, everyone knows how dominant Heisman winner Devonta Smith has been all year. Smith can beat you in more ways than one — catching, handoffs, punt returners — He’s the real deal. 

The Buckeyes are known to have highly talented defensive backs. Their best this season is Shaun Wade. Wade flourished in the slot last year, while coming back this season to play on the outside to prove he’s capable of playing both positions. Although Wade has not been as solid on the outside this season, he’s still a Thorpe Award semifinalist and has all the tools to be a factor in this matchup.

The matchup will be an interesting one — I expect to see the Buckeye secondary to show more zone and focus more help containing Smith whereas leaving him on an island could lead to success for the Tides offensive game plan.

Chris Olave vs Patrick Surtain

SEC Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Surtain has been locked down all season, and not many quarterbacks throw his way.

The 6-foot-2 junior recorded 32 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one interception this season.

With that being said, Chris Olave is the real deal. Buckeye Nation saw how valuable Olave is as he missed the Big Ten championship against Northwestern, and the Buckeyes found struggles opening up the pass game in a 22-10 victory.

Olave was available in the CFP semifinal against Clemson and didn’t disappoint as he had 6 receptions for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.

In a short season for the Buckeyes, Surtain will be Olave’s toughest matchup thus far and the two will be in a battle all game. 

If Justin Fields finds trouble throwing Surtain’s way, look for Garrett Wilson to have a monster game on the other side for the Buckeyes.

Najee Harris vs OSU’s Defensive Line

Along with Devonta Smith, Najee Harris has been a working force for the Crimson Tide offense. Harris has 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

With more COVID issues swirling around the Buckeyes program, we are not sure who is suiting up for game time.

But — Zach Harrison, Jonathan Cooper and Haskell Garrett are players we expect to see. Look for these three to control the line of scrimmage against the Tides front and contain Harris from making explosive plays. 

If the Buckeyes defensive line can contain Harris and apply pressure on quarterback Mac Jones, look for this team to find success Monday night.

These are two of the best programs in the past century we’ve seen in College Football.

The stage is set. The matchups will be exciting. A champion will be crowned.

Ohio versus the world.

MOTSAG X-Factors: Defense

With the national championship game approaching , as a fan you can’t help but be anxious for Monday. Despite the news that a few key players are out due to testing positive—the game is just four days away.

The story continues and this week the Buckeyes are potentially losing Togiai and Smith—two dogs the rushmen cannot afford to lose. Rumors that will remain on our minds until they release the names of the infected.

We all saw what a Olave-less offense looked like and the struggles that Fields had during that game. He had an awful outing but Sermon carried the burden of leading the offensive charge. Now the defense is in jeopardy of losing two of their cogs on defense and the depth takes a shot.

The odds of the Buckeyes losing starters is high, but they’ve done it with less all year. Against an elite Bama squad that boast the Heisman winner and after winning just about every offensive award, including the best offensive line—this should be a tough test for the defense. Nothing will change the fight but until we know who is in and who is out, let’s take a look at the defensive X-Factors of the defense for this game against Alabama.

The Rushmen

The biggest story out right now is this position group potentially not having enough depth to play the game. This depth issue might have pushed back the date on the championship game but the game looks like a go. Names like Togiai and Smith are huge ones and the Buckeyes need them on Monday, but until we know for sure, I will still write as if they will be playing.

The Rushmen need to control the line and wreak havoc on the best offensive line in America. Alex Leatherwood was quoted as saying “let’s see if they want to play” and Garrett responded with “I feed on that”. In order for the Buckeyes to contain a potent Alabama offense, they must be disruptive and they must play with a huge chip on their shoulder to stall this offense. It’ll be a team effort to stop them with or without Togiai or Smith.

BIA and LB’s

Shaun Wade wants Devonta Smith for the challenge and while some might see it as a slight, he is competitive and wants to gauge his skills against the heisman winner. Aside from Wade, Banks, Williamson, Ransom and Proctor must play disciplined and they must tackle well at all levels. Big hits are good to swing the momentum but the risk of targeting could derail any hopes of contain this offense.

The same can also be said for Browning, Borland and Werner—they too must play near perfect game to edge out Bama. Harris is a monster and don’t discount the Bama tight ends to get some work. Tackling is key and the coverage must be perfect to pull this off. The underdog role suits this team and another challenge is on the table.

MOTSAG Key Players

Haskell Garrett, DT

Tommy Togiai, DT

Jonathan Cooper, DE

Shaun Wade, CB

Sleepers: Lathan Ransom, S and Baron Browning, LB