We’re going to try and get back to our weekly Open Thread discussions. These will hopefully run when there are games happening (Ohio State games and others) and also a Friday Open Thread where we have a discussion of the aspects of the game facing Ohio State for that particular week. This week’s Open Thread is an easy one, and it’s accompanied with a new poll. Who runs out on the field for Ohio State’s first possession Monday night?
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Aside from the quarterback position, it is no secret that the only positions to be picked number one overall in the NFL draft since 1997 have been defensive end and offensive tackle. Football games are just simply won and lost at the line of scrimmage, and Coach Urban Meyer has made recruiting the offensive and defensive lines his number one priority during is tenure at Ohio State. Thankfully, for us Buckeye fans, he has done nothing short of knocking it out of the park when it comes to bringing in top level talent at defensive end these last three years. When it comes to sheer talent and athleticism at defensive end, the term “embarrassment of riches” comes to mind when describing the 2015 version of these buckeye pass rushers. However, with all of the talent and athleticism this group brings, they bring even more inexperience. Next to Joey Bosa, this group of defensive ends has made a grand total of ZERO whopping starts in their short Buckeye careers. Will this worry some fans? Possibly, but one thing I know for sure is that no one can become great at anything until they have been given their first opportunity to do so. Without further ado, let’s introduce to 2015 Buckeye Defensive Ends.
Joey Bosa- Jr. 6’6 275
What he brings to the table: This is the kind defensive end that comes around once every decade, if you are lucky. Earlier I referenced the terms sheer talent and athleticism, and Joey Bosa’s skill set totally personify that. We are talking about a guy that stands 6’6 275 and can do standing backflips for fun just because he feels like it. When it comes to his play on the field, there are two things that set Joey apart from the rest of the ends on this team, and in the country for that matter. His strength allows him to engage with offensive linemen, lock out his arms and simply move them out of the way without even using a swim, rip, or spin move. What is just as incredible is that he is does a great job at using said moves when he needs too. The second thing that sets Joey apart is his motor. The kid plays at 100 miles per hour every single snap. He is relentless and aggressive when the lights come on and Alabama and Oregon took note of this because this is also Joeys only major downfall to his game. While those two qualities make so many highlight real plays for Joey, they also causes Joey to over rush the pocket at times and create a larger window for quarterbacks to step up into. Joey’s over aggressiveness came into play against Alabama and Oregon more than a few times. In today’s college game with all of the spread offenses, so many teams rely on “reading” defensive linemen in the running game. “Well” Alabama and Oregon both decided, “either we can try and block this monster of a human being or we can not block him at all, read him and hope his aggressive tendencies cause him to chase the guy without the ball.” It worked on more than a handful of plays for both of those teams. Obviously, we are the national champs and this clearly wasn’t that large of an issue but is an issue none the less.
2015 Outlook: Unfortunately, Mr. Shoulder Shrug himself got into a bit of trouble to start out this season. Joey is suspended for the teams opener at Virginia Tech due to violating team rules but suspensions aside, I do not expect him to miss a beat come week two against the mighty Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. I do not expect to see a crazy jump in his statistics because the target on his back will be larger than ever. Either way, Joey will come back to be a leader for this defense and this team and I would be shocked if he was anything less than a top five pick in this coming years NFL draft.
Tyquan Lewis- RSo. 6’4 260
What he brings to the table: This is where the fun begins. Tyquan is a kid who has been in the program for 2 full years now. He finished the year stronger than most people might realize as he logged 25 snaps in the national championship game against Oregon. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson and other defensive teammates can not stop mentioning Tyquan’s name during interviews. If there is one thing I have learned over the years about following college football it is that there are only two groups of people that really know whats going on behind closed practice doors. That is the coaches and the players. Besides, Urban Meyer himself has come out and said that Tyquan has one of open spots locked down. Tyquan was a great 235lb pass rusher coming out of high school. Now at a thick 260lbs, he is ideal to man the defensive end spot next to Joey considering he also has the most in game experience of the remaining candidates. This is the kind of kid that i think has a really good next 2 years.
2015 Outlook: A lot will be asked of Tyquan without Joey Bosa in the lineup for week one. After Virginia Tech however, the non conference schedule is a cake walk. This is going to allow Tyquan to get used to playing 50+ snaps a game and hopefully slide into B1G season full of confidence. Hey, if Urban Meyer is in this kids corner, is anyone not named Urban Meyer qualified to disagree? I think not.
Sam Hubbard- RFr. 6’5 265
What he brings to the table: Three years ago, Sam Hubbard was a 6’4 215 lb Notre Dame Lacrosse commit who could run like a deer and was also playing safety for Cincinnati Moeller High School. Fast forward three years and he is now playing defensive end at Ohio State standing 6’5 and tipping the scales at 265 lbs. Did I mention yet that he can still run like a deer? People started using the word freak to describe people because of guys like Sam Hubbard. It is virtually impossible to break Sam’s game down as a defensive end because he has never played one down of the position in a real game. If coaches and players can not stop talking about you then you are doing something to get noticed. I sometimes feel like someone is actually paying Urban Meyer to talk about Sam Hubbard in interviews because I can not really remember that last interview I saw where Sam’s names was not dropped. This kid brings a different kind of athleticism to this position. The kind that gets us football junkies on the edge of our seats waiting for the season to start because we can not help but want to see just how good this kid could possibly end up being. All this excitement and you still realize this kid has not played one single down of football since the 2013 Ohio state championship football game. We should all probably hold our horses on crowning him the next big thing, but as a Buckeye fan I can’t help but get excited about the “what-if” potential.
2015 Outlook: I think Sam is one of two guys along with Jalyn Holmes (who I will talk about next) that steps in for the suspended Joey Bosa. When it comes to plain old athleticism, I don’t think we lose as much as people think with Bosa being out that first week. Replacing the two full years of playing under the bright lights that Joey possess is going to be the biggest obstacle that Sam is going to have to over come. In this situation I am a supreme optimist and think that Sam is just a rare talent that shines and will force the coaches to find him as many snaps as they can as the season progresses.
Jalyn Holmes- So. 6’5 265
What he brings to the table: Jalyn was the first big time recruiting pick up for wide receiver coach Zach Smith. A consensus four star prospect and top 100 player out of Virginia, Jalyn is a big time athlete who also played receiver in high school. There is starting to be a little bit of a trend here. Tall, athletic enough to be a legitimate receiver in high school and is now a 265lb defensive end. He has all the tools to be a big time pass rusher for years to come. He is long and athletic and has added plenty of weight during his year in Columbus. I honestly was waiting for him to break out last year but he couldn’t seem to take many snaps from former Purdue transfer Rashad Frazier. Not all freshman progress at the same rate and when Jalyn did play he showed enough to make me realize i should probably stay on the bandwagon.
2015 Outlook: Jalyn and Sam Hubbard are the two guys who keep having their names thrown around to start in Joey Bosa’s place week one. A big part of me says that Jalyn has played defensive end his whole life and that alone should give him the leg up on Sam to earn the starting job. The other part of me says that if he can not take snaps away from Rashad Frazier then how is he going to keep an athletic freak like Sam Hubbard on the bench. Either way, Larry Johnson has made it incredibly clear that there needs to be a rotation of ten defensive lineman playing every game in order to keep fresh legs on the field. Jalyn is absolutely one of those ten and I expect him to show that this year.
Darius Slade- RFr. 6’4 255
What he brings to the table: Darius is a kid who kind of came out of nowhere to end up in Ohio States class in 2014. His cousin is former Penn St. player Jared Odrick who played for defensive line coach Larry Johnson during his coaching tenure in Happy Valley. Something tells me that this fact might have helped the Buckeyes earn the last minute commitment. He redshirted last season but actually made a lot of waves during bowl practices. The offensive lineman consistently had great things to say about how he was progressing and after a solid redshirt year, I expect Darius to get a lot of snaps in some early non-conference games and earn his way into the serious rotation.
2015 Outlook: Darius is my sleeper pick for the year. Something tells me that barring any injuries, this is a kid that could jump onto the scene and take some snaps away from Tyquan Lewis should he underperform. That is not going to be easy by any means but this is just a gut feeling I have. I trust that when our Slobs go out of their way to talk up Darius that he is ready to make some noise in 2015.
Jashon Cornell- Fr. 6’3 265
What he brings to the table: Little-known fact about Jashon Cornell that many people might have forgotten: in the first releases of the scouting services top 100 players for the class of 2015, Jashon was the consensus number one player in the country. No, not just defensive lineman, but the number one overall player at any position. Jashon is someone who I can see sliding inside to play the three technique eventually. At 6’3 and already 265, he is bound to put on some more weight working under strength coach Mickey Marotti. He actually reminds me a lot of former Buckeye Michael Bennett in the sense that once he puts on 20lbs I don’t believe he will lose much athleticism and he has a similar motor to that of Bennett.
2015 Outlook: I think Jashon plays this year and does not take a redshirt. I am not sure exactly how much he plays due to the depth we have a defensive end but I believe a move inside is going to be inevitable and he will excel in the same ways Michael Bennett did in this defense.
Dylan Thompson- RFr. 6’5 275
What he brings to the table: Dylan is the least talked about name in this group. Seemed to be off to a good start in fall camp last year before injuring his knee and having to sit out for the season. A mountain of a man who won 3 state championships in high school and had 17 sacks as a senior. I never expect an Urban Meyer recruit to redshirt and if it were not for his injury, he may not have.
2015 Outlook: My assumption is that if Dylan were to be 100% healthy, he would spend the year on scout team and hope to crack the lineup in some mop up time during the out of conference schedule. Regardless, it is going to be an uphill battle getting back from his injury let alone cracking the two deep lineup with as much talent as we have at defensive end on the this roster.
Dre’Mont Jones- Fr. 6’3 280
What he brings to the table: As hard as is it for a former St. Edward Eagle to write nice things about a St. Ignatius Wildcat, it is impossible not to in this case. This kid was a blast to watch play the last two years on the gridiron and the hardwood. Crazy athlete that does not look like he is carrying around the 280 lbs that he is listed at. Another kid that will almost assuredly end up inside with his kind of size and still being just a freshman. Had he not torn ligaments in his knee during basketball season, he could have made an impact on this team with Jashon this year as a freshman
2015 Outlook: Dre’Mont is 100% a redshirt because of the knee injury. It is unfortunate because i really don’t feel like waiting a whole year to see him in Scarlet and Gray.
2015 Depth Chart:
DE 1. Joey Bosa
2. Sam Hubbard/Jalyn Holmes
DE 1.Tyquan Lewis
2. Darius Slade
3. Jashon Cornell
Odd man out:
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Looking back on Urban Meyer’s Monday afternoon press conference after the debacle that was the Virginia Tech game makes sense now. The head coach of the Buckeyes kept the mood light while cracking jokes with members of the local media and overall was in a shockingly upbeat mood. Everyone in attendance seemed to be caught off guard, expecting a surly head coach after an upset loss at home to an unranked opponent. Where was the coach who retired due to stress at Florida? Where was the guy eating pizza alone in the bowels of Lucas Oil Stadium? Did he know then what we all know now?
The Slobs, as they are affectionately known, have gone through one hell of a transformation since that gruesome late summer night in The Horseshoe. Seven sacks (six on 11 snaps!!), countless pressures and three interceptions were all that most people would take away from the loss to Virginia Tech. Despite the abysmal performance, Urban remained wholeheartedly positive and stuck with his young and inexperienced big boys upfront. Many of the questions he faced after the loss were directed towards the interior of his offensive line and their struggles against VT’s vaunted and unexpected bear front. Urban stayed true to form; “I have a lot of confidence that some of these young people (on the offensive line), now they’re veteran guys, that are going to get better and better each week.” Most fans and journalists alike took that as typical coach speak – don’t throw anyone under the bus, improve, don’t overreact, be positive blah blah blah. Looking back now, that statement would prove to be prophetic. The unit did in fact improve each week, leading the way up front for the explosive Buckeye offense to average over 270 rush yards and 6.4 ypc during the final 8 games of their historic national title run. Those numbers include an astronomical 565 yards on the ground during the inaugural College Football Playoffs against the top two ranked teams in the country. How was Ed Warinner able to use his wizard like sorcery (again) to turn the Buckeye offensive line into one of the most dominating units in the country? The key was the transformation that took place along the interior of that line with Billy Price, Jacoby Boren and Pat Elflein.
These three were not highly celebrated coming out of high school, unlike many of their counterparts on the offensive line. All three hail from the great state of Ohio, but only Billy Price garnered 4-star status by any of the recruiting services. Boren was oft labeled as undersized and not strong enough to compete at the highest of levels. Elflein was the lowest rated recruit at his position under Urban Meyer. In fact, Elflein has Kyle Kalis to thank for even being enrolled at The Ohio State University. Elflein was rated near the 1000th player in his class. He was only offered after Kalis flipped from the good guys to the bad guys. Billy Price was always known for his strength, but perhaps better known for his prowess on the other side of the ball, where he shined in high school and many saw him starting for the Buckeyes. After September 7th 2014, the fears of many Buckeye fans were realized. The re-built offensive line under Ed Warinner was leaky. It was disorganized. Confused. Lacked depth. Urban Meyer knew it would take time. Warinner knew it would take time. Even the players themselves knew the task of replacing one of the best offensive lines in football would be a process. Not many expected the transformation to happen so quickly.
Fast forward to Fall Camp 2015 and Pat Elflein is a First Team All-Big Ten performer and attracting the attention of many NFL scouts. Jacoby Boren has been labeled as one of Urban’s favorite players on the team and an unquestioned leader upfront. Billy Price may have taken the furthest strides of any offensive lineman last season. He was abused during that Virginia Tech game, often looking like a defensive tackle filling in across the line of scrimmage. By the time the college football playoffs had begun he was a new player. Price now understands how to utilize his herculean strength to move and turn defenders in the run game and how to remain stout against the interior pass rush he struggled with early in the season. These three epitomize the term “Slobs”. They embrace the dirty work, and whoever starts at QB for the Buckeyes this year will undoubtedly give them the appreciation they deserve.
Quick Hits: Individual Interior OL Highlights
Boren (Sr.): When Urban first met the youngest Boren he thought maybe he could be a blocking fullback. Let’s just say Urban had his doubts based on Boren’s squatty stature and slight frame. Hell, you couldn’t blame him. Boren is one of the smaller O-lineman you will see at the power five level. He is listed on the official roster at 6’2 285 (realistically he plays around 6 even) but his low center of gravity and bulldog like mentality allow him to match up against the much larger nose tackles lined up across him. He also may be one of the smartest players on the team, as he is a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar for having a GPA above 3.70 for the prior academic year. After the Sugar Bowl, Urban was showering Jacoby with praise, “He’s tough, a very good player. Great leader, great team guy. I love Jacoby.” No longer a fullback, huh coach?
Elflein (rJr.): Only member of the Slobs to garner 1st Team All-Big Ten honors. Stepped in admirably for Marcus Hall during the end of the 2013 regular season against Michigan and in the B1G Title game against the Spartans. Good size for a guard and moves extremely well while packing a punch at the point of attack. The most consistent of the interior lineman – he rarely makes mistakes. Buckeyes will pull Elflein regularly to get him to the next level and take advantage of his surprising athleticism. Ranked as the number one OG in his class according to nfldraftscout.com, he may have a decision to make at the conclusion of the season.
Price (rSo.): He skrong. Price is the strongest player on the team and the most improved of the o-line group since the loss to VT. His bench maxes at nearly 500lbs and he’s done 34 reps of 225, which would have placed him 6th at this year’s NFL Combine. Oh yea – he’s only going to be a sophomore. Great size for a guard at 6’4 315. Developed into a Freshman All-American by the time the season concluded. Price will be playing on Sundays if he progresses at his current rate. (5th among OG in his class according to nfldraftscout.com)
Lisle (rSo.): Make or break season for Lisle. Entering his third season with the Buckeyes, Lisle has yet to make any significant impact. Started out at Tackle and has a fantastic frame at 6’7 and 310 allowing him to be one of the more versatile players along the line. He has not seen any game action but was able to receive a load of reps this spring at RG while Elflein was nursing an injury. Lisle will be pushed by the freshman below him for time and this is his year to prove he belongs.
Knox (rFr.): The consensus four-star out of the Lone star state battled through injuries during his freshman campaign resulting in a redshirt year. Reportedly he was having a solid spring before he was again slowed by injuries, and is just now nearing 100%. Has all the talent in the world to succeed, just needs to find a way to stay healthy and remain aggressive in practice. Big opportunity for him this fall camp to impress the coaches.
Burrell (Fr.): Last but certainly not least we have the top-100 recruit out of Virginia. The Buckeyes recruited Burrell extremely hard and it’s easy to see why. Big and athletic frame at 6’4 300, he has already lost some 20lbs since stepping foot on campus this summer which has allowed him to gain quickness off the snap and increased stamina. Most of the o-line recruits in Burrell’s class (Feder, Prince, Bowen, and maybe even Schmidt) project early on at Tackle, so I see a great opportunity here for early playing time. I would be shocked if Burrell redshirted and wouldn’t be surprised to see him push Lisle/Knox for a spot in the two-deep. My prediction: You see Burrell a good amount this season.
K. Feder, G. Schmidt, B. Bowen
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The 4,220th Buckeye Quarterback Competition Article
An article about nothing? Why should I read it?
The focal point of the 2015 college football universe is situated precisely three yards behind Ohio State center Jacoby Boren’s upturned posterior. He likely doesn’t mind the attention. He knows an elite signal caller, Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett, will position himself three yards behind and clap his hands for the senior center to initiate the launch sequence for what is predicted to be a legendary Buckeye offensive onslaught this fall. With nearly two weeks until opening weekend, Buckeye Nation awaits. Jacoby the Slob will be positioned, listening, ready to maul. Will Jones or Barrett clap first in Blacksburg? Who will clap in Ann Arbor? Will either clap in Glendale?
2,821 articles had been written detailing the impending OSU QB triple threat match, featuring Barrett – “The Record Setter” vs Jones – “The Championship Winner” vs Braxton Miller – “The B1G Legend*.” On July 23rd, Miller confirmed that his twice surgically repaired shoulder would not permit him to compete for his former position and a change to H-back/receiver was his new reality. Had Miller’s shoulder maladies abated, Twitter, sports radio and TV heads that talk too much would have exploded by now and the Buckeye coaching staff would be delicately handling a hypothetically volatile situation. Now it’s Jones or Barrett. When scanning the national columns and beat reporters, the only constant is that no one truly knows: Cardale or J.T.?
*In its 91 year history, only four individuals have twice won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as MVP of Big Ten: Paul Giel, Minnesota, 1951-52; Archie Griffin, Ohio State, 1973-74; Anthony Thompson, Indiana, 1988-89; and Braxton Miller, Ohio State, 2012-13. Miller’s legendary status is not up for debate. He can certainly add to it this year with a breakout year at receiver.
Let’s take a look at the current roster of Ohio State quarterbacks and develop a best case/worst case scenario moving forward into the highly anticipated 2015 season.
A blue chip, dual-threat quarterback and athlete out of the coveted South Florida recruiting region, Torrance Gibson came to Ohio State this summer set to compete at the quarterback position. Recruiting analysts loved his athleticism and potential behind center, but they gushed and drooled at the idea of Gibson as a wide receiver. A week into fall camp, Gibson became the third high profile Buckeye (Terrelle Pryor & Braxton) to recently make the switch from QB to WR. The early reviews are glowing. Buckeye WR coach, Zach Smith gushed as well, “He has skills that most human beings should not have. His size and speed is very, very unique. And he can throw the heck out of the ball.” Whether this is a permanent move is a decision for a later date.
Best Case Scenario: Gibson establishes himself as a force at receiver and becomes an all-time great Michael Jenkins/David Boston-type big play big receiver. Think about J.T. to Gibson, not just this year, but for the following two as well!
Worst Case Scenario: Gibson bounces back and forth between receiver and quarterback and never maxes out his tremendous potential.
Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Instead of becoming a Boston-esque receiver, Gibson flakes out and becomes the Boston of body sculpting (COUGH…HGH) and nipple piercing.
From South Florida to Southern Ohio. During his senior season of high school, four-star recruit, Joe Burrow, threw for nearly 4,500 yards and an eye-gauging 63 TD’s/2 INT’s in leading his Athens Townies (I assume) to the brink of a state championship. He also claimed the 2014 Ohio Mr. Football award. With the number of full time quarterbacks on the roster cut to four, the key numbers for Burrow this season are 0 and 3. Play 0 snaps this season and redshirt. By season’s end, establish himself as the clear #2 option on the 2016 QB depth chart behind Barrett. The only time his name should be mentioned in a telecast this season is when Glenn Mason is filling time with folksy anecdotes in the second, third and fourth quarters of blowouts on BTN.
Best Case Scenario: Joe Burrow gets into absorption! Leadership, work ethic, film study, knowledge of the offense, skills and technique… all free and provided on a daily basis by J.T. Barrett.
Worst Case Scenario: Due to a maelstrom of injuries, Burrow makes the two-deep or loses his redshirt season.
Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Burrow grows an unwieldy beard and leaves the program to play the git-fiddle on Athens street corners and Appalachian music festivals.
Stephen Collier has a National Championship ring; Deshaun Watson and Brandon Harris do not. While Collier gets to be mentored by Urban Meyer, Watson gets to learn the meaning of Clemsoning from Dabo Swinney and Harris gets to learn the importance of Columbus Day from certified lunatic Les Miles. When Watson (Clemson) and Harris (LSU) turned down the Buckeyes, Stephen Collier (rated the 12th best dual-threat quarterback his senior year) became the choice for Meyer and the Buckeyes. His senior season he threw for nearly 2,300 yards, rushed for over 1,000 yards and accounted for 44 TD’s.
2014 was Collier’s year to be a sponge. He watched his name rise from 4th to 2nd-ish on the depth chart due to the injuries of Miller and Barrett (H-back Jalin Marshall would have assumed the role of quarterback had Cardale Jones gotten hurt in the post-season). He did not play a single snap in 2014, preserving his redshirt. In spring practice, Collier experienced a major uptick in reps due to the injury recoveries of Barrett and Miller. His performance in the spring game was quite un-Bam-like (7-19, 81 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT’s & 1 fumble). 2015 will be a crucial season for Collier. He has been in the system for a season and two springs (early enrollee). He has two stars ahead of him in Jones and Barrett, but he now has company on the depth chart in Burrow, perhaps Gibson, plus future signee Tristen Wallace arriving in 2016. With the amount of potential blowouts on the schedule, Collier should see regular 4th quarter mop up duty. He must value every snap he gets and prove to the offensive staff that he is a viable option in the future.
Best Case Scenario: Stephen Collier uses his legit size, strength and athleticism, his experience within the program, makes the most of his 4th quarter snaps and proves he is the 3rd best quarterback on the roster.
Worst Case Scenario: Stephan Collier is taking meaningful snaps at any point this season.
Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Two quarterbacks – two years in a row? You’ve got to be kidding me!
September 6. Virginia Tech. Night game in the ‘Shoe. 9/29, 1 TD passing, 1 TD rushing, 3 INT’s and sacked 8 times in a 35-21 drubbing. Brutal. The epitome of a total team loss. Maybe they’ll make the Outback Bowl.
NO ONE could have prophesied that these bleak two and half weeks would foreshadow an epic run to a National Title. NO ONE would have predicted that J.T. Barrett would win the Big Ten Freshman and Quarterback of the Year, make first team All-B1G and second team All-American, lead the Buckeyes on a ten game winning streak, account for 45 total touchdowns, set 19 (!) school and conference records, finish 5th in the Heisman voting and fracture and dislocate his ankle on the first play of the fourth quarter against Michigan.
Simply amazing! The steel will, the focused leadership, the technical and statistical improvement and the total admiration and respect of the coaching staff and team. And now he’s locked in a 1-on-1 battle just to start again? How is that even possible?
One Nagging Question: Can J.T. Barrett win championship level big games?
An Answer, Perhaps: In the biggest game of the regular season (at Michigan State – who finished the season ranked 5th) J.T. went off! 16/26, 300 yards passing, 3 TD’s passing, 86 yards rushing, 2 TD’s rushing, 568 yards of team total offense and 49 points. Bottom line is – we just don’t know.
Another: Does Barrett have enough of the arm strength possessed by Jones to consistently stretch the field vertically, therefore un-loading the box for Ezekiel Elliot and the Slobs to eviscerate opposing defenses?
Three starts. Three wins. Legend! Without the improbable rise of Cardale Jones, Buckeye Nation would not have experienced the euphoria of winning the first College Football Playoff. No bloody Badger beatdown. No slaying of the evil Nicktator and his Crimson Tide. No splattering of the Nike Ducks. Three games. Buckeye legend for life!
In three years at Ohio State, Jones had played about 6 meaningful snaps of football. He had been a stud QB out of Cleveland’s Glenville HS, but a year in military school, a redshirt year and a year handing off in mop up duty as the third string had made him a forgotten man (I know, except for the Tweet). Questionable work ethic. Questionable focus. A penchant for immaturity. Cardale was likely on his way out of town. But with Barrett wincing in pain on the Ohio Stadium turf in the fourth quarter of The Game, #12’s number was called. The rest is the stuff of legends.
The season, capped by Cardale Jones unfathomable National Championship run, still seems implausible. Through potentially crippling turnovers and inexperienced miscues, Jones was unflappable. In the hours of post-season media sessions, he handled himself with humility, thoughtfulness and the maturity of an old pro that had seen it all. He gracefully bypassed the opportunity to cash in on his instant fame and NFL status by returning to Ohio State for his fourth season. And now he’s locked in a 1-on-1 battle just to start again? How is that even possible?
One Nagging Question: Can Cardale Jones sustain the season-long maturity and focus necessary to win every week?
An Answer, Perhaps: Wisconsin – 59 points. Alabama – 42 points. Oregon – 42 points. If Cardale Jones has the offense humming at this pace, the rest of the competition should be bugs on the windshield.
Another: You’re on the road at night at Happy Valley. Raucous atmosphere. You’re playing like crap. You’ve blown a 17 point lead. You’ve thrown a pick six. You’re playing hurt – sprained MCL. You’re going to overtime. Penn State has all of the momentum. Does Cardale Jones have the mettle to win this game?
CARDALE VS J.T.
Publicly, Urban Meyer has praised both for their physical and mental preparation entering fall camp. He has praised their maturity and comradery as well. “I think they’re both right there, and you probably wouldn’t expect me to say anything different, but that’s what it is. They’re both working their tails off, and it’s one of the most refreshing competitions I’ve ever witnessed … When I say best friends, they’re unbelievable how well they get along,” Meyer said.
Meyer has hinted at playing two quarterbacks, while both Jones and Barrett have bristled at the idea.
“I don’t think that would be a great idea,” Jones said. “In a two-quarterback system, let’s say I’m on the field for three plays and I’m off the field and he runs a drive or something like that; I don’t know how well that would work as far as rhythm and developing timing with the guys.”
“So, I think that would be kind of tough and it would be weird if we switched like every quarter,” posited Barrett. “So, I don’t think it would be best as far as the quarterback position being that we wouldn’t have the same rhythm or efficiency if we used a two-quarterback system. But if they haven’t ruled it out, I’ll just do what they say. They’re the coaches; I’m a player. So, I just do what they say.”
In his three+ years at Ohio State, Urban Meyer has been building a culture of brotherhood and family and playing for the man next to you. Unless one man wins the job outright in camp, this delicate QB balancing act will certainly test the foundation of the culture of brotherhood.
Would Jones be able to handle being second string? “That’s a good question,” he replied. “I’m pretty sure I would be able to, just being older and having more experience. Being more mature. It’s more than just me. It’s about more than just me. This team is bigger than any one single person so if I have to take that backseat role again I will have to — no choice.”
Every alpha dog wants to be the man. But let’s face it, after the Virginia Tech opener, the Buckeyes will be favored by a minimum of three touchdowns in six of their next 8 games (and those are conservative estimates). The schedule is not a murderer’s row. Relax man. There’s enough juice here to keep us all fat and giggly.
Best Case Scenario: An outright winner is declared in camp, the vice-quarterback throws his full support behind the starter and the Buckeyes begin their mission of back-to-back National Championships.
Best Case Scenario, Part II: No one is the clear cut winner and both dedicate themselves to the two quarterback system and the mission of back-to-back National Championships.
Worst Case Scenario: A few shaky QB performances, whispers in the locker room and the team subconsciously begins aligning with the quarterback of their preference. Cracks develop in the façade. The culture of brotherhood resembles a lot of hot air and hyperbole. NFL prospects start playing to protect their knees and draft position. A team from north of the border strikes a death blow to the title dreams.
Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Cardale and J.T. suffer season ending injuries in the first half of the opener in Blacksburg and the QB controversy becomes Collier vs Burrow.
Worst Case Scenario, Part III: Jacoby Boren becomes jealous of all the attention taking place three feet behind him. When the QB claps, he twerks. By season’s end, Boren supplants J.B. Shugarts in the record books as Buckeye O-lineman most frequently flagged for false start. Jones and Barrett request position changes.
If you’ve been on social media in the past past twelve hours, you’ve undoubtedly already seen this, but in case you haven’t, this is ZEKE by Friend of the Blog (and former Buckeye) Mekka Don, starting up the Hype Train for Ezekiel Elliot’s 2015 Heisman Campaign.
The video was done by our very own Kade Jetland, MotSaG Video Extraordinaire:
Three Yards and a Cloud of Links is Men of the Scarlet and Gray’s semi-regular curated look at items that would interest Ohio State fans. These include news items, interesting blog posts and the occasional meme you’ve probably already seen. It’s all here and it’s all for you. Have a tip that should be included in the next TYAACOL? Drop us a line at email@example.com or through our Contact Page.
And we’re BACK! I’ve been spending a large portion of my time in a Quincy, MA hotel room for work, which means I should finally have time to get some honest to goodness blogging in. And what better way than to get back into the swing of things than an actual blog post — I find some articles that I think you might like and I’ll link them and you can read them yourself. Blogging used to be so much easier back in my day.
INCOMING CUTENESS ALERT: I have a feeling that come the middle of September of this year, Columbus is going to see a serious uptick in the number of Ezekiel’s born into this world. And with good reason. The Columbus Zoo, however, is ahead of the curve:
— Columbus Zoo (@ColumbusZoo) March 3, 2015
ALMA MATTA: Serious questions about Thad Matta have been raised during the course of the season (and I myself feel there’s a little truth to them) about his effectiveness and his success at developing players. There’s never been a question if Matta can recruit (Oden and Conley, The Villian, Sully and DT, Russell) but some of his projects have not panned out.
That being said, with a victory against Penn State, he ties Fred Taylor’s record for wins as the Head Coach of the Ohio State Men’s Basketball team. Matta’s success cannot be denied. What I find interesting is this quote from Coach Tom Izzo of Michigan State:
“I think he does an incredible job, and I’ve gained so much respect for him over the years, and yet he doesn’t seem to please enough people sometimes in Columbus.”
Are we that demanding as fans? Has Matta not done enough? Are current struggles indicative of his career as a whole?
OPPS, DID I DO THAT? I spend a lot of time instant messaging my fellow MotSaG’er Jeremiah throughout the day, and occasionally I’ll send him a highly inappropriate message and then follow up with “Oops, wrong window”, meaning my suggestive IM was intended for my wife, not my cohort. It happened once on accident, but for the most part, I do it to get a rise.
All that’s to say that I am having a little bit of an issue believing Zach Smith’s 4 year-old “accidentally” texted a recruit, which was a no-no that Ohio State self-reported as part of its report to the NCAA on minor infractions.
I’m not saying he didn’t do it. I’m also saying he didn’t not do it and then blame his son. I’m just saying.
WE STILL LOVE THE VEST: Asked if Harbaugh is the man to bring Michigan back to greatness and glory, Jim Tressel said that he does think Jim Harbaugh can do it. But he also reminded football fans that he is still the master of saying everything by saying sort of nothing:
“Personally, I think they’re a ways away from being at the level where there’s going to be a Ten Year War”
“A ways away”. Don’t ever change, Senator.
DEVOUT FAN: My son told me once he was a “fan of tornadoes”. I’m not really sure how one becomes a fan of tornadoes, but son is on. I also am not sure how one becomes a fan of Judge Judy, but it looks like they are out there. I was going to throw this in the ETC section, but it gets it’s own section. I can’t get over the “Devout Fan” part:
Big Congrats to Judge Judy on signing her contract extension thru 2020 from a Devout Fan!
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 3, 2015
Of course Judge Judy’s response is just icing on the cake:
Thank you so much for the kind wishes @CoachJim4UM, best of luck this year at Michigan!
— Judge Judy (@JudgeJudy) March 5, 2015
ETC: I think the opening title page of this SI Gallery of “Big Ten Players To Watch” is rather sufficient. Probably no need to dive into the gallery, but if you want to, you’ll find plenty more Buckeyes in the mix. Brian Hartline visited with the Browns earlier this week. I’ll just follow that up with the immortal words of Michael Clarke Duncan. Finally, look at these little pancakes. LOOK AT THEM.
Around lunchtime today, All-World QB Cardale Jones (he of three championship or playoff game winning streaks) tweeted out this somewhat cryptic but not really very cryptic at all announcement.
Life changing decision at 3pm 😁
— Cardale Jones (@CJ12_) January 15, 2015
Which changed an hour later to:
Life changing decision at 4pm
— Cardale Jones (@CJ12_) January 15, 2015
(Maybe traffic was bad on I-71 North).
Either way, after a magical three game run, Cardale was faced with the prospect of being in the same situation he was in six months ago — back to third on the depth chart. (That is pure conjecture and speculation, but I believe that Urban is the type of coach that would not give someone’s spot up due to injury. I know he has said that he wants the best player to play but the body of work of both Braxton and J.T. would be “better” than Cardale’s.) (Sheesh, even I don’t know if I believe what I just typed).
There are a lot of factors going that went into Cardale’s decision. He has a small family. We don’t know all the details of his family situation or where his priorities lie. All we know (and should care about) is that he did things for the university that no other quarterback has done. We have watched him grow from an immature, entitled kid to a honest-to-goodness leader and likeable dude. That’s all that should matter. This was his decision. And now we get to see him back in shotgun again next season.
His draft status was possibly at its peak, but things change. He stated that his degree and finishing school was more important to him than being a draft pick. That is a long way from the not coming to “PLAY SCHOOL”.
So good for Cardale. He deserves all the best and we can’t wait to see what the 2016 season holds.
Ohio State has just completed the most improbable three-game stretch in recent history. Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliot came into their own in the B1G Championship game, got comfortable running all over the vaunted Alabama Defense and just shut down the even more vaunted Oregon Offense.
Outside of the first drive, Oregon’s fast up-tempo offense was more or less stymied time and time again. Even with four turnovers, Oregon was never able to grab the momentum, was never able to get in rhythm and was just out-physicalled by Ohio State’s defense.
Ohio State was able to move the ball on Oregon’s defense at will but with fumbles and interceptions, they weren’t able to pull away.
After giving the ball up in the red zone in the third quarter, Oregon had a chance to take the lead with a score and possibly take control of the game. Ohio State’s defense stepped up to the task and held them to a field goal and got the ball back, clinging to a sliver of a lead, 21-20. Fans were begging to just feed the Zeke.
Which is just what they did. Elliot got 7 touches (6 carries and one reception) and they straight-man balled the Oregon defense right down the field to take the lead, 28-20 and never let go of that lead for the rest of the game.
No lead is safe, of course, against Oregon but they weren’t able to move the ball. Cardale Jones then drove Ohio State another 70 yards for a back-breaking two touchdown lead, 35-20.
Oregon would come up short again, turning the ball over on downs at their own 14 yard line. Six plays later, Elliot punched it in for game sealing score, 42-20, and that was all she wrote.
Oregon is a good football team. A great one, maybe. In the end, though, they simply did not have the physicality and depth Ohio State was able to throw at them. They struggled to get any flow and rhythm, which is of utmost importance for their success. Ohio State just outplayed them.
So hats of to one of the greatest seasons of Ohio State football. Through adversity, tragedy and early disappointment, they stuck together, allowed themselves to be coached and got better every week and finished the season as strong as ever.
Congratulations to Urban Meyer, the 2014 Ohio State Football Team and Buckeye Fans everywhere!
As always, presented without comment.
Stats are grabbed from cfbstats.com