The Game: For All The Glory and Bragging Rights

Ohio State.  That Team Up North.  It is that time of the year where two of College Football Blue Blood programs will duke it out with what seems like everything being on the line.  For Ohio State, a shot to win the conference crown and a potential playoff berth with one last major obstacle in their way–their neighbors to the north.  TTUN has the same goals in mind and they can control their destiny, but they must go through Columbus to reach them.

I cannot stress the importance of this game for either side.  School and personal pride coupled with the College Football Playoff implications, it is like a high stakes poker game pitting two heavy hitters vying for the entire pot.  Ohio State looking for another high stakes signature win against another ranked team.  TTUN looking to continue their revenge tour and their rise from a mediocre team to an elite one.  They are also desperate to break the Buckeyes current 6-game winning streak and they will try to win in Columbus for the first time in what seems like forever.

Both teams underperformed the week prior.  The Buckeyes nearly lost to a high octane Terrapins offense before closing the door in overtime while the Wolverines narrowly beat Indiana.  It seemed like both teams were looking ahead to this matchup and both looked sluggish before securing the win.

This game is a beat writers dream with a lot of storylines to cover with one of the biggest matchups will be between both signal-callers, the Quarterbacks.  Haskins versus Patterson.  Both got the job done last week with Haskins accounting for 6 total touchdowns (3 passing, 3 rushing).  Patterson did his job and kept his offense in the game.  An interesting dimension to this game is both signal-callers actually talk and are friends and this game will certainly put their friendship aside.

The Running Backs for both sides are another storyline worth keeping an eye on.  The Buckeyes have Dobbins and Weber, both of which are studs.  Dobbins bared the workload and carried the rock 37 times and McCall had a few snaps here and there.  Weber did not play due to a quadriceps injury, but his status is questionable this early in the week.  Dobbins has his eye intently on this game and he will look to secure another victory against TTUN.  He stated that “He left Texas for The Game”.  What adds to the drama, Higdon just guaranteed a win against their arch-rivals this weekend, which could spice up the game and turn the drama up a notch.

The two major keys will be how will the Buckeyes defense responds after their near defeat and will the trench war lose it for the Buckeyes with their inconsistencies and struggles to maintain leverage.  For the Wolverines, will Winovich play and can they finally beat the Buckeyes and complete their “revenge tour”?

On a side note, the Buckeyes will host a lot of high school talent that could add to the depth of the team.  There are too many great prospects to name, but this will be another opportunity to secure a few commitments prior to the early signing period in December.  The home team better be ready to be as loud and obnoxious as possible to rattle the Wolverines and impress the high school prospects.  Oh, not to mention that this could be a great chance for the NFL Draft eligible Buckeyes to improve their draft position against a great Wolverine team.  Look for some highlight plays and questionable ones too as the game inches closer to the end.

Prediction:

This game will be a doozy.  Both teams playing on another level in all phases will keep us all on the edge of our seats.  This has all the makings of another instant classic between these bitter rivals that will stress us out.  As much as I want it to, I want to blow this team out badly like how the 2014 team dismantled and shut out the Badgers before winning it all, but I know better.  It will be a defensive battle that will have an occasional big play, but I wouldn’t mind if I was wrong.

Penalties will occur and this game will not be pretty.  The TTUN’s defense will frustrate the Buckeyes O-Line for much of the first half, and the second half adjustments will be invaluable.  The TTUN Tight Ends will make some plays and DPJ will do the same because of the Buckeyes tendency to give up huge, momentum-swinging plays.

The Buckeye defense will show up when they need it the most.  Haskins will do enough to mix it up with passing and running and the RB’s will share the load.  Tate Martell will also make an impact with his package of plays to confuse the opposing defense.  All-in-all, I say the Buckeyes extend their streak to 7 games against TTUN.

Final:  38-31 Buckeyes.

 

Glass House or Sturdy Fortress?

After the embarrassing defeat at the hands of Purdue and two, long weeks to prepare, the Buckeyes look to bounce back against a lowly Cornhuskers team at home.  This will not be a normal home game–it will be a blackout with their black alternate uniforms.

Will this be a funeral for the Cornhuskers who have just two wins under Scott Frost?  Or would it be another slow start coupled with big plays vulnerability and another stellar second half beatdown?  You never know with this team, but I think we will learn a lot about this team in the opening minutes of this contest.

Adversity is a double-edged sword that can make or break an individual and it could also fracture a team, but this feels like it’ll be fun to watch to watch this group of players the rest of the year.  I have a strange feeling, but it’s a good one because of the loss two weeks ago?  It hurt and I think it has lit a fire inside of these players–and an angry Buckeye team is a fun, lethal one at that.

Nebraska’s journey under Frost has been rocky to say it mildly.  With a rash of defections to their former head coach’s alma mater, Oregon State, they will look to compete against Ohio State, but it will be a tall task.  With their first game against Akron being canceled due to weather, Nebraska was pretty bad until they secured wins against Minnesota and Bethune-Cookman.  They are currently on a two-game win streak.

Ohio State struggled but won up until Purdue.  They are riding a one-game losing streak, but they will most likely right the ship on Saturday.  With their CFB Playoffs in question, they have one of the better resumes, but like last year, they could be left out again.  With wins against TCU and Penn State and dates with both Michigan State and Michigan, you just never know until the hammer drops at the end of the season.

Both teams have issues that need to be resolved, which might make this painful to watch.  Martinez is a true freshman and he is a dual-threat, but he tends to turn it over and is prone to mistakes.  Haskins has a cannon, but he cannot run effectively enough to pick up key first downs.  Ohio State also is deficient in the running game and it has been lost with the improvements to the passing game while Nebraska is efficient in the running game and sprinkles in passes to add a balance.

Ohio State’s defense is also suspect and susceptible to big plays and they give those up consistently at an alarming rate and opposing offenses take advantage of their defensive scheme’s weaknesses weekly.  Nebraska’s defense is also suspect and they tend to disappear against potent offenses.

Against Michigan, Purdue, and Wisconsin they gave up a total of 139 points total in lopsided losses.  56, 42, and 41!  Ohio State can win this convincingly, but it must be balanced.  Ohio State gives up a ton of yardage with slants, posts, and runs down the middle.  Two vulnerable defenses will square off against each other’s offenses with the nod going in the Buckeyes favor for the fact that they can get up and down the field, at will, if the balance is there.

PREDICTION:

The Brotherhood is still intact at Ohio State and they will go hard the entire game.  I think there will be an emphasis on the run game and they should be able to salvage and fix it just in time for Maryland, Michigan State, and Michigan.  The passing game will flourish against this defense.  The biggest question will be the defense.  There have been quotes about Tuf Borland saying “the defense has a surprise that the fans will love”, but that has yet to be seen or excecuted.  I think they have a modest showing and they will shut down Nebraska.  Ohio State is riding a three-game win streak outscoring Nebraska 181-55.

Final:  56-13

 

 

 

 

Scarlet Letter: Don’t Give Up Just Yet

With another hard-fought victory against another Big 10 conference opponent, the Buckeyes leave today’s game with a few more questions about their identity and their ability to fend off a lesser team that they should have dominated.  Aside from Rutgers and Tulane, the Buckeyes have been vulnerable and prone to giving up huge, momentum-shifting plays to teams week in and week out.

I have never seen an Ohio State defense get gashed, nickel-and-dimed, and straight up bullied by opponents this badly, and it is becoming quite bothersome if I am honest.  This is definitely not up to par and it is not close to the standard that we have enjoyed, but maybe–just maybe this game might light a bigger fire underneath the players and they will start to take things personally and to heart pushing forward.

As I watch the fanbase implode and point fingers, it makes me wonder if they were all fully invested with the team that they “love” and if the “love” was truly real or not.  It is understandable and it is very frustrating, but we are still undefeated.  Insert shrug emoji here.

Have we become too spoiled as fans to the point to where hard-fought wins that displayed the Buckeyes resiliency, their grit, and their determination to secure an ugly win is not enough?  An undefeated season is still not enough?  No one is perfect and the weaknesses today will be addressed a week from now because it was evident that more work needed to be done.

Yes, certain players and position groups need to improve, they need to play much better than they have been, but it’ll take time and it isn’t an easy fix.  I could easily call out everyone on social media, but you know what?  That does more negative things than positive.  Just calm down and enjoy the ride because you never know what the future would be like, and it could be grimmer than right now.

Injuries, penalties, and miscommunication happens–and again, it will be addressed and fixed.  Just have faith in the coaches, in the players, and everything will fall into place.  Enjoy the win because next week will be another hard-fought game.  It is not like the Big 10 of old, where it is top heavy.  Teams have improved, there are a few bottom feeders, that have the talent, but it will take time.  Breathe Buckeye Nation, WE…ARE…FINE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indiana (4-1, Big 10, 1-1) at Ohio State (5-0, Big 10 2-0)

After a drama-filled, come from behind victory at Happy Valley, the Buckeyes face a resurgent Indiana team that could potentially give them problems.  In what was one of the better games of the season, pitting two Top-10 teams against each other, and during a White-Out, the Buckeyes cannot afford to take a loss to another unranked, but talented team again just like that terrible Iowa loss a season ago.  The stars aligned once again and after another 1-point, hard-fought win, the Buckeyes might be vulnerable once again.

Indiana will take their Sophomore QB Peyton Ramsey into Columbus to try to shock the world.  Ohio State will be looking to maintain their current hot streak and blow past Indiana.  Ramsey is no slouch, he is efficient, but he leaves points off the board and he tends to force throws.  He won’t be alone in the backfield because he has another bruiser at RB in Stevie Scott.

With that combination, it might give them some life to at the very least, put up a fight.  On the other end, Dwayne Haskins, Zone 6, and the duo of Dobbins and Weber will look to continue on with their fireworks display on offense.  The defense will look to sharpen up their skill and be more disciplined as they get into matchups with conference foes.

Positional Keys:

  • Quarterback:  Remain calm/Stay sharp
  • Running Backs:  No dancing around/Remain involved in the gameplan
  • Wide Receivers and Tight Ends:  No drops/Gain separation
  • Offensive Line:  Grind out possessions/Maul defenders/Minimize penalties
  • Defensive Line:  Shed blocks/Gap discipline
  • Linebackers:  Discipline in coverage/Do not overrun gaps/Tackle better
  • Defensive Backs:  No blown coverages/Tackle better

There was a lot of errors on the Buckeyes’ part, but this win has and will boost their confidence moving forward.  Last week drops, overrunning plays, and tackling were issues that stunted their progress down the field, but this week, they will be better since they’re at home.

Realistically, the Buckeyes will start out slow because of last week and injuries are a concern with Bosa still being out and Jones almost being lost to injury as well.  Realistically, the Buckeyes will be looking to put this game out of reach by halftime as well, but we will have to see how they will respond, and I am leaning more toward the latter because they played poorly, but showed their grit in the second half.

Haskins will put up points in a hurry as he looks to retain his hot streak and I think it’ll be another multi-touchdown game.  Dobbins and Weber will bruise the defense and Zone 6 will necessary blocks and make the plays once again.  The defense will be looking to improve and play better in the absence of Nick Bosa.

Final Score:  Ohio State defeats Indiana 58-17.

 

 

 

 

 

Buckeyes and Their Second Half Heroics

The Ohio State Buckeyes game planned as they travel to the heart of Texas to Cowboys Stadium to face what was and is their toughest opponent to date in TCU and man, it did not disappoint!  In the last game of Coach Meyer’s suspension, Coach Day was tasked with this tall task in what will be his final and most memorable game before Meyer’s return and it certainly had my heart stopped a early on before the team started to show their playmaking ability.  The Buckeyes were very much tested and although they made it through, they need to fix a few things and there are a few areas of concern for this team moving forward.

The dynamic and potent offense that Ohio State possesses, the offense took a while to function correctly despite the 40-28 score.  Firstly, the lack of consistency with Michael Jordan and the Center position.  There were many times during the game, where Jordan snapped the ball too low which disrupted the rhythm at least momentarily.  Additionally, the 7 to 11 connection being open?  Yes, it was open and Haskins got the ball out and to Mack, but he could not reel in the ball and he accounted for 4 drops, which boggles my mind and is uncharacteristic of him.  He made up for it in the second half, but if he grabbed that near TD pass in the end zone, it would’ve been the difference, but a win is a win–especially against a good TCU team!

This game showcased two teams that want to be in contention for a CFB Playoff berth and it was gut-wrenching and hard to watch at first after sputtering on offense early and remaining stagnant to where the offense only managed three FG attempts with one barely missing.  The defense scored on what should have been a safety, but all together the refs managed to let them play with minimal penalties for either team.  Both offenses managed to make the big play with Anderson’s 93-yard sprint to the end zone, which is their longest play from scrimmage and the longest play surrendered by a Buckeye team.  There was also that bomb that resulted in another 50+ yard TD against Wint, who was not sure where the ball was before getting dragged into the end zone.

On the flip side, the Haskins and the Buckeye offense would not be held back and they responded in the second half with two big plays to put them up for good in the game.  A screen pass to Campbell and a bomb to Hill made up for the slow start to the game. and Haskins even earned a rushing TD to pull away.  The defense after Bosa strained his abdomen or groin area also chipped in with big-time plays that swung the momentum in their favor.  Dre’Mont Jones intercepted a shovel pass and housed it, while late in the game Harrison picked off Robinson to seal the game for the Buckeyes.

It was a stiff test in what was essentially a home game for the Horned Frogs, but a few of the hometown kids showed up.  Specifically J.K. Dobbins ran roughshod and ran with power and anger as he racked up 121 yards on 18 carries, while his stablemate Weber grinded out 64 yards with the same amount of carries.  Next week, the Buckeyes will try to re-establish everything under Coach Meyer, who returns against Tulane after his suspension.  They will need to fix a few things and rest the players who were injured for Happy Valley in two weeks.  Go Bucks!

 

Showdown In Texas: Ohio State vs TCU

It is the last week of Coach Meyer’s suspension and the first big test for the Buckeyes is upon us.  It is TCU week and there is a lot of excitement from both fan bases, and what better venue than at the AT&T Stadium–the home of the Dallas Cowboys?  This is essentially a home game for TCU, but the Buckeye faithful will find a way to paint the stands in scarlet and gray.

For the Buckeyes, we have seen two dominant performances against mediocre teams and the positive momentum that they have gained cannot be ignored.  This Buckeye team is talented and they are arguably one of the most talented teams in the nation and they are also one of the deepest teams at just about every position.  They will need to bring their “A” game in order to stop this TCU team, who will be their toughest opponent after two weeks worth of dominating performances.  Coach Meyer’s input coupled with Coach Day’s playcalling will be key for the Buckeyes to leave Texas with a win–and possibly a resounding victory.

For TCU, they also faced a pair of mediocre opponents and looked sluggish in the beginning before pulling away.  They cannot do that against this Buckeye team due to the explosiveness of Haskins and his wide receiver core.  They also cannot afford to lose the battle in the trenches against another collection of talented rushmen led by Nick Bosa, Chase Young, Dre’Mont Jones, and Robert Landers because it is going to be a long day for TCU.

Shawn Robinson provides a unique problem that could threaten this vaunted Buckeye defense and it could spell trouble for them with his ability to run and pass.  This will be the first dual-threat quarterback in this years docket and it will be their biggest test before diving into the meat of the rest of their BIG 10 schedule.  Another funny part about this is that the Buckeyes heavily recruited Robinson, but he chose TCU instead and the Buckeyes ended up with the Gatorade Player of the Year in Tate Martell.

A lot has been said on the message boards on TCU’s end and they claim that the speed from within their program would essentially give the Buckeyes fits for the entirety of the game this weekend.  I get it and in practice, you can be faster than your teammates, but be careful what you wish for because the land of make-believe will come crashing down on you once you witness the caliber of athletes on Ohio States roster.  Year in and year out, they constantly reload and bring more speed on top of what they already have on the roster.  From the offensive side to the defensive side, they are fast at all levels, and they could be shellshocked once the ball gets housed and the difference in overall speed is evident.

Matchups To Watch:

  • Haskins vs TCU Defense:  This will be his measuring stick and with the increase in overall talent and team speed, this could be interesting.  Will Haskins have another dominant offensive performance against one of the best defensive units?  Or will he make mistakes and falter?
  • The War in the Trenches:  You have to win in the trenches before speaking and with another talented group on both sides of the ball, this will be another matchup to watch.  Bosa and friends against the best offensive line that they will face during Coach Meyer’s final game of his suspension.  On the offensive side, will their line matchup and dominate against a scrappy TCU defense that ranked in the top 15 a season ago?  Or will they struggle?
  • TCU WR’s vs Ohio State Back Seven:  With the proclaimed speed of Turpin and friends, it is essential that the back seven of the Ohio State defense plays disciplined and focused football and that they trust their instincts and their keys against TCU.  Against an inferior Oregon State team and their backup QB they put up 31 points due to miscommunication and inexperience and it is encouraging for this group.  If Fuller and pals can matchup and stick with the gameplan, they can shut down this offense with ease, but with the inexperience and the youth of the LB core, we will have to play it by ear.
  • Zone 6/Tote Nation vs TCU Defense:  It will be interesting to see this matchup!  With a handful of receiving threats and a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, there aren’t enough footballs to give to everyone, so they need to make their time on the field count.  TCU has had one of the better defenses in recent years, but will they or do they have enough to stop this talented offense?
  • Texans Return:  With a few former Texans on Ohio State’s roster still on the team, how would they perform in front of their family and friends that they left behind?  Will the lights be too bright as they no-show?  Or will they dominate and show TCU what they missed out on?  J.K. Dobbins, Baron Browning, Demetrius Knox, Kendall Sheffield, and Jeffrey Okudah will return to Jerry’s World and face a team that wanted them on their team.
  • Special Teams:  Jekyll or Hyde:  It is no secret that the Ohio State has struggled with the Special Teams units over the years and this year is no different.  With a rotation of returners, there comes growing pains and miscues.  Fumbles have been an issue and with an offense that can make you pay.  On TCU’s side is Turpin, a potent return man who can swing momentum if given the opportunity to do damage.  What this matchup in particular because it could determine the game.

Prediction:  With everything considered I am predicting another 50+ point game for the Buckeyes in a near shootout with TCU.  It will be close in the first quarter with both teams providing the fireworks.  In a statement game and Haskins’ coming out party against a Top-15 team, he will throw for 200+ yards and at least 4 TD’s.  The Running Back duo will carve up the defense with Dobbins showing out in his home state of Texas, but Weber will match him with a score as well.

Haskins: 235 yards and 3 TD’s

Dobbins/Weber:  155 yards and 2 TD’s

Buckeyes Defense:  3 sacks, 1 int, 2 forced fumbles, 1 TD

Final:  56-24, Buckeyes defeats TCU

Ready, Set, Go! Buckeye Starters Announced, Primed, and Ready To Rock

With a handful of days left in the pit of misery, it is officially game week and with that, the starters for positional units have been announced during the presser–and boy the future looks bright.  With the drama behind us (hopefully it stays that way!), we can all begin looking forward to how our Ohio State Buckeyes respond to the backlash and the three-game suspension of Head Coach Urban Meyer.

Quarterback:  Dwayne Haskins.

Haskins as the heir apparent to J.T. Barrett was one of the worst-kept secrets at Ohio State.  He beat out a shifty dual-threat quarterback in Tate Martell, but even he did enough to earn a few reps when called upon.

Haskins has the arm and the talent to make this offense explode.  He also has the weapons to make that happen as well.  With a collection of talented receivers and tight ends at his disposal, he almost cannot mess this up, but we will have to see once he steps onto the field if he can live up to the hype surrounding him.

Tate Martell might have lost the battle, but he will act as a change-of-pace quarterback when he subs in for certain situations inside of the red zone.  It will be an exciting combination and it would also act as his audition for next seasons quarterback battle if Haskins has one hell of a year and leaves for the NFL.

Running Back:  J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber.

This is probably the most obvious out of every position announced.  The dynamic duo will re-assume their roles on the offense this year.

With Dobbins, he will use his success from his freshman season as he shares the snaps with Weber in what should be his final season.  With one final season, Weber will search for holes to better his draft stock and reach his personal goals, while simultaneously helping his team achieve their own season goals.

This is another talented group with two talented freshmen in Master Teague, Brian Snead, and Jaelin Gill in the mix for snaps as well.

Wide Receiver:  Johnnie Dixon, Austin Mack, and Parris Campbell.

This is another deep group of players, and the three players above are just the more seasoned players of the group.  They still have weapons in the wings in McLaurin, Victor, Hill, and Saunders.

This is a talented group of receivers from a season ago that all came back to play with Haskins before they realize their NFL dreams.  This is a potent group of playmakers that could light teams up the entire season.

People say speed kills and this group has all the speed!  It will be crazy to see, but I am excited to see big plays consistently and often.  Like the Troy Smith years–I cannot wait!  With McLaurin, Dixon, and Campbell captaining, it will be an exciting time for sure.

Offensive LineThayer Munford OR Joshua Alabi, Malcolm Pridgeon, Michael Jordan, Demetrius Knox, and Isaiah Prince.

The offensive line has been set and you gush with excitement due to the potential.  The one move that shocked many was the decision to move another offensive guard to center, this year it is Jordan’s time to lead from the inside.

There is still an on-going battle going on between Munford and Alabi at left tackle, but everything else has been nailed down with Pridgeon at left guard, the aforementioned Jordan at center, Knox at right guard, and Prince at right tackle.  With a combination of Jordan at center and one of the seven team captains in Prince on the offensive line, they will lead the newer starters into battle for what could be their last year at Ohio State.

The feel I get from this lineup is salivating.  I feel like they could be road graders in the run game and that they will bring that nastiness that has been missing for a little bit, both within and outside of the trenches.  While Bowen still recovers, the depth is a little green, but they have a talented group that earned their spot on the two-deep.

Linebacker:  Malik Harrison, Baron Browning, and Pete Werner.

Linebacker is one of the deeper position groups and the roster and the starters that were announced are all athletes–quick ones too.  The sheer speed and athleticism with this group, not even factoring their backups is crazy, but it is too early to buy into the hype for now.

Run stuffers and gap fillers are their specialties, but Harrison and Browning and can be effective in coverage while Werner acts as the missile to blow up players in the backfield.  The previous to can do the same, but after seeing Werner blow people up on special teams, it is not out of the question.

The will get beat sometimes because of their youth and inexperience, but they could also be scary good behind one of the best defensive line collections out there in the nation.  With captain Tuf Borland still recovering from an Achilles injury, he will mold these younger players into machines.

Defensive Line:  Chase Young, Dre’Mont Jones, Robert Landers, and captain Nick Bosa.

Scary doesn’t do this unit and their backups justice.  They will be one of the most active units that will consistently try to harass the opposing quarterbacks and disrupt their offensive attack.  They will make then earn every single yard and this offense could be a frustrating bunch to beat and overcome in the trenches.

Jones and Landers have proven that they could blow up plays with their coordinated efforts and it usually frees up Young and Bosa.  Behind then are a talented group of underclassmen and a few true freshmen.  Togiai and company have made a lot of noise this offseason and they are expected to contribute this season.

Watch out!  This could be the best collection of disruptive playmakers in the trenches that we have had in a while.  I cannot wait to see what becomes of this unit.

Defensive Backs:  Damon Arnette, Kendall Sheffield or Jeffrey Okudah, Jordan Fuller, and Isaiah Pryor.

Captain Fuller will lead his unit to live up to the Ohio State standard.  Everyone who was expected to start secured their respective spot on the depth chart and the only question is who will be the starting corner opposite of Arnette.

The battle between Okudah and Sheffield has been tight so far, but either or will do and they are interchangeable players that can play the sideline or the slot.  Also, with Shaun Wade getting healthier and the true freshmen stepping up, if someone gets banged up they will be perfectly fine because of their depth at every position.

A fiery leader, Fuller will command everyone and coordinate the attack for his defense with other captains at every level.

Specialist/Special Teams:  Sean Nuernberger and  Drue Cristman.

I am giving the special team unit some love and it is well deserved.  During the spring game, they showed their worth in what was the weakest units a season ago.

They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great either with a mixture of issues from missed FG’s to pointless penalties that killed the momentum or swung it in the other teams favor.  It was also the lack of containment on special teams that opposing teams often exposed the Buckeyes–especially when Barkley took it to the house on the opening kickoff last year.

Improvements must be made, especially with the new rules regarding this specific unit, where the ball can be fair caught and placed at the 25-yard line.  There are some hungry young studs (think Pete Werner) that will look to make an impact.  I think it’ll be Mitchell and Gant that will fly around this season and they will bring the boom!

Jeremiah, Tony, and Shannon, I apologize for the lengthy piece, but I am so excited to turn the page from the media storm that occurred a month ago.  I am truly excited for Buckeye season and so are Trevor and Mark.

What If Urban Was Not Our Head Coach?

Since that turbulent season 2011, we have been spoiled as Ohio State fans.  Point blank.  Period.  Once Urban Meyer showed up for the head coaching gig, we have experienced a ton of success both on and off the field, we have seen it in rivalry games (5-0 against TTUN), and in the recruiting game–and he is still working to improve in many other areas annually.

He took a Luke Fickell led a team who finished 2011 with a 6-7 record and 3-5 in the BIG 10 and flipped it around.  A culture change occurred and he even kept Coach Fickell on his staff for a couple of years for continuity purposes–and it worked out.  After Ohio State fired Coach Tressel and declared star QB Terrelle Pryor ineligible, it did not look good for the Buckeyes.  During the search for their new head coach, there was a lot of uncertainty, but Coach Meyer was a just what the Buckeyes needed to become successful again.

For fans, I cannot agree or stand the fact that they question Coach Meyer’s motives–especially when they questioned him for leaving J.T. Barrett as the starter during 2016 and 2017, with the perceived “better QB” waiting in the wings (Cardale Jones, 2016 and Dwayne Haskins, 2017).  You people need to just shut up and let the head coach do what he is paid to do or you’ll just be like the Volunteer fans who ran off Coach Schiano with the mob mentality that you all spew all over the social media waves.

Is an overall record of 73-8 and a conference record of 47-3 not good enough for you?  How about a bowl record of 4-2 and a College Football Playoff Championship accompanied by 2 BIG 10 titles to boot?  Still not satisfied because you are bent out of shape over a QB.  Let me say that we should be excited about whatever he chooses to do, and that is also with who he deems ready to start at QB.

This year Haskins is going to take the reins and he better be ready this year, or he’ll face the same criticism as Barrett did with Tate Martell waiting in the wings.  Most people forget that J.T.’s backup was Joe Burrow, and up until he got injured, I saw nothing with Haskins to be impressed with.  Intangibles, learning and taking mental reps, and more importantly–leadership skills.  None of those traits were present and yet, he could mentally throttle any team with a decent defense.

Since we are so spoiled as fans, let me take the time to say that Urban Meyer WILL retire at Ohio State and that I am proud that he is my head coach.  Since we want to take social media pot shots as well, let me play devils advocate and let us say Coach Meyer did not get or want the job and we had to settle for someone else.  Here is a short list of candidates that came up.

Bo Pelini, Nebraska

Bo Pelini finished 2011 with a 9-4 record and was 5-3 within the conference–so he probably was never a real threat for the Ohio State head coaching gig anyway.  Pelini, a former Ohio State Free Safety was a prime candidate for the job.  He was an aggressive defensive minded coach that leaned heavily on his Offensive Coordinators to put up points on the other side of the ball.

He started off really good, but he never got over the hump with his team before being fired after compiling a 67-27 record with the Cornhuskers.

What could he bring to Ohio State?  I think he could transform them into a winner, but like Nebraska, that hump would prove to be too much for him to stay as the head coach at Ohio State.  Expectations would run him out of town in the same manner, but since we are spoiled anyway 9-win seasons will earn him the angst and the axe at Ohio State.

Chris Petersen, Boise State

Chris Petersen was one of my favorites after compiling a wildly successful career at Boise State.  Petersen went 92-12 overall and he dominated the Mountain West Conference finishing 56-7.

He is also famously known for the Statue of Liberty play that defeated the Oklahoma Sooners and he has also beaten a few Power 5 Conference teams in Arizona State, Utah, and Washington–so he would have been a proven winner and a take at Ohio State.

He fits schematically and he would have been fun to watch at Ohio State, where he has an endless supply and a great mix of facilities, education, and the recruiting tactics would be the only question mark.  He has yet to sign a top-notch team at Washinton, but his games would be fun to watch because he isn’t afraid to run a trick play or two.

Jon Gruden, NFL Commentator

Jon Gruden was enjoying life as a Broadcaster with ESPN for NFL games.  A lot of people were thinking or holding out hope for Chucky to become the next head coach of Ohio State–and it would have taken a lot to get him to go down a level after winning a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He coaches the defense and he was a pretty good play caller, but I am not quite sure with the offensive side of the ball.  He normally leaned on the Running Backs and luckily at Ohio State they had a bruiser named Carlos Hyde and Boom Herron.  They also had a pretty good defense with Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier, which would have anyone excited over coaching this team.

Sadly, like Petersen, I don’t have a clue if he knew or was willing to do the recruiting necessary to be successful because that is the lifeblood of any program.  He would win a fair share of game, but would it translate to winning recruiting battles and winning the big rivalry games?  I don’t think so, but it is sure fun to speculate.

Greg Schiano, Rutgers

Greg Schiano was another rising candidate for the job after leading the Rutgers programs to newer heights.  He was available and he was ready for the challenge of becoming a head coach at the next level, for the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.  He was ill-equipped for it after laster a single season in the NFL.

If he chose to remain in the CFB ranks and if he has a shot at the Ohio State job, he would have had access to many resources to rebuild the Buckeyes into a threat once again.  He is known for his work with Defensive Backs and since he’s been at Ohio State, he has been helping in the development of these young men.

Offensively would be the biggest question because he has always been dependent on his defenses while the offenses put up points to maintain the lead.  The type of athletes that Ohio State attracts would easily put these questions to rest and with the right hire as the offensive shot caller, it could be a great match.  Would he sustain the success?  We won’t know, but it is fun to have him on our current staff.

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Bob Stoops would be the best candidate to sign.  He is originally from Ohio and he has a proven track record at Oklahoma and in the Big 12.

This would have been a difficult pull, but if it did happen, the BIG 10 would have burned down because he would keep his foot on the pedal until the clock hit zeroes.  Sure, it would run a lot of the head coaches the wrong way, but it isn’t like Coach Meyer doesn’t do that occasionally too.

Coach Stoops would have inherited Braxton Miller and a lethal collection of weapons on offense.  The defense was also good, with Shazier and Roby roaming around, so there is virtually no real concern for him.  Another huge plus is that he can recruit his tail off.  This would have been a near perfect hire if Coach Meyer wasn’t ready to lead another team on Saturdays.

 

So, in conclusion, we should always be thankful for what we have right now because good things don’t last forever.  You can be a fan and have your opinion, but it gets tiresome when just because you perceive something to be something it is not, you throw fits and complain–you argue tooth and nail until your opinion is heard or mutually agreed on.

We have a great coach who knows what is best for his team and moving forward, just be a fan.  I know that we all cannot be happy, but I am happy with double-digit wins each season and a good bowl game.  I am happy that he can recruit his tail off and that he has the capability to recruit the best personnel or assistant coaches that make his life and his job easier.  You cannot beat Top-10 or Top-5 ranked reasons and recruiting classes because there are other teams that would kill for that type of success.  Coach Meyer took less than half the time after taking over and assembled an impressive recruiting haul with less than half the time.

It is rare that a coach that can do all these things while still focusing on the future of these kids with the real-life Wednesdays–you can’t beat it.  The most important thing is the kids and if a coach can connect on more of a personal level and he can reach their untapped potential at the same time, he’s a keeper for sure.

We should be proud as a fanbase, but it’s not always gonna be perfect for everyone.  I am proud of what Coach Meyer has done and I will continue to be that way and loyal no matter what.  The fakes will be exposed and as much as I would like to kick them out, I will just let things play out and enjoy the success.  We could always have it worse, but some people cannot see past the negatives.  GO BUCKS!!!

 

Season Preview: Rutgers @ Ohio State

In week 2, the Buckeyes will square off against a team led by a former coach in Chris Ash.  It has been two seasons since he left and he has gone up against his former team twice and they have yet to get on the scoreboard.  The past two years have been miserable for the Scarlet Knight as they were blown out both times, by a very wide margin and in embarrassing fashion.

Teams would often tip their hat to the other team, but being on the opposite end of a 56-0, 58-0 beatdown in consecutive years?  Things need to change and they need to try to put some points on the board.

So what will this years edition be like?  Will it be the same old stagnant offense getting dismantled by another dangerous defense?  Or will they make it a little more competitive and interesting?

No one really knows and since it is college football, anything can happen, but unless drastic changes are made, it is not looking too good at this point, if I am being honest and objective.  Since Coach Ash took over, he has gone 0-2 against his former team which is respectable despite being throttled both times, but that is the least of his worries because he has yet to post a winning season and he is 6-18.  He needs to win a few more games or he will feel the pressure.

The biggest question remains with the offense who finished 128th in total offense, 86th in rushing offense, and 124th in passing offense.  Last year, the Buckeyes were 9th in the nation in total defense,  6th in rushing defense, and 30th in passing defense, which gave offenses fits.  This years defense will undoubtedly be just as dangerous and relentless as last years, but they do have new starters at a few positions.  The unfortunate thing is they still have no idea who will lead the offense at Quarterback, which goes in Ohio State’s favor.

Rutgers will have their leading receiving threat at Tight End in Jerome Washington.  They also return a pair of defenders, Trevor Morris (leading tackler) and Jawuan Harris (interception leader), which is helpful.  They have a star in the making in Jonathan Hilliman, who is projected to be the starting Running Back after Gus Edwards left.  A committee is also another option at the position because they have a ton of talent there.

The O-Line is also solid, with a pair of new Guards that are wedged in between experienced players with experience and a few starts.  Will it help against another Bosa brother led defensive front?  We will see what happens.  I feel like this game will be another massacre and it’ll get ugly quick.  The defense will keep them in check as the offense puts on a show with their shiny new toy at Quarterback.

Prediction:

Like I said a little bit ago, it’ll be a massacre.  The Rutgers are the away team after all, and they go into the Shoe with a purpose that quickly disappears after a few turnovers–and poof!  Thier will is gone.  The D-Line will prove to be too much for whoever is the starting QB and the defense scores at least once and collects a minimum of 4 sacks.

Haskins lights up the scoreboard as well.  He will tear it up with 4 passing TD’s while his Running Backs pound the will out of the defense for a combined total of 145 yards and a TD.  This game will be put out of reach quick and the starters will use this as a tune-up for the neutral site game at AT&T Stadium.  Rest or go pedal-to-the-metal, it’ll be helpful if the offense runs efficiently.

Final:  Ohio State defeats Rutgers 55-6

 

 

 

Season Preview: Oregon State @ Ohio State

With 43 days left until the Ohio State season opener, there is a lot of hype with the 2018-2019 team.  Since we are ready for the season to begin, I will take my shot at previewing the games on deck for this season.  If I get worked up, let it happen–this offseason has dragged on way too long, but its nearly over with!

The first game of the season will be an out-of-conference game against another Power-5 team in Oregon State.  The Beavers have a new head coach in Jonathan Smith and he looks to improve from a 1-11 overall record, going winless in the Pac 12.  He will attempt to resurrect his teams spread offense with a brand new starter at Quarterback and a pair of offensive player that look to build on last seasons numbers in JR Artavis Pierce and RS JR Noah Togiai.  Pierce had a decent season with 323 yards on 68 carries with just a single touchdown and he also added 128 yards on 15 catches.  Togiai, on the other hand, had 34 catches for 461 yards and 2 scores.

On the other side of the ball, they return 4 of their top 5 defenders from last season, which would help the newer players in the long run.  Safeties Jalen Moore and David Morris return after recording 75 tackle seasons and a pick a piece and a forced fumble.  Jonathan Willis also returns with the entire linebacking core that tallied 155 total tackles between them, 5.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  It is quite the collection of defenders within this multi-scheme based defense.  Isaiah Dunn is the lone returnee at Corner and they will need to be aggressive with the Ohio State receivers to be competitive in this game.

On Ohio State’s end, their offense will have a new starter in Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell.  Haskins has the advantage, but Martell seems to be making it interesting as we inch closer toward fall camp.  I think Haskins will edge out in the end, with Martell getting a package of plays to keep the defenses on their heels.  Ohio State also returns a ton of weapons from a season ago, with a battle at Tight End coming with the recent addition of Jeremy Ruckert, the upperclassmen better be ready for a dogfight with the true freshman.  Most of the receivers have returned for a season with Haskins and both Running Backs are back as well.  It is a potent accumulation of talent that could explode in this game–that could set the table for the rest of the season.

The defense is also returning many starters and they should pick up where they left off with potential NFL draft implications at stake.  Nick Bosa, Dre’mont Jones, Damon Arnette, Kendall Sheffield, Jordan Fuller are the more notable members of the defense that are eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft, and I am sure they wouldn’t mind bolstering their stock during this season.  A ton of underclassmen will also look to improve with Chase Young and Robert Landers looking to be a disruptive force and a near brand-new group of Linebackers behind them.

Prediction:

The defense will be too much for the Oregon State offense, especially the Offensive Line.  With Bosa becoming a full-time starter and Young lining up opposite, and Landers and Jones on the interior, it’ll be great to see them demolish the other team and throw them out of rhythm.

The Linebackers will close the running lanes as the DB’s lock up the Beaver #1 receiving threat Togiai.  The Linebackers will be without Borland, who suffered an injury, but his replacement Browning or Mitchell will show their skills.

With all things considered, I think the back seven will suffocate the offensive attack and they’ll come up with a few turnovers–especially with a young, unproven signal-caller, it’ll be ugly.  I predict a two-pick game and a fumble type of game.

The Ohio State offense will make a statement after shaking off the rust, the offense will put up points in a hurry afterward.  I think 3 receiving scores and 4 on the ground.  Campbell, Dixon, and Mack score through the air and Dobbins, Weber, Martell, and Teague rumble it in, with Martell and Teague scoring when the starters get pulled.

Ohio State defeats Oregon State: 49-10