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

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.

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.

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

#11 Ohio State Buckeyes Silences #2 Clemson Tigers in the Big Easy

Yes, you read that right and it was intentional. With all the chatter and all the slights sent their way, the Buckeyes have finally defeated the Clemson Tigers. The risk of falling 0-5 to Clemson was possible, but with all the motivation in the world the Buckeyes trounced the Tigers and silenced the doubters for now—and oh, how sweet it is?!

The build up to this moment was heavy. Two elite teams with two distinct paths to the CFB Playoffs. Two budding rivals that always seem to meet. Two elite head coaches with loaded rosters that could compete to become the next dynasty in college football. Both sides had their motives and their wills tested up to this moment.

One team, Ohio State went through adversity to play this season. They fought for a chance to play and they defeated the odds to do so. They had a nine-game season that turned to six with Maryland and TTUN cancelling, and the Illinois game being cancelled due to COVID concerns.

Clemson looked good but suffered an early loss at the hands of Notre Dame without Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence returns and throttles Notre Dame and avenged the loss to set the table for another head-to-head with the Buckeyes.

The chatter was immense and extremely disrespectful toward the Buckeyes leading up to the game—no one gave them a shot to advance. Coaches, Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney ranked the Buckeyes 11th (11th!) in his final coaches poll and the media was forecasting another Bama versus Clemson game.

With their demons on the field, the Buckeyes looked great in this game. They played with poise and balance—and they really dominated all phases of the game. Constant pressure by the defense stifled Lawrence while Fields’ grit shined through with the help of Trey Sermon in the ground game. The game was never really that close after the 14-14 tie but the job is not done with the #1 Crimson Tide on the horizon.

Yes, savor the win—do it! But we all know if you want to win a championship, you have to run through Alabama and Clemson. The Buckeyes demolished the latter and now they must be laser focused on the Crimson Tide and their arsenal of weapons at their disposal.

For what it’s worth: Even the Bama head coach, Nick Saban and their future opponent had them out at 5th overall behind Texas A&M and while the slight is less severe—we can all assume that it’ll be used again to sharpen their edge. Focus on the win and enjoy it, the Tide are not to be taken lightly especially with the issues we saw tonight with the secondary.

MOTSAG Heroes of the Game

Offense: Justin Fields, QB

Defense: Haskell Garrett, DT

Special Teams: Drue Chrisman, P

#GoBucks

Sugar Bowl X-Factors: Offense

Game week is here people! As we inch closer, the anxiety levels begin to rise. With how the Fiesta Bowl ended, there was that feeling of being robbed, feelings of anger, feelings of utter despair—that have bled into this turbulent COVID season.

The grudge and that unsatisfied feeling has come to a head and the time to release is just a few days away. We will have the chance to prove things to ourselves and to the nation. To silence the doubters and the haters.

In order to win, the Buckeyes need to put in the work and put on their hard hats. The preparation needs to be perfect and the game plan must be pristine from the execution to the play calling. Here a few X-Factors offensively that could tip the scales in the Buckeyes’ favor come Friday.

Justin Fields, QB

To be blunt, Justin Fields must show up in order to have a shot to take out Clemson. Ball security is a must and the execution must be perfect. Do not make bonehead throws into traffic and don’t hold the ball too long in the pocket. Sacks and interceptions are two things that he should avoid. Yes, making plays is needed but if it’s not there—throw it away or take the check down. Olave and Wilson will eventually get open, but he must trust do what he needs to do to control the game. If it consists of a steady dose of Sermon and Teague, so be it. It also doesn’t hurt that he will face backup safety since Nolan Turner was charged with targeting and he will be unavailable until the second half.

Trey Sermon, HB

Speaking of a steady dose of running it down their throats—Sermon needs to capitalize on the momentum after winning the Conference Championship Game MVP honors. Not to mention eating up the yardage to finish with a BIG 10 record 331 rushing yards—beating Ezekiel Elliott’s mark. It’s safe to say that balance is key, but running the ball will need to be at the forefront. Clemson will blitz heavily and what better counter is there than running the rock until they can show that they can stop it?

The Slobs and The Tight Ends

Blitzing will be an all game affair and one of the better blitzing teams is Clemson. The objective for these two units would be to block them enough to slow them down and to limit sacks. The slobs are solid but the weak link would be at Left Guard in Harry Miller (not a knock!). Holding penalties and allowing penetration are to be avoided and he has been consistently at fault for either of these. Miller has the potential but he has to has to play with little to no errors for either quarters. The big guys mauled the Wildcats in the second half and they need to do the same for the entire game to win it.

The Tight Ends must be ready for check downs or passes under duress. Blocking is also key but I think this group will get the majority of the work in the passing game. It’s pick your poison with Olave and Wilson but do not count out the tight ends.

If all these X-Factors play well, redemption is attainable. If they play out of sync, they will have a hard time and they may very well lose. Odds are with the amount of chatter about being worthy of a playoff spot—I’d say this is the quiet before the storm. Ohio versus the world. Redemption.

#GoBucks

Earned! Buckeyes Selected For Playoff Matchup Against A Familiar Foe Clemson

We made it Buckeye Nation! We got the matchup against the team that we wanted and in an odd COVID season, we can say we earned this spot after running past and shutting down a surprisingly potent Northwestern offense to zero points in the second half en-route to a 22-10 win.

Flash forward to January 1st and the matchup against Clemson and remembering the loss from a season ago, you know that final score is still around the weight room. The circumstances and the end result was tragic and what better way to slay your demons than this? Another shot at the demon is needed and it could have a cascading effect and it could propel this team toward greater things.

This year has been crazy, but the committee definitely got things right. I’m not just saying that cause of my affinity for the Buckeyes, I am saying it from an objective viewpoint. Why penalize a team for playing less? Why perceive our players having fresher bodies with the mental and sometimes physical toll while dealing with such odd circumstances? Everyone dealt with things different but let’s be real, the season wouldn’t have started without the fight our team showed. Yes, we were late to the party but this year has been incredibly hard for all team in the big dance.

This seeding has an eerie feel to it and think about the 2014 run. Ohio State became the only #4 seed to win it all. They find themselves at the #3 seed and history could repeat itself but they definitely need to take care of business. Winning it all in a COVID-ridden year would be a testament to the coaching staff and the players for Ohio State—the ultimate comeback/success story in the making. It’ll come down to implementing a good plan moving forward against Clemson and executing, being intensely interested in winning at all costs.

To be intensely driven and motivated is key for an Ohio State miracle run at a championship and a win against top-tier teams in Clemson and Alabama. Not saying that they aren’t but they need to be more driven than ever to accomplish what they want to and this team is built to do just that.

Save all the hate and anger for January first Buckeye coaches and players, Buckeye Nation hope and pray a sharp, motivated team shows up from start to finish, and let’s get ready to take care of business in the Sugar Bowl.

#GoBucks

The BIG10 4-Peat Is Complete

Photo From: FBSschedules.com

In a roller-coaster type of year, the Buckeyes were nearly held out of visiting Indianapolis due to a rule that required teams to play a minimum of six games to play in the Big Ten Conference Championship game. Flash forward after the decision (a terrible one at that!) the Buckeyes face a familiar opponent in the Northwestern Wildcats, an opponent who stood in the way of their second consecutive shot at the conference crown. Now, two years later these two teams will face each other again for the title of Big Ten Champs and another tough battle against a solid defensive-driven team.

The Buckeyes and Justin Fields took it straight down the field on their opening possession and took it in for a touchdown, but a holding call by Harry Miller quickly negated it and the Buckeyes settled for three. They Buckeyes took a lot of time off the clock and Northwestern responded with six in a drive that took 2:32. The Buckeyes began to look sluggish as time went on with questionable play-calling that resulted in a pair of Buckeye punts before they surrendered a field goal to put the Wildcats up 10-3. The Buckeyes kicked it for three and forced a punt, but Fields was picked off before the half came to a close.

To open the second half, Justin Hilliard picked of Ramsey, and Fields was picked off for the second time in a game that he largely struggled in. The Buckeyes forced a punt and both teams had shots at points, but they both missed their respective shots at additional points to keep the contest at 10-6. The Buckeyes came alive as Trey Sermon channeled his inner Zeke and they fed him in what became a career game for him as a ran past Eddie George’s record that has stood for quite some time until today. Sermon finished with 29 carries and a Big Ten/Conference Championship FBS record 331 yards and 2 TDs.

Sermon and the Buckeye defense stepped it up in the second half. After Sermon went off the defense responded with timely turnovers that turned the tide. For context, the Buckeyes surrendered 167 yards on 5 Northwestern offensive possessions. In the second half, they had 7 total offensive possessions and they surrendered 181 yards. Yes, they gave up a little more yardage, but couldn’t get into position to score. The second half adjustments worked and it showed how resilient this team is when the pressure is right in front of them.

This was not a perfect game for Justin Fields, but maybe it is what he needs to move forward. He seemed to sprain his throwing hand thumb and that might be a story to follow as we move forward. For now, we have to enjoy the gutty win minus the gaudy offensive passing stats. Another off day doesn’t mean its all over for us. Enjoy the win and hope for the best.

MOTSAGRising Heroes of the Game:

Trey Sermon, RB – 29 carries 331 yards and 2 TDs

Justin Hilliard, LB – 9 tackles, 5 solo, 2 TFL, 1 INT

Zach Hoover, P – 3 punts, 118 yards, 2 in 20

#GoBucks

#MOTSAGRising: Conquering White Out-less Happy Valley

Credit: reportdoor.com

At The Men of the Scarlet and Gray, we were due to get into the Podcast scene and due to technical issues–we will hold off for about a week until we prepare for it. For now, I am doing it old-school and just bear with me.

As you know, our team has a ton of rising stars and I haven’t been writing that much, but I make it up by upping the tweeting to ensure you are all entertained. Today, it is a post game reaction and I am going to do my best to follow in the Stat Masters step (looking at you Jeremiah!). Here we go.

Saturday night, in the Prime Time TV slot #3 ranked Ohio State faced the #18 team in the land Penn State in a COVID styled White Out minus the mass amount of fans in the stands. Due to the state of the nation and how they are combating the global pandemic–the fans have been narrowed down to family members and cardboard cutouts were in the seats. An odd environment indeed in a collision between two teams with a ton of history.

The past three or four contests have been fire and this one went in the Buckeyes’ favor early and then the Nittany Lions offense showed up to make it interesting despite eventually losing by double-digits. This game always was exciting for both sides and they have been so close over the past couple of seasons. In a game that is not considered a real rivalry game–these games always have a lot on the line.

For perspective, Ohio State and Penn State, although deemed a “Rivalry Game” have played a total of 34 times. The inaugural game was played in 1913 and they began the rivalry by winning the first four meet with the Buckeyes with a margin of 81-13. The early years of this rivalry saw Penn State take win after win, but as of late–the Buckeyes overtook them for the overall lead in the series. Ohio State leads the series 20-14 and the Buckeyes just won their fourth straight. Fun fact: The Buckeyes have also tied Notre Dame’s 10 road game win streak against ranked teams. If Michigan State continues their upward trend–they could break that in East Lansing, but this season has been difficult to get a beat on.

Now back to the game itself, the Buckeyes started fast and with urgency as they quickly shot up to a 14-0. They looked calm and poised, but after a Penn State Field Goal–they kind of took their foot off of the pedal and went into the half with what looked like a 14-3 lead. Not so fast my friend (Lee Corso voice) on a fourth and short, Fields took a knee to drain the clock, but left a second that led to another kick for three. The Buckeyes were already in the locker room before being returned to the field and you could hear and see the frustration by a late start of the play clock.

In the second half, the Nittany Lions turned it up and Jahan Dotson had a game against Shaun Wade. He finished with 8 catches, 144 yards and 3 scores in what was a highlight reel type of performance for him against a likely 1st Round talent in Wade. The Buckeyes definitely attacked the secondary in the second half and they rattled off 24 more points in the second half.

Buckeye Stickers

Justin Fields continues to tear it up as he finished 28 for 34, for 318 yards and 4 scores. Although he took a huge hit from his blindside–he quickly popped up but we all took a collective exhale. In the Big 10, Fields is 3rd in passing yards and is tied for 1st with 6 TD’s. He will face a renewed Rutgers team with a familiar face, which would make things interesting to say the least.

Master Teague and Trey Sermon haven’t been playing well, but they are starting to put things together. Together, they combined for 166 total yards and a score, much improved from 89 from last week. They are finding holes and it is only up from here. Things obviously need to improve, but for now give them their sticker!

The Olave and Wilson connection is still going strong and they went off again in week 2. Both receivers went over 100 yards receiving and now they are 4th and 2nd in the Big 10. This connection between both of these studs and Fields is crazy and it is looking like Wilson is having his breakout season while teams focus on Olave. This duo is so valuable and they take the attention off of the other pass catchers so they could make plays. They deserve the recognition so far!

The Slobs also did well cutting their total sacks surrendered in half to two this game. A brutal blindside sack and a coverage sack is better than the four from two weeks ago. The O-Line showed up and contained the Parsons-less defense that usually gives teams fits. They looked strong and mauled the D-Line and pushed them back. They is more room for improvement, but the increase in yardage is a good sign of things to come.

Lastly, the Buckeye front seven showed you why they are one of the best groups of unheralded players in the nation. A bunch of forgotten players that were buried in the depth chart, the Rushmen were disruptive and played well racking up the sacks and spooking Clifford. 5 sacks with 3 going to Tommy Togiai. Cooper and Harrison combined for a sack and Jean-Baptiste gathered the last sack.

Room For Improvement

The Special Teams unit could improve. With two missed Field Goals inside of the 20, they need to be better. Haubeil and DiMaccio combined for 1 of 3 with Haubeil leaving with a groin injury on his only attempt. Punting was also an issue. Two punts with two touchbacks with one that should have been downed in the 5. Robinson bounced it off of his knee with Olave around and they gave up valuable field position. These things need to be cleaned up if they truly want to control every phase of the game.

The secondary looked bad and they were exposed by Jahan Dotson. He made them look some type of way with the cushion they gave them. Slants and streaks worked for a bit and they need to improve because that will be on film for other teams to try to do the same. They didn’t do terrible, but they didn’t do well either. The upside is Hooker (Malik’s little brother) had a key takeaway that swung the door closed on Penn State’s comeback hopes. That is encouraging to say the least.