Depth Chart: Offensive Line

The Slobs are a pivotal group on every team, but for Ohio State, it could make or break the offensive scheme and what the team wants to do.  Considering what they had lost coming into the offseason, this group had so many questions after the bulk of their experienced players left for an NFL futures.

In a time where a new quarterback will lead the offensive huddle, the O-Line is leaned on to block and help him make the adjustments throughout the game.  This years team will have to learn together after losing their starting Center Michael Jordan, Left Guard Malcolm Pridgeon, Right Tackle Isaiah Prince and then there is the Right Guard Demetrious Knox to the pros.  It is definitely a bunch of huge shoes to fill, but I think the talent remaining in the room and the talent coming into the fold will surely be up to the task during the Ryan Day era.

After the exits, the few Slobs that are left still have the potential to pick up where the others left off at.  Thayer Munford and Josh Alabi operated well at Left Tackle a season ago, Brandon Bowen was a great blocker at Right Guard before being taken out with a devastating leg injury, and Wyatt Davis blocked well in starting duties at Right Guard after Knox was injured late into the season.  The one player to watch would the Grad Transfer Jonah Jackson who came in after a stellar career at Rutgers leaving them as an Honorable All-Big Ten performer.  Jackson will have to adjust to the team scheme, but he looks to be a plug and play type of player after it is all said and done.

Behind them are players who operated while in mop-up duties, but this is surely a talented group headlined by a trio former five-stars in OT Nicholas Petite-Frere, OL Harry Miller, and OC Josh Myers.  Then there are a ton of high-end players that could contribute right away like Gavin Cupp, Ryan Jacoby, Dawand Jones, Matt Jones, Max Wray, and Vimahi Enokk.  Walk-ons like Nathan Brock, Jack Jamieson, Brandon Pahl, and Kevin Woidke are also viable options and the needed depth to help develop the scholarship players.

The beauty about Coach Stud’s players is that they are interchangeable and they play where they fit–they will play the best five blockers and players regardless of their position.  That is the beauty about the incoming 2020 class, they are mostly Offensive Tackles, but Coach Stud is pitching the idea of them playing all over the line.  Headlined by five-star Paris Johnson Jr, he is joined by four-star OC Luke Wypler and a trio of highly talented three-stars, Trey Leroux, Jakob James, and recent Penn State flip Grant Toutant.  They may or may not be done, but they could be picky with the one or two players left on their board.

The talent and depth that is building in this room is a great, competitive situation for the coaches to build upon and it is a great opportunity for the players currently in the rooms and for the inbound ones to develop against players of similar skillsets and talent.  Iron sharpens iron and with the horses opposite of them, it will be fun to see the trenches strengthen each other for years to come.

Below isn’t set in stone, but I am just going off of experience and potential at specific positions.  To me, the starters are solid, but they could be unseated by the younger players during summer camps, Friday Night Light and then fall camp, so buckle up Buckeye fans!  It will be a grind for the slobs up until the season begins.

Projected Depth Chart:

LT:  Thayer Munford, Branden Bowen, Kevin Woidke

LG:  Jonah Jackson, Josh Alabi, Ryan Jacoby, Nathan Brock

OC:  Josh Myers, Matt Jones, Harry Miller, Jack Jamieson

RG:  Wyatt Davis, Gavin Cupp, Vimahi Enokk, Brandon Pahl

RT:  Nicholas Petite-Frere, Max Wray, Dawand Jones

Future OL:  2020, Paris Johnson Jr, Luke Wypler, Jakob James, Trey Leroux, and Grant Toutant.

Depth Chart: Tight End

If I could think of a position at Ohio State that is key, but is usually an afterthought, I would say Tight End.  That isn’t a bad thing at all, so don’t misjudge my opening statement, but with all that talent, they are often underutilized in the passing game, but when they are used, it is like a punch that you cannot see.

Coach Wilson, the former Indiana head coach takes ownership of this group and he teaches them the importance of preparation and toughness to play without touching the football–which to me is very, very important in the Ohio State grand scheme of things.  Think about it–without the Tight Ends sealing the edges or splitting out into the slot that is one less matchup nightmare for opposing defenses to worry about.  Yes, they are barely called upon, but later in the 2018 season, they had a larger role and the players made the best out of their opportunities when called upon.

With 2019, I feel like the offense will evolve and this room will see an uptick in usage and see more opportunities in the passing game.  The room did not lose a player from a season ago and Rashod Berry will be the clear leader in this group with a lot of talent behind him.  A former number one player at his position in Jeremy Ruckert, Jake Hausmann and Luke Farrell make up the room with Cormontae Hamilton joining the team during the summer is quite the room, filled with high-end talent with an underrated, team-first player like Hamilton coming into the fold.  And let us not forget the walk-on Brock Davin, who gives us more depth and flexibility to the Tight End room.

Like I stated earlier, this room is often underused, but the work we don’t see in the blocking game is a crucial piece of this offensive scheme that adds a ton of value to the offense.  So what if they don’t get the stats, the heart of this room is evident and to me, they are as valuable as the offensive linemen.

Berry is often used as a lead blocker, playing in the long forgotten Fullback position.  He excels at it and he and Hausmann often hurt the defenses downfield for huge chunks per reception and I think the gameplan for this season is to unleash the pass-catchers at the position.  At a school like Ohio State, the position is usually not a part of a defensive gameplan, but it could be used to open up the offense and throw defenses off when the elements and the field conditions line up.

I could see Wilson pounding the table for his guys this year to bring more balance to the offense.  If it happens or if it doesn’t, it won’t affect the work ethic of these players entrenched in the Buckeye culture.  The players in this room are the unsung heroes of the offense and often the forgotten bunch, but their team-first attitudes will elevate their play of the other positional groups.  Here is to hoping the Stoneburner shot plays resurface.

Projected Depth Chart:

TE 1:  Rashod Berry, Luke Farrell

TE 2:  Jake Hausmann, Jeremy Ruckert

TE 3:  Cormontae Hamilton, Brock Davin

Future TE’s:  No committed players.

Depth Chart: Wide Receiver

The Wide Receiver room at Ohio State is arguably one of the deepest and the most talented positional groups on the roster.  It boasts an impressive collection of high four-star players, a few five-stars and a lot of underrated three-star athletes and players that have found the position that suits their skills.  Former WR coach Zach Smith had quite the hauls prior to his departure, but now former player and now Coach Brian Hartline is looking to improve the quality and the production of players in his room in 2019 and beyond.

Fast forward to the 2019 season, after losing not one, not two, but three team captains at the wide receiver position in Johnnie Dixon, Terry Mclaurin and Parris Campbell–how would this team fare without that leadership element from the more seasoned members of the team?  It is truly a deep void to fill, but all is not lost this season because there are trio capable members that could grow into the leaders this offseason in K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, and Binjimen Victor.

Early on, the had to grow with and under the wings of the three that have recently departed for the NFL, but this year they will be leading the charge.  Hill, a fifth-year senior has the most experience and he even turned down an NFL shot in favor of being “the go-to guy” at Ohio State and to possibly grab a few records in his last season in the Scarlet and Gray.

Both Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor are returning for their senior seasons at Ohio State and they will try to go out with a bang.  Mack was seriously hurt following the Purdue loss and he will look for a bounce-back type of season without the help of his former roommate Dwayne Haskins.  He will take the field with Justin Fields or Gunnar Hoak so there is a lot of work to do with new signal-callers on the roster.

With Victor, he had an up and down season, but he turned it on late into the season with a spectacular game-saving grab and a little RAC to set-up Hill’s game-winning TD to stun Happy Valley in another thriller to the rivalry.  Victor among the three potential leaders in the room is the least vocal player in the room, look for him to develop more as a vocal leader through the offseason and well into the season.

Behind the next big three are a slew of talented and yet forgotten prized recruits that could shine in limited action.  The players that immediately come to mind are Elijah Gardiner and Jaylen Harris, two big-bodied receivers that have been waiting for their time to shine.  Then there is the legend himself Chris Olave and incoming five-star signee Garrett Wilson, who just barely scratched the surface of their potentials. Close behind them are Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown, who are all speed burners.  Unfortunately, Babb suffered another major injury, but the staff can turn his situation into another feel good, Dixon-like story (which would be awesome!), so keep fighting kid!

After that is a collection of walk-ons with C.J. Saunders leading after defeating the odds.  Even after losing Blue Smith and Garyn Prater to Cincinnati, the walk-ons are still good players.  Alec Koch, Austin Kutscher, De’Shawn White, and Sam Wiglusz.  There is also Craig Young, who was recruited as an Athlete, so you never know if he will break through and earn some reps at receiver.

Looking into the future, the 2020 receiver group is headlined with another five-star stud in Fleming, who is the #1 at his position in the nation.  Scott Jr and Smith-Njigba are also no slouches either.  The 2020 class is looking pretty deep with one or two more possibilities left.  The 2021 class has no one committed, but that could change after they added Marvin Harrison Jr’s high school QB, but you never know, but the future is really bright with Hartline leading this groups development.

This is definitely the room that generates the most excitement, especially with the potential of Day’s offensive mind at the helm.  This room will have to step up and learn fast, but all signs point to the Zone 6 group kicking it up a notch.  Go Bucks!

Projected Depth Chart:

WR 1:  Binjimen Victor, Jaylen Harris, Cameron Brown

WR 2:  Austin Mack, Garrett Wilson, Elijah Gardiner

Slot:  K.J. Hill, Chris Olave, C.J. Saunders

WR 4:  Alec Koch, Austin Kutscher, De’Shawn White, Sam Wiglusz

Future WR’s:  2020:  Julian Fleming, Gee Scott Jr, Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Depth Chart: Running Backs

The Running Back or the Cadillac position will be the next to analyze and it hasn’t gone through a ton of drama and it surely wasn’t as festive as the previous positional group.  Yes, they lost Mike Weber to the 2019 NFL Draft and Brian Snead to an eventual transfer out of Ohio State, but the depth is still solid and laced with talented players that could put spare reps to good use with what I see could be a more balanced attack offensively.

JK Dobbins would re-assume the throne as the feature back in 2019.  He will look to potentially raise his NFL Draft stock this season and if all goes well, but I do not think that is his main concern at this point of the off-season.  He will look to secure his legacy as a Buckeye, as a member of Tote Nation as he fine tunes his body for what could be a Heisman type of season.  He could leave, but he also could stay and that is difficult to predict without any games in the books, so we will just have to wait it out and see how it would turn out.

Behind Dobbins is another generation of beast Running Backs.  Redshirt Junior Demario McCall is the most seasoned players on the roster.  He has been through many injury-plagued seasons while at Ohio State, but he stuck with it and fought through his battles with adversity.  McCall is listed as a Running Back, but I could see him at the H-Back position with Jaelin Gill, which is a pretty good one-two punch at the most critical positions at Ohio State.

The true heirs to Dobbins’ room would be a pair of young studs, Master Teague and Marcus Crowley.  Teague with the limited touches a season ago, proved that he could hang with the big boys.  He has the burst and the strength to shed or run over would-be tacklers.  He could be an asset to spell Dobbins when needed.  Crowley is a monster back with a frame to destroy defenders.  Watching his high school highlights was crazy because yes, he had the strength, but when he outran the defenses?  I am excited for this kid to come into his own.

There are also a ton of talented walk-on players as well with Robert Cope, Amari McMahon, and Mitch Rossi learning under Tony Alford under the Tote Nation mantra.  This roster is absolutely loaded at the position and we would see a healthy distribution of carries as the season progresses, even for the walk-ons.  My biggest concern would be the transfer portal curse and the patience of these kids.  The Buckeyes have been hit hard at quarterback and I am hopeful that these kids have the grit and patience to wait it out.

The depth chart is easy to predict with Dobbins re-establishing himself as the feature back with Teague and Crowley as the clear back-ups.  The trio of walk-ons would assume third-stringer duties, but they could be used if games get out of hand.  The H-Backs would be McCall and Gill, but they are interchangeable and I could see them rotate between RB 2 and H-Back, depending on the situation.

It should be a fun season with an explosive Buckeye offense and we aren’t even talking about the Zone 6 or Tight End rooms yet!  Day will begin the season with high expectations, but I know he is ready for the challenge.

Projected Depth Chart:

RB 1:  JK Dobbins

RB 2:  Master Teague/Marcus Crowley/Demario McCall

RB 3:  Robert Cope/Amari McMahon/Mitch Rossi

H-Back:  Demario McCall/Jaelin Gill

Future RB’s:  None currently committed.

Depth Chart: Quarterbacks

After another transfer-filled offseason for the Buckeyes, the quarterback depth was thought to be in danger, but Ryan Day and his staff managed to restock the shelves by looking into the transfer portal for reinforcements.

The transfer portal is brand-new and is a way for recruits to put their name out there to find a better situation or opportunity and it has singlehandedly brought pain for the Buckeyes in 2019.  A season prior, they also lost Joe Burrow as a grad transfer, who left for a starting job at LSU after being outdueled by Dwayne Haskins after the annual spring game.

Since then, Haskins left for the NFL, leaving Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin as the heirs for the vacant starting gig, but enter Justin Fields and now all of a sudden Martell transfers to Miami and Baldwin becomes homesick and leaves for TCU.  Both left for better situations for them, and I do not blame them one bit.  Walk-on Kory Curtis also left for Bryant University, leaving three signal-callers left on a thin positional group.  Justin Fields who is and was the projected starter, Chris Chugunov, a former West Virginia transfer, and 2018 walk-on Danny Vanatsky.

Coach Day realized the lack of depth and experience at a key position and he began to sift through the transfer portal and he restocked the once bare shelves and he is now ready to move forward with his group and towards the 2019 season.  In a matter of weeks, he and his staff have added two former SEC scholarship quarterbacks in Gunnar Hoak (Kentucky) and Jagger LaRoe (Texas A&M).  They also added preferred walk-on JP Andrade (Florida), who will play in the same role for the Buckeyes this season.

This years quarterback room is filled with inexperience and the majority of the room has little to no starting experience, which is the major worry among the Buckeye faithful.  Fields also struggled during the spring game and while it is well warranted, the Buckeyes still have time on their side to improve and sharpen Fields’ skills before the season opener.

The room is going to be competitive with the clear starter in Fields.  The rest of the roster will occupy their roles and in the worst-case scenario where a major injury occurs to Fields, the rest will be ready and they will be more than capable of picking up the slack in his absence.

It is early, but I feel like this will be the set-up for the 2019 season.  I also included the future QB section even though recruiting can be unpredictable before the pen goes to paper, but I feel that both Miller and McCord are solid commits that will eventually don the Scarlet and Gray.

Projected 2019 Depth Chart:

QB 1:  Justin Fields

QB 2:  Gunnar Hoak/Chris Chugunov

QB 3:  Jagger LaRoe/JP Andrade/Danny Vanatsky

Future QB’s:  Jack Miller (2020) and Kyle McCord (2021)

2019 NFL Draft: Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins, Quarterback

PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Dwayne Haskins #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks to make a pass during the first half in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019, in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Dwayne Haskins had a wonderful year during his only season as the starting Quarterback for the Buckeyes.  After torching the Ohio State record books, he will look ahead toward his future as an NFL Quarterback.

Although he could use another year to sharpen and hone his skills, he has the necessary tools and traits to succeed at the next level.  The lucky team who covets him will get a baller with very few flaws.

Haskins is surely capable of playing at a high level and if he gets a shot early he could make some noise, but every team interested in his services seems to have a veteran in place for the time being.

Having a seasoned veteran in place isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker in the Haskins sweepstakes.  In a pre-draft interview, he mentioned that he was open to learning under an established veteran, so although we would have to wait some time for the Dwayne Haskins era to begin, he will have an opportunity to become an understudy until his number is called.

Here is a list of Quarterback-needy teams to keep an eye on for the upcoming draft.  There is a lot of smoke from multiple teams, so it will be an interesting ride for Haskins the fans out there (including myself!) to get drafted by their own NFL franchise.  Buckle up, folks!

 

Arizona Cardinals, #1 Overall Pick:

Arizona has been connected to a Quarterback prospect in the draft, but unfortunately, it isn’t to Haskins.  They have their eyes set on Kyler Murray, the Oklahoma Sooners stud who spurned the Oakland A’s to pursue football instead of baseball.

I know that it isn’t Haskins, but its the NFL Draft, the pick could change.  There can be a situation (a la Aaron Rodgers) where Murray could slip down after a last-minute discovery.

It seems likely that it will not happen, but it is always fun to play the “what if” game before the draft.  Given their infatuation with the type of Quarterbacks Kliff Kingsbury has had at Texas Tech, Murray fits that Gunslinger mold similar to Mahomes, so there is that.

The team also spent a 1st Rounder last year on Josh Rosen.  There has been some speculation about his future, but we will see what continues to develop as the NFL Draft inches closer.  There might be a surprise or a few on draft day.

Chances:  5%

 

Oakland Raiders, #4 Overall Pick 

Oakland has a franchise Quarterback in place in Derek Carr, but John Gruden might be ready to turn the page on him with Haskins.  By acting as the understudy, it would give time for him to master the playbook while biding his time.  There could also be some waves during the draft and we could see Carr getting traded during the draft.

You honestly never know about the draft, but it is possible.  Chucky is also always somewhat connected to anything Ohio State.  Like before Urban Meyer accepted the job, Gruden was always mentioned as a potential candidate for the job.

I have been seeing a lot of draft experts talking about Haskins at this pick, but it could be more smoke and mirrors, and we could see a trade happen if the right offer comes up.  The fit for Haskins would work as well, but with the number of talented pass-rushers in the AFC West, he might spend a lot of his time on the ground as he learns, but he could thrive under the Raiders system.

Chances:  40%

 

New York Giants, #6 Overall Pick

The Giants are the most connected to when talking about Dwayne Haskins.  With the combination of being a lifelong Giants fan and the teams need for a solution after Eli calls it quits, it seems like a perfect storm for the team.

With the departure of Odell Beckham Jr and the extension of Sterling Sheppard, it would be a fun offense to watch with the addition of Haskins and the rise of Barkley.  This would be the ideal situation for him to thrive and learn under another Super Bowl winning Quarterback.

He would certainly be up for sitting behind Eli as he continues to develop and learn the playbook.  It would be a shock if they don’t take him.

Chances:  75%

 

Jacksonville Jaguars, #7 Overall Pick

The Jaguars are in dire need of a Quarterback after cutting ties with Blake Bortles.  They have put a bandaid on the situation with the former Eagles Super Bowl hero Nick Foles, but the future remains murky.

Haskins could fall to the Jags if the Raiders and the Giants end up taking other needs and he would fit here too.  With a solid defense in tow and a punishing running attack, he could thrive with little pressure to put up points.

All he has to do is become more productive than Bortles was and cutting down on the turnovers or mistakes.  If he could do that, he would be golden.  This makes sense because of the age and the wear and tear with Foles.

Chances:  35%

 

Denver Broncos, #10 Overall Pick

Denver has needed a Quarterback since the end of Peyton Manning’s playing days and it is beginning to show.  Firstly, I am a fan of this franchise and it hurts, but Haskins at this spot would restore my faith in John Elway.

The Broncos, Elway specifically is infatuated with Drew Lock at this spot.  Kind of like the Brock Osweiler experiment, the Trevor Siemian season, the Paxton Lynch debacle, and the Chad Kelly gamble.  Each of them reminded Elway of himself and each selection was a bad one.  This year, Elway has a chance to change that if he selects Dwayne Haskins, but will he be willing to do it?

New Head Coach Vic Fangio would like to bolster the defense with a game-changing Linebacker and with Joe Flacco joining the team, they could wait another year to draft his successor OR they could grab a Haskins who is plummeting in the draft (allegedly).

Haskins fits with the Broncos and he could study under a Super Bowl winning Quarterback like Joe Flacco.  I would certainly enjoy it and start watching the NFL more, but it is up to Elway to work his magic.

Chances:  50%

 

Cincinnati Bengals, #11 Overall Pick

 

The Bengals are in a spot where they could keep the former Ohio State product in the state of Ohio and it could certainly happen.  Andy Dalton has been iffy over the last couple of season and his health is a huge concern.

Haskins is like a tank and he has been fortunate enough to not be seriously hurt by the injury bug.  Haskins to Green/Eifert has a nice ring to it and I am positive that a few Bengals fans would love it too.

Although the learn under the Super Bowl winning Quarterback does not apply here, he can stay in Ohio and he has a decent offense to work with Mixon being there for the handoffs in the running game.  Their defense will undergo a lot of changes, but with the addition of Haskins, you never know.

Chances:  85%

 

Miami Dolphins, #12 Overall Pick

The Dolphins moved on from Tannehill and they could get a steal with a plummeting Dwayne Haskins.  If all of the previous teams pass on him, I would be upset, but it is the name of the game.

He could learn under Ryan Fitzmagic for the time being before earning the starting job.  The offense is not as good as the other teams, but it the cupboard isn’t bare and Haskins could inject some energy into the team.

He also would have a good defense and he would reconnect with former Buckeye Linebackers Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan, which would be awesome to see at the next level.

Chances:  85%

 

Washington Redskins, #15 Overall Pick

The last team on the docket is the Washinton Redskins.  They have a lot of depth in the Quarterback room with Alex Smith recovering from a gruesome leg injury, the recent trade with Denver for Case Keenum and then there is Colt McCoy too.

The situation could get more complicated with the addition of Haskins, especially when having that many players at the same position.  The only way this would happen is to make draft day trades, but we shall see what they could manage.

If Haskins joins the fold, he would have a pretty explosive offense with a punishing running game.  The defense is always good in D.C.  He would learn under three Quarterbacks with varying levels of success in the league.

Chances:  25%

Dawn of A New Day at Ohio State

With the annual Spring Game just around the corner, there are many reasons to be excited about the 2019 team.  The biggest elephant in the room is the changing of the guard between Urban Meyer and Ryan Day.  In epic fashion, the keys were handed over to him, leaving Ohio State in more than capable hands to lead this new era of Ohio State football forward and onto big things.

From day one of taking the sticks from Coach Meyer, he assembled quite an impressive staff that returned only Brian Hartline, who is now their full-time wide receivers coach, Larry Johnson, who will act as the teams Associate Head Coach and the defensive shot-caller, Tony Alford, who returns to coach the Running Backs, Kevin Wilson, who is responsible for the Tight Ends and finally, Greg Studrawa, the O-Line head honcho.

The Buckeyes lost a few of their coaches.  Some were not retained and others left for jobs elsewhere, but I personally wish them the best, but they also managed to improve on the fly by poaching a couple of former rivals to add to the team in Greg Mattison and Al Washington.  They both jumped ship to help the team improve the play of the front seven.  Jeff Hafley was added to coach up the DB’s and he came after a stint with the 49ers.  Day also added the former Oklahoma State O-Coordinator Mike Yurich, who is a bright, young offensive mind who will be coaching the Quarterback room.

Coach Day has assembled a team comparable to the Avengers, with every coach being some form of a rising star or a threat to opposing coaches, with the core group of coaches acts as the foundation to ensure their potential is reached.  The offense has the potential to scorch teams and the defense has the depth to outlast teams in the trenches.  Excitement outweighs the dread, but we have to be patient.

Expectations:

Offense:

Even with a new Head Coach, the expectations at Ohio State remain sky-high.  That is what all coaches to don the Scarlet and Gray have hovering over their heads.  With a couple of pass-friendly and pass-happy coaching in tow, the Buckeyes have a potent group of coaches that will look to maximize their talent and play to their players strengths.

I fully expect a balanced offense that fall in the 55/45 model.  Balance is key and so is speed.  The Buckeyes are loaded at just about every level on offense and defense, but a 55% pass and 45% run gameplan could cause defenses to scramble or panic.  This would be awesome and as a fan I am excited to see what develops as the season inches closer.

Quarterback is a two-man race, with Fields likely to be the starter.  He is locked in a battle with Baldwin, but you just never know.  The odds are in his favor and it is his job to lose.  For Running Back, it is Dobbins’ show as the feature back with Teague, Crowley, and McCall vying for playing time.  This is not the deepest skill position at Ohio State.  The Wide Receivers room is stocked full of talent with Mack, Victor and Hill being the most experienced and young players like Olave, Gill, Wilson, Harris and Gardiner looking for snaps as well.  Tight End is also competitive with Farrell leading the way and Berry and Ruckert waiting in the wings.  The O-Line will have to find new starters and they have a lot of former four/five stars fighting for the jobs available, but Jonah Jackson, a Grad Transfer from Rutgers will be one of the key cogs along the line with Wyatt Davis.

Defense:

The defense is also very deep at every position.  With the addition of three new defensive coaches, their collective views will show in year one of the Day Era.  Not only have they stockpiled the talent over the years at Ohio State at just about every position, the position coaches have also been compiled and every coach on the roster either brings years of experience with them or is a rising young coach that got his shot at one of the best places in Ohio State.

The front four is beyond deep, even after the losses of Dre’Mont Jones and Nick Bosa.  Young returns, as Smith and Harrison continue to develop during the offseason.  Defensive Tackle is also deep with Landers returning and Vincent, Garrett and Togiai in tow, the look to get after opposing offenses by consistently harassing and disrupting opposing offenses.

The Linebackers also get a boost with a simplified defense that will allow them to fly around the field and make plays.  DB’s get a boost as well being taught to look back for the ball, which was part of the problem last year as they look to turn it around.  Playing faster will help the defense a lot and I cannot wait to see them dominate with the new scheme because the defense over the last couple of years has been so frustrating, but I believe it will revert back to the Silver Bullet standards over the next couple of seasons.

Special Teams:

I think with Haubeil and Chrisman at the forefront, the Buckeyes have game changers at their disposal.  The returner positions and gunners need to be identified and with recent struggles with fielding kicks, I hope they find sure-handed players that won’t make mistakes.  Either way, Special Teams is in good hands.

 

 

 

For The Roses: Coach Meyer’s Last Ride As HC

 

One last game.  One last moment.  It is time for us to all collectively take it all in–for the last time where Coach Meyer will spearhead the Scarlet and Gray in the mother of all games, The Rose Bowl.  This moment could be or feel bittersweet, but it is time for Coach Meyer to call it quits and what better send-off than a victory, especially a resounding victory at his first Rose Bowl?

This game will be filled with NFL caliber talent all over the field and on both teams.  There is a lot at stake and there are many storylines that could be the focus, but both teams are conference champs and both teams are vying for a Rose Bowl victory.  Coach Meyer’s last ride as the Buckeye Head Coach and Coach Petersen’s first shot at the Rose Bowl and against the Buckeyes.

QB Battle Brewing

With both teams vying for the win the talent at quarterback is key to eithers success on the field.  Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, a Heisman finalist in the end with a high draft grade and Jake Browning, a four-star with something to prove against an aggressive Buckeye defense that is both inconsistent and is seemingly finding their grove after that embarrassing loss at Purdue.

Haskins has been in the spotlight with all the draft talk stealing the majority of the headlines.  He has repeatedly been asked about his impending decision, but all of that will be placed on hold for the time being to ensure that all of his focus is on the Rose Bowl and not on his future endeavors, which is a smart move for all parties involved with the Buckeyes.

Browning made waves on one of his interviews where he explained that the Buckeye defense had “exploits” and “weaknesses” they discovered after reviewing the Purdue tape.  Yes, that game was by Iowa 2.0. and the defense was gashed the entire game, but teams improve and there should be small windows, but not the massive ones from the Purdue game.  He also didn’t say it to be disrespectful or give Ohio State bulletin board material, but these quotes will somehow make it on one for the game.

Either way, the battle at quarterback will be one to watch.  Both defenses are good, but the offenses can overshadow the defense easily with the big-play ability on both sides.  Both of their supporting cast members are electric, fast, and talented.  It will only add to the drama if things end up being close.  Ohio State wants to send their legendary coach on a good note so I would not be surprised if this game is out of reach early.

Playmakers Paradise

What game outside of the CFB Playoff teams has what seems like an endless roster filled with playmakers than Ohio State and Washington?  Both are talented teams filled  with NFL-type players that are looking to improve their draft stock or put on a show to remember.  Both teams have contrasting schemes and they will look to impose their will on the other team to ensure a victory.

For Ohio State, they rely on Haskins’ arm while sprinkling in the run by either Dobbins or Weber.  They will lean heavily on the running game to break it up a little and keep the defense on their toes.  The key unit will be Zone 6 and their three senior captains, Dixon, McLaurin, and Campbell–they will dictate the game for Haskins and the offense.  It will be up to the Washington defense to stop them but even if they do, the younger players waiting in the wings could also make an impact.  One of the biggest obstacles will be the Huskies defense because they are allowing 15.5 points per game, but we all saw what the Buckeyes did to the #1 ranked Wolverines defense.

For Washington, they focus on the run more than the passing attack.  Gaskin will be overutilized and he will be all over the field.  Running Backs like Gaskin can be Ohio State’s undoing and their Linebackers need to play disciplined to stop him.  They will end up giving up big plays but not the Purdue big plays because the Buckeyes are planning to send their coach with a win, and by all means they will achieve it.

Defense

The defense will be another phase of the game to watch because it is filled with NFL prospects.  Dre’Mont Jones is a future first round pick and he will be playing to end his career with his coach and his teammates.  Jordan Fuller, Kendall Sheffield, and Damon Arnette have not announced yet, but depending on what happens, they could also be playing their last game as a Buckeye.  The Buckeyes have improved a lot over the last few weeks and I am sure they are tired of the slights about their play, especially how the Purdue game keeps coming up.  They will look to silence everyone for Urban Meyer’s impeding departure.

The Washington defense is stout and filled with talent.  Led by the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American Ben Burr-Kirven, they will try to stop the Ohio State offense.  So far, Washington has allowed just 9 passing touchdowns the entire year, but with the caliber of Ohio State talent on every level of the offense, we will see if that holds up.

Prediction

So here is prediction time and this game contains the storyline that gives the Buckeyes the edge.  Your coach is leaving due to illness and is retiring to become the assistant AD and every player wants to send him out on the right note.  The Washington starting QB giving the defense some or more bulletin board material that will fire up the Silver Bullets for the contest.

This game will be close right before half before the Buckeyes pull away.  I also see the game getting out of hand before half, but I will go with the first prediction.  The second half adjustments will close the door on the Washington comeback charge.

Final Score:  55-24

Bucks by 90 by @MarkSamuelPrine

Since last spring, the coaching staff at Ohio State has reminded players to “Win the moment”. Urban Meyer has consistently sang that tune as recently as Friday at the Big Ten Championship press conference. When asked about whether the Buckeyes have to win big over Northwestern to have a chance at another College Football Playoff appearance, he maintained that their would be no talk of the playoff in Ohio State’s locker room. The Buckeyes will focus on one thing and one thing only; win the moment. Beat Northwestern. How then, should Ohio State go about beating Northwestern?

The wildcats do not have the most prolific offense we’ve ever seen. In fact, averaging only 23.7 points per game with a quarterback who has only thrown fourteen touchdowns this season means Northwestern is about as average as it gets offensively. However, while only scoring 284 points on offense to this point, the Wildcat defense has given up only 260 points all season. Which means, if my math is correct, Northwestern likes to play smash mouth football with just enough offense to get the W.  The biggest question for Northwestern will be whether or not their offense will be able to produce enough points against Ohio State’s middle-of-the-road defense, in order to squeeze out another victory; especially when it’s own defense will have it’s hands full with with the “second best” offense in the sport (obviously, I remain unimpressed by Oklahoma’s offense running up the score in the Big 12; but I digress).

Finally, one of the biggest advantages for OSU is the experience factor. With respect to experience in a conference championship game, Northwestern has none. This will be the first ever appearance by the Wildcats; while the Buckeyes will make their fourth appearance in six years. This matters because we know the moment shouldn’t be to big for the Buckeyes to go out and seize it. The average fan should look for Ohio State to score early and often, as Dwayne Haskins could have a huge game against the Wildcats’ back seven.

 

Prediction:

Dwayne Haskins: 70% or higher completion percentage. 400 yards and 4 TDs.

Mike Weber: 100 yards and two TDs

Bucks by 90.

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.