Fandom Origins: RJ Tongohan

Fans often are so attached to teams and this fan is definitely addicted to anything Ohio State, but would it be crazy to know that I wasn’t always an Ohio State fans? Would it shock you to know that little detail about me, a writer that has been following and writing about Ohio State? Well believe it and here is my comic book-ish origin story for those who have followed me and have enjoyed my fan perspective content over the years.

So to set the stage, I was born and raised in Guam, a U.S. territory located in the Pacific Ocean. I was raised on basketball and knew little about football. The only teams I knew of were the Cowboys and the Dolphins in the NFL. I joined the military in 2005 and I became a Broncos fan by default when watching a Chargers/Broncos game on Turkey Day while attending tech school for my job in the Air Force. He was a Chargers fans and being me, I picked the other team and rolled with it.

Fast forward to my first duty stationed or base, I was stationed at Nebraska in December 2005 and I knew nothing about college football. The husker fans around me were annoying and I watched college football casually but I had no favorite team. Now after watching on and off, I tuned into an Ohio State game in 2006 and I was hooked on them instantly. #10, #7, #28, #33 and #2 reeled me in and that is how I developed my affinity for Ohio State everything.

The offense dazzled. I remember watching Troy Smith slinging and running it, Ted Ginn Jr’s electric skills every time he touched the ball and Beanie Wells dashing past and running over TTUN defenders. The defense was a forced to be reckoned with with stalwarts like James Laurinaitus being involved in every defensive play and Malcolm Jenkins shutting one half of the field down as a shutdown corner.

These are my fondest moments as a fan and it came with its highs and lows. Highs were defeating TTUN consistently, a streak that has few blemishes. I didn’t live through the Cooper years but I did my research and I pray I never see times like those. Demolishing Clemson last year was also another awesome moment and obviously the crowned jewel was winning it all in 2014.

The lows? I’ll start with 2011’s Fickell season and the last loss at the hands of TTUN. There were also the losses to LSU and Florida in the championship games. Add the Bama loss and the Clemson shutout to that, but it has never stopped me from switching teams.

I have been writing for five years and I have stayed loyal to a smaller, lesser known company in the Men Of The Scarlet And Gray or MOTSAG. I sometimes wish for an opportunity to join the ranks of a bigger company but it is unlikely and I’m okay with that. I cannot wait to see what is in store for me and the future but it’s been awesome and I’ve met some cool people on the way. Here’s to more content and I hope you enjoyed this little spin. Look for all my companions to follow suit.

#GoBucks

Tongohan’s 6 Spring Tings

Spring games are used to build players and to showcase their progress after the winter workouts have concluded. Now after the spring game, players are vying for starting positions and trying to separate themselves among the pack. With multiple starting positions up for grabs, you could expect to show out—and a few players caught my eye. I am no pro scout or anything but as a fan, I am pleased with what I saw for the future. Here’s how we saw it a MOSTAG.

1. Quarterback Battle Intensifies

Stroud, Miller and McCord all have the tools to become the heir to Justin Fields’ vacant starting gig. Hear me out. Stroud and Miller have a slight leg up while learning under Fields and they have some in-game experience, but neither has thrown a pass as a Buckeye. McCord is a true freshman with the capacity to learn quickly and urgently to overtake the two redshirt freshman, but it’s too easy to tell and this battle should bleed into the fall.

Stroud, the odds favorite to succeed Fields had an efficient game and finished with over 100 passing yards and a touchdown strikes to Marvin Harrison Jr and Joe Royer. The poise and confidence was there but Miller and McCord proved their cases as well.

Miller started efficiently as you could. He brought his team up into the red zone but was picked off by Watts after forcing a pass to Wilson. After the pick, his decisiveness resurfaced but he was held to 100 yards and no touchdowns. Mistakes happen and the future cannot be predicted. Miller needs to take it all in and push forward like his competitors.

Finally, McCord started with a bang. A 40 or 50 yard bomb to Wilson who ended up getting the wind knocked out of him on what to me was one of my favorite plays of the game—and what a way to introduce yourself young man! McCord brought that sauce and he too went for 100+ yards with a strike to Smith-Njigba. He is a gamer that could surprise folks.

The scout team players also got some play and Andrade and LaRoe flexed their skills. Both were efficient and it looked cerebral at times. Sure, it was against other scout players and a few scholarship players but to cap off the game LaRoe hit Wiglusz for a spinning walk-off score to end the day. What a tremendous play and way to send fans out on a high note.

2. Hartline’s War Chest

Brian Hartline is by far the best recruiter on the Buckeye staff and he has proved it over the last 3-4 recruiting cycles as he seamlessly stockpiles and develops his talent at the wide receiver position. For perspective, in 3 of 4 of these years, he reeled in at least one big fish each cycle. By big fish, I mean a five-star fish and Egbuka (2021) Fleming (2020), Smith-Njigba (2020) and Wilson (2019) are the big fish that he has stockpiled in recent classes. This season, he has Olave and Wilson so he can afford to get these younger players ready for their time after the aforementioned two depart for the pros.

Out of all the receivers, I’d say that Egbuka and Harrison showed out with a combination of tough catches and route running prowess. For Egbuka, his run after catch talent was evident and Harrison’s polished route running makes the future bright for the offense and for zone 6.

3. Cadillac Backs

So the running back position struggled a bit after the departure of JK Dobbins. Injuries have ravaged the position, but with fully recovered players in Chambers and Crowley, a returning mayhem meatball (Williams), and two talented true freshman in Henderson and Pryor—the future is bright for this group as well.

Henderson stood out as a pass catcher, Chambers broke off a sizzling run, mayhem meatball didn’t stray away from contact and Pryor’s effort to make plays stood out. Pryor did not have any wow plays, but none the less he showed up.

4. The Jack Sawyer Show

So tap football was different but Sawyer had himself a day. He was disruptive and as he reeled in 4-5 sacks with one being a strip sack that would’ve led to a turnover. He did not play last season, but he is as advertised. He set-up his pass rush moves and got to his target occasionally.

Although Smith and Harrison are ahead, I can see him in sub packages to spell either of the two. He is too valuable to leave off of the field and although it’s a spring game—he was an impressive player. A high motor, relentless type of player that could be the next rushman star of the future.

5. Secondary Flashes

With Shaun Wade leaving, a hole remains in the secondary. Johnson and Banks remain, but they were not playing today. Watts and Burke got some reps and they did well enough to be mentioned. Watts picked off Miller in the first quarter and Burke got best here and there but he got some valuable reps.

Ransom flashed again and nearly picked off a pass one-handed while in zone coverage. Although they weren’t perfect, the future is still bright. The Buckeyes have a couple of more defensive backs that have yet to show up, so we won’t truly know what we have in that room. All I know is they have the talent to be better in pass defense after getting torched last season and finishing 116th in the nation. I feel like they will have a massive chip of their shoulder to reclaim the BIA title.

6. Kicking Woes

So With Haubiel and Chrisman departing for the pros, enter Jake Seibert and Jesse Mirco to replace them. Mirco had no issues but the Seibert went 0-2, missing wide on both field goal attempts. His extra points were good but the kicking game should be better than that.

You never know when a game would rest on the leg of the kicker and I think he needs some work to build confidence during crunch time. Special teams and field flipping are staples of the Ohio State game plan—so moving forward, I think Day will focus on this aspect of the game.


MOTSAG Draft Profiles: Justin Fields

With the 2021 NFL Draft fast approaching, the odds of a Buckeye getting drafted are pretty high—especially after the championship run this past season. Although the game did not go as planned, the legacy of the outbound players cannot be underestimated and their achievements speak for themselves. Here are just a few tidbits about each draft eligible Buckeyes starting with Justin Fields.

Although the scoreboard failed to showcase his improvements, Justin Fields’ had plenty of good plays that were captured on tape. His intangibles are good enough to be a great, productive quarterback in the NFL and he could potentially break the stigma for future Ohio State Quarterbacks.

Fields is accurate from deep and he has improved his mid and short range accuracy as well. The know of locking onto his first receiver is a thing of the past because he has shown that he is actively coming off of the first receiver and is working through his progressions. Yes, sacks and holding onto the ball is bad but Fields has the potential to be a good one in the future. Pack in the speed and toughness—and you have a durable player with leadership capabilities and the concept I’ve drive to help your team turn things around.

If oddsmakers have it right, there is very little chance Justin Fields winds up a New England Patriot after the 2021 NFL Draft says Paruk from SportsBettingDime.com had mentioned. After the 49ers traded up to #3, they became -150 favorites to take the Ohio State pivot. The Patriots were not among the other eight teams listed. That’s because the chances of Fields lasting until the 15th-overall pick are basically nil, as is Bill Belichick’s history of trading up in the draft.

The NFL Draft is never lacking in drama, but there many teams looking for a future signal caller/playmaker. Fields fits the mold in being one of those future stars and all he needs is to hear his name to begin putting in the work.

PROS:

  • Deep ball accuracy/placement
  • Durability
  • Athleticism/Speed
  • Leadership Qualities
  • Arm Strength

CONS:

  • Holds onto ball too long/Eats sacks

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

Battered Justin Fields out shines Lawrence, setting up clash with Crimson Tide

Some players use criticism and comparisons to fuel their performance. Justin Fields did just so in Ohio State’s dominant 49-28 victory over the Clemson Tigers in the Sugar Bowl.

The comparisons and competition between Fields and Trevor Lawrence has been on display since the two were the best prospects in the 2018 recruiting class.

Lawrence has been the consensus number one pick for this upcoming NFL draft after Fields showed some weaknesses against ranked Indiana and Northwestern as he threw a combined 5 interceptions which was more then he had all of last season.

This, last year’s Fiesta Bowl clash, and Dabo’s ranking of Ohio State was more than enough fuel Fields needed for this CFB semifinal Friday night.

If he wasn’t already for his 19-1 record as a Buckeye heading into this game, Fields officially locked himself as a Buckeye legend for this gutsy performance.

Fields took off scrambling and took a big hit to the ribs from linebacker James Skalski that left him in a lot of pain through the course of the game. Fields missed one play before coming back in continuing to dominate.

Fields ended the night throwing 22-for-28 with 385 yards and Sugar Bowl record-six touchdowns.

Fields-Lawrence Battle

The first competition between Fields and Lawrence took place in high school at the Elite 11, where Fields was crowned MVP.

Lawrence took advantage of the second round after beating Fields and the Buckeyes in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.

Fields broke the 1-1 tie breaker in dominating fashion between the two Friday night as the Buckeyes advanced to the national title game against the Alabama Crimson Tide.