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.

Olave’s anticipated Tiger rematch: By Mike Scharf

December 28, 2019… State Farm Stadium… 29-23. 29-23. 29-23:

That final score has been entrenched throughout Woody Hayes Athletic Center. On the walls in the locker room, in the weight room. 

Everywhere. 

This score hasn’t left the Buckeyes team’s eyes since a last-minute interception in last year’s Fiesta Bowl ended their national championship hopes. 

This Buckeye team seeks redemption after having a bad taste in their mouth from last season’s clash with the Clemson Tigers, and none other than star wide receiver Chris Olave seeks it more than most.

Last season, Olave spoke up that he broke his route in last year’s Fiesta Bowl as he turned left instead of continuing his route thinking his quarterback took off to scramble which led to a Justin Fields’ interception right in the hands of Clemson’s defensive back Nolan Turner in the endzone securing a Tigers victory and national championship appearance.

As the NFL draft was looming, there was no denying in the mind of Olave what he was going to do—he came back to Ohio State to show everyone what he can do.

Olave met with the media ahead of the 2020 season expressing his love for Ohio State and the chip he has from last season’s disheartening loss:

“I care so much about this team, this university,” Olave said, “I don’t think I’ve gotten over it still (Fiesta Bowl loss), and I still got that chip on my shoulder and I want to show the world”.

Olave explained he found himself working out 2-3 times a day, trying to take his mind off things.

This Buckeye team knows who the underdog is and relishes it. The odds have been stacked against this group all season and they are ready to prove the world wrong.

In the Sugar Bowl trailer, narrated by Chris Olave, he acknowledge the team embraces the underdog narrative.

“We know you don’t want to see us here, and we know you don’t give us a chance. That’s fine,” said Olave. “After all we fought through, we just need one chance. A second chance.”

CO2 is ready.

Sugar Bowl X-Factor: Defense by Mike Scharf

There’s no denying Ohio State’s defense had a slow start to this 2020 season, which was predicted due to seven starters taking their talents to the NFL which included two of the top three picks in Chase Young, and Jeff Okudah.

Along with Okudah and Young, the Buckeyes lost Damon Arnette, Jordan Fuller, Malik Harrison, Jashon Cornell and Davon Hamilton to the 2020 NFL draft.

The loss of stars and slow start to the season didn’t stop the Silver Bullets from picking up rhythm and improving as a team through the abnormal 2020-COVID season.

The following is currently the Buckeyes’ defensive stats:

  • Total Defense: 34
  • Scoring Defense: 24 (Tied)
  • Passing Defense: 104
  • Rush Defense: 7
  • 3rd Down Defense: 19
  • Sacks Per Game: 26 (Tied)

In order for a Sugar Bowl victory and appearance in the 2020 National Championship, the Buckeyes defense needs to step up and execute the game plan for Trevor Lawrence’s high-powered Clemson Tiger offense.

Here are a few X-Factors defensively that could lead the Buckeyes’ to victory come Friday night.

Jonathan Cooper – Tommy Togiai – Haskell Garrett (Defensive Line)

Chase Young is dominating on Sunday’s for the Washington Football team and early on the Buckeyes faced problems replacing his 16.5 sacks from last season. That being said, the front seven has been dominate of late and the strong unit for the Buckeyes. (As noted above, they are 7th in the country in rush defense.) The experience and leadership of fifth-year senior Jonathan Cooper has been enormous all season long and will continue into championship season. Cooper has 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks on the season. The dominate-duo of the interior between Tommy Togiai and Haskell Garrett has been the biggest x-factor for the Buckeyes all season long and will cause disruption in the Tigers backfield. Togiai and Garrett have a combined 36 tackles and 5 sacks.

Pete Werner – Tuf Borland (Linebackers)

The Buckeye linebackers are a veteran group led by seniors Pete Werner and Tuf Borland. Werner leads the team with 37 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and one sack. Borland is second with 26 tackles, and 1.5 sacks. Both Werner and Borland are a big reason why the Buckeyes have played well against the run this season. These two, along with Baron Browning face their biggest test of the season Friday with the read option of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Lawrence and Etienne have a combined rushing of 1,103 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The Buckeyes veteran group of linebackers are led by seniors Pete Warner and Tuf Borland. Warner leads the team with 37 tackles along with 2.5 TFL and one sack. Borland is second on the team with 26 tackles along with 1.5 sacks. These two, along with Baron Browning are a substantial reason why the team has played so well against the run this season. The biggest test will be this Friday as they look to contain the read option between Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Lawrence and Etienne have a combined rushing of 1,103 yards and 20 touchdowns this season for the Tigers.,,

Shaun Wade (Secondary)

This is a redemation game for Shaun Wade. Although, the talk of this year’s Buckeyes has been the secondary and the struggles they faced at times. The starting corners from last year’s defense were Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette as they were both drafted in the first round last April. Along with those two the Buckeyes lost, Jordan Fuller, who was a dominate force at safety for last year’s secondary. The struggles have been apparent for the secondary, but the Buckeyes have picked it up led behind the fifth-year senior and future first-rounder Shaun Wade. Wade will be coming into this game LASER focused as he is looking for his redemption against the Tigers. Last year, during the Fiesta Bowl, Wade was called for a controversial targeting call on Trevor Lawrence which led to be the turning point of the game in favor for the Tigers. Wade has 20 tackles and 2 interceptions on the season.

Final Analysis

Wade won’t be the only one looking for redemption. This Buckeye defense, along with these X-Factors will come in determined to prove something. Not only have the media questioned the creditability of the Buckeyes due to the fact they only played six games.

Clemson Tigers’ head coach, Dabo Swinney added some fuel to the fire. Swinney ranked the Buckeyes 11th on the coaches’ poll ballot and stood by that decision saying “I didn’t rank anybody who didn’t play nine games or more in the top 10. That’s why they were 11. I have all the respect in the world for Ohio State.” — The Buckeyes will be ready.

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