The Cincinnati Bearcats (1-0) VS The Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0)

After just a single week in the books, both Cincinnati and Ohio State are looking to add another win to their season record to begin the season 2-0.  Both teams came off of impressive wins a week ago and they would like to add to the momentum in this collision course of two of Ohio’s best college teams.  A lot is on the line with this matchup and this could be one of those hotly contested games that are sure to be packed full of dramatic twists and turns.

Luke’s Return Home

To start this bit, there is a lot of anticipation regarding the return of former player, former Defensive Coordinator, and former Interim Head Coach Luke Fickell.  You could say that he inadvertently brought us Urban Meyer after a dreadful 6-6 season, but I think those wounds healed after both Coach Meyer and Coach Fickell brought reigned in the 2014 College Football Playoff Championship.

He remained Coach Meyer’s Co-Defensive Coordinator up until he took the Head Coaching job for the Cincinnat Bearcats in December of 2016.  Now here we are, a face from the past who bled scarlet is has returned to face his old team, his alma mater and the new face of the team, Coach Ryan Day.  Will Coach Fickell be able to pull off the in-state upset over another good Buckeye team?  Or will he feel the wrath of the Buckeyes?

We all know that before he sets foot in the Shoe, he will have his team ready to go.  The offense looked legit too, so hopefully, they can contain them.  This will definitely be their first big test because the Ohio kids against Ohio State factor still always seems to haunt the Buckeyes.  Will the Buckeyes shut them down and play their first complete game of the season?  Or will they play with their heads on fire and go vanilla when they think the game is out of reach?

Ball Security Issue?

J.K. Dobbins may have played with aggression, but he did have a key giveaway that seemed to swing the momentum in FAU’s way in the second and third quarters.  Sure, he is playing fast and he is being more decisive when running, but what use is that after giving up a turnover?  Listen, I love the way he is running.  He is running hard, but he is also being impatient and is running straight into defenders.  He is running away from openings and being impatient–and that is what is the most frustrating part.

Dobbins is a beast, I will not deny that, but to be successful he needs to hit the holes fast after they have developed and most importantly, he should take better care of the ball.  He racked up 21 carries for 91-yards, he had a catch that went for 14-yards and he had a rushing score, so it’s not like I hate his play.  He goes up against a stout defensive unit that so happens to have a former coach.  He needs to buckle up for war.

Under The Lights

Justin Fields has been impressive, but under the lights in the Shoe, he needs to show a little more consistency in his game.  Like Dobbins, he has a bad exchange during an RPO play and it resulted in another turnover for the Buckeyes.  He played lights out for the first 6 minutes of the game but after that barrage of points, the FAU defense forced a string of punts that negated the offensive attack and the overall flow of the game for the Buckeyes.

By simply executing a variety of blitz packages that both pressured the offensive line and Fields.  Enter Coach Fickell and his band of Ohio kids that have a huge chip on their shoulder after being deemed as not good enough to don the scarlet and gray.  This could spell disaster for the Buckeyes in an early tilt and Fields’ first big test against a stout and motivated defense.  Can he overcome his inexperience?  Will he be able to dissect the Bearcats defense and avoid the sacks and the turnovers that they routinely get?  Malik Vann, a Cincinnati kid will be a player to watch and he will be looking to shut down the offense.

Defensive Struggle

The overall theme for this game revolves around the term “defense” and this could be one of those games where it is the key to winning.  The Silver Bullets flashed in week 1 and they did so well they gave some reps to the younger players to build their confidence.  There are a ton of talented reserve players, but I feel they need more to further develop because a few of there were getting worked in mop-up time.

Chase Young and company will be looking to control the trenches and they better play disciplined because one of those that got away so happens to be one of Cincinnati’s best playmakers.  Michael Warren II, an Ohio kid who got away was one that I particularly wanted and he is a major weapon for the Bearcats.  Desmond Ridder will attempt to confuse this potent Buckeye defense with his arms and his legs.  Can the Buckeyes shut them down?  Will it be another nail-biter?

Five Match-Ups To Watch

  • Fields vs Cincinnati DB’s
  • Dobbins vs Cincinnati Front Seven
  • Harrison/Borland/Werner vs Warren/Cincinnati TE’s in the seam
  • Arnette/Okudah/Wade vs Cincinnati WR’s
  • Slobs vs Cincinnati Front/Bliztes

PREDICTION

Buckeyes def. Cincinnati 52-20

  •  Fields: 19-26, 287 passing yards, 3 TD’s/10 carries, 68 yards, 1 TD
  •  Dobbins:  22 carries, 102 yards, 1 TD
  •  Defense:  3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 defensive TD (still want that!)

 

 

 

Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0) defeat Florida Atlantic Owls (0-1)

 

The Ryan Day Era at Ohio State has begun, and boy, you have to like what you just witnessed.  In a span of a couple of minutes, the Buckeyes erased any remaining concerns or doubts with the offense and its new additions.  You can also say the same for the defense as well because they played like their heads were on fire and with an urgency that we have all been crying for.  In a season of new, the Buckeyes went out and made somewhat of a statement in their season debut.  It wasn’t mistake-free football but after one game they looked pretty good, but now Coach Day has the tools to fix a few things as the season matures.

The Justin Fields Show

Justin Fields, a former 5-star dual-threat quarterback had high expectations for him coming out high school.  He chose to stay close to home and enrolled at the University of Georgia.  He sat behind fell behind Fromm and he then decided to use the transfer portal to find his next home for his shot to play.  Fields brought more expectations and some well-warranted hype after his decision to go to a university like Ohio State.

As soon as he arrived, Fields was tabbed to as Dwayne Haskins’ successor, but he had to beat out fellow transfer portal quarterback Gunnar Hoak.  Once named as the starter, the distractions were tuned out.  Fields began his Ohio State career with a bang as he racked up chunk plays on four straight drives to put the Buckeyes up 28-0.   Although a lovely sight to see, the FAU Owls eventually found their stride and forced a punt in consecutive drives–effectively rendering Ohio State ineffective on offense.

Fields’ speed was evident and his accuracy was noticeable.  He did not force any bad passes into tiny windows and he had the awareness to slide or run out of bounds to protect himself.  The depth at his position is fairly new and unproven, so at least he is aware of his importance.  18/25 for 234 yards, 12 carries for 61 yards, with 4 total touchdowns aren’t bad numbers, but there is certainly some room for improvement and I am confident that he will continue to improve as the season goes on.  He had a lateral pass that resulted in a fumble, but look for Coach Day to fine-tune the offense against Cincinnati.  It would be unrealistic if you think it was a perfect game for him, but he is well on his way to becoming an integral part of this offense.

Playmakers Paradise

The Buckeyes lost a lot of their offensive playmakers to the NFL after the 2018 season, but today they showed no dropoff in production.  Campbell, Dixon, and McLaurin were all team captains and the majority of the offense revolved around those three, but in 2019 they returned Hill, Victor, Saunders, and Mack to take their place as the pulse of the offense.  They also have a few younger stars like Olave and Wilson to add quality depth to the Zone 6 group to add some sizzle to the 2nd team offensive attack to keep opposing teams second-guessing.

The playmakers aren’t limited to just the guys in Zone 6, we saw a re-emergence with the Tight End group and we witnessed an uptick in their usage.  Former #1 Tight End Jeremy Ruckert gathered his first two TD’s in a good showing during year two.  He finished the game with 4 catches for 38 yards and two scores.

The Cadillac position or Tote Nation also showed out and had 178 total yards and two TD’s between the four backs, which is good, but they were far from perfect due to the Dobbins fumble that might have swung the momentum in FAU’s favor for a short period of time.  What could be Dobbins’ last year, he was noticeably more decisive when carrying the rock.  He looks bigger and stronger, and he runs with more purpose and aggression.  His stablemates McCall, Teague, and Crowley all showed out as well, gaining the tough, hard-fought yardage putting any doubts about the future in check.

Trench Warfare

The Slobs have been iffy and after numerous losses in the trenches, the Buckeyes had to re-build the Offensive Line when they returned a single starter in Thayer Munford.  The new-look line features a bunch of former 5 stars and they look like a talented and deep group.  From the left to right, Munford, former Rutgers guard Jackson, Myers, Davis, and Bowen look to re-establish the Slob standard in 2019.  They blocked well in the beginning before getting lazy as the game progressed.  It gave me a bit of hope but like all things, it is a work in progress this early into the season and they gave up a couple of sacks in the process.

On the opposite end of the trenches, the Rushmen played spectacularly and to their standard lead by Chase Young.  Young himself gathered 1.5 sacks by himself and his position group had a total of 4 for the game.  They are definitely playing with the urgency even after the departure of Dre’Mont Jones and Nick Bosa.  They had a few key players that were banged up and unable to play, but the future of this position is bright.

Back Seven Improvement

The back seven of the defense became the running theme of the 2018 season because they were plain bad.  Poor angles, missed tackles and chunk plays plagued them the entirety of the season and naturally, they would be one of the major stories coming into the 2019 season.  After a single game, they improved under Coach Mattison, Coach Washington, and Coach Hafley simplifying things to make them read and diagnose plays quicker.  It worked and they look like the Silver Bullets of old, flying all around the field and making sure tackles time after time.

The new zone scheme and the DB’s tracking the ball has helped, but later in the game the seams were ripe for the picking and FAU was able to move the ball.  Like every other topic, it is a work in progress because it was far from perfect.  Werner showed his speed but he overran the play and missed out on a sack in the second half.  The improvement is obvious and back-up Safety Josh Proctor came away with a turnover, so it’ll get better–I promise you.

Overall Analysis

The Buckeyes are 1-0 with many pluses and a few negatives, but they are minor fixes.  Fields played good and the offense clicked with him at the helm, but the dropoff after the scorching start was evident.  The Running Backs are beasts that all play hard, but ball security needs to be in their minds after turning it over.  Zone 6 and it’s Tight Ends are going to be hard to account for and they bring a needed balance to the offensive attack.  Finally, the defense played well and if they continue to improve, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

 

The FAU Owls (0-0) VS The Ohio State Buckeyes (0-0)

We are now within 24-hours folks!  We all have waited and seen the offseason develop and now we are so close to game time, I can barely contain myself–and I am positive that you all can’t do it either!  After another offseason that featured a few more key players departing to live their dreams in the NFL, I cannot begin to tell you how much they will be missed, but we will be fine.  Talent at Ohio State comes and goes, but they always restock to perceived “bare” cupboard.  Let’s see how the cupboard stacks up against the Florida Atlantic Owls in my new 24-hour preview with five burning storylines.

The transfer portal savior comes in as the first and probably the most important on this makeshift board of mine.  The “bare” cupboard (the quarterback room) was one of the major storylines that haunted the Buckeyes in the offseason and with the sudden departure of Matthew Baldwin, the position looked grim, but the Buckeyes added the aforementioned Fields and Hoak to bolster their depth, with Fields beating out Hoak for the starting position for the Buckeyes.

Fields certainly has the hype behind him, even before the spring game, but he seems poised to become the leader of this offensive charge.  He will replace Dwayne Haskins who left to become the Redskins’ first-round pick.  Fields has the wheels to run and the gun to sling the ball to his playmakers, but will we see a slow-developing rise?  Or will he come out guns blazing in what could be a tune-up match with an overmatched Owls team?

J.K. Dobbins returns from what he himself has called as a sub-par season at the Buckeyes Cadillac position, he will attempt to redeem himself in the 2019 season.  In a season where he logged 1,053 rushing yards and 263 yards receiving, he is looking for more yardage in what could be his last season at Ohio State.  He will look to best his 12 TD total to establish himself as a legendary Buckeye RB and leave his mark.

He is a shifty runner and he can handle passes out of the backfield, which suits the offensive scheme.  He will be leaned upon heavily to occupy the defenders in the box IF Fields cannot sustain the aerial assault, Dobbins will start up the ground assault, but he has reinforcements in long-forgotten Demario McCall and Master Teague.  They also have two-studs in Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers lying in wait if or when the game gets out of hand.  Can this stable of backs, especially the Dobbins make an immediate impact?  Can they place the game out of reach to earn some rest to prepare for a tough game against Cincy and their former coach?

The question is will the Slobs play to their usual standard?  The Slobs are usually great year in and year out, but with the departure Prince, Jordan, and Knox, can the next generation of slobs live up to the expectation and help Dobbins gash offenses?  With a nearly-new starting five of Munford, Jackson, Myers, Davis, and Bowen can they be another nasty starting five?

Branden Bowen has healed from his season-ending injury a season ago, and he has thrust himself into a starting role beating former five-star Nicholas Petite-Frere for the job.  He does have the potential to go out with a bang and what better opportunity than this season with being an integral part of a potentially lethal offense?  His fellow slobs are also fighting to retain their reputation as Munford returns to man to blindside, former Rutgers stud enters the fray as the starting Left Guard, another former five-star talent in Myers finally grabs a starting role at Center and the same for Davis at Right Guard.  The depth is there as well, but for now, the starters will look to secure the trenches for Fields and Dobbins.  Can they live up to the standard or even exceed it as the season winds down.

Damon Arnette left NFL money for another season for redemption in the Scarlet and Gray.  The story a year ago was his inability to cover and the consistent penalties incurred, but with a new position coach in Hafley, he had to come back to prove himself.  He, along with Okudah and Wade have all secured their usual spots can the trio regain their BIA swag?  Or will they fall further away from the standard that has been a constant for the past few years?

On the back end, at the Safety positions, Jordan Fuller also turned down the NFL for one more season at Ohio State.  He will pair up with Brendon White, who broke out last season and became an impact player once he received his shot.  Can they DB’s reduce the poorly-timed penalties and live up to the BIA reputation?  Or will they go through the growing pain along the way with their new secondary coach?  Will the takeaways become their specialty once again?  Or will they continue to get gashed by opposing the offensive playmakers time and time again?  Can they stop the constant bleeding and negate those same playmakers?

Lastly, to go along with the defense, can the Linebacking Corps recover from what was a horrible year from the defensive side of the ball–particularly with the play from this group.  Tuf Borland and Pete Werner always seemed to be out of position and opposing offenses picked on them.  Will they be able to put those worries to rest with two more new, but familiar coaches in Washington and Mattison?  Can they be counted on since they have regained their roles as starters?

Another question is can the backups get some reps to carve out their roles once the game gets out of hand?  Make no mistake, the trio of Pope, Browning, and Mitchell are ballers, but they fell behind the seasoned vets who were starters a year ago and that it is nothing to be ashamed about.  They will most likely carve out crucial roles as backups, but the trio of thumpers will be something to watch during mop-up duty.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them inserted into starting roles later in the season if nothing changes for the defense.

PREDICTION:

Ohio State defeats FAU 49-13.

Ohio State will start out rusty and eventually right the ship, both on offense and defense.  The starters will gain much-needed reps and put the game out of reach by halftime and then earn well-deserved rest in the third quarter.  Fields will rack up 210 yards through the air with a pair of TD’s and 45 yards on the ground.  Dobbins will tear it up and go for a minimum of 100 yards and a TD with a couple of catches out of the backfield.  Hill and Zone 6, along with the TE’s will be used frequently in a balanced attack, scoring at least three times.  The defense will start up slowly, but they will eventually regain their swagger and have a game.  3 sacks, 2 interceptions, and a forced fumble, and one would result in a defensive score.  The backups will gain valuable experience in clean-up duty and they will score twice more to secure the win.

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.