#MOTSAGRising Depth Chart Preview: Linebackers

Today friends we will be talking Linebackers and boy oh boy–they are deep at experienced at these positions! The Buckeyes have Captain Tuf Borland, Pete Werner, and Baron Browning taking up starting roles at the Linebacker. I am positive that Borland will take the lead at the Mike and both Werner and Browning would each be on the outside.

Behind them will be another talented group of back-ups in Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell, and Justin Hilliard. Behind them talent is still there and Tommy Eichenberg, Melton Mitchell, K’Vaughan Pope, Cody Simon, Craig Young, Trayvon Wilburn, and Cade Kacherski will be there to learn their own respective positions.

As starters, the collection of Borland, Browning, and Werner are one of the most experienced groups in the nation when considering both, the total downs being played and the impact plays they have made. Borland taking up middle will place a capable player to lead and call the audibles and the plays. Coming off a severe injury, he did well, but as a healthy body–I think he will do better this season.

Browning was playing at the Mike, but he will find himself on the outside and I think he will wreak havoc. Think how amazing it was to have Darron Lee–and I think it’ll be a similar fit scheme-wise and he will impact games for the Buckeyes. Browning was one of those players that has been buried by ballers ahead of him and this year will potentially be his last year with the program. He pondered leaving after last season, but like all others–he has returned for one last run.

Lastly, Pete Werner is like a missile that can cover and rush the passer. A Swiss Army Knife, Werner will also be used to disarm potent offenses that they will face this season within the conference. I think he will blitz more often than normal and he will do well against slot receivers, tight ends, and even backs out of the backfield. He may do it all this season in what also should be his last year with the program.

The Buckeyes second team are all great talents too! Hilliard has been through a lot, with injuries taking him out repeatedly but last year he was healthy and he balled out! This is his last season and he will make an impact with whatever role he is assigned. Dallas Gant is another star that was buried by the depth and talent ahead of him, but this is his season to shine to gain some consideration for next season. A speedy, coverage guy who is willing to get his nose dirty–he will be vying for time in the middle. Finally, for the second outside spot, I think talented thumper Teradja Mitchell is a shoo-in for that one.

Think about who could surprise us all too. I would think Pope will be that guy to make huge splash plays when asked to. Eichenberg and Young will also be leaned on once the starters are spelled when games get out of hand. Talented freshmen Mitchell and Simon could also be used on special teams to get a handle while the upperclassmen work. As I stated before I began, the talent is immense and they have a lot of it.

On the recruiting trail, ILB Reid Carrico will join the team in the summer. In the summer of 2022, a trio of talented player Dasan McCullough, C.J. Hicks, and Gabe Powers are all committed to uphold the tradition of being stellar players at their respective positions. This should excite us all and I cannot wait to see who the 2021 and 2022 classes finish off with. For now lets enjoy the season.

#GoBucks

#MOTSAGRising Depth Chart Preview: The Slobs

In today’s installment its all about the Slobs. This years offensive attack will be co-dependent on the ability of the entire offensive line to win their match-ups in the trenches. This group one of the most talented in the nation and Justin Fields will be hoping to rev things up when the season is officially underway. 10 more days left until Nebraska at home. This unit has definitely will have a championship-caliber team that can control games entirely, but again–we shall see.

The offensive line will return Wyatt Davis, who opted out due to the uncertainty of the 2020 season even happening. As the lone Captain on the offensive line at Right Guard, he will lead by example with Center Josh Myers and Left Tackle Thayer Munford also returning for what many consider “their last ride” in the scarlet and gray.

Although the trio of Davis, Myers, and Munford is wonderful, they have two available spots up for grabs at the Left Guard and Right Tackle spots, but they do not have a shortage in talent to fill them. At Guard, the Buckeyes have Harry Miller, Enokk Vimahi, Gavin Cupp, and Ryan Jacoby. The first three are in a competition for the two deep, while the latter falls behind. Davis in the depth chart.

If I were a betting man, I’d give it to Miller by virtue of setting up Vimahi as the back-up. Not a slight, but I can see Myers doing his thing and then leaving for the draft, and Miller either slides in at Center or he dukes it out with Matthew Jones. Vimahi would then slide into the starting spot or battle it out with Cupp next season. Either way, the talent for this spot is there for the Buckeyes.

At Right Tackle, Nicholas Petit-Frere gets the nod with Big Thanos Dawand Jones right behind him. Big Thanos had flashes at Left Tackle, but with his athleticism and agility he’d fit on either side, but for the future Right Tackle is his spot for now. Jones would have the nod over Max Wray, who would fall behind him for third on the depth chart.

If you are keeping score the first team would look like this, from the left side of the line to the right: Munford, Miller, Myers, Davis, and then Petit-Frere. The second team in the same order would be: Johnson, Vimahi, M. Jones, Cupp, and then D. Jones. So basically two versions of the Monstars that will basically maul people, but I will try not to get too ahead of myself.

With the Buckeyes in general, attrition would be a factor in this position as we’ve seen it over the past few years. Yes, the Buckeyes are loaded, but sometimes players look elsewhere for consistent playing time. They are developed and ready to go, but they haven’t received their shot yet. Hopefully that is not the case, but we won’t know.

Ahead of the 2020 COVID season, the Buckeyes have started much later than anticipated or expected, but we all know they are ready to go. We have all seen the videos and it hasn’t changed my mind about what I personally think the season would look like, but again–I am containing myself and reserving judgement until 10 days from now.

There are also a few studs in the 2020 class still in the fold too. The trio of Donovan Jackson, Ben Christman, and Zen Michalski currently committed, more talent is on its way. They may close out with the trio, but big names are still out there despite being close to being out of the running. Until it becomes official you just never know in recruiting. Stay tuned until either National Signing Days and just enjoy it.

#GoBucks

#MOTSAGRising Depth Chart Preview: Wide Receivers

Alrighty folks–it’s Zone 6 time and I am on deck with the preview at the Wide Receiver position! This is by far my favorite position to cover and I am gushing over the fact that I get to do this. Not only does this room have a superior Coach in Brian Hartline, he has also amassed a ton of talented players that will make noise in this very moment or later down the road. Sure, there will be injuries and attrition, but being able to polish their skills over the course of their time with Coach Hartline–its only a matter of time until they are unleashed.

Wide Receivers: Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Mookie Cooper, Julian Fleming, Gee Scott Jr, Demario McCall, Ellijah Gardiner, Jaylen Harris, Kamryn Babb, Jameson Williams, Sam Wiglusz, Alec Taylor, Austin Kutscher, Marvin Davies, Chris Booker

  • WR-X: Garrett Wilson, Gee Scott Jr, Jameson Williams
  • WR-Z: Chris Olave, Julian Fleming, Kamryn Babb
  • H-B: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Mookie Cooper, Demario McCall

As I stated earlier, there is a ton of talent in this group, and by me leaving out a couple of talented players from this depth chart. At WR-X Garrett Wilson is the leading candidate that could move into the H-Back position if needed. Behind him is talented freshman Gee Scott Jr and Jameson Williams. The next person would be Jaylen Harris as the fourth player in line. This is a group of players that excels at making tough, contested catches routinely with the added ability to gain separation from defenders. Wilson has been a star and he can definitely groom Scott, Williams, and Harris to take their game up a notch.

At the WR-Z it is Chris Olave taking the lead once again with Julian Fleming and Kamryn Babb behind him. The fourth in this group would be Ellijah Gardiner. Olave returns to close his career out on a high note after the end of the Fiesta Bowl. He will lead by example in an effort to win it all this season and he will mentor Fleming, Babb and Harris in the process–like what Wilson is doing. Pay particular attention to Babb to come back strong after injury-plagued seasons. He is another talented player that has been buried by injuries and was left behind with the stockpile of talent at the position. I have a good feeling that he would have a Johnny Dixon type of end to his career–so watch out for him.

Finally, at the H-Back position, Jaxon Smith-Njigba will get the first shot as the new H-Back. Behind him is another talented freshman in Mookie Cooper and Redshirt Senior Demario McCall. Depending on what the offense wants to do, I could see Wilson or Olave filling in at this position to give others a shot at the X and Y positions, but for now, Smith-Njigba and Cooper will get the first shot at it.

This collection of talent is great and I think they’ll put up some Madden stats up if used properly. They will run a balanced offensive attack, but I expect big things from Zone 6 for years to come. There is a lot of potential and I cannot wait for them to unleash it.

#GoBucks

Ohio State Buckeyes 2020 Schedule

Revised BIG Ten schedule 2020. Credit: @BIGfootball (Twitter)

I know we are a week late, but with under a month away from the start of the Big Ten season, I have returned with a preview of the 2020 season. Although the Big Ten will start much later than the ACC, Big 12, and the SEC. October 24th will be the beginning of an odd 2020 season, and if you are like me, I would rather have Buckeye football as opposed to not having none of it in the fall.

In an eight game slate, the schedule as a whole is balanced. Yes, it is an easier than expected path with no prime time games (at Oregon), but as I said earlier, I’d rather have football over having none of it. With the schedule, the Buckeyes should have an easy path to an undefeated regular season, but on the side of caution, I would take it game by game.

I am not casting doubt on the team and I believe they are one of the best teams in the nation, but only they could trip themselves up this season. They have a plethora of weapons on offense and an experienced defensive unit in tow. The icing on the cake? They managed to convince Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis to return for one last ride for another Championship run. Here is a breakdown of the upcoming season.

Home Games: Nebraska, Rutgers, Indiana and TTUN

The home game slate is highly favorable with the Buckeyes facing a perennial bottom feeder in Rutgers, who brought back Greg Schiano to accelerate the rebuilding process. They also have brought Brendon White in to help as well. He was a star in the making that got lost in the shuffle due to his size and lack of speed, but I feel he fits Schiano’s scheme and will excel in the defense.

They also face two mid-tier teams in Indiana and Nebraska, which should be interesting to watch. Indiana always seems to be game for contests with the Buckeyes, against their former Head Coach Kevin Wilson. For some odd reason, they always give the Buckeyes fits, but this year could be different with the Buckeyes vying for another dominant season.

Nebraska on the other hand has beaten the Buckeyes once in their time in the Big Ten. The last loss was in 2011 and I see an improved offense showing up, but the talent gap is still too large to win the game. The conference big wigs may have gotten the last laugh after Nebraska made some waves by suing and threatening to leave the conference. Let us just say they got the last laugh by giving them the Buckeyes for their first game. Allies turned into enemies for at least the first week of the upcoming season.

To finish the home slate, the TTUN comes to Columbus for another installment of The Game. This one game is always interesting and this year will be no different. In the typical TTUN style, they are already licking their chops and after the “100-point” rumor starting spiraling out of control, certain team captains are trying to turn in around to end the skid. They have suffered some major losses with COVID opt-outs and NFL draft declarations. I am not saying that they don’t have a shot, but to me, if it comes down to getting into the Playoffs with style points? I am putting my trust into Day and Fields to racking the points up in every game and if they need to–they will get it done to ensure their place in the Top-4.

Away Games: Penn State, Maryand, Illinois and Michigan State

For the away games, the first game is at Penn State and without a full-blown White Out–I really think this game won’t be as close. With Micah Parsons still debating a return, the defense will be missing their best player. Their offense that is normally good has talent, but they are unproven. This might be a good one, but with so many questions and the talent on the Buckeyes roster, I expect a close game that’ll turn ugly once the Buckeyes begin to click together. I could be wrong, but my gut feeling is that of a blowout.

Maryland is an up-and-comer team and there is no denying their talent. It is just a matter of getting them to gel together. There is talent in true freshman Rakin Jarrett and he could be a problem. The Buckeyes always seem to struggle against teams like this and I remember the point-filled contest against the Terrapins a few years ago. We will see how much change has occurred, but they are projected to do better than usual.

Illinois, the Battle for Illibuck is one of those contests that have been one-sided over the years. I remember the last loss to this team after Juice Williams took over and willed his team to victory. Lovie Smith has been developing his players and it is evident that they love playing for him, but again, the talent gap is as wide as it is tall. They’ll make it a contest, but they won’t be able to sustain it.

Lastly, at Michigan State is a game that I am afraid of. Sparty always finds a way to be that roadblock late in the season and I still have the image of the kick-air guitar loss burned into my brain. I hope that doesn’t happen and they have lacked an offense that could compete. Defensively, they’ve suffered some losses to the draft and COVID opt outs, but that is hardly an excuse. This game will be gritty and it’ll be close until Fields has his Heisman moments.

To summarize, this schedule is favorable and it should be fun to watch them pack on the points. There are some tough tests ahead, but it is completely doable. I expect an undefeated season with a few heart-racing conclusions to games. I hope you enjoyed the schedule preview and I am happy to be back to doing what I love to do. #GoBucks

MOTSAG Pretend College Football Playoffs: #2 LSU versus #3 Clemson; 2nd Quarter

We pick up this semifinal game in the 2nd quarter with Clemson leading 10-7 thanks to dominating the time of possession in the first quarter (read the recap of how the first quarter went).

After Clemson’s touchdown at the end of the first quarter, LSU started the 2nd with the ball on their own 20. On the first play from scrimmage, Joe Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase for 44 yards to put LSU in Clemson territory. A 12 yard run by Clyde Edwards-Helaire had the stadium assuming that another touchdown was coming very soon but the drive stalled after Edwards-Helaire got caught in the backfield on the next play and a short pass was followed by an incompletion. LSU was forced to settle for a 41-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.

Clemson got their next drive off to a good start with Trevor Lawrence finding Joe Ngata for a 14 yard gain and Travis Etienne picking up 7 yards on the ground. However Lawrence’s next two passes fell incomplete and Clemson was forced to punt.

After a 5-yard run by Edwards-Helaire, the rest of LSU’s subsequent drive was the Joe Burrow show as he completed 6 passes to 5 different receivers and picked up a few yards on the ground himself as LSU worked their way down the field. The drive was capped off as Burrow hit Justin Jefferson in the back of the endzone to put LSU back on top 17-10.

Travis Etienne must have been inspired by Burrow’s performance as he put on a show of his own on Clemson’s next drive, piling up 45 yards on the ground before catching a 10-yard touchdown pass to tie the game again.

With time running down, LSU had a chance to go into halftime with the lead but Joe Burrow forced a pass across the middle which was intercepted by Isaiah Simmons. Now Clemson had the ball at midfield with a chance to score. Two quick passes by Lawrence gave Clemson the ball on the 25 yard line with 3 seconds remaining. B.T. Potter lined up for his second field goal of the half but it sailed wide left, leaving the game tied at 17 as both teams headed to the locker room.

MOTSAG Pretend College Football Playoffs: #6 Utah vs. #3 Clemson

Great defense vs a great offense always makes for an intriguing matchup.  Do the heralded units cancel each other out, which of the unsung, or at least less-sung, units steps up to make the difference?  This quarterfinal game will provide an answer as the powerful defense of 6th seeded Utah faces off against the high-powered offense of 3rd seeded Clemson.  Clemson enjoyed a first round bye while Utah pulled off a close win against Florida Atlantic in the opening round.

Clemson got the ball to start the game and was promptly shut down by the Utah defense, going three and out.  Clemson got off a good punt but Utah broke a nice 25-yard return to give their offense the ball near midfield.  An efficient mix of run and pass plays followed, capped off with Tyler Hunting find Jaylen Dixon open in the endzone for a touchdown to put Utah up 7-0.  Clemson’s quick strike ability was on display on the next drive as two plays gained them over 50 yards but Utah’s defense stiffened and held the Tigers to a field goal. 

The two teams traded punts for the next several possessions with Clemson slowly winning the field position battle.  Midway through the second quarter, the Tigers capitalized, getting the ball near midfield and going on a quick 5 play drive capped by Trevor Lawrence scampering into the endzone to put Clemson up 10-7.  That would mark all of the scoring in the first half as the defenses held sway.

Utah opened the third quarter with the ball and found a bit of offensive success, moving the ball into Clemson territory before being forced to punt.  A big stop by the Utah defense on 3rd and 3 led to a short Clemson punt, giving the Utes great field position.  They once again capitalized as star running back Zack Moss ran over Clemson’s defense, ultimately finding the endzone to put Utah back on top 14-10.  The Utah defense snuffed the next two Tiger drives and suddenly all the momentum seemed to be with the Ute’s who once again found themselves with good field position to start a drive.  Unfortunately, quarterback Tyler Huntley’s first down pass was intercepted and the Tigers wasted no time, taking advantage of the short field to retake the lead, 17-14 thanks to a Travis Etienne touchdown run.  Huntley, clearly rattled, threw another interception on Utah’s next drive and Clemson looked positioned to take complete control.  However, the Utah defense held, forcing a field goal to keep it a one score game, 20-14.

Clemson had another scoring opportunity early in the fourth quarter but missed a 44-yard field goal.  The Utes took advantage, using a big pass from Huntley to Brant Kuithe to get them deep into Clemson territory.  Three successive runs were stuffed and Utah had to settle for a field goal to pull within three, 20-17.  The momentum swung again as a promising Clemson drive fizzled out, ending in another missed field goal and Utah responded with a run dominated drive that ended in a 36-yard field goal to tie the game at 20.  Another defensive stop gave Utah the ball with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter but they couldn’t capitalize, giving the ball back to Clemson with two minutes to go.  We were set with the ultimate showdown, tied game, clock running down, and a great offense with the ball facing a great defense.  The Utah defense had been stellar for most of the game, coming up with key stops to keep the Utes in the game but the battle had worn them down and the Clemson offense moved quickly and easily as Lawrence completed four straight passes, the last one to Justyn Ross in the back corner of the endzone.  Clemson led 27-20 but there was still 30 seconds left on the clock, giving Utah one more chance.  All season the Utah offense had hung its hat on being well balanced and using the run to set up the pass; something they couldn’t take advantage of with so little time on the clock.  The Utes hit a couple short passes but couldn’t get find anything open downfield as time ran out, giving Clemson the win, 27-20.

MOTSAG Pretend College Football Playoffs: #5 Georgia vs. #4 Oklahoma

In a battle for conference supremacy this round pits #4 Oklahoma up against #5 Georgia. Oklahoma got some much needed rest as Georgia ran managed to stave off Miami (OH) with a clutch field goal and a crucial defensive stop to end their dreams of advancing.

These two teams have explosive offenses and the last time both of these teams met was in the Rose Bowl the 2017-2018 season. That very game was a barn burner and it ended in a 54-48, double overtime thriller. This years hypothetical matchup would future a familiar foe for Georgia in Jalen Hurts, the former Alabama quarterback. Jake Fromm versus Jalen Hurts vie for a shot to advance.

During the coin toss, the calm before the storm was evident. Both teams stand tall, calm and stoic and Georgia calls the toss and defers giving Hurts the balls first. After a touchback in the opening kickoff Hurts approaches the huddle and calls the play out. Georgia, who had struggled against inferior opponents finds themselves with their pants down on the opening snap. Boom! Hurts finds Lamb on a slant and he takes it to the house for six. On the ensuing kickoff, Swift nearly provides an immediate answer as he takes it to the 50 yard line. Georgia takes their times during the drive, but is stopped in the red zone. Blankenship puts the Bulldogs on the board.

Hurts starts at the 30 on this drive and he leans on Sermon and Brooks and they drive to the 30 before adding three to their lead. Fromm begins the drive and he finds George Pickens on a streak to tie the contest at 10-10. Georgia usually struggles with the quick scoring game, but the cheating safety misjudged Pickens’ speed and got burnt for six.

Hurts controls the current drive late into the first quarter with a balance of QB option runs and timing routes and they are knocking at the door before the quarter came to a close. To open the second quarter, Brooks finds the seam and he barges in for a touchdown. Georgia’s defense was just bloodied in the last drive and the Bulldog’s got them some well deserved rest as they use up the majority of the second quarter before Swift plunges it into the end zone with a little over two minutes left in the half.

In a 17 all game, Hurts runs the two minute drill to perfection. Finding his running backs on swing passes before finding Lamb once again for a touchdown, Hurts puts his teams back up 24-17 before Fromm took a knee to send it into the half. To open the second half, Georgia came out firing. Fromm finds Cager in the seams at will, but in the red zone, Fromm forces a errant pass over the middle that ended up becoming a pick-six–Oklahoma extends their lead to 31-17.

On Fromm’s next possession, the timing and the momentum was all in the Sooners’ favor as they end up punting in the next three possessions. Both teams are struggling to find a rhythm on offense but the defenses are playing lights out. Hurts’ team has the ball late into the third quarter and he loses the exchange with Brooks and Georgia recovers. Three players later, Swift breaks through for a 20 yard dash to the end zone to cut the lead to 24-31.

The Sooners respond with a strike to Charleston Rambo to put them back up by double-digits early in the fourth quarter. Georgia tried to respond, but after back-to-back drive ending interceptions by Kenneth Murray and Brendan Radley-Hines, the Bulldogs fall 38-24. The same turnover-prone quarterback play resurfaced and Fromm just couldn’t put it all together. The Sooners get their revenge and advance.

MOSTAG Pretend CFB Playoffs: #6 Utah vs. #11 FAU

In a time where we remain sportless, in a time where COVID-19 rules the skies, we here at the Men of the Scarlet and Gray present the strictly hypothetical “Expanded College Football Playoffs”. We have all dreamed of expansion, but here we have a cool little set-up that was created by my colleague Chris. 12 teams with one goal, to make it to the Championship Game. All the Power Five champions along with the Group of Five Champions and sprinkle in a pair of at large bids and we have our football version of the “Big Dance”.

For the play-in we have an at large team from the PAC 12 going up against the Conference USA Champion FAU. In this matchup, Utah takes a stellar defense and they go up against a decent, quick scoring passing attack.

As the contest begins, Utah demonstrates their defensive prowess and for a quick 3-and-out, forcing Kiffin to an early change of possession and stopping them from getting into a grove. Utah gains possession and they impose their will as they run roughshod and beat the Owls senseless through the ground with Moss and Huntley gaining chunk after chunk before Moss takes it in for the score.

Visibly rattled, but while remaining calm, Chris Robison takes a huge chunk out of the first quarter before plunging it into the endzone to tie the score at seven each. Robison engineered quite the drive as he came up clutch for the better of the 8-minute drive and he gained some valuable momentum as he made the Ute defense pay.

As the Utes grabbed the punt, Simpkins takes one back to the house just as the first quarter had expired to push the lead up the 14-7. On the ensuing drive for FAU, lightning almost struck twice as Cousart nearly responded with a return for a touchdown of his own before being tripped up at the 50 yard line. The balanced effort became the focus of the Owls offense as Davidson does the majority of the work on the ground to grind the Utah defense into a pulp. On a 3rd-and-5, Kiffin opts for a trick play and it payed off! On the double-sweep, Antoine took it in for another Owl touchdown.

Utah, forever the puncher responds quickly. They use Moss and Huntley on the ground with jet sweeps from Simpkins to open up the offense, but a mistimed exchange on the QB option derailed a scoring drive that ended in the redzone. Rashad Smith comes out from the pile with the ball in tow with the game still tied at 14.

The Utah defense comes off the sideline angry and they quickly force a turnover courtesy of an interception by Burgess at the 50 yard line. Huntley is hitting open receiver at will before finding Kuithe in the seams for a quick score. The Ute defense held their own the rest of the game up until Coach Kiffin’s squad started making plays just before the half. Not to be outdone, they went on a drive that took the entirety of the second quarter. First down after first down they took the clock down just before kicking it for three to enter the half 21-17.

To open the second quarter the Utes again shoved it down the Owls’ throats. Run after run, the Utah offense opened up the third quarter with an efficient and quick drive for another touchdown. Utah goes up 27-17 on the heels of a missed extra point. The fighting Kiffin’s responded quickly as well with a bomb to Harrison Bryant, who found himself open as he sprinted 45 yards to the endzone. Kiffin trying to seize momentum opted for two and converted. The aggressive play swung momentum as the Owls were now down by two.

Utah failed to respond as they went three and out. FAU went on another drive and Bryant made an appearance in the endzone once against to take the lead 32-27. With another wasted possession that resulted in a punt, Utah forced a fumble in the redzone on the ensuing drive. Before we knew it, Moss plunged it into the endzone and Huntley ran it in for two to retake the lead 35-32. The Utah defense responded by forcing a punt and took the clock down deep into the third quarter before punting it as the quarter expired.

In the 4th quarter, FAU controlled the ball for the majority of the contest to try and slow down the Utah offense. They run and convert the ball before settling for a game-tying FG. Utah regains control of the ball with less than a minute left in the game. Huntley and his heroics shined in the waning minutes as he drove down the field from their 20 yard line before Moss took it to the house with 20 seconds remaining. FAU received the punt and nearly broke it off as a response. The drive ultimately fell short as Bernard and Anae combined for a strip-sack as they regained possession with no time left. Utah advances to face #4 Oklahoma.

Spring Game 2020: Defensive Depth Chart

With the all of the firepower and potential of the offense, the defensive side of the ball is looking to flex their depth and talent as well. With losses of a few key cogs on the defense, the Buckeyes are re-loading once again as they look to not taking a step back in production. Laden with high four stars and many more five stars, the talent in this room is unmistakable. Most have been biding their time and most finally have their shot. Lets take a deep dive into this pretend depth chart for the Silver Bullets.

Defensive End: Zach Harrison, Tyreke Smith, Javonte Jean-Baptiste, Jonathan Cooper, Tyler Friday, Noah Potter, Darrion Henry-Young, Cormontae Hamilton, Jacolbe Cowan, Ty Hamilton and Aaron Young.

Coach Johnson’s room have lost a few key players over the previous few NFL Drafts, but he always finds a way to keep it stocked full of talented players. With the departure of Chase Young, Jonathan Cooper is the unquestioned leader and he has Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith to make up a trio of experienced players. The talent of the younger players is also an added benefit as they prepare to wreak havoc on opposing defenses in 2020.

Scarlet Team: Jonathan Cooper, Javonte Jean-Baptiste, Cormontae Hamilton, Jacolbe Cowan and Tyler Friday

Gray Team: Tyreke Smith, Zach Harrison, Darrion Henry-Young, Aaron Young and Noah Potter

Reserves: Ty Hamilton (summer enrollee)

Defensive Tackle: Taron Vincent, Antwuan Jackson, Jerron Cage, Tommy Togiai, Jaden McKenzie and Haskell Garrett.

Like at Defensive End, the Defensive Tackles also suffered a few key losses over the years and with both BB Landers and Davon Hamilton’s eligibility being over, the young bucks will continue the great tradition of interrupting the trenches. Experience is there but not to the level that Landers and Hamilton had, but it is a start. Each player on this list has impacted the game in some form–notably Togiai and Garrett have been players that saw time when the game had been put away. They will be counted on, but do not discount Vincent, Jackson and Cage because they’ve also seen some time with Jackson playing SEC football with Auburn before joining the Buckeyes. Jaden McKenzie is the new guy on the block, but with the strength coaches–he is in good hands just as long as he continues to work.

Scarlet Team: Taron Vincent, Haskell Garrett and Antwuan Jackson

Gray Team: Tommy Togiai, Jerron Cage and Jaden McKenzie

Reserves: N/A

Linebacker: Teradja Mitchell, Baron Browning, Dallas Gant, Pete Werner, Tuf Borland, K’Vaughan Pope, Craig Young, Tommy Eichenberg, Justin Hilliard, Ben Schmiesing, Cade Kacherski, Mitchell Melton and Cody Simon.

Linebacker was one of the few positions where they lost a key cog. Out of all the potential players to depart, only Malik Harrison left after his eligibility ran out. It could’ve been more with Werner, Borland, Browning and Hilliard all coming back into the fold. Like all other position groups, this room is filled with star power and talent that have all been waiting on their chance to shine. This room returns starters and they will attempt to dominate as usual. It is another season of waiting for a few, but you better believe during mop-up duty they’ll get their shot.

Scarlet Team: Tuf Borland, Teradja Mitchell, Dallas Gant and Craig Young

Gray Team: Baron Browning, Pete Werner, K’Vaughan Pope, Tommy Eichenberg and Justin Hilliard

Reserves: Ben Schmiesing, Cade Kacherski, Mitchell Melton (summer enrollee) and Cody Simon (summer enrollee)

Cornerback: Lejond Cavazos, Sevyn Banks, Tyreke Johnson, Ryan Watts, Marcus Williamson, Shaun Wade, Cameron Brown, Lloyd McFarquhar and Darryl Sinclair.

Cornerback saw the biggest loss in talent with Arnette and Okudah leaving for the NFL. At one time, they could’ve had Wade on that list too, but he returned after leaving the Fiesta Bowl on that ejection and wanting a shot at redemption. He comes back and the only two experienced players in Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint are currently facing legal issues. The other players who they will lean on are Banks, Brown, Johnson and Williamson and a pair of highly touted 2020 early enrollees Cavazos and Watts are all vying for playing time to help the Buckeyes for the season.

Scarlet Team: Shaun Wade, Marcus Williamson, Ryan Watts and Lloyd McFarquhar

Gray Team: Sevyn Banks, Cameron Brown, Lejond Cavazos, Tyreke Johnson and Darryl Sinclair

Reserves: N/A

Safety: Josh Proctor, Bryson Shaw, Marcus Hooker, Ronnie Hickman, Kourt Williams, Kevin Dever, Ryan Batsch and Lathan Ransom.

At safety, Jordan Fuller had quite a career but he moved onto the the pros. There isn’t much experience at the position but Proctor got everyones attention after laying the wood on the Jack Coan in the Big Ten Championship Game as the time dwindled down. He is the frontrunner for the robber position, but the talent behind him is unquestioned. He leads a young room that could blossom into something special.

Scarlet Team: Josh Proctor, Bryson Shaw and Kevin Dever

Gray Team: Marcus Hooker, Kourt Williams, Ronnie Hickman and Ryan Batsch

Reserves: Lathan Ransom (summer enrollee)

And there you have it! The defense is the hardest to predict with the amount of losses, but the talent is undeniable. The talent is there to take the Buckeyes back to the big dance, but it is all work from here. The Buckeyes are now two weeks away from the Spring Game as the anticipation steadily builds for the players and the fans.

#GoBucks

Thank You Buckeyes by Ben Van Ooyen

Thank you Buckeyes

Thank you Seniors Damon Arnette, Jordan Fuller, Binjimen Victor, Jashon Cornell, Austin Mack, Rashod Berry, K.J. Hill, Malik Harrison, Davon Hamilton, Joshua Alabi, Robert Landers, Jonah Jackson, Brandon Bowen, and C.J. Saunders.  

Thank you Juniors J.K. Dobbins, Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade

Last night was a hard pill to swallow. I watched like the rest of you as the Buckeyes roared out to a nice 16-0 lead with the intensity that they played with all season.  I watched as after that 16-0 lead the Buckeyes had a 3rd and 5 with a chance to get the ball back when Shaun Wade came on a blitz and lowered his body to sack Trevor Lawrence. The Buckeyes were going to get the ball back with around 5 minutes left while still keeping Clemson scoreless in the first half. That is when it all shifted. The call on the field of a sack and a 4th down punt got sent to the review booth to look at targeting. After a few minutes of deliberation with the review booth it was determined that Wade lowered his head and hit with the crown of his helmet while Lawrence ducked as he knew the sack was impending. Was it targeting? Some will say yes, and others will say no. I know that Wade did not go for that hit with the intent of targeting Trevor Lawrence. He had a clear sack and wanted to wrap up and make sure he took the 6’6” gunslinger to the ground. He accomplished that goal and got thrown out of the game because of it. There are pictures and videos out there of different angles and Chase Young getting a fist in the face during that same play, but nonetheless it was called and the game shifted. Clemson then took advantage of Amir Riep who came in for Wade getting a pass interference call and went down and punched in the touchdown. 

The Buckeyes got the ball back and immediately went three and out, and Clemson got the ball back with all the momentum and broke off a big play. We hadn’t seen the big play go against this defense much this season, but Lawrence juked Josh Proctor and took it 67 yards to the house to make it 16-14 at the half.

Clemson would get the ball to start the half, riding a 14-0 close out to the first half. The Buckeyes were without one of their leaders on defense in Wade, and J.K. Dobbins was favoring his ankle and it looked likely he wouldn’t be able to continue the amazing first half he had. Speaking of people not being able to continue, I am not sure how a guy who is held out of the rest of the first half after he hit his head, is able to all of a sudden come back in the second half as if nothing happened. I’ve never had a concussion, but I am assuming that if the doctors keep you out as a precaution then you probably shouldn’t be on the field again. 

The second half started and the Buckeyes forced the surging Tigers to go three and out giving the Buckeyes the ball with a chance to extend their slim margin. Master Teague was now the feature back as Dobbins worked on his ankle. The Buckeyes drove down to the 45 and were stopped forcing a punt by Drue Chrisman who knocked a pretty punt down to the 1. 

The defense again came out and it looked like they were going to get themselves off the field and the Buckeyes would get the ball back in great field position. On 4th and 6, the punt unit for Clemson came out and Cameron Brown came off the edge on what looked like a punt block attempt. He didn’t make it there in time and ran into the kicker for Clemson who I might say did a pretty good job of grabbing onto Brown and making the hit look way worse than it was. If you watch the play again, you can see Brown slowing down and hitting the kicker, but to call that roughing seemed a bit much. Clemson keeps the ball, and marches down the field and takes their first lead at 21-16. 

The Buckeyes thought they had taken the lead when a Lawrence pass to Justyn Ross was completed and Jeffery Okudah knocked the ball out after Ross took three to four steps with the ball. Jordan Fuller picked up the loose ball and took in the distance giving the Buckeyes an apparent 23-16 lead. The call on the field was a fumble and after another quick review it was determined that Ross never had possession of the football during the catch and it was determined to be an incomplete pass. Someone tweeted that if that catch had been in the endzone it would have been called a touchdown, and I don’t disagree. Another stomach punch to the Buckeyes late in the game. 

After that punt, Justin Fields threw his second interception of the season. The Buckeyes quickly got the ball back with a little over a minute left in the 3rd quarter.  Dobbins was back from his ankle injury, and the Buckeyes marched the ball down the field in a little under five minutes. Fields hit Olave with a beautiful pass on 4th and 1 and the Buckeyes again had the lead. 

The Buckeyes forced Clemson to punt on their next possession and looked to be driving down the field again to make the lead two scores, but after getting stopped on 3rd and 5 for a one yard gain, Ryan Day punted and Chrisman knocked another one down inside the 10.  Four plays later Travis Etienne was again in the endzone and the Buckeyes found themselves down 29-23 with 1:50 left on the clock. 

Fields hit Dobbins for two quick passes to start the drive and then K.J. Hill for another to get the ball to the Clemson 40 with a little over a minute left. After another completion out of the backfield to Dobbins, Fields missed Mack and set up a 3rd down which he converted with his feet. 1:04 on the clock and the Buckeyes had the ball with a first down on the 31 yard line. Another run by Fields for three, and a timeout for the Buckeyes. The play call looked very similar to the 4th down play that was scored on earlier in the 4th, but Chris Olave broke off his route thinking that Fields was scrambling and the throw was intercepted by Clemson sealing the Fiesta Bowl in their favor.  

The Buckeyes were the better team last night and probably deserved to win. I said it last night, and I will say it again, I am not going to say the officiating cost us the game as they had plenty of chances to score, but the amount of very judgemental calls certainly did not help either.

This Buckeye team ranks pretty high for me on a best team I’ve watched play in my lifetime scale. We dominated nearly every game from start to finish all year, and had three of the top six Heisman vote getters. Chase Young set records on defense, and J.K. set records on offense. I assume that next year we will see them suiting up on Sunday along with about 50 other Ohio State Buckeyes in the NFL. While we will be losing a lot of talent to the draft and graduation later this year, we are also bringing in a very highly regarded recruiting class next summer/fall. 

The future is still bright at Ohio State. 

Thank you Buckeyes!