MOTSAG Draft Profiles: Justin Fields

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

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

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

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

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

PROS:

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

CONS:

  • Holds onto ball too long/Eats sacks

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.

Ohio State vs. Alabama national championship key player matchups: by Mike Scharf

We are officially one day away from the 2021 National Championship between Ohio State and Alabama. Both the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide are coming off dominant performances in the CFP semifinals and are prepared for the biggest game of the year.

Both teams are led by star players in key positions, and the outcome will come down to these players and the matchups that present themselves on both sides of the ball.

The four key matchups for Monday night are seen below:

Trey Sermon vs Dylan Moses

Trey Sermon has been rolling and making a name for himself this postseason dominating on the ground in the Big Ten championship and CFP semifinals rushing for a combined 524 yards and 3 touchdowns. The ground game has been near perfect for Sermon and this Buckeye offense but come Monday the biggest threat to the Tide may be Sermon in the pass game. Sermon had 61 receiving yards on 4 catches against Clemson and will look to be more of a factor in this aspect against this Alabama defense.

This is when the matchup with Alabama’s star linebacker Dylan Moses comes into play. Moses has been dominant stopping the run as he has 38 tackles this season but has struggled in pass coverage as of late. 

Look for the Sermon-Moses matchup in open field — with Sermon taking full advantage of it. —

Devonta Smith vs OSU’s Secondary

Coming into the biggest game of the year, everyone knows how dominant Heisman winner Devonta Smith has been all year. Smith can beat you in more ways than one — catching, handoffs, punt returners — He’s the real deal. 

The Buckeyes are known to have highly talented defensive backs. Their best this season is Shaun Wade. Wade flourished in the slot last year, while coming back this season to play on the outside to prove he’s capable of playing both positions. Although Wade has not been as solid on the outside this season, he’s still a Thorpe Award semifinalist and has all the tools to be a factor in this matchup.

The matchup will be an interesting one — I expect to see the Buckeye secondary to show more zone and focus more help containing Smith whereas leaving him on an island could lead to success for the Tides offensive game plan.

Chris Olave vs Patrick Surtain

SEC Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Surtain has been locked down all season, and not many quarterbacks throw his way.

The 6-foot-2 junior recorded 32 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one interception this season.

With that being said, Chris Olave is the real deal. Buckeye Nation saw how valuable Olave is as he missed the Big Ten championship against Northwestern, and the Buckeyes found struggles opening up the pass game in a 22-10 victory.

Olave was available in the CFP semifinal against Clemson and didn’t disappoint as he had 6 receptions for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.

In a short season for the Buckeyes, Surtain will be Olave’s toughest matchup thus far and the two will be in a battle all game. 

If Justin Fields finds trouble throwing Surtain’s way, look for Garrett Wilson to have a monster game on the other side for the Buckeyes.

Najee Harris vs OSU’s Defensive Line

Along with Devonta Smith, Najee Harris has been a working force for the Crimson Tide offense. Harris has 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

With more COVID issues swirling around the Buckeyes program, we are not sure who is suiting up for game time.

But — Zach Harrison, Jonathan Cooper and Haskell Garrett are players we expect to see. Look for these three to control the line of scrimmage against the Tides front and contain Harris from making explosive plays. 

If the Buckeyes defensive line can contain Harris and apply pressure on quarterback Mac Jones, look for this team to find success Monday night.

These are two of the best programs in the past century we’ve seen in College Football.

The stage is set. The matchups will be exciting. A champion will be crowned.

Ohio versus the world.

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

National Championship X-Factors: Offense by Mike Scharf

Over the past century, whether it’s been on the field or in recruiting, the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide have been two of the most dominant programs in the sport. 

Ohio State has won 931 games to go along with 8 national championships. Alabama has won 928 games while claiming 15 national championships.

On. Jan 11. The two programs meet for only the fifth time in history — Ohio State has a record of 1-3 against Alabama — the last meeting coming in the first ever College Football playoffs in 2015, where the No. 4 Buckeyes defeated the No. 1 Crimson Tide 42-35 in the semifinals. 

The Buckeyes were heavy underdogs against Clemson, but showed the world even though only six games were played, they indeed deserved a playoff spot after dominating the Tigers 49-28 in New Orleans.

The Buckeyes get another chance to prove the doubters wrong as they square off with the Crimson Tide.

In order to win, the Buckeyes need to execute the game plan and come in with that underdog mentality. Not many will choose the Buckeyes in this one as Alabama has been clicking on all cylinders this season, but as we saw in New Orleans, don’t count this talented Buckeye team out.

Here are a few x-factors offensively that could prevail the Buckeyes’ to victory:

Justin Fields

There’s not much needed to be said about QB1. Fields proved all the critics from previous weeks wrong as he BALLED out against the Tigers in the semifinals throwing for 385 yards and breaking the Sugar Bowl record with six touchdowns. Ball security and decision making will be key in this matchup for Fields — one turnover could be a substantial changing point in the game — After taking a huge hit to the ribs, one of the biggest things to keep an eye on is how the injury will affect Fields’ play. Everytime Fields followed through on his throws he was in pain and was limited in the run game. Fields will need to use his legs in this one. Keeping the Crimson Tides defense guessing will be key. When it’s said and done there’s no other quarterback Buckeye nation wants heading into this one. Fields is a baller, competitor and has all the swagger to win a big time game.

Trey Sermon and the Slobs

The Buckeyes are averaging 545 yards per game this year, and poured 639-yards on the Tigers. Sermon and the front seven have a lot to do with that, especially the past two games (Northwestern/Clemson). Sermon has the most rushing yards in a 2-game span in Ohio State history with 524 yards. The front seven led by Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis are looking for blood, they have been dominating the line of scrimmage and look to continue that trend. Some big keys to the game are managing the penalties and controlling the line of scrimmage on both passing and running plays. Holding penalties can kill momentum and be a changing factor in this game. Every drive matters. As for controlling the line, pass protecting Fields and opening up holes for Sermon will lead to big plays as we saw in the past two games.

Garrett Wilson

The duo of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave have been one of, if not the best duo in college football. Wilson and Olave have been causing havoc for secondaries all season, but Alabama’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Patrick Surtain II has been locked down all season long for the Tide. Surtain II has 20 tackles, 1 INT, and 11 PD (tied-3rd). It’s more than likely Surtain II will be assigned to Chris Olave which will open plenty of opportunities for Garrett Wilson to make a statement championship game for Zone 6. Alabama’s team defense has been dominant of late, but containing both Wilson and Olave is a task many teams find trouble doing. The Crimson Tide has one of the best in Surtain II, which may limit Olave in some aspects, but Wilson will be ready on the opposite side of the field.

The Tight Ends

As we saw in the semifinals against the Tigers, the play of the tight ends can be an enormous x-factor in how the Buckeyes play and attack the defense. The use of tight ends seemed to be limited all season for the Buckeye offense, but in this year’s Sugar Bowl, Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert made game changing plays for the offense. In a 14-7 game led by the Tigers, 3rd and goal, Farrell caught a 8-yard bullet touchdown from Fields. While, Ruckert had himself a game with 3 receptions, 55 yards, and 2 touchdowns. These two will be a key in Fields’ passing game against a stout Crimson Tide defense.

This offense seems to have found it’s rhyme and If all these x-factors on the offensive side of the ball come to play and execute the game plan ahead we could see a similar result to the 2015 Sugar Bowl game — Ohio versus the world.

Freshman Ransom, a star in the making

Ohio State has found a gem with true freshman Lathan Ransom.

Ransom, a former 4 star out of Arizona quietly gained more snaps for the Buckeyes as the season progressed, but has been making a name for himself this postseason, delivering the biggest hits, and plays at key moments.

As a true freshman Ransom earned his first grade as a champion in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson.

Ransom saw a season high 28 snaps in the Sugar Bowl victory and made plays for the Buckeye defense. Most notably, Trevor Lawrence’s last throw in the end zone targeted for Amari Rodgers was contested and batted by Ransom right into Sevyn Banks’ hands leading to an interception.

Although Ransom has appeared in three games for the Buckeyes he has made his presence known these past two post season games (Northwestern, Clemson). In the Big Ten Championship, on 4th down Ransom made a huge hit on Northwestern’s John Raine causing an incompletion and icing the game leading to a Buckeyes fourth straight Big Ten Championship. 

Meeting with the media ahead of the national championship, defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs and senior Shaun Wade had high praise for the freshman.

Coombs said Ransom has improved everyday this season. “He showed up and played big when we needed him to,” said Coombs. “He continues to improve and develop and we’re excited for his future.”

Wade told the media that Ransom is going to be a great player and he even reached out to Wade ahead of the Clemson game to go over things in the slot corner position where they both went over to the WHAC to work on techniques before game time.

Ransom has 4 tackles and 1 PD on the season. 

The future is bright.

All the tools Ransom has shown dominating high school and translating it to the college game has future All American written all over it and is going to be a problem for offenses years to come.

#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.