The Maryland Terrapins VS The Ohio State Buckeyes

Friday morning could have been better, but we are a day away until game time! What seems like to be a constant thing when considering Ohio State, there is always something that comes up to snuff out the momentum and it is usually is accompanied by something negative and whats are the words I am searching for… a conspiracy-laden narrative that will at least attempt to bring them back down to Earth. It what seems to be another strategically timed “article” where it was reported that Chase Young accepted money and that he is suspended for this contest as a minimum pending investigation from the Ohio State Compliance Office. Yay and boo, but all we have to do is wait for the process to wind down and just hope they get it right this time. Whatever happens, does so and I will not waste my breath with the situation.

This game is all about continuing the momentum into the last half of the season and against a once-promising Maryland squad will be the obstacle for the Buckeyes this week. Their opponent was leading the nation in scoring through the first two weeks of the season, but they have faded into obscurity and have limped forward to a 3-6 record through this point of the season. With the Buckeyes being without their defensive stalwart, Chase Young, the Buckeyes will look toward this contest without him, but they have the depth to survive without him. This defense has been stellar with him and without him–I think they’ll be fine, but we will have to see for now.

Buckeyes swarming defense.

Young Bucks Golden Opportunity

As we stated before, Chase Young is out and it will be up to a few younger players to step up and earn their keep for the foreseeable future until Young gets back from his recent suspension. With the Next man up mantra enter Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith to fill the void for the time being. As we have seen after the game has been put away, the aforementioned two along with Javonte Jean-Baptiste and Tyler Friday have been key members among the Rushmen and they can get some playing time and be disruptive. Defensive Captain Jonathan Cooper will lead this group and he has Davon Hamilton and BB Landers will also help along with their reserves Tommy Togiai and Garrett Haskel too. These younger players have the benefit of learning behind such a talented group of upperclassmen and a great group of leaders on the defensive side of the ball. It is an opportunity to see what the future will look like, but I have a feeling it’ll be good. The once fast offense will have a hard time blocking so many talented players, but I know they’ll be ready for the challenge.

Malik Harrison breaking through.

Defensive Effort

Malik Harrison will have to provide the same spark that Darron Lee created during his breakout season at Ohio State. The Linebackers have willed recent teams to success and he needs to be more of a dog from here on out. He needs to blitz, cover and be disruptive enough while directing his forces to fill the void against a once lethal and fast Terps offense. Communication will be key with the defensive linemen and the defensive back, and my gut tells me they’ll be ready to silence the critics without their star players. The Wisconsin game proved what the team could be with Young and this game will prove that they’ll be fine without them for however long it’ll be or take for the investigation to be over. Best case scenario, he’s out for a single game. Worst case, it’ll be two with Rutgers on the schedule, but I think the compliance department will mess it up again. I am a pessimist, but I can see it going south, but the defense will continue to shine during his absence. The last contest between the two ended in a double-overtime contest where the Buckeyes nearly took the L with an errant throw on a two-point, game-clinching pass to a wide-open receiver that sailed out of reach. The Buckeyes will look to redeem themselves and further prove that they are legit, even without Young.

Fields dodging a would-be tackler.

Field Of Dreams

Justin Fields has been on a tear lately, but after last week’s destruction of Wisconsin, he gave the team and their fans a scare when he came up hobbled after scoring a rushing touchdown. Luckily it wasn’t serious, but Fields is definitely capable of leading the charge on the offensive side of the ball. With another great group of wide receivers and the recent inclusion of their tight ends, they can put the game out of reach and give the defense some juice in the process. In another great year for a quarterback, Fields brings a lot for this offense and he leads them in a calmly and with his play. He will be ready for this contest to show his value to this offense. This is another noon game, but the Buckeyes will pour it on Maryland and former player Keiondre Jones. Welcome back to the Shoe, but buckle up.

Dobbins rumbling through the Spartan defense.

Boom Boom Room

Ohio State has had quite a few playmakers at running back and the “boom, boom room” is always capable of causing fireworks during the perfect time on gamedays. This week is no different and this porous defense is no exception. This defense is bad and without a consistent defense, they will most likely get tore up against this stable of backs that features a young muscle hamster, J.K. Dobbins, a young beast mode clone, Master Teague and mystery man, Marcus Crowley, who gets carries late but has flashed brilliance in limited action. They also have a speedy back Demario McCall, who is also used sparingly but he could be used as a weapon. There is a lot and there is also Jaelin Gill, who is the backup H-Back, who might be used, but I think is en-route to a redshirt. This room is stacked and with the recent misses in the running back position, the future is still bright despite the lack of a 2020 recruit.

Match-Ups To Watch

  • Fields vs Maryland Secondary
  • Buckeyes Linebackers vs Terrapin Playmakers
  • Buckeyes Backs vs Maryland Defense

Prediction

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeat the Maryland Terrapins 45-6.

Rumble In The ‘Bus: Badgers vs. Buckeyes

We are midway through the 2019 season, this game was circled in red from the beginning it will still be a good old slobber knocker of a contest. Although the game has lost the interest of the nation after Wisconsin went down in Champagne, this game will still generate the hype and the fireworks to make it another instant classic between two powers of the Big Ten. An undefeated Buckeye squad against an angry or wounded Badger team, but if someone said that it has lost its luster, they have it all wrong. Every occurrence has been close ever since the inaugural College Football Playoffs run, but this has all the inner makings of another classic clash between two conference powerhouses. Will we see a reeling Wisconsin team still at a loss for the after falling from the undefeated ranks or will they be a grounded, angry team vying for an upset? This is the line in the sand and if the Buckeyes are looking for a CFB Playoff berth, they need to play disciplined to come out of this clash still undefeated.

J.K. Dobbins bursting through the Cincinnati for the score

Ground Wars: J.K. Dobbins

This will be a battle of will in the trenches and Dobbins is one of the warriors on this team that has to show up. He has to be effective and he has to punish the Badger defenders in such poor conditions with the weather potentially being a factor. Dobbins has been on a tear as of late and he has to shine early and often against this stingy Badger defense that surrenders just 2.3 yards per rush. So far, Dobbins has 134 carries for 947 yards and 7 TDs. He also chipped in 8 grabs for 55 yards and 2 TDs, but this game should be a battle for ground supremacy. The Buckeyes have been balanced and it will be a key part of the gameplan. They can’t afford to play scared and it will be up to Fields along with Dobbins to bring the team to victory.

Jonathan Taylor turning on the jets for a score

Ground Wars: Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor is the other side of the ground war and he has been quite the player for the Badgers. They have relied on him to produce and he racked up 157 carries for 15 scores and he chipped in 11 catches for 73 yards and a score. He accounts for the majority of offense and the Buckeyes have to play the gaps while being mindful of the play-action pass to stop Taylor and the Badgers. Coan and Taylor play well together, but they will look to run first to pound the Buckeyes into submission. They both got beat up pretty bad against a lowly Illini team, but they will look to expose the back seven in this matchup. With Arnette dealing with a broken bone on his hand and with Borland in tow, they could look to soften up the zone with a mix of run and pass, and a steady dose of it. Like the Badger defense, the Buckeyes are also stingy on the ground averaging 2.6 yards per rush–which is literally .3 more than Wisconsin’s average. This game could turn out to be another Big Ten signature game with both if not a single team pounding the rock relentlessly.

Justin Fields weaving through the trenches

Soaked Fields Day

Justin Fields has also been on a tear and he has been one of the stars of this offensive attack. A humble leader with no ego has launched the Buckeyes into another stratosphere and with the impending weather, the Buckeyes could face a huge test with a stiff defense. He will look to flash his arm when necessary, but he will play a factor on the ground. He has 1,492 yards and 22 TDs through the air and 63 carries for 291 yards and 8 more TDs and he has done it with just two turnovers. One interception and one lost fumble are all that have blemished his stellar play and with the weather concerns, it looks to be a conservative approach to secure a win. Either way, I think he will find a way to spark this offense even though if it continues to take the ball out of his hands via Dobbins and Teague to soften up and tire the Wisconsin defense. He hasn’t faced a defense like this, but he will approach it like any other game, but if he wanted to make a statement, he would need to show the nation that they are real and that they are a force to be reckoned with this year. This might be his shot to impress and make a statement.

Young Guns

Chase Young and his team have been stingy and he will look to battle this stout Badger line. The big uglies versus the Rushmen and the Linebackers will be the focus and it will be electric with the weather. The advantage is being the home team, but against Wisconsin, it might get rough. They rank 3rd in the nation in sacks per game with 4.14 and 29 total for the year. It’ll be tough against a team that ranks tied for 30th in the nation with 1.43 sacks allowed per game, but they’ll be game to see where they stand. They need to play disciplined and with Taylor, they need to shut him down and force Coan to beat them through the air in order to have their way this game.

Pesky Badgers Defense

On the other side, the Badgers have also been stingy and they rank in the Top 10 in defense this season. Besides the upset loss in Champagne, they have been playing lights out and they have been disruptive and they force takeaways. They need to do both of these to see if Fields will fight or if he will crumble under pressure. The Ohio State line has surrenders 2 sacks per game that puts them tied for 64th in the nation which could be a problem, but we will have to see how much the weather plays a factor. If it pours, running will be the primary weapon, but if not, they need to stop an explosive and shift Fields and his receivers. This may be a cliche, but this game feels like an old-school Big Ten type of game.

Match-Ups To Watch:

  • Quarterbacks versus Opposing Defenses
  • Running Backs versus The Trenches
  • Offensive Lines versus Defensive Lines
  • Buckeye DB’s versus Badger WR’s
  • Wisconsin WR’s versus Buckeye DB’s

Prediction:

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeat The Wisconsin Badgers 38-21.

The Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0, Big Ten 1-0) VS The Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-1, Big Ten 1-0)

This Saturday, in prime time, the Buckeyes will travel to Lincoln to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in what could become a high scoring affair.  Both teams are more than capable of lighting up the scoreboard and tomorrow night they will square off under the lights in a conference matchup.  A dominant Ohio State team that has played at home in three out of the four past games and they are playing lights out with few, if any weaknesses.  Nebraska has split home and away games, winning two of the three contests, with the lone loss coming at Colorado in an overtime heartbreaker.

Prime Time:  Day vs Frost

Two up-and-comers in the coaching realm that plunged into a leadership role as their respective teams Head Coach.  Scott Frost is in his second season in Lincoln after rebuilding UCF to a fringe competitor and potential Playoff Darkhorse.  In two seasons he holds a 7-9 record.  In 2018 he finished 4-8 and in 2019 he claims a 3-1 with the lone loss coming on the road against the Colorado Buffaloes in a hard-fought overtime thriller.

On the other side of the field, Ryan Day is the heir to the Ohio State throne and in his first four games, he has his team motivated and they look dangerous early on.  He is 4-0 and he is looking to forward to a big-time night road game against Nebraska.  Up to this point, he has his team looking unbeatable, but this feels like another statement-making type of game in primetime with the nation watching.

This is the first contest between these young coaches but Ohio State holds a 6-1 series lead and they have won four straight against Nebraska.  The lone loss to Nebraska was in 2011 against Taylor Martinez in a 34-27 loss.  This should be an easy game, but with a target on Ohio State’s and in a hostile environment, it might get interesting.

Kentucky Curse 2.0

For whoever follows recruiting closely, there are two types of players have always come back to hurt the Buckeyes in the past two.  Ohio kids that could not get that coveted home team offer and the ones that could not fit into a crowded and talent-laden recruiting class.  Two out of the three bad losses to Big Ten West teams have been painful and the only knock against the Buckeyes that have kept them out of the College Football Playoffs, at least for the last two years against less-than-stellar teams with one of these players.

Against Iowa, it was a night game at Iowa with emotion running high and they handled Ohio State in front of the whole crowd and the nation.  At Purdue, a combination of an Ohio kid who never got that coveted offer and an electric playmaker from Kentucky in Rondale Moore that could not secure a spot in the 2018 class.  Flash forward to the 2019 class, where another kid from Kentucky couldn’t get in the class either and goes to a Big Ten West school and gets to play against the Buckeyes at home.

In last weeks come from behind victory against Illinois, he racked up 186 all-purpose yards and scored three times.  He looks electric and he showed that he can be that Rondale Moore type of gadget player that could explode at any moment to shift the momentum.  The Buckeyes can put this curse to rest by bottling up Robinson and staying disciplined.  They need to come out strong and if needed, weather the storm keep him in check.

Dual-Threat Quarterback With Weapons

Nothing scares Ohio State fans like a quarterback that can do it all.  Whether it is with his arm or his leg, the dual-threat signal-callers have been able to squeak by the defense.  Adrian Martinez was recruited by Day and the Buckeyes but was never offered.  He joins Nebraska in his second year as the starter and he has the weapons to give the new-look defense fits while they are on the field.

Martinez is joined by JD Spielman and a dinged-up Maurice Washington and together they will look to test the improved Buckeye defense.  Shifty playmakers and speedy quarterbacks have always been trouble, but in the game at Illinois, they have an obvious weakness that the Buckeyes defense could exploit, the trenches.  The offense has been explosive, but they have to perfect against the Buckeyes to be competitive.  Martinez never got that offer from the Buckeyes out of high school due to an injury, so could this slight be a chip on his shoulder to will his team into a victory or to be competitive in this contest?

Silver Bullet Trench Warfare

There is no doubt that the 2019 defense has vastly improved and they have been playing lights out.  They are 4th in the nation in 3rd down defense with a stout front led by Chase Young.  They are holding opponents to a measly .231% conversion rate on 3rd downs.  They are 3rd in the nation in redzone defense allowing .545%.  The overall defense has also improved where they are 7th in the nation in rushing defense and 18th in the nation in passing defense.

They have also racked up the sack count and they have 20 total through four games and they are averaging 5 per game.  The younger Rushmen have also contributed and shined during mop-up duty showing their depth.  This Cornhusker O-Line looked average against Illinois so they could expose them early and often.  Ohio State ranks 2nd in the nation in total defense allowing 3.42 yards per play while giving up 222 yards per game.  Special Teams have also been a factor for this team, they are 1st in the nation in blocked kicks and 2nd blocked punts.  The game-changing plays have come from both the defense and the Special Teams units and they will continue to swing the momentum in their favor.

Fields’ Second Road Test

Balance has been at the forefront in this offensive attack and it seems to be working in their favor.  Justin Fields has had one of the most meteoric rises as a starter and he has compiled one heck of a season so far, but he can still improve as the season ages.   He has a combined 19 touchdowns with 13 through the air and 6 with his legs and he has looked good so far with a few things to fix.

He has leaned on his coaches and he has led his team with a killer instinct that could still be improved.  He has a few things to clean up, one would be his ability to read defenses under duress or pressure.  We saw against FAU and Indiana, when he was pressured, he overthrew his intended receivers.  He certainly could have a day, but he cannot forget about his workhorse, JK Dobbins.

Dobbins has had a heck of a season with 68 carries and 477 yards and 5 scores.  He has also chipped in for 5 receptions and 42 yards and another score.  He cannot be underutilized and I think the combination of the two, along with the playmakers at receiver and tight end can give the once feared Blackshirt defense fits and grind them down or wear them out.  The O-Line might get tested, but if they could hold up, the game may get out of hand fast.

PREDICTION

5 Match-Ups To Watch:

  • Fields vs The Secondary
  • Slobs vs The Blackshirts
  • Rushmen vs The Cornhusker O-Line
  • BIA/Linebackers vs Spielman/Robinson/TE’s In The Seams
  • Dobbins/Teague vs Blackshirts

49-17 Ohio State defeats Nebraska.

Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0) VS Indiana Hoosiers (2-0)

This Saturday will be Ohio State’s first true road game and what better way celebrate that with it being their first conference game of the season?  Justin Fields has been more impactful at home, in front of the home fans, but we have never seen him away from the confines of the shoe–at least not up to this point of the season.  Both teams stand at 2-0 with dominant wins against mediocre teams, but this is a step up in competition and talent for both teams and not to understate things, it looks to be another exciting game.

Michael Penix Jr, Game Time Decision

The heart and soul of this Hoosier offense lay squarely on the shoulders of Penix, but will he be available for the game against Ohio State?  Penix carries a lot of the responsibilities and he accounts for a lot of the offense and its production.  In two games, he is 38-40 for 523 yards and 3 touchdowns against 2 interceptions.  He also has 79 yards rushing, which has been a problem for the Ohio State defense of old.  Will they suffer from the same problems with a faster, in conference team?  Or will they put the clamps on and win convincingly once again?

Depending on his health, Penix should get the starting nod, but just in case Peyton Ramsey will be asked to step in once again, in a familiar role as a starter.  He was the guy in the last two season and he is a baller.  A dual-threat QB that has gone 442-666, for 4,353 passing yards and 31 touchdowns against 18 interceptions.  He also has 580 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground.  He is more than capable of giving the Buckeyes fits, but that is if he can take care of the ball.

Fields/Dobbins Hot Streak

Justin Fields has been on quite a tear and the trail could heat up a bit more.  38-50 with 6 scores through the air.  He also has 21 rushes for 103 yards and 3 more scores.  Can he continue to light teams up and will he bring the explosive offense to Bloomington?  Will he get his entire offense more involved and can they maintain the momentum against a Big 10 foe?  Justin Fields is certainly up for the challenge, but will Indiana throw everything at Ohio State to confuse the young quarterback?

J.K. Dobbins ignited last weeks onslaught against the Cincinnati Bearcats and he too is looking to help his team during the current hot-streak.  Although he hasn’t been a consistent part of this offense, when he gets his chance, he doesn’t disappoint.  Dobbins has racked up 232 yards with three scores on the ground.  He ripped his season-long of 60 yards against Cincinnati before leaving to give his stablemates some reps.  Will he continue to terrorize defenses with his blend of speed and power?

The Chase Young Show

Let’s be real, the Indiana Offensive Line has a chance to stop one of the most dominant defensive forces and Ohio State’s Chase Young can certainly be that game-breaker to break past often.  This defense led by Young is allowing 186 passing yards and 64.5 rushing yards and they say that they haven’t even scratched the surface or reached their stride.  This version of the Buckeye defense has lived up to the hype and they have vastly improved over the tutelage of the new defensive coaching hires.

They play fast and aggressive, and more importantly, they are playing with a chip on their shoulder.  Can this new-look defense get to and affect this quarterback?  This line still hasn’t given up a sack and this will be a good test to gauge their progress.  I can see Young and his teammates making Penix or Ramsey miserable, but we will have to see how it develops.  The linebackers and defensive backs have improved, but against a conference foe, it’ll be the measuring stick before the meat of their schedules.

Zone 6 Machine

Zone 6 has been one of the best position groups on the team and they are deep at that position for the third year in a row.  They aren’t as quick as last years group, but they still manage to break away and make splash plays happen for Fields and the offense.  Victor, Hill, and Olave have been terrors.  They have been consistent through two games, but I feel that they have been underutilized and it’ll change soon.  They have been the focal point, but once they start clicking, watch out.  Balance is the name of the game and so far, the Buckeyes have done well to mix in the run and the pass.  Once the offense gets comfortable and once the passing game is leaned upon, it’ll be crazy.

The Tight End room has also been targeted more often compared to the recent years at Ohio State, and Ohio State has joined the party.  In the first week, Ruckert had a couple of scores and it showed another dimension to the Buckeye offense.  Not only will they be used to block defenders, but they also flash their skills in limited action.  It acts as another piece to the puzzle for defenses to decipher.  Teams are having trouble, but let’s be real, we relish the productivity of this offense.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

  • Fields VS Secondary
  • Defensive Front VS O-Line
  • Back Seven VS Speedy WR’s
  • Linebackers VS Penix/Ramsey/Scott
  • Slobs VS Hoosier D-Line

PREDICTION

Ohio State Buckeyes defeat Indiana Hoosiers 48-20

Indiana seems to always shock the Buckeyes enough to hinder their offense and that streak looks to continue.  It’ll be tough, but once the Buckeyes get it going, it’ll be hard to stop.  I can see the starters putting the game out of hand by the 3rd quarter and I expect the backups to gain more valuable reps against Indiana’s first and second teams.

 

 

 

The Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0) defeat The Cincinnati Bearcats (1-1)

With the return of Buckeye football, the much-anticipated return of Luke Fickell was one of the most frequent stories of the offseason.  Would Coach Fickell be out to make a statement?  How amped up would his team be after using the most effective way to place huge chips on the shoulders of the Ohio kids that were deemed as not being good enough to don the scarlet and gray?

It definitely worked for a little bit as a few players from the Bearcat roster played with that chip and they began chirping at the Ohio State DB’s–more so with Damon Arnette.  The game looked to be another tightly contested game with two defenses battling it out, but the flood gates opened up and Dobbins provided that spark after he scores on a short scamper and then ripped off an impressive 60-yard dash to the endzone.  Dobbins showed his burst and quickness, and he definitely swung the momentum in the Buckeyes favor for good.  He finished with 17 total carries and 141 yards and a healthy 8.3 average before he was pulled, but he will be leaned on heavily when they travel to Indiana.

In relief duties, Master Teague showed his power and vision that secures the future, if or when Dobbins decides to take it to the next level.  The rushing attack was clearly the focus and the Buckeyes racked up 270 yards and 4 total TD’s.  Dobbins and Fields had two apiece, but Fields was also highly efficient through the air where he finished 20-25 for 224 yards and two passing TD’s to the highly touted true freshman Garrett Wilson and his last to K.J. Hill.  Wilson in limited snaps showed why he was one of the best receivers to come out of high school and his hands?  They are solid!  He took that ball out of the sky in traffic to secure the first collegiate touchdown of his young career.

The offense put on another show and this time, they did not lay off the gas pedal and they put in their first complete game of the season before giving way to the backups.  The same thing can be said for the defense as they secured their first complete game and the backups with a clutch turnover in the red zone to secure the shutout.  The Buckeyes had zero turnovers, but Dobbins almost coughed it up again, but a penalty negated the fumble.  They also forced two turnovers, one interception off a deflection and the fumble toward the end of the game and a blocked field goal.  The defense also relentlessly harassed the Bearcat offense and had five sacks for the day.  They barely let splash plays develop, but the Tight End and the slants were there, but not as frequently as before.  They look motivated and the tackling and the discipline is evident.

Justin Fields was very deadly over the first two weeks, and he will be tested in week 3 as the Buckeyes travel to Indiana for his first true road test as a Buckeye.  He is capable of making the correct read and he has the awareness to throw the ball away if the play isn’t there and those choices will be important on the road.  Awesome game from start to finish and the momentum is definitely building up.  The Slobs are also gelling and it is beginning to show.  They need to build on it and as the games get tougher, I think they’ll be an important factor.  If the entire team can keep it up and avoid the late-season letdown, the Buckeyes could find themselves in the big dance.  They cannot get complacent and they must stay consistent.  Another great win against an even better team in Cincinnati.  It was their first big test and they met or exceeded expectations.  The tests will keep coming and we will see you next week Buckeye Nation.

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.