Depth Chart: Quarterbacks

After another transfer-filled offseason for the Buckeyes, the quarterback depth was thought to be in danger, but Ryan Day and his staff managed to restock the shelves by looking into the transfer portal for reinforcements.

The transfer portal is brand-new and is a way for recruits to put their name out there to find a better situation or opportunity and it has singlehandedly brought pain for the Buckeyes in 2019.  A season prior, they also lost Joe Burrow as a grad transfer, who left for a starting job at LSU after being outdueled by Dwayne Haskins after the annual spring game.

Since then, Haskins left for the NFL, leaving Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin as the heirs for the vacant starting gig, but enter Justin Fields and now all of a sudden Martell transfers to Miami and Baldwin becomes homesick and leaves for TCU.  Both left for better situations for them, and I do not blame them one bit.  Walk-on Kory Curtis also left for Bryant University, leaving three signal-callers left on a thin positional group.  Justin Fields who is and was the projected starter, Chris Chugunov, a former West Virginia transfer, and 2018 walk-on Danny Vanatsky.

Coach Day realized the lack of depth and experience at a key position and he began to sift through the transfer portal and he restocked the once bare shelves and he is now ready to move forward with his group and towards the 2019 season.  In a matter of weeks, he and his staff have added two former SEC scholarship quarterbacks in Gunnar Hoak (Kentucky) and Jagger LaRoe (Texas A&M).  They also added preferred walk-on JP Andrade (Florida), who will play in the same role for the Buckeyes this season.

This years quarterback room is filled with inexperience and the majority of the room has little to no starting experience, which is the major worry among the Buckeye faithful.  Fields also struggled during the spring game and while it is well warranted, the Buckeyes still have time on their side to improve and sharpen Fields’ skills before the season opener.

The room is going to be competitive with the clear starter in Fields.  The rest of the roster will occupy their roles and in the worst-case scenario where a major injury occurs to Fields, the rest will be ready and they will be more than capable of picking up the slack in his absence.

It is early, but I feel like this will be the set-up for the 2019 season.  I also included the future QB section even though recruiting can be unpredictable before the pen goes to paper, but I feel that both Miller and McCord are solid commits that will eventually don the Scarlet and Gray.

Projected 2019 Depth Chart:

QB 1:  Justin Fields

QB 2:  Gunnar Hoak/Chris Chugunov

QB 3:  Jagger LaRoe/JP Andrade/Danny Vanatsky

Future QB’s:  Jack Miller (2020) and Kyle McCord (2021)

Dawn of A New Day at Ohio State

With the annual Spring Game just around the corner, there are many reasons to be excited about the 2019 team.  The biggest elephant in the room is the changing of the guard between Urban Meyer and Ryan Day.  In epic fashion, the keys were handed over to him, leaving Ohio State in more than capable hands to lead this new era of Ohio State football forward and onto big things.

From day one of taking the sticks from Coach Meyer, he assembled quite an impressive staff that returned only Brian Hartline, who is now their full-time wide receivers coach, Larry Johnson, who will act as the teams Associate Head Coach and the defensive shot-caller, Tony Alford, who returns to coach the Running Backs, Kevin Wilson, who is responsible for the Tight Ends and finally, Greg Studrawa, the O-Line head honcho.

The Buckeyes lost a few of their coaches.  Some were not retained and others left for jobs elsewhere, but I personally wish them the best, but they also managed to improve on the fly by poaching a couple of former rivals to add to the team in Greg Mattison and Al Washington.  They both jumped ship to help the team improve the play of the front seven.  Jeff Hafley was added to coach up the DB’s and he came after a stint with the 49ers.  Day also added the former Oklahoma State O-Coordinator Mike Yurich, who is a bright, young offensive mind who will be coaching the Quarterback room.

Coach Day has assembled a team comparable to the Avengers, with every coach being some form of a rising star or a threat to opposing coaches, with the core group of coaches acts as the foundation to ensure their potential is reached.  The offense has the potential to scorch teams and the defense has the depth to outlast teams in the trenches.  Excitement outweighs the dread, but we have to be patient.

Expectations:

Offense:

Even with a new Head Coach, the expectations at Ohio State remain sky-high.  That is what all coaches to don the Scarlet and Gray have hovering over their heads.  With a couple of pass-friendly and pass-happy coaching in tow, the Buckeyes have a potent group of coaches that will look to maximize their talent and play to their players strengths.

I fully expect a balanced offense that fall in the 55/45 model.  Balance is key and so is speed.  The Buckeyes are loaded at just about every level on offense and defense, but a 55% pass and 45% run gameplan could cause defenses to scramble or panic.  This would be awesome and as a fan I am excited to see what develops as the season inches closer.

Quarterback is a two-man race, with Fields likely to be the starter.  He is locked in a battle with Baldwin, but you just never know.  The odds are in his favor and it is his job to lose.  For Running Back, it is Dobbins’ show as the feature back with Teague, Crowley, and McCall vying for playing time.  This is not the deepest skill position at Ohio State.  The Wide Receivers room is stocked full of talent with Mack, Victor and Hill being the most experienced and young players like Olave, Gill, Wilson, Harris and Gardiner looking for snaps as well.  Tight End is also competitive with Farrell leading the way and Berry and Ruckert waiting in the wings.  The O-Line will have to find new starters and they have a lot of former four/five stars fighting for the jobs available, but Jonah Jackson, a Grad Transfer from Rutgers will be one of the key cogs along the line with Wyatt Davis.

Defense:

The defense is also very deep at every position.  With the addition of three new defensive coaches, their collective views will show in year one of the Day Era.  Not only have they stockpiled the talent over the years at Ohio State at just about every position, the position coaches have also been compiled and every coach on the roster either brings years of experience with them or is a rising young coach that got his shot at one of the best places in Ohio State.

The front four is beyond deep, even after the losses of Dre’Mont Jones and Nick Bosa.  Young returns, as Smith and Harrison continue to develop during the offseason.  Defensive Tackle is also deep with Landers returning and Vincent, Garrett and Togiai in tow, the look to get after opposing offenses by consistently harassing and disrupting opposing offenses.

The Linebackers also get a boost with a simplified defense that will allow them to fly around the field and make plays.  DB’s get a boost as well being taught to look back for the ball, which was part of the problem last year as they look to turn it around.  Playing faster will help the defense a lot and I cannot wait to see them dominate with the new scheme because the defense over the last couple of years has been so frustrating, but I believe it will revert back to the Silver Bullet standards over the next couple of seasons.

Special Teams:

I think with Haubeil and Chrisman at the forefront, the Buckeyes have game changers at their disposal.  The returner positions and gunners need to be identified and with recent struggles with fielding kicks, I hope they find sure-handed players that won’t make mistakes.  Either way, Special Teams is in good hands.

 

 

 

For The Roses: Coach Meyer’s Last Ride As HC

 

One last game.  One last moment.  It is time for us to all collectively take it all in–for the last time where Coach Meyer will spearhead the Scarlet and Gray in the mother of all games, The Rose Bowl.  This moment could be or feel bittersweet, but it is time for Coach Meyer to call it quits and what better send-off than a victory, especially a resounding victory at his first Rose Bowl?

This game will be filled with NFL caliber talent all over the field and on both teams.  There is a lot at stake and there are many storylines that could be the focus, but both teams are conference champs and both teams are vying for a Rose Bowl victory.  Coach Meyer’s last ride as the Buckeye Head Coach and Coach Petersen’s first shot at the Rose Bowl and against the Buckeyes.

QB Battle Brewing

With both teams vying for the win the talent at quarterback is key to eithers success on the field.  Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, a Heisman finalist in the end with a high draft grade and Jake Browning, a four-star with something to prove against an aggressive Buckeye defense that is both inconsistent and is seemingly finding their grove after that embarrassing loss at Purdue.

Haskins has been in the spotlight with all the draft talk stealing the majority of the headlines.  He has repeatedly been asked about his impending decision, but all of that will be placed on hold for the time being to ensure that all of his focus is on the Rose Bowl and not on his future endeavors, which is a smart move for all parties involved with the Buckeyes.

Browning made waves on one of his interviews where he explained that the Buckeye defense had “exploits” and “weaknesses” they discovered after reviewing the Purdue tape.  Yes, that game was by Iowa 2.0. and the defense was gashed the entire game, but teams improve and there should be small windows, but not the massive ones from the Purdue game.  He also didn’t say it to be disrespectful or give Ohio State bulletin board material, but these quotes will somehow make it on one for the game.

Either way, the battle at quarterback will be one to watch.  Both defenses are good, but the offenses can overshadow the defense easily with the big-play ability on both sides.  Both of their supporting cast members are electric, fast, and talented.  It will only add to the drama if things end up being close.  Ohio State wants to send their legendary coach on a good note so I would not be surprised if this game is out of reach early.

Playmakers Paradise

What game outside of the CFB Playoff teams has what seems like an endless roster filled with playmakers than Ohio State and Washington?  Both are talented teams filled  with NFL-type players that are looking to improve their draft stock or put on a show to remember.  Both teams have contrasting schemes and they will look to impose their will on the other team to ensure a victory.

For Ohio State, they rely on Haskins’ arm while sprinkling in the run by either Dobbins or Weber.  They will lean heavily on the running game to break it up a little and keep the defense on their toes.  The key unit will be Zone 6 and their three senior captains, Dixon, McLaurin, and Campbell–they will dictate the game for Haskins and the offense.  It will be up to the Washington defense to stop them but even if they do, the younger players waiting in the wings could also make an impact.  One of the biggest obstacles will be the Huskies defense because they are allowing 15.5 points per game, but we all saw what the Buckeyes did to the #1 ranked Wolverines defense.

For Washington, they focus on the run more than the passing attack.  Gaskin will be overutilized and he will be all over the field.  Running Backs like Gaskin can be Ohio State’s undoing and their Linebackers need to play disciplined to stop him.  They will end up giving up big plays but not the Purdue big plays because the Buckeyes are planning to send their coach with a win, and by all means they will achieve it.

Defense

The defense will be another phase of the game to watch because it is filled with NFL prospects.  Dre’Mont Jones is a future first round pick and he will be playing to end his career with his coach and his teammates.  Jordan Fuller, Kendall Sheffield, and Damon Arnette have not announced yet, but depending on what happens, they could also be playing their last game as a Buckeye.  The Buckeyes have improved a lot over the last few weeks and I am sure they are tired of the slights about their play, especially how the Purdue game keeps coming up.  They will look to silence everyone for Urban Meyer’s impeding departure.

The Washington defense is stout and filled with talent.  Led by the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American Ben Burr-Kirven, they will try to stop the Ohio State offense.  So far, Washington has allowed just 9 passing touchdowns the entire year, but with the caliber of Ohio State talent on every level of the offense, we will see if that holds up.

Prediction

So here is prediction time and this game contains the storyline that gives the Buckeyes the edge.  Your coach is leaving due to illness and is retiring to become the assistant AD and every player wants to send him out on the right note.  The Washington starting QB giving the defense some or more bulletin board material that will fire up the Silver Bullets for the contest.

This game will be close right before half before the Buckeyes pull away.  I also see the game getting out of hand before half, but I will go with the first prediction.  The second half adjustments will close the door on the Washington comeback charge.

Final Score:  55-24

Bucks by 90 by @MarkSamuelPrine

Since last spring, the coaching staff at Ohio State has reminded players to “Win the moment”. Urban Meyer has consistently sang that tune as recently as Friday at the Big Ten Championship press conference. When asked about whether the Buckeyes have to win big over Northwestern to have a chance at another College Football Playoff appearance, he maintained that their would be no talk of the playoff in Ohio State’s locker room. The Buckeyes will focus on one thing and one thing only; win the moment. Beat Northwestern. How then, should Ohio State go about beating Northwestern?

The wildcats do not have the most prolific offense we’ve ever seen. In fact, averaging only 23.7 points per game with a quarterback who has only thrown fourteen touchdowns this season means Northwestern is about as average as it gets offensively. However, while only scoring 284 points on offense to this point, the Wildcat defense has given up only 260 points all season. Which means, if my math is correct, Northwestern likes to play smash mouth football with just enough offense to get the W.  The biggest question for Northwestern will be whether or not their offense will be able to produce enough points against Ohio State’s middle-of-the-road defense, in order to squeeze out another victory; especially when it’s own defense will have it’s hands full with with the “second best” offense in the sport (obviously, I remain unimpressed by Oklahoma’s offense running up the score in the Big 12; but I digress).

Finally, one of the biggest advantages for OSU is the experience factor. With respect to experience in a conference championship game, Northwestern has none. This will be the first ever appearance by the Wildcats; while the Buckeyes will make their fourth appearance in six years. This matters because we know the moment shouldn’t be to big for the Buckeyes to go out and seize it. The average fan should look for Ohio State to score early and often, as Dwayne Haskins could have a huge game against the Wildcats’ back seven.

 

Prediction:

Dwayne Haskins: 70% or higher completion percentage. 400 yards and 4 TDs.

Mike Weber: 100 yards and two TDs

Bucks by 90.

The Game: For All The Glory and Bragging Rights

Ohio State.  That Team Up North.  It is that time of the year where two of College Football Blue Blood programs will duke it out with what seems like everything being on the line.  For Ohio State, a shot to win the conference crown and a potential playoff berth with one last major obstacle in their way–their neighbors to the north.  TTUN has the same goals in mind and they can control their destiny, but they must go through Columbus to reach them.

I cannot stress the importance of this game for either side.  School and personal pride coupled with the College Football Playoff implications, it is like a high stakes poker game pitting two heavy hitters vying for the entire pot.  Ohio State looking for another high stakes signature win against another ranked team.  TTUN looking to continue their revenge tour and their rise from a mediocre team to an elite one.  They are also desperate to break the Buckeyes current 6-game winning streak and they will try to win in Columbus for the first time in what seems like forever.

Both teams underperformed the week prior.  The Buckeyes nearly lost to a high octane Terrapins offense before closing the door in overtime while the Wolverines narrowly beat Indiana.  It seemed like both teams were looking ahead to this matchup and both looked sluggish before securing the win.

This game is a beat writers dream with a lot of storylines to cover with one of the biggest matchups will be between both signal-callers, the Quarterbacks.  Haskins versus Patterson.  Both got the job done last week with Haskins accounting for 6 total touchdowns (3 passing, 3 rushing).  Patterson did his job and kept his offense in the game.  An interesting dimension to this game is both signal-callers actually talk and are friends and this game will certainly put their friendship aside.

The Running Backs for both sides are another storyline worth keeping an eye on.  The Buckeyes have Dobbins and Weber, both of which are studs.  Dobbins bared the workload and carried the rock 37 times and McCall had a few snaps here and there.  Weber did not play due to a quadriceps injury, but his status is questionable this early in the week.  Dobbins has his eye intently on this game and he will look to secure another victory against TTUN.  He stated that “He left Texas for The Game”.  What adds to the drama, Higdon just guaranteed a win against their arch-rivals this weekend, which could spice up the game and turn the drama up a notch.

The two major keys will be how will the Buckeyes defense responds after their near defeat and will the trench war lose it for the Buckeyes with their inconsistencies and struggles to maintain leverage.  For the Wolverines, will Winovich play and can they finally beat the Buckeyes and complete their “revenge tour”?

On a side note, the Buckeyes will host a lot of high school talent that could add to the depth of the team.  There are too many great prospects to name, but this will be another opportunity to secure a few commitments prior to the early signing period in December.  The home team better be ready to be as loud and obnoxious as possible to rattle the Wolverines and impress the high school prospects.  Oh, not to mention that this could be a great chance for the NFL Draft eligible Buckeyes to improve their draft position against a great Wolverine team.  Look for some highlight plays and questionable ones too as the game inches closer to the end.

Prediction:

This game will be a doozy.  Both teams playing on another level in all phases will keep us all on the edge of our seats.  This has all the makings of another instant classic between these bitter rivals that will stress us out.  As much as I want it to, I want to blow this team out badly like how the 2014 team dismantled and shut out the Badgers before winning it all, but I know better.  It will be a defensive battle that will have an occasional big play, but I wouldn’t mind if I was wrong.

Penalties will occur and this game will not be pretty.  The TTUN’s defense will frustrate the Buckeyes O-Line for much of the first half, and the second half adjustments will be invaluable.  The TTUN Tight Ends will make some plays and DPJ will do the same because of the Buckeyes tendency to give up huge, momentum-swinging plays.

The Buckeye defense will show up when they need it the most.  Haskins will do enough to mix it up with passing and running and the RB’s will share the load.  Tate Martell will also make an impact with his package of plays to confuse the opposing defense.  All-in-all, I say the Buckeyes extend their streak to 7 games against TTUN.

Final:  38-31 Buckeyes.

 

Indiana (4-1, Big 10, 1-1) at Ohio State (5-0, Big 10 2-0)

After a drama-filled, come from behind victory at Happy Valley, the Buckeyes face a resurgent Indiana team that could potentially give them problems.  In what was one of the better games of the season, pitting two Top-10 teams against each other, and during a White-Out, the Buckeyes cannot afford to take a loss to another unranked, but talented team again just like that terrible Iowa loss a season ago.  The stars aligned once again and after another 1-point, hard-fought win, the Buckeyes might be vulnerable once again.

Indiana will take their Sophomore QB Peyton Ramsey into Columbus to try to shock the world.  Ohio State will be looking to maintain their current hot streak and blow past Indiana.  Ramsey is no slouch, he is efficient, but he leaves points off the board and he tends to force throws.  He won’t be alone in the backfield because he has another bruiser at RB in Stevie Scott.

With that combination, it might give them some life to at the very least, put up a fight.  On the other end, Dwayne Haskins, Zone 6, and the duo of Dobbins and Weber will look to continue on with their fireworks display on offense.  The defense will look to sharpen up their skill and be more disciplined as they get into matchups with conference foes.

Positional Keys:

  • Quarterback:  Remain calm/Stay sharp
  • Running Backs:  No dancing around/Remain involved in the gameplan
  • Wide Receivers and Tight Ends:  No drops/Gain separation
  • Offensive Line:  Grind out possessions/Maul defenders/Minimize penalties
  • Defensive Line:  Shed blocks/Gap discipline
  • Linebackers:  Discipline in coverage/Do not overrun gaps/Tackle better
  • Defensive Backs:  No blown coverages/Tackle better

There was a lot of errors on the Buckeyes’ part, but this win has and will boost their confidence moving forward.  Last week drops, overrunning plays, and tackling were issues that stunted their progress down the field, but this week, they will be better since they’re at home.

Realistically, the Buckeyes will start out slow because of last week and injuries are a concern with Bosa still being out and Jones almost being lost to injury as well.  Realistically, the Buckeyes will be looking to put this game out of reach by halftime as well, but we will have to see how they will respond, and I am leaning more toward the latter because they played poorly, but showed their grit in the second half.

Haskins will put up points in a hurry as he looks to retain his hot streak and I think it’ll be another multi-touchdown game.  Dobbins and Weber will bruise the defense and Zone 6 will necessary blocks and make the plays once again.  The defense will be looking to improve and play better in the absence of Nick Bosa.

Final Score:  Ohio State defeats Indiana 58-17.

 

 

 

 

 

Showdown In Texas: Ohio State vs TCU

It is the last week of Coach Meyer’s suspension and the first big test for the Buckeyes is upon us.  It is TCU week and there is a lot of excitement from both fan bases, and what better venue than at the AT&T Stadium–the home of the Dallas Cowboys?  This is essentially a home game for TCU, but the Buckeye faithful will find a way to paint the stands in scarlet and gray.

For the Buckeyes, we have seen two dominant performances against mediocre teams and the positive momentum that they have gained cannot be ignored.  This Buckeye team is talented and they are arguably one of the most talented teams in the nation and they are also one of the deepest teams at just about every position.  They will need to bring their “A” game in order to stop this TCU team, who will be their toughest opponent after two weeks worth of dominating performances.  Coach Meyer’s input coupled with Coach Day’s playcalling will be key for the Buckeyes to leave Texas with a win–and possibly a resounding victory.

For TCU, they also faced a pair of mediocre opponents and looked sluggish in the beginning before pulling away.  They cannot do that against this Buckeye team due to the explosiveness of Haskins and his wide receiver core.  They also cannot afford to lose the battle in the trenches against another collection of talented rushmen led by Nick Bosa, Chase Young, Dre’Mont Jones, and Robert Landers because it is going to be a long day for TCU.

Shawn Robinson provides a unique problem that could threaten this vaunted Buckeye defense and it could spell trouble for them with his ability to run and pass.  This will be the first dual-threat quarterback in this years docket and it will be their biggest test before diving into the meat of the rest of their BIG 10 schedule.  Another funny part about this is that the Buckeyes heavily recruited Robinson, but he chose TCU instead and the Buckeyes ended up with the Gatorade Player of the Year in Tate Martell.

A lot has been said on the message boards on TCU’s end and they claim that the speed from within their program would essentially give the Buckeyes fits for the entirety of the game this weekend.  I get it and in practice, you can be faster than your teammates, but be careful what you wish for because the land of make-believe will come crashing down on you once you witness the caliber of athletes on Ohio States roster.  Year in and year out, they constantly reload and bring more speed on top of what they already have on the roster.  From the offensive side to the defensive side, they are fast at all levels, and they could be shellshocked once the ball gets housed and the difference in overall speed is evident.

Matchups To Watch:

  • Haskins vs TCU Defense:  This will be his measuring stick and with the increase in overall talent and team speed, this could be interesting.  Will Haskins have another dominant offensive performance against one of the best defensive units?  Or will he make mistakes and falter?
  • The War in the Trenches:  You have to win in the trenches before speaking and with another talented group on both sides of the ball, this will be another matchup to watch.  Bosa and friends against the best offensive line that they will face during Coach Meyer’s final game of his suspension.  On the offensive side, will their line matchup and dominate against a scrappy TCU defense that ranked in the top 15 a season ago?  Or will they struggle?
  • TCU WR’s vs Ohio State Back Seven:  With the proclaimed speed of Turpin and friends, it is essential that the back seven of the Ohio State defense plays disciplined and focused football and that they trust their instincts and their keys against TCU.  Against an inferior Oregon State team and their backup QB they put up 31 points due to miscommunication and inexperience and it is encouraging for this group.  If Fuller and pals can matchup and stick with the gameplan, they can shut down this offense with ease, but with the inexperience and the youth of the LB core, we will have to play it by ear.
  • Zone 6/Tote Nation vs TCU Defense:  It will be interesting to see this matchup!  With a handful of receiving threats and a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, there aren’t enough footballs to give to everyone, so they need to make their time on the field count.  TCU has had one of the better defenses in recent years, but will they or do they have enough to stop this talented offense?
  • Texans Return:  With a few former Texans on Ohio State’s roster still on the team, how would they perform in front of their family and friends that they left behind?  Will the lights be too bright as they no-show?  Or will they dominate and show TCU what they missed out on?  J.K. Dobbins, Baron Browning, Demetrius Knox, Kendall Sheffield, and Jeffrey Okudah will return to Jerry’s World and face a team that wanted them on their team.
  • Special Teams:  Jekyll or Hyde:  It is no secret that the Ohio State has struggled with the Special Teams units over the years and this year is no different.  With a rotation of returners, there comes growing pains and miscues.  Fumbles have been an issue and with an offense that can make you pay.  On TCU’s side is Turpin, a potent return man who can swing momentum if given the opportunity to do damage.  What this matchup in particular because it could determine the game.

Prediction:  With everything considered I am predicting another 50+ point game for the Buckeyes in a near shootout with TCU.  It will be close in the first quarter with both teams providing the fireworks.  In a statement game and Haskins’ coming out party against a Top-15 team, he will throw for 200+ yards and at least 4 TD’s.  The Running Back duo will carve up the defense with Dobbins showing out in his home state of Texas, but Weber will match him with a score as well.

Haskins: 235 yards and 3 TD’s

Dobbins/Weber:  155 yards and 2 TD’s

Buckeyes Defense:  3 sacks, 1 int, 2 forced fumbles, 1 TD

Final:  56-24, Buckeyes defeats TCU

Ohio State vs Rutgers Preview

 

The first week has come and gone, already.  We wait 7 months only to have the season blink by it seems.  However, we are moving on to the second week of the season where Ohio State will open its Big Ten play with Rutgers.

A successful first week for the Ohio State Buckeyes as we now start the season off 1-0.  The Buckeyes put up 77 points in the first game of the Dwayne Haskin era. 70 of the points being offensive, the other would be a Nick Bosa fumble recovery.  The Buckeyes didn’t have a top power 5 opponent, but the Oregon State Beavers are a power 5 school.  It was the first time since 2016, against Bowling Green, the Buckeyes put up 77 points in a game.  The offense looked stellar.  They could seriously do no wrong.  They had to punt one time, and it was during a drive with Tate Martell at the quarterback position. The Buckeyes had the right game plan, right matchups, and well the better talent.

The defense side also played very well.  There is cause for concern at the safety position. However, Jordan Fuller was absent from the game with hamstring issues.  Also, Marcus Hooker was suspended for the first game of the season and is expected back.  So, the safety concerns may be fixed here in no time.  The only other problem was the first two drives in the second half where Oregon State had back to back touchdown runs of 80 and 78 yards, respectively.  The game was strange.  It was a beautiful day in the first half.  There wasn’t really a cloud in the sky. Both teams went to the locker room for halftime, then had to sit there an extra hour and a half due to a crazy rain storm.  The start of the second half and the rest of the game was then beautiful outside.  Ohio State goes the ball to start, had a quick strike to Terry McLaurin from Haskins for a 75-yard touchdown.  Then Oregon State had an 80-yard run. Ohio State had a 10 play drive for a touchdown that only took 2 minutes and 30 seconds off the clock.  The Oregon State had a 78-yard run.  Four touchdowns in the span of 3 minutes and 54 seconds.  I’m going to say the delay had something to do with the big running plays.  So with the whole offseason and a new quarterback, this was almost a great of a first game as Ohio State could have hoped for.

Rutgers has the number 1 defense in the country in terms of yardage per game.  Seriously.  Haha. Okay, I know many of you would never buy that.  Rutgers did hold the Texas State Bobcats to 176 yards last game.  Held the quarterback to 7/20 for only 79 yards.  But this is Texas State we are talking about.  They finished 2-10 last year.  Rutgers is probably getting better like many, many are hoping for, but I’m not so sure, yet.  Sadly, their best cornerback, Blessuan Austin, will not play on Saturday with an ongoing knee injury.

Rutgers offense is still not quite there yet.  Artur Sitkowski, the quarterback, threw 20/30, but also threw 3 interceptions, 2 of them being in the red zone.  They ran the ball decently for 218 yards.  Johnathan Hilliman had two rushing touchdowns on only 15 carries. But, again, that was against Texas State.

Ohio State has played Rutgers now 4 times.  In 2014, the Buckeyes won 56-17.  In 2015, the Buckeyes won 49-7.  In 2016, the Buckeyes won 58-0.  In 2017, the Buckeyes won 56-0.  I do believe this is the best Rutgers team Chris Ash has had so far.  But I also believe this could very well be the best Ohio State team Urban Meyer has had, especially in terms of recruiting.  Now the first game of the season we saw almost every play work to perfection.  Will that happen here against Rutgers? Probably not.  However, Urban Meyer returned to the practice field this week, and that really only can help the Buckeyes get better.  I see no reason Ohio State should even come close to losing this game, and since everyone is talking about the defense and how awful they were(they weren’t).  We could see a very fired up defense. I am going to predict the score to be 70-6.

The Other Guys

In just a few short hours, the Buckeyes and the Oregon State Beavers will each kick off their 2018 campaign for a spot in the college football playoff and a national championship. Oregon State won exactly one game last season; so I’m not going to pretend like this game will be some kind of dogfight. Honestly, if it ends up being close, something will have gone terribly wrong for Ohio State. However, I’d like to avoid sounding completely arrogant. So here are two legitimate reasons Oregon State might actually be better than we’re giving them credit for.

Johnathan Smith

In the fall of 2000, walk-on quarterback Johnathan Smith led OSU to an 11-1 record. Eighteen years later, he’s their new Head Coach. He’s young. He’s energetic. He believes firmly that old-fashioned hard work will lead to the eventual success of his football team. I believe firmly that teams, whether it be in the business world, in the home or in college football, will take on the personality of their leader. A prime example of this can be seen in the difference of performance between the 2011 and 2012 Buckeyes after the Meyer regime took over. Smith’s Beavers are no different. Make no mistake, they are not flying all the way to Columbus with intentions of rolling over for Ohio State.

Experience

The only metric where Oregon State could actually be “better” than Buckeyes is it’s extremely experienced roster. The Beavers are returning thirteen of their twenty-two starters from last season. Such an experienced first string will give Oregon State the best opportunity to limit mistakes and avoid beating themselves. It will also give them a better opportunity to make the most of any mistakes that Ohio State’s talented but inexperienced lineup will make along the way. They are a veteran football team who is ticked off after the way last season turned out. There is no doubt in my mind that the Beavers will give Ohio State their absolute best. However, time will show how their best compares to that of The Ohio State University.

Week one of the 2018 season is finally here and it’s packed with an amazing lineup of marquee matchups. Certainly Auburn and Washington’s battle in Atlanta will be the main course. Watching Notre Dame open their season with a win over Michigan will be so very sweet; like dessert, if you will. Which means Ohio State’s warm-up game against the other OSU will be your perfect low-stress appetizer to jumpstart a great weekend of college football. Enjoy.

 

Ready, Set, Go! Buckeye Starters Announced, Primed, and Ready To Rock

With a handful of days left in the pit of misery, it is officially game week and with that, the starters for positional units have been announced during the presser–and boy the future looks bright.  With the drama behind us (hopefully it stays that way!), we can all begin looking forward to how our Ohio State Buckeyes respond to the backlash and the three-game suspension of Head Coach Urban Meyer.

Quarterback:  Dwayne Haskins.

Haskins as the heir apparent to J.T. Barrett was one of the worst-kept secrets at Ohio State.  He beat out a shifty dual-threat quarterback in Tate Martell, but even he did enough to earn a few reps when called upon.

Haskins has the arm and the talent to make this offense explode.  He also has the weapons to make that happen as well.  With a collection of talented receivers and tight ends at his disposal, he almost cannot mess this up, but we will have to see once he steps onto the field if he can live up to the hype surrounding him.

Tate Martell might have lost the battle, but he will act as a change-of-pace quarterback when he subs in for certain situations inside of the red zone.  It will be an exciting combination and it would also act as his audition for next seasons quarterback battle if Haskins has one hell of a year and leaves for the NFL.

Running Back:  J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber.

This is probably the most obvious out of every position announced.  The dynamic duo will re-assume their roles on the offense this year.

With Dobbins, he will use his success from his freshman season as he shares the snaps with Weber in what should be his final season.  With one final season, Weber will search for holes to better his draft stock and reach his personal goals, while simultaneously helping his team achieve their own season goals.

This is another talented group with two talented freshmen in Master Teague, Brian Snead, and Jaelin Gill in the mix for snaps as well.

Wide Receiver:  Johnnie Dixon, Austin Mack, and Parris Campbell.

This is another deep group of players, and the three players above are just the more seasoned players of the group.  They still have weapons in the wings in McLaurin, Victor, Hill, and Saunders.

This is a talented group of receivers from a season ago that all came back to play with Haskins before they realize their NFL dreams.  This is a potent group of playmakers that could light teams up the entire season.

People say speed kills and this group has all the speed!  It will be crazy to see, but I am excited to see big plays consistently and often.  Like the Troy Smith years–I cannot wait!  With McLaurin, Dixon, and Campbell captaining, it will be an exciting time for sure.

Offensive LineThayer Munford OR Joshua Alabi, Malcolm Pridgeon, Michael Jordan, Demetrius Knox, and Isaiah Prince.

The offensive line has been set and you gush with excitement due to the potential.  The one move that shocked many was the decision to move another offensive guard to center, this year it is Jordan’s time to lead from the inside.

There is still an on-going battle going on between Munford and Alabi at left tackle, but everything else has been nailed down with Pridgeon at left guard, the aforementioned Jordan at center, Knox at right guard, and Prince at right tackle.  With a combination of Jordan at center and one of the seven team captains in Prince on the offensive line, they will lead the newer starters into battle for what could be their last year at Ohio State.

The feel I get from this lineup is salivating.  I feel like they could be road graders in the run game and that they will bring that nastiness that has been missing for a little bit, both within and outside of the trenches.  While Bowen still recovers, the depth is a little green, but they have a talented group that earned their spot on the two-deep.

Linebacker:  Malik Harrison, Baron Browning, and Pete Werner.

Linebacker is one of the deeper position groups and the roster and the starters that were announced are all athletes–quick ones too.  The sheer speed and athleticism with this group, not even factoring their backups is crazy, but it is too early to buy into the hype for now.

Run stuffers and gap fillers are their specialties, but Harrison and Browning and can be effective in coverage while Werner acts as the missile to blow up players in the backfield.  The previous to can do the same, but after seeing Werner blow people up on special teams, it is not out of the question.

The will get beat sometimes because of their youth and inexperience, but they could also be scary good behind one of the best defensive line collections out there in the nation.  With captain Tuf Borland still recovering from an Achilles injury, he will mold these younger players into machines.

Defensive Line:  Chase Young, Dre’Mont Jones, Robert Landers, and captain Nick Bosa.

Scary doesn’t do this unit and their backups justice.  They will be one of the most active units that will consistently try to harass the opposing quarterbacks and disrupt their offensive attack.  They will make then earn every single yard and this offense could be a frustrating bunch to beat and overcome in the trenches.

Jones and Landers have proven that they could blow up plays with their coordinated efforts and it usually frees up Young and Bosa.  Behind then are a talented group of underclassmen and a few true freshmen.  Togiai and company have made a lot of noise this offseason and they are expected to contribute this season.

Watch out!  This could be the best collection of disruptive playmakers in the trenches that we have had in a while.  I cannot wait to see what becomes of this unit.

Defensive Backs:  Damon Arnette, Kendall Sheffield or Jeffrey Okudah, Jordan Fuller, and Isaiah Pryor.

Captain Fuller will lead his unit to live up to the Ohio State standard.  Everyone who was expected to start secured their respective spot on the depth chart and the only question is who will be the starting corner opposite of Arnette.

The battle between Okudah and Sheffield has been tight so far, but either or will do and they are interchangeable players that can play the sideline or the slot.  Also, with Shaun Wade getting healthier and the true freshmen stepping up, if someone gets banged up they will be perfectly fine because of their depth at every position.

A fiery leader, Fuller will command everyone and coordinate the attack for his defense with other captains at every level.

Specialist/Special Teams:  Sean Nuernberger and  Drue Cristman.

I am giving the special team unit some love and it is well deserved.  During the spring game, they showed their worth in what was the weakest units a season ago.

They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great either with a mixture of issues from missed FG’s to pointless penalties that killed the momentum or swung it in the other teams favor.  It was also the lack of containment on special teams that opposing teams often exposed the Buckeyes–especially when Barkley took it to the house on the opening kickoff last year.

Improvements must be made, especially with the new rules regarding this specific unit, where the ball can be fair caught and placed at the 25-yard line.  There are some hungry young studs (think Pete Werner) that will look to make an impact.  I think it’ll be Mitchell and Gant that will fly around this season and they will bring the boom!

Jeremiah, Tony, and Shannon, I apologize for the lengthy piece, but I am so excited to turn the page from the media storm that occurred a month ago.  I am truly excited for Buckeye season and so are Trevor and Mark.