A Look Around the Country: Football is Finally Back!!

Welcome to my weekly column called, A Look Around the Country, which will highlight notable games from the week before and week ahead as well as the Heisman and Playoff race. Special features include an in-depth look at the Buckeyes as well as a Michigan update, mainly to bask in their misfortunes. As always, feel free to comment back with your own opinions and I hope you enjoy!

Well, it’s finally back. Our beloved game of college football is finally back which means all of our Saturday’s from here on out are most decidedly, booked solid. Sign me up. The biggest storyline to begin the season is whether or not Ohio State will be able to repeat as National Champions for the first time in program history. Urban Meyer is definitely set up well with a massive amount of talent at his disposal but as history has shown; repeating is very, very difficult. Needless to say I still have the Buckeyes pegged as my National Champions for 2015.
I preview Week One below but how much does the first week of the season matter in the grand scheme of things? Ohio State lost in Week 2 yet still went on to win it all. Nevertheless, it will be great to see football back in action with a huge slate of games set for the first week of the season. Sit back and enjoy.

Notable Games Last Week

This is where I will highlight the biggest and most important games each week which are relative to the national landscape or have major conference implications. Unfortunately, there were no games last week. Come back soon.

Big Games This Week

Michigan at Utah

The Jim Harbaugh Era officially kicks off on Thursday night as the Wolverines head to Salt Lake City to take on the Utes. Fan expectations couldn’t be any higher in Ann Arbor but we’ll see how long it actually takes him to put his system in place. Make no mistake; Michigan will be much better this season.

Thursday, September 3 at 8:30pm on FOX Sports 1

TCU at Minnesota

Many people, including me, have TCU in their Playoff this season but not as many have much confidence in the Golden Gophers. Well I do and definitely see this game being a competitive one despite the talent TCU Quarterback, Trevone Boykin has. TCF Bank Stadium will be rocking for this one and if a play or two goes Minnesota’s way look for the upset right out of the gates.

Thursday, September 3 at 9pm on ESPN

Texas at Notre Dame

When it comes to storied programs, these two schools are always mentioned near the top. Brian Kelly is getting the Irish ready for a potential playoff run (they are picked by some to make it) and they definitely have the talent to do it. Charlie Strong still has a long way to go to bring the Longhorns back to Big XII supremacy. Having said that, I do have the Irish as a Playoff dark horse and expect them to win big in South Bend but a tough schedule (Georgia Tech, @Clemson, USC to name a few) will keep them from going.

Saturday, September 5 at 7:30pm on NBC

Wisconsin vs Alabama

I can hear sweat starting to trickle down the faces of Alabama fans everywhere. The Tide have lost their last 2 bowl games (Sugar Bowl’s vs Oklahoma and well, you know) and this season presents itself with more uncertainty at the QB position. Paul Chryst has taken over the reigns in Madison but will be without Melvin Gordon (although RB Corey Clement should have no problem filling the void). Nick Saban still has plenty of talent though and should not have too much trouble in this one.

Saturday, September 5 at 8pm on ABC

Ohio State at Virginia Tech

The Defending National Champions kick off their season in Blacksburg on Labor Day night looking to avenge their lone loss from the 2014 campaign. The Buckeyes will be without Joey Bosa, Corey Smith, Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall, and Noah Brown (leg injury) so it will be up to the young receiving corps (including Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller) to pick up the pace. Expect Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel to get a lot of touches. This game will also serve as the answer to our 8 month question: Who starts at QB? For the record, I am going with J.T. with splashes of Cardale. Virginia Tech is no slouch this season and will have a great defense to test Ohio State so do not expect a snooze fest. The Buckeyes better be ready or else we will see a repeat of last season.

Monday, September 7 at 8pm on ESPN

Michigan Update

I will highlight the Wolverines season opener with Utah next week and provide analysis as we move closer to The Game.

Heisman Watch

I will begin to highlight the nation’s best players next week after the first games of the season kickoff. A plus sign (+) means an improvement, E means no change, and minus sign (-) means drop in poll. Everyone starts with an E.

Trevone Boykin, TCU: E

Ezekiel Elliot, Ohio State: E

J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones: E

Cody Kessler, USC: E

Leonard Fournette, LSU: E

Connor Cook, Michigan State: E

Dak Prescott, Miss. State: E

My Playoff if the Season ended Today

1. Ohio State (at Virginia Tech)

2. TCU (at Minnesota)

3. Auburn (vs Louisville)

4. USC (vs Arkansas State)

Just Missed the Cut

5. Michigan State (at Western Michigan)

6. Clemson (vs Wofford)

7. Baylor (at SMU)

8. Alabama (vs Wisconsin)

9. Oregon (vs Eastern Washington)

10. Notre Dame (vs Texas)

The Black Stripe: How a National Championship has Created Higher Standards

There has been something troubling me this training camp. Usually we are busy with names that come out of camp of the newest Buckeye players who have lost their Black Stripes. By my research that I could dig up, this might not be a hundred percent accurate, I noticed something really strange.

In 2013, after Buckeyes had their undefeated season, there were approximately 11 players who had their Black Stripes removed in August (again this is all I could find). 21 players had the honor of Black Stripes being removed last season, in August. So far, as I am writing this, only 6 players have had theirs removed this August.

Can this be a cause of concern for the Buckeyes this season with such a low number? You can’t play in a game if you have your Black Stripe because you haven’t become an official Buckeye player yet. Eli Apple had his until April a year after he set foot on campus. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has always said he recruits players that can play right away, really doesn’t like to red shirt players if it can avoided.

The Black Stripe program is meant as a way for the upperclassmen on Buckeyes football team to take a “Little Brother” under their wings. The upperclassmen have a responsibility to show the new players what it is about to be a Buckeye- from they way they practice, conduct in and around the facility, approach to academics, and demeanor in public. Watching Scarlet and Gray Days on BTN you witnessed Ezekiel Elliott mentoring true freshman Mike Weber. We were able to see how Zeke was teaching him the small things to become a better running back, praising him when he did good and explaining to him if something went wrong. Showing Weber from his experience about the right way to carry the ball and how defenses like to rip it out certain ways, Zeke also told Weber if you want to get your Black Stripe removed you better get over there and volunteer to get on special teams even if its scout team (paraphrasing). Mike Weber is only one of the six so far to have his Black Stripe removed.

Are we seeing any indication that the other upperclassmen aren’t doing their jobs mentoring the new players right? The Scarlet and Gray Days has lead me to believe its quite the opposite. You can make a strong case that the upperclassmen are setting a higher standard for these new players to get their Stripes removed. All of these upperclassmen have bought into a system that Urban Meyer and company have brought to Columbus. They have seen their hard work and dedication pay off by only losing three games in three years. The bar was set even higher after winning the National Championship this past season.

Think about it these upperclassmen know what it takes to win the National Championship, they know the hard work and dedication they put into the Buckeyes program. These upperclassmen know what that feeling is like, hoisting the hardware after the very last game crowning them kings of football. They want to get back and want the tradition to live on even after their future of wearing the Scarlet and Gray is over, so saying you are a Buckeye will continue to mean ELITE. Only six players have crossed over to the elite side so far but I am willing to bet many more are very close. The Buckeye players are building a dynasty and it all starts with Urban Meyer and his Black Stripe program.

Noah Brown Breaks Leg Will Have Season Ending Surgery

Picture Courtesy of 247Sports

Picture Courtesy of 247Sports

Man I really hate having to put stuff like this up. You watch what these kids do through Scarlet and Gray Days on BTN, realizing how hard they are working. You can see how bad this team wants to get back to the championship game. The Buckeyes have been fortunate to keep the major injury bug out of the facilities in Columbus until today.

Dave Biddle of 247Sports reporting with confirmation from head coach Urban Meyer and OSU that Noah Brown indeed has a broken leg and will have surgery tomorrow. This is sad news for the young man.

I am not going to go into who will or needs to step up to replace Brown that can be discussed tomorrow, our thoughts and prayers are for a healthy and speedy recovery.

Really hope all the positive that we have heard from what Brown has been doing during the spring and training camp is only on pause for a year. During the Spring Game remember sitting next to BlockONation we were discussing who was going to step up and replace Devin Smith and Evan Spencer. Just as we were starting to talk about possible replacements this play happened right in front of us.

We knew Noah had arrived, now we just will have to wait a little longer but as they say have patience. Good things come to those that wait.

Men of the Scarlet and Gray Podcast #5 with Kevin McGuire

This week on Men of the Scarlet and Gray Myself along with my awesome co-hosts (Chip Minnich and Jeremiah Sharpe) get the privilege to discuss Big Ten East football and college football in general with Kevin McGuire. We also briefly discuss the Scarlet and Gray Days on the Big Ten Network and wrap up the training camp also discussing OSU QB situation.

For anyone who doesn’t know Kevin McGuire he has been a friend of our show. He is an extremely hard working college football writer and now podcaster. Kevin who can be found on twitter at @KevinonCFB. You can enjoy his work at Athlon Sports, NBC’s College Football Talk, also no2minutewarning.com. Lets not forget he also does work for Nittany Lions Den. You can and should listen to his podcasts on no2minutewarning.com and Nittany Lions Den Podcasts which is part of the Nittany Lions Sports Radio also part of the vSporto network.

Speaking of vSporto network you can enjoy our show and many other quality shows on Buckeye Sports Radio. You can download the iOS app or listen on your browser of your Andriod device (App is coming soon). You can follow Buckeye Sports Radio on twitter @buckeyesradio.

We have to make mention that if you are subscribed to Men of the Scarlet and Gray Live Podcast you will have to go back into iTunes or whatever your favorite app is and find Men of the Scarlet and Gray. Our new show will no longer be getting connected with the MotSag Live feed. We apologize for any inconvenience and are hoping you won’t have any issues finding the show now. Currently are awaiting approval on Stitcher which hopefully should be coming very soon. If you can’t find us on your favaorite podcast app let us know so we can make it a priority to get the show on there to enjoy.

You can also now follow The podcast on twitter @MotSaGPodcast and like the Facebook page Men of the Scarlet and Gray Podcast.

Five Must See Games Of 2015 For Ohio State

This week we will be presenting to our readers a bunch of posts from potential writers for MotSaG. All of these guys have applied to write for us and were given an assignment to perform. This particular post is brought to you by Mark Prine. So leave some feedback on your thoughts and opinions. Thanks

Here we are just under two weeks away from the start of the 2015 season for the Ohio State University Football Buckeyes, and I’m sure you all have been asking yourself “what are the five most important games of the year??” Well I have been sent to tell you to ponder no more, for I have compiled a list.

1. Virginia Tech

On Labor Day the bucks will travel south to Blacksburg, Virginia to fight it out with the Hokies. This is an absolute must win for Ohio State. But it doesn’t have anything to do with last year. We know that OSU lost to VT last season and they want revenge and blah blah blah. That all sounds very good but let me tell you, last year’s loss doesn’t matter anymore. This is a nationally televised game on week 1 AND Ohio State is the away team AND they are facing a defensive powerhouse. With everybody and their mother watching, including the playoff committee, the Virginia Tech game will set a precedent for Ohio State’s season.

2. Penn State

In the weeks following the Virginia Tech game, Ohio State takes on Devry, ICDC College and THE University of Phoenix online, so I’ll confidently say that those will be wins and we’ll just fast forward to October 17th in Columbus when James Franklin’s Nittany Lions come to town. Penn State gave OSU one of it’s toughest games last season; and with nine returning Offensive Starters and seven defensive starters coming back, this year’s game is sure to be another nail biter.

3. Sparty

This is THE game before “The Game.” Connor Cook was all B1G last year and he is back again for the sole purpose of playing in this game. He has a great O-Line protecting him, led by Jack Conlin and All-American Jack Allen. Not to mention, Defensive End, Shilique Calhoun plays with a chip on his shoulder. There’s not a more evenly matched team in the conference, who could knock off the buckeyes, than Michigan State.

4. The game

Coming off of a game against MSU, Ohio State has to remain focused for the next game. I don’t see that being a problem when Urbs is the man in charge. On paper this game should be a blow out. Jimmy’s players won’t match up with this Ohio State team in ANY facet of the game, IF AND ONLY IF the Buckeyes are firing on all cylinders. If OSU comes out going half speed and waits until late in the 3rd quarter to turn it on then we can see another barn burner. Should the boys come out flying around, then watch out….It could get ugly.

5. Big ten championship

As OSU is favored to run the table this regular season, I fully expect them to participate in the conference championship game. Ohio State is a confident football team that knows, everything is earned, nothing is given, and just showing up is never enough. But….there is a fine line between confindence and arrogance. As the season progresses and Ohio State wins and wins and wins, the coaching staff’s ability to keep the team grounded and focused will determine whether they will win this game and appear in the second annual College Football Playoff.

Our Quarterbacks Can Beat Up Your Quarterbacks

This week we will be presenting to our readers a bunch of posts from potential writers for MotSaG. All of these guys have applied to write for us and were given an assignment to perform. This particular post is brought to you by Phil Schoch. So leave some feedback on your thoughts and opinions. Thanks

The 4,220th Buckeye Quarterback Competition Article

An article about nothing? Why should I read it?

The focal point of the 2015 college football universe is situated precisely three yards behind Ohio State center Jacoby Boren’s upturned posterior. He likely doesn’t mind the attention. He knows an elite signal caller, Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett, will position himself three yards behind and clap his hands for the senior center to initiate the launch sequence for what is predicted to be a legendary Buckeye offensive onslaught this fall. With nearly two weeks until opening weekend, Buckeye Nation awaits. Jacoby the Slob will be positioned, listening, ready to maul. Will Jones or Barrett clap first in Blacksburg? Who will clap in Ann Arbor? Will either clap in Glendale?

2,821 articles had been written detailing the impending OSU QB triple threat match, featuring Barrett – “The Record Setter” vs Jones – “The Championship Winner” vs Braxton Miller – “The B1G Legend*.” On July 23rd, Miller confirmed that his twice surgically repaired shoulder would not permit him to compete for his former position and a change to H-back/receiver was his new reality. Had Miller’s shoulder maladies abated, Twitter, sports radio and TV heads that talk too much would have exploded by now and the Buckeye coaching staff would be delicately handling a hypothetically volatile situation. Now it’s Jones or Barrett. When scanning the national columns and beat reporters, the only constant is that no one truly knows: Cardale or J.T.?

*In its 91 year history, only four individuals have twice won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as MVP of Big Ten: Paul Giel, Minnesota, 1951-52; Archie Griffin, Ohio State, 1973-74; Anthony Thompson, Indiana, 1988-89; and Braxton Miller, Ohio State, 2012-13. Miller’s legendary status is not up for debate. He can certainly add to it this year with a breakout year at receiver.

Let’s take a look at the current roster of Ohio State quarterbacks and develop a best case/worst case scenario moving forward into the highly anticipated 2015 season.

Torrance Gibson #6 True Freshman 6-4 205 American Heritage HS Plantation, Fla

gibson_jumpA blue chip, dual-threat quarterback and athlete out of the coveted South Florida recruiting region, Torrance Gibson came to Ohio State this summer set to compete at the quarterback position. Recruiting analysts loved his athleticism and potential behind center, but they gushed and drooled at the idea of Gibson as a wide receiver. A week into fall camp, Gibson became the third high profile Buckeye (Terrelle Pryor & Braxton) to recently make the switch from QB to WR. The early reviews are glowing. Buckeye WR coach, Zach Smith gushed as well, “He has skills that most human beings should not have. His size and speed is very, very unique. And he can throw the heck out of the ball.” Whether this is a permanent move is a decision for a later date.

Best Case Scenario: Gibson establishes himself as a force at receiver and becomes an all-time great Michael Jenkins/David Boston-type big play big receiver. Think about J.T. to Gibson, not just this year, but for the following two as well!

Worst Case Scenario: Gibson bounces back and forth between receiver and quarterback and never maxes out his tremendous potential.

Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Instead of becoming a Boston-esque receiver, Gibson flakes out and becomes the Boston of body sculpting (COUGH…HGH) and nipple piercing.

Joe Burrow #10 True Freshman 6-3 208 Athens HS The Plains, OH

joe_burrowFrom South Florida to Southern Ohio. During his senior season of high school, four-star recruit, Joe Burrow, threw for nearly 4,500 yards and an eye-gauging 63 TD’s/2 INT’s in leading his Athens Townies (I assume) to the brink of a state championship. He also claimed the 2014 Ohio Mr. Football award. With the number of full time quarterbacks on the roster cut to four, the key numbers for Burrow this season are 0 and 3. Play 0 snaps this season and redshirt. By season’s end, establish himself as the clear #2 option on the 2016 QB depth chart behind Barrett. The only time his name should be mentioned in a telecast this season is when Glenn Mason is filling time with folksy anecdotes in the second, third and fourth quarters of blowouts on BTN.

Best Case Scenario: Joe Burrow gets into absorption! Leadership, work ethic, film study, knowledge of the offense, skills and technique… all free and provided on a daily basis by J.T. Barrett.

Worst Case Scenario: Due to a maelstrom of injuries, Burrow makes the two-deep or loses his redshirt season.

Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Burrow grows an unwieldy beard and leaves the program to play the git-fiddle on Athens street corners and Appalachian music festivals.

Stephen Collier #13 Redshirt Freshman 6-4 225 Lee County HS Leesburg, Ga

stephen_collierStephen Collier has a National Championship ring; Deshaun Watson and Brandon Harris do not. While Collier gets to be mentored by Urban Meyer, Watson gets to learn the meaning of Clemsoning from Dabo Swinney and Harris gets to learn the importance of Columbus Day from certified lunatic Les Miles. When Watson (Clemson) and Harris (LSU) turned down the Buckeyes, Stephen Collier (rated the 12th best dual-threat quarterback his senior year) became the choice for Meyer and the Buckeyes. His senior season he threw for nearly 2,300 yards, rushed for over 1,000 yards and accounted for 44 TD’s.

2014 was Collier’s year to be a sponge. He watched his name rise from 4th to 2nd-ish on the depth chart due to the injuries of Miller and Barrett (H-back Jalin Marshall would have assumed the role of quarterback had Cardale Jones gotten hurt in the post-season). He did not play a single snap in 2014, preserving his redshirt. In spring practice, Collier experienced a major uptick in reps due to the injury recoveries of Barrett and Miller. His performance in the spring game was quite un-Bam-like (7-19, 81 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT’s & 1 fumble). 2015 will be a crucial season for Collier. He has been in the system for a season and two springs (early enrollee). He has two stars ahead of him in Jones and Barrett, but he now has company on the depth chart in Burrow, perhaps Gibson, plus future signee Tristen Wallace arriving in 2016. With the amount of potential blowouts on the schedule, Collier should see regular 4th quarter mop up duty. He must value every snap he gets and prove to the offensive staff that he is a viable option in the future.

Best Case Scenario: Stephen Collier uses his legit size, strength and athleticism, his experience within the program, makes the most of his 4th quarter snaps and proves he is the 3rd best quarterback on the roster.

Worst Case Scenario: Stephan Collier is taking meaningful snaps at any point this season.

Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Two quarterbacks – two years in a row? You’ve got to be kidding me!

J.T. Barrett #16 Redshirt Sophomore 6-2 225 Rider HS Wichita Falls, TX

jt_barrettAugust 19, 2014. Fall camp. One routine throw. One re-torn labrum. One season down the drain. Hopes dashed before the season could kick off. Well, let’s see what this J.T. Barnett can do?

September 6. Virginia Tech. Night game in the ‘Shoe. 9/29, 1 TD passing, 1 TD rushing, 3 INT’s and sacked 8 times in a 35-21 drubbing. Brutal. The epitome of a total team loss. Maybe they’ll make the Outback Bowl.

NO ONE could have prophesied that these bleak two and half weeks would foreshadow an epic run to a National Title. NO ONE would have predicted that J.T. Barrett would win the Big Ten Freshman and Quarterback of the Year, make first team All-B1G and second team All-American, lead the Buckeyes on a ten game winning streak, account for 45 total touchdowns, set 19 (!) school and conference records, finish 5th in the Heisman voting and fracture and dislocate his ankle on the first play of the fourth quarter against Michigan.

Simply amazing! The steel will, the focused leadership, the technical and statistical improvement and the total admiration and respect of the coaching staff and team. And now he’s locked in a 1-on-1 battle just to start again? How is that even possible?

One Nagging Question: Can J.T. Barrett win championship level big games?

An Answer, Perhaps: In the biggest game of the regular season (at Michigan State – who finished the season ranked 5th) J.T. went off! 16/26, 300 yards passing, 3 TD’s passing, 86 yards rushing, 2 TD’s rushing, 568 yards of team total offense and 49 points. Bottom line is – we just don’t know.

Another: Does Barrett have enough of the arm strength possessed by Jones to consistently stretch the field vertically, therefore un-loading the box for Ezekiel Elliot and the Slobs to eviscerate opposing defenses?

Cardale Jones #12 Redshirt Junior 6-5 250 Glenville HS Cleveland, OH

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Three starts. Three wins. Legend! Without the improbable rise of Cardale Jones, Buckeye Nation would not have experienced the euphoria of winning the first College Football Playoff. No bloody Badger beatdown. No slaying of the evil Nicktator and his Crimson Tide. No splattering of the Nike Ducks. Three games. Buckeye legend for life!

In three years at Ohio State, Jones had played about 6 meaningful snaps of football. He had been a stud QB out of Cleveland’s Glenville HS, but a year in military school, a redshirt year and a year handing off in mop up duty as the third string had made him a forgotten man (I know, except for the Tweet). Questionable work ethic. Questionable focus. A penchant for immaturity. Cardale was likely on his way out of town. But with Barrett wincing in pain on the Ohio Stadium turf in the fourth quarter of The Game, #12’s number was called. The rest is the stuff of legends.

The season, capped by Cardale Jones unfathomable National Championship run, still seems implausible. Through potentially crippling turnovers and inexperienced miscues, Jones was unflappable. In the hours of post-season media sessions, he handled himself with humility, thoughtfulness and the maturity of an old pro that had seen it all. He gracefully bypassed the opportunity to cash in on his instant fame and NFL status by returning to Ohio State for his fourth season. And now he’s locked in a 1-on-1 battle just to start again? How is that even possible?

One Nagging Question: Can Cardale Jones sustain the season-long maturity and focus necessary to win every week?

An Answer, Perhaps: Wisconsin – 59 points. Alabama – 42 points. Oregon – 42 points. If Cardale Jones has the offense humming at this pace, the rest of the competition should be bugs on the windshield.

Another: You’re on the road at night at Happy Valley. Raucous atmosphere. You’re playing like crap. You’ve blown a 17 point lead. You’ve thrown a pick six. You’re playing hurt – sprained MCL. You’re going to overtime. Penn State has all of the momentum. Does Cardale Jones have the mettle to win this game?

CARDALE VS J.T.

Publicly, Urban Meyer has praised both for their physical and mental preparation entering fall camp. He has praised their maturity and comradery as well. “I think they’re both right there, and you probably wouldn’t expect me to say anything different, but that’s what it is. They’re both working their tails off, and it’s one of the most refreshing competitions I’ve ever witnessed … When I say best friends, they’re unbelievable how well they get along,” Meyer said.

Meyer has hinted at playing two quarterbacks, while both Jones and Barrett have bristled at the idea.

“I don’t think that would be a great idea,” Jones said. “In a two-quarterback system, let’s say I’m on the field for three plays and I’m off the field and he runs a drive or something like that; I don’t know how well that would work as far as rhythm and developing timing with the guys.”

“So, I think that would be kind of tough and it would be weird if we switched like every quarter,” posited Barrett. “So, I don’t think it would be best as far as the quarterback position being that we wouldn’t have the same rhythm or efficiency if we used a two-quarterback system. But if they haven’t ruled it out, I’ll just do what they say. They’re the coaches; I’m a player. So, I just do what they say.”

In his three+ years at Ohio State, Urban Meyer has been building a culture of brotherhood and family and playing for the man next to you. Unless one man wins the job outright in camp, this delicate QB balancing act will certainly test the foundation of the culture of brotherhood.

Would Jones be able to handle being second string? “That’s a good question,” he replied. “I’m pretty sure I would be able to, just being older and having more experience. Being more mature. It’s more than just me. It’s about more than just me. This team is bigger than any one single person so if I have to take that backseat role again I will have to — no choice.”

Every alpha dog wants to be the man. But let’s face it, after the Virginia Tech opener, the Buckeyes will be favored by a minimum of three touchdowns in six of their next 8 games (and those are conservative estimates). The schedule is not a murderer’s row. Relax man. There’s enough juice here to keep us all fat and giggly.

Best Case Scenario: An outright winner is declared in camp, the vice-quarterback throws his full support behind the starter and the Buckeyes begin their mission of back-to-back National Championships.

Best Case Scenario, Part II: No one is the clear cut winner and both dedicate themselves to the two quarterback system and the mission of back-to-back National Championships.

Worst Case Scenario: A few shaky QB performances, whispers in the locker room and the team subconsciously begins aligning with the quarterback of their preference. Cracks develop in the façade. The culture of brotherhood resembles a lot of hot air and hyperbole. NFL prospects start playing to protect their knees and draft position. A team from north of the border strikes a death blow to the title dreams.

Worst Case Scenario, Part II: Cardale and J.T. suffer season ending injuries in the first half of the opener in Blacksburg and the QB controversy becomes Collier vs Burrow.

Worst Case Scenario, Part III: Jacoby Boren becomes jealous of all the attention taking place three feet behind him. When the QB claps, he twerks. By season’s end, Boren supplants J.B. Shugarts in the record books as Buckeye O-lineman most frequently flagged for false start. Jones and Barrett request position changes.

The Slobbiest Slobs In The Country

This week we will be presenting to our readers a bunch of posts from potential writers for MotSaG. All of these guys have applied to write for us and were given an assignment to perform. This particular post is brought to you by Parker Eads. So leave some feedback on your thoughts and opinions. Thanks

The Slobs. In Ohio State’s championship run last year, the core of the offensive line, better known as “the slobs,” proved to be critical in the team’s success.

With the start of the new season swiftly approaching, let’s take a closer look at the slobs that will be playing the offensive tackle position and who the fans should be seeing in Lane Stadium on September 7 as the Buckeyes search for vengeance from last season’s lone loss.

Without a doubt, senior Taylor Decker has locked down his starting role, and he is the one returning starter at the tackle position. Decker decided to come back for his senior season instead of taking his chances in the NFL Draft. Even after this season is over, some scouts and projections are saying that Decker could even be a first-round pick.

The Vandalia, OH native is definitely the most experienced at the position having played in all of the last 41 games for the Buckeyes and totaling over 2,300 offensive plays in the process. He earned second-team all-Big Ten honors last season, and he helped the Buckeye offense shatter a number of records. Last year’s offense broke school records for touchdowns (90), points scored (637), passing yards (3,707) and also passing touchdowns (42). Kudos to the unsung hero – Captain Decker.

As he did last year, Decker will more than likely play on the left side to protect Jones’…no, Barrett’s… well – whoever’s blind side. And he will be looked to again for his leadership and consistency which was evident after the loss to the Hokies last season.

The hole that needs filled is the right tackle position, formerly occupied by Darryl Baldwin. That void will be filled by senior Chase Farris, according to Urban Meyer who made that announcement this past April. Farris was part of more offensive plays than any non-starter along the offensive line last season – so it only makes sense for Meyer to trust him with the starting right tackle role now.

Not only does Farris make a strong case with his physical presence at 6’ 5” and 310 pounds, but Farris has all the intangibles as well. In last season’s playoff semifinal against Alabama, Farris was called upon to play the guard position after center Jacoby Boren went down to an injury, thus pushing Pat Elflein to center and Farris to Elflein’s right guard spot. In a season where the mantra became “next man up,” more so applying to the quarterback position, Farris proved that he could be and will be that next man up on the right side of the offensive line.
Obviously Decker and Farris cannot play every down of every game, so who is the “next man up” after those two?
Sophomore Jamarco Jones makes a strong case for the backup position at either side, but he would more than likely backup Decker over Farris for locking down the blind side. The four-star prospect from Chicago played in ten games last season as a true freshman, playing his game high 41 snaps against the 66-0 drubbing of Kent State as well as playing 19 snaps in the game against Rutgers. Scout rated him the 63rd best recruit in the country, and he was within the top ten at the offensive tackle position.

As far as the second backup is concerned, there are three potential guys that could impress Meyer and offensive line coach Ed Warinner during fall camp to be that other backup, all freshman – Isiah Prince, Grant Schmidt, and Brady Taylor.

Prince was a four-star prospect from Greenbelt, MD rated among the top ten offensive tackle prospects by Rivals. Schmidt was also a four star prospect, was ranked 26th nationally at the tackle position and is the first player ever from the state of South Dakota to play for the Buckeyes. Lastly, Taylor brings a bit of an edge with some experience as a redshirt freshman, but any of these three guys could lay claim to the other backup position.
One thing is for sure though – with Warinner, the Offensive Line Coach of the Year in two of the last three seasons, the O-line is in very good hands.

2015 – The Year of the Linebacker?

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It wasn’t long ago that the three athletes that lined up behind the defensive line accounted for the weak link of an otherwise solid Buckeye defense. Dare I even say a liability? Ryan Shazier was a rock star but he was the only Silver Bullet linebacker to be chosen in the first round since AJ Hawk and Bobby Carpenter back in 2006. Trust me, I checked.

But in case you haven’t been paying attention, times they are a changin’. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from this year’s crop of Mikes, Wills, and Sams.

The Top of the Food Chain

Two starters return to lead this group along with a blue chip sophomore that logged plenty of meaningful playing time a year ago. Darron Lee went from relative unknown to household name in 2014. He is quick to the ball, disciplined in his assignments, gets after the quarterback and has great hands to go along with it. He accounted for two interceptions and two fumble recoveries a year ago to with 7.5 sacks from the strong-side position. All of this and more have lead to Lee being named to the preseason All Big Ten First Team.

Not far behind Lee is last year’s team leader in tackles (124) Joshua Perry. Perry hits with authority and rarely misses a tackle. More of a run-stopper, Perry can be counted on to get his nose into the line of scrimmage and do the dirty work. Perry brings an intangible to this unit that Coach Meyer praises ceaselessly: leadership. The senior has had scarlet and gray running through his veins since he was lining up for Olentangy High School in his hometown of Galena. He’s listed as a preseason All Big Ten Second Team but don’t be surprised if he finishes the season even higher.

Raekwon McMillan is what Coach Meyer would call a “freak”. This true sophomore, and preseason All Big Ten Third Teamer, came out of high school with a highlight reel that would give the average scout shivers. In a backup role to Curtis Grant a year ago, McMillan made sure there was no drop-off in athleticism. He played in all fifteen games and finished eighth on the team in tackles. And he proved that he isn’t afraid of the spotlight either with a pick-six against Maryland and six tackles in games against Michigan and Wisconsin each. So have no fear Buckeye fans, losing last year’s senior starter at the middle linebacker position may actually become an upgrade for this defense.

The Second Wave

It is no secret that, since arriving in 2012, Urban Meyer has turned recruiting into an Ohio State work of art. And after a few years of building multiple top-tier classes, the result is a team full of depth at every position – the linebackers falling right into this mold. Chris Worley, a 6’2” Will linebacker from Tedd Ginn, Sr.’s Glenville football factory, personifies this perfectly. He even began last season as a starter at the weakside position against Navy before Perry surpassed him on the depth charts. If that doesn’t say enough about the redshirt sophomore, consider that he did this after switching from playing safety in high school.

Dante Booker is another monster of an athlete that has been difficult to keep off the field. As a freshman letterman a year ago, Booker earned his playing time exactly the way that Coach Meyer requires: on special teams. He improved every single week and earned himself 21 snaps against Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. If Darron Lee weren’t the man in front of him, it might be Booker’s name on Phil Steele’s All Big Ten list.

Camren Williams has a significantly different story than the other backers that have been covered thus far. This four star recruit out of Massachusetts was part of Urban Meyer’s first recruiting class back in 2012. He’s a four-time letterman and has seen more and more of the field every year. He seemed to live up to his potential back in 2013 when he started for Curtis Grant and racked up ten tackles on the road against Illinois. But since then he just hasn’t impressed the coaches enough to become one of the starting three.

Making the Leap

The only question mark among the linebacking corps may be this: who is this year’s Raekwon McMillan? Only camp will tell. But if I were a betting man I would put my money on Justin Hilliard. This five star recruit from St. Xavier in Cincinnati walked onto campus with the size of someone who has already been through Mickey Marotti’s strenuous training program. He was the number one prospect in the state of Ohio and the second ranked outside linebacker in the country.

Jerome Baker isn’t far behind Hilliard. The third ranked recruit from the Buckeye state is gifted beyond measure and even has the potential to line up at multiple positions on either side of the ball. He played running back and linebacker at Cleveland Benedictine and was recruited by both defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and since departed running back coach Stan Drayton. There’s not much of a chance that Fickell lets this kid out of his grasp, though.

Kyle Berger is yet another player that could see time in the linebacker rotation. The redshirt freshman out of St. Ignatius’ fabled football program spent last season recovering from a knee injury. At 6’2” 230 pounds and with a year under his belt to learn the playbook, Berger certainly has the mental advantage over the other freshmen. Meyer has mentioned in multiple press conferences that he needs to find time for Berger. These three should be a big part of the Piranhas special teams unit, but don’t be surprised to see them subbing in for the starters more and more frequently as the season progresses.

The Last Line of Defense

Whether they are career special-teamers, clipboard-holders, or redshirts-in-waiting, the remaining four linebackers should see limited playing time this season. Craig Fada and Joe Burger are beloved by teammates and coaches. The two seniors are are shoe-ins for the special teams units. (And if you haven’t seen their “Buckeye Cribs” video then you need to get with the times.) Nick Conner may be the odd freshman out when it comes to playing time. Even though his future is bright, you’ll likely only see him on the field in garbage time if Meyer doesn’t apply the redshirt. Jared Drake and Zach Turnure round out the group and will make their biggest impact in practice and cheering their teammates from the sideline.

Ohio State makes it’s case for Running Back U. in 2015

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Coming off of a National Championship, the Ohio State Buckeyes have an
embarrassment of riches at almost every position and the running back position is no
different. So let’s take a look at a few of these guys and see where they stack up on the
depth chart.

First of all, we can start with (maybe) the best running back in all of college
football. Ezekiel Elliott is a junior standing at 6 feet 225lbs from St Louis Mo. He took
over the world with his record breaking performances in the Big Ten Championship game
as well as the College Football Playoff. For most Buckeye fans, this was not a huge
surprise. Zeke was a big time four star recruit coming out of high school and has lived up
to all the hype. Zeke will be the bell cow for the Buckeyes backfield this year because of
his talent and because he is chasing a Heisman Trophy.

The next guy on the depth chart is 6 foot 215lbs Bri’onte Dunn. Dunn was a four
star recruit coming out of Glenn Oak High School in north east Ohio and was expected to
be the next great RB for the Buckeyes. Early on in Dunn’s Buckeye career he had a hard
time adjusting to the demands of a program like Ohio State. In fact, when the Meyer
regime came to Columbus they were not very fond of Dunn and his work ethic, but last
year Dunn decided to commit to the system and became a wrecking ball on special teams.
Now that Dunn has put everything on the table I am expecting a big year out of him as
Zeke’s main backup. There is no shortage of talent when it comes to Dunn. I truly hope
he has a great year and is able to assist on multiple levels.

The guy that is right on Dunn’s heels is true freshman Michael Weber out of
powerhouse Cass Tech from the state up north. Weber, a 5’ 10” 215lbs bowling ball, had
one of the most interesting recruitments last spring. At one point he was committed to the
team up north and then decided to de-commit and eventually commit to the Buckeyes.
Things got worrisome after national signing day. Buckeyes running back coach Stan
Drayton decided to move on to the NFL. This was not taken well by Weber because he
and Coach Drayton had such an astounding relationship. Eventually, Coach Meyer was
able to do what he does best and reel Weber back in. Weber was the second freshman to
get his back stripe removed from his helmet, symbolizing that he is fitting in well with
the group . New coach Tony Alford recently mentioned that Dunn was currently the
backup, but that Weber was right there with him. Unfortunately for Weber, reports have
come in that he has a significant knee issue that occurred in training camp which possibly
puts him out 3-4 weeks. Both Dunn and Weber will play, but it is up to them who ends up
getting the bulk of the backup carries.

The last guy that is considered strictly a running back is 6’1” 225lbs Warren Ball.
Warren is a Junior from Columbus De Sales who has seemingly been a victim of great
recruiting by coach Meyer. Since Meyer showed up in Columbus he has been able to
bring in some of the best running backs in the country which has ,unfortunately, pushed
Ball further down the depth chart. Ball would be in the two deep on most Big Ten teams,
but lets be honest, the Buckeyes are not like most teams in the Big Ten. I believe Ball will
transfer for his final year if he does not have a more significant role this year.

The guy that could completely throw a wrench in this whole thing is the
remarkably talented 5’11” 200lbs Curtis Samuel. Brooklyn, NY is where the Buckeyes
coaching staff plucked Samuel from. He did not wait long to make his presence known
last year with coach Meyer calling him a “ grown man” in training camp. He also had a
great impact on the field but as Zeke started to gain momentum , Samuel started to see his
playing time dwindle. I don’t have Samuel in the two deep due to the fact that the
Buckeye coaching staff is trying to put Curtis at the H- Back position. This is simply to
get him on the field for more snaps because he is that dynamic. It will be interesting to
see how the coaches decide to use Samuel this year!

Bottom line is the Buckeyes are loaded at the RB position and I cannot wait to see them
unleashed in Blacksburg in a few weeks!

Positional Previews: The Tight Ends by @justin_golba

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There has been a lot of talk this offseason about the powerful Ohio State offense. From the best quarterback battle any fan could have asked for, to the Heisman candidate running back Ezekiel Elliott, to the position change of Braxton Miller, this spring has been highly profiled and has excited Ohio State fans everywhere for the upcoming season. However, there is one position that has not gotten the attention that the rest of the offense has received. The tight ends. This is a very talented group of proven and unproven talent, mixed with veteran leadership and youthful optimism. The tight ends are exciting because their production since Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus in 2012 has increased every year. Catches, touchdowns, and targets have gone up each year since Meyer took over and with the tight end group that Ohio State has this year that does not look to be changing any time soon. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the tight ends that will suit up in the Scarlet and Gray this year.

The Starter: Nick Vannett

Nick Vannett is the guy. Vannett, a fifth year senior who just recently earned his degree from Ohio State, has been watching, learning and taking his reps behind Jeff Heuerman for the past two years and now it is his turn. He really broke out last year towards the end of the year, with 2 catches and a big touchdown grab in the National Championship. Standing at 6’6 and 260 pounds, Vannett is a great combination of speed, size, and sure hands along with his great route running and tremendous work ethic. He is also a fantastic blocker which will help the highly anticipated Ohio State rushing attack immensely. It will be interesting to see how well he adjusts to all the playing time he will get as the go to tight end. Nick Vannett is due for his breakout year and he can also be a dark horse in Ohio State’s run for a repeat of the national championship. Expect a 1st or 2nd team All-Big Ten selection in his future.

The Back-up: Marcus Baugh

As a four star prospect out of high school, his coaches and fellow players think his potential is through the roof. Baugh is 6’5 and 255 pounds and is a very difficult match up for opponents due to his overwhelming size and notable speed. He also has great hands and can block very well to help the running game even more. Vannett even went as far to say, “He’s probably the most athletic guy in our room” which is extremely high praise for the young tight end. He is not as strong as the coaching staff would like but due to him only being a sophomore, he can work on that throughout time. Although he has been cited multiple times for underage drinking and has been suspended two times by the team, most recently two games at the beginning of last year, coaches have said that he has matured noticeably since his suspension. He did not play in the spring game but he has had a solid spring of practice and has made huge strides towards reaching his full potential as a tight end. As long as he can stay on the field this year he will get plenty of playing time with Urban Meyer’s love for a two tight end set and his incredible athletic abilities.

The freshman: A.J. Alexander and Rashod Barry

These two young true freshman will arrive in Columbus and immediately look for playing time. Depending on how well Baugh adjusts to his new role, these two guys may have a chance to fight for the backup spot. A.J. Alexander is a 6’4, 220 pound tight end/H-back, who said during his recruitment and after he committed that he would be used at H-back, but is now being looked at as more of a tight end due to his size and that he can play sooner at tight end rather than at H-Back, especially after the emergence of Jalin Marshall last year. He has superb speed and sure hands due to his wide receiver experience in high school. He is coming off a torn ACL during his senior season, and paired with the certainty of Nick Vannett starting at tight end, that could be enough for the coaching staff to redshirt him this year, recover fully, and then compete for the starting spot in 2016. If he does not redshirt, look for him to get some playing time in special teams and maybe even a couple snaps at tight end. The next new kid on the block is Rashod Barry. A defensive end in high school, he has been leaning towards moving to tight end before the beginning of the season due to the chance of him getting more playing time sooner. He stands at 6’5 and 250 pounds, and just adds to the tall, strong, and athletic flock of tight ends. Both Alexander and Barry are terrific athletes and have the potential to be phenomenal tight ends in the Big Ten, and, if they do not redshirt, can make a significant impact on special teams this season with their size and speed.

Projected Depth Chart:
1) Nick Vannett
2) Marcus Baugh
3) AJ Alexander
4) Rashod Barry