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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Game 2020: Defensive Depth Chart

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

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

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

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

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

Reserves: Ty Hamilton (summer enrollee)

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

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

Scarlet Team: Taron Vincent, Haskell Garrett and Antwuan Jackson

Gray Team: Tommy Togiai, Jerron Cage and Jaden McKenzie

Reserves: N/A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reserves: N/A

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

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

Scarlet Team: Josh Proctor, Bryson Shaw and Kevin Dever

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

Reserves: Lathan Ransom (summer enrollee)

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

#GoBucks

Spring Game 2020: Offense Depth Chart

The Horseshoe Wide Shot. Credit: News.osu.edu

Since we here at The Men of the Scarlet and Gray have plunged off the deep end with our Pretend March Madness series, I have succumbed and jumped on the hype train. I have this idea in mind that would do two things: fill the void with Buckeye content and to distract us from the on-going chaos around us. This mini-series not only fills the void in my heart, but it keeps me occupied as well so enjoy!

Quarterbacks: Justin Fields, C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller III, Gunnar Hoak, Danny Vanatsky, J.P. Andrade and Jagger LaRoe.

With Justin Fields returning, he will be the unquestioned starter coming into the spring game. Fields’ spot is his to keep, but the depth behind him was a huge question up until reinforcements from the 2020 recruiting class entered the fray to bring some competition to the room. Chugunov left and Hoak had some in-game experience, but he is not ready to contribute just yet. The Buckeye starter job is set, but the back-up battle has just heated up.

Scarlet Team: Justin Fields and Jack Miller III

Gray Team: Gunnar Hoak and C.J. Stroud

Reserves: Danny Vanatsky, J.P. Andrade and Jagger LaRoe

Running Backs: Master Teague III, Trey Sermon, Demario McCall, Steele Chambers, Marcus Crowley, Miyan Williams, Xavier Johnson, Mitch Rossi and Robert Cope.

The tradition at the Buckeyes Cadillac position has been great over the years and with J.K. Dobbins departing for the NFL early, the legacy gets passed onto another back ready to prove his worth. Enter Master Teague III. Coming into the offseason, the starting nod was all but his, but the injury bug bit and an injured achilles later–he is shelved for a little while. Marcus Crowley is still shelved too and the depth was lacking, leaving a single scholarship player at a key position for the Buckeyes in Steele Chambers. True Freshman Miyan Williams won’t be on the roster until the summer and news broke today from Birm that former Sooner and former Buckeye target Trey Sermon has chosen the Buckeyes. I have plugged him into the spring game for funsies.

Scarlet Team: Steele Chambers, Demario McCall and Mitch Rossi

Gray Team: Trey Sermon (Grad transfer), Xavier Johnson and Robert Cope

Reserves: Master Teague (injury), Marcus Crowley (injury), Miyan Williams (summer enrollee)

Wide Receivers: Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Julian Fleming, Jameson Williams, Kamryn Babb, Mookie Cooper, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr, Jaylen Harris, Jaelen Gill, C.J. Saunders, Elijah Gardiner, Sam Wiglusz, Austin Kutscher and Chris Booker.

In a crowded, talent-stocked room the Buckeyes reloaded at the position once again. With the departure of a trio of leaders in Austin Mack, K.J. Hill and Binjimen Victor, the need for leaders is needed to continue the tradition. Enter Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Two younger players that have been key parts of a lethal downfield attack are back to wreak havoc once again. The legendary 2020 haul featuring Julian Fleming, Gee Scott Jr, Mookie Cooper and Jaxon Smith-Njigba did nothing but boost the profile of Brian Hartline and increased his stockpile of weapons to unleash for years to come. C.J. Saunders is still awaiting an answer eligibility, but he is another one of the leaders on the team until we get a final answer on him.

Scarlet Team: Chris Olave, Julian Fleming, Kamryn Babb, Jaylen Harris, C.J. Saunders, Jaxon Smith-Njigba (H-Back),

Gray Team: Garrett Wilson, Gee Scott Jr, Jameson Williams, Mookie Cooper, Elijah Gardiner, Jaelen Gill (H-Back),

Reserves: Sam Wiglusz, Austin Kutscher and Chris Booker.

Tight Ends: Luke Farrell, Jeremy Ruckert, Jake Hausmann, Cade Stover, Corey Rau and Joe Royer.

Tight Ends saw an uptick of usage in the Buckeyes offense last season and they will look to build on that momentum. Luke Farrell, Jeremy Ruckert and Jake Hausmann all return and a former defensive standout in Cade Stover joined the fold along with Corey Rau, a grad transfer from SMU joined the team. The depth is fairly stocked, but thin due to all three players being upperclassmen after this season. The Buckeyes are looking to secure two additional players in the 2021 class and they have Sam Hart as the only player at the position. They are still searching for a partner to join him, but that is looking too far ahead.

Scarlet Team: Jeremy Ruckert, Jake Hausmann and Corey Rau

Gray Team: Luke Farrell and Cade Stover

Reserves: Joe Royer (summer enrollee)

Offensive Line: Nicholas Petit-Frere, Nathan Brock, Wyatt Davis, Matthew Jones, Luke Wypler, Zach Stevenson, Ryan Smith, Gavin Cupp, Chris Kuhn, Jack Jamieson, Enokk Vimahi, Ryan Jacoby, Max Wray, Trey LeRoux, Thayer Munford, Harry Miller, Paris Johnson Jr, Dawand Jones, Josh Myers, Grant Toutant, Josh Fryar and Jakob James.

The offensive line is still in great shape following the departures of LG Jonah Jackson and RT Branden Bowen. They managed to retain LT Thayer Munford, C Josh Myers and RG Wyatt Davis in another deep position group for the Buckeyes. Stocked full of ballers the one guarantee is that the best players aside from the aforementioned three will get the nod. This could be another ultra-competitive group and it’ll be another great battle.

Scarlet Team: Thayer Munford, Gavin Cupp, Josh Myers, Ryan Jacoby, Paris Johnson Jr; Luke Wypler, Max Wray, Nathan Brock and Jack Jamieson.

Gray Team: Dawand Jones, Enokk Vimahi, Harry Miller, Wyatt Davis, Nicholas Petit-Frere; Trey LeRoux, Matt Jones, Zach Stevenson and Chris Kuhn

Reserves: Grant Toutant (summer enrollee), Josh Fryar (summer enrollee) and Jakob James (summer enrollee)

With the offense set-up for both the Scarlet and the Gray teams, the contest inches closer as we remain three weeks away until game day! The collection of talent at just about every offensive position accompanied by projected gains in the summer make this game more exciting. I hope you enjoyed my little piece of happiness and next week we will bring you the Defensive depth chart. Following that Special Teams and then the game. Thank you to all who have stuck with us and Go Bucks!

Ryan Day extension was a matter of when, not if by Zack Downing

Ryan Day had a better season than I think most fans thought imaginable so it was no surprise that Ohio State officially extended Day through the 2026 season. Day was only making 4.5 million a season on his original contract and after an amazing season that resulted in Ohio States first playoff birth since 2016 and an undefeated regular season most fans assumed if was only a matter of time until the extension was official.

This new contract shows the faith that the Ohio State administration has in Day that he can continue to lead the Buckeyes forward positively on and off the field. It’s also shows that perhaps former HC Urban Meyer knew what he was doing when he suggested Coach Day to be the next head coach of the team.

Not only has Day made huge strides on the field but off the field in the world of recruiting things couldn’t be going better. Ohio State finished with a top 5 class in the nation in 2020. Also 2021 is starting off amazing as Ohio State currently holds the #1 spot in the nation though it’s still a few months until that will be finalized but the future is bright.

Lastly this extension will definitely help to ease the mind of recruits/fans that Day is looking to take the next step to the NFL. I do believe Day would love to coach in the NFL but I also believe he is very happy to be the HC of The Ohio State University for as long as Buckeye Nation wants him.

Buckeye Draft Profiles: Chase Young

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Jp Waldron/CSM/Shutterstock

Chase Young, a stud at defensive end has left it all on the field during his time at Ohio State. He has been a force his entire career as a Buckeye, but the 2019 season was a great send off season for him before stepping foot into the pro ranks. Young and his team finished the season with a 13-1 record, but he did a ton of damage to opposing teams and their offensive aspirations. In an era where stats are recorded and scrutinized, Young’s individual stats are impressive. He finished 2019 with 16.5 total sacks (14 solo/5 assisted sacks), averaging 1.38 sacks per game which led the nation. He also led the nation in forced fumbles with 6 for the year. With tackles for loss, he had 21 for the season and averaged 1.8 per game.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Most draft experts are pegging him as a can’t miss prospect and the former Buckeye is projected as a Top-2 pick for this years NFL Draft. According to Sascha Paruk from SportsBettingDime, “there is no debate about who the first Buckeye off the board will be at the 2020 draft.” Adding, “Chase Young is the consensus best prospect in the class and will only fall from #1 because the Bengals have the #1 pick and need a franchise QB like Joe Burrow.” Paruk also speculated that “IF Chase Young doesn’t go second overall, it will be because Washington trades its pick to another QB-needy team, like the Dolphins or the Chargers.”

Mike Mulholland | MLive.com

For now, Chase Young is mocked to the Washington Redskins but with talks about potential trade down chatter, would make the 2020 NFL Draft more interesting. It makes sense from a re-building standpoint to stockpile picks to accelerate the entire process. The Redskins had a tough time this year finishing 3-13, but they have a few pieces in stock. Former Buckeyes, Dwayne Haskins might be their QB of the future and Terry McLaurin appear to be solid building blocks of the future. Their defense needs some help and Young makes sense, but Okudah does too with an aging Josh Norman. We will never know until Commissioner Goodell unveils the pick to make things official. The ball is in their court and the choice to make the pick or trade down is theirs alone. This draft will definitely be interesting and an exciting one.

Recruiting Targets: Hits & Misses

In another long-awaited installment of the hits & misses content, I will be looking at the 2017 class which features a bunch of familiar names. This was the year where eventual stars would join the fold and what better time to do it than right now?

DeMatha High School’s own Chase Young. Credit: 24/7sports.com

Hit: Chase Young, WDE

When I spoke of a legendary class in terms of talent, the 2017 class was the tipping point when building depth and collecting talent. Defensive Ends were plentiful and most players at Ohio State had to wait their turn, but Young, the Buckeyes own predator took the same route the Bosa’s took to their rise to stardom. The slight wait was worth it and while he turned into the guy, the impact he made was by his talents along, but we have seen this before with lesser known or less heralded recruits.

Chase Young has declared for the NFL Draft this year and he is locked in to be a potential top-3 pick. He also might join two familiar faces in Haskins and McLaurin, but we will see how the draft process unfolds. It is unpredictable, but it has been worth seeing the development and the talent turn into stars and make an impact like Young.

Jeffrey Okudah in high school. Credit: Dallasnews.com

Hit: Jeffrey Okudah, CB

Like Young, Okudah also was highly recruited and he excelled after some time in the system. He was recruited and he sat and learned behind the likes of Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward, but the wait has been worth it as well. He essentially played it out and played himself into being a top-10 pick in this years draft. He was the shutdown corner that everyone avoided during games. He was one of three cornerbacks taken in the class, with Sheffield blossoming into a good player in the NFL and with Wade turning down the NFL for another shot at redemption.

Okudah has been preparing himself for years and he has maximized his talents. He left an everlasting impression and he should have passed-on some pointers to Wade and the younger BIA stablemates. His legacy has been fulfilled, even though it has left a year early.

Dobbins carrying the ball. Credit: Hudl.com

Hit: J.K. Dobbins, RB

And the hits keep coming, with J-K-All-Day being the third member of a stellar class to blossom into a full-fledged star in the Buckeyes offensive attack. In 2018, he shared the ball carrier duties with Mike Weber. He had over 1,000 yards that season, but he thought it was a failure. Fast forward to this past season, he reached his potential en route to breaking records and cementing himself and his legacy in Columbus. The added time and conditioning have been wonders and he surely plunged himself into uncharted territory being a top 3 running back.

Cass Tech’s own Donovan Peoples-Jones. Credit: Bleacherreport.com

Miss: Donovan Peoples-Jones

Now, let us get a couple of misses in the article, and this one comes from our most bitter rival, Michigan and a one-time Buckeyes lean, Donovan Peoples-Jones. The pipe line at Cass Tech was flourishing, but I have no clue what went wrong in his recruitment. It also was a miss, but the team has been stacking talent over the past two seasons and well into the 2021 season. Sure, he is a star returner and he was needed in an unproven class that has two 6-5 players in Jaylen Harris, Elijah Gardiner and a 6-3 playmaker in Trevon Grimes.

DPJ is now leaving for the NFL and he left 0-3 against the Buckeyes and he never really made an impact during The Game. He is a valuable player, but the older, more-experienced players have held the team together for the time being.

The Replacements: Fast forward to now, the two big-bodied players have yet to reach their potential and Grimes is returning to Florida for one last ride. There are a lot of factors to consider, injuries, lack of experience or playing time, but it takes time to build yourself. Prime example, Johnnie Dixon. Injuries have plagued him his first three years, but the last two were memorable and productive. You cannot close the books on them but Grimes is no longer on the team and the other two could still make some noise.

The last NSD I watched with a hilarious twist with Darnay Holmes’ UCLA decision. Credit: Larrybrownsports.com

Miss: Darnay Holmes, CB

Last miss would be the youtube sensation “decision” from cornerback Darnay Holmes. He spurned the Buckeyes to go to UCLA and his little buddy was not happy to say the least. I know it is based on their decision in the end, but this is funny and it is needed during recruiting. Separating myself from that has helped and I don’t think it is that serious anymore. This one really grinded my gears, but now its all water under the bridge. Now he has announced his intent to pursue his NFL dreams, but with the transfer portal, rumors have been flying about him coming to Ohio State to sharpen his skills. I doubt that’ll happen, but I have seen weird things happen since following anything College Football.

Replacements: To call Sheffield, Okudah and Wade the replacements is foul, but with Holmes slipping away, they stepped up big-time. I would not change anything with this class, and I am happy that we still have Wade for one more season. If Holmes does come full circle, cool, but if not, it’s fine. You cannot predict things, but things have turned out pretty well so we can’t complain.

Thank You Buckeyes by Ben Van Ooyen

Thank you Buckeyes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The future is still bright at Ohio State. 

Thank you Buckeyes!

Parallels and Similarities: A Buckeyes Call To Arms

#2 Ohio State vs #3 Clemson, CFB Playoffs 2019 semifinals at Glendale, Arizona on December 28, 2019. Credit: SI.com

When I sit back and try to enjoy sports shows, I can’t help but feel disrespected as a die-hard fan of the Buckeyes. Every show that I have put on, there are analysts spinning the story of the Buckeyes being just another unmatched team in the way of the reigning champs, Clemson Tigers. They are giving the Buckeyes a slim shot to defeat them and their reason? The 31-0 beatdown in Arizona, three years ago.

Clemson’s defensive front swarming JT Barrett in CFB Playoffs semis in 2017. Credit: Buckeyeswire.usatoday.com.

Yes, we all remember the last time these two teams played each other, the 31-0 blowout in the same field where they will meet on the 28th, and that was the last time they Buckeyes got invited to the big dance. It is also coincidentally where the “when was the last time the Big Ten scored” joke was born, with the conference no-showing 2 out of the last 3 years. In 2017 the Buckeyes fell to this years opponent at the same venue 31-0 and in 2016 the Spartans fell 38-0 against Alabama.

Derrick Henry rumbling through the Spartan defense in the 2016 CFB Playoffs semis. Credit: Sbnation.com

As irritating as the joke is, it is true and both Ohio State and Michigan State had lost for a combined score of 69-0 and an 0-2 record. This acts as a black eye to the conference and its fans. And changes need to happen and they have to right the ship against Clemson this year! The Big Ten has been waiting for this moment and the Buckeyes have been licking their chops to avenge their last loss and restore their image as a College Football blue-blood and one of the heavy hitters in the nation to go alongside the Clemson’s, the Alabama’s and the LSU’s of the world. As much as I need this, the Buckeyes need this as well. They have been disrespected so much and with them dropping to #2, it might add that extra edge to their argument.

The edge is already there, but the media has sharpened it just in time for the contest against Clemson. A lot of talk is made and I think this team will do the talking on the field, whether it’ll be in a blowout win or a close one, they will be ready. Think about it for a second. Ryan Day doesn’t show up to the ESPN College Football Playoffs special to recruit for the future. I think it actually is deeper than we think. I might be over-analyzing it, but what if he feels disrespected after saying “if there’s a better team than ours for #1” after that epic comeback win against Wisconsin? He might feel slighted and his team will reciprocate that feeling and are we gonna see a Buckeye buzzsaw as a result?

The Buckeyes felt disrespected after they were selected for the #4 seed in the inaugural CFB Playoffs, and even though they were down at the half, they came back against the Tide and won it all. I sense that kind of vibe from this years team. Dobbins will be Elliott, Olave is Thomas, Young is Bosa and Harrison is Lee. Think about the similarities and parallels of those two teams. Add in a healthy Justin Fields, with his ability to scramble around and the BIA squad with Okudah, Arnette, and Wade? This team has the weapons on both sides of the ball to win and compete and this might be the year.

Remember, the last time the Buckeyes scored in the playoffs was during the inaugural College Football Playoff run where they won it all. They came back and defeated a good Alabama squad 42-35 and they steamrolled a Mariota led Oregon squad 42-20 to win the first ever CFB Playoffs. 84 was the last points scored and they need to break the streak to gain the respect of the nation and these talking heads that spew nothing but hatred for the Buckeyes.

I might be paranoid, but I have high hopes for this team. I might be too positive, but I expect this team to shine when the light looks like it is fading. The Buckeyes will find a way to win and I will die an idiot or a scholar by the waning moments of the 28th, but for now, no predictions or previews. This is just a fun article for me about how I feel about this team. This team and the 2015 squad have similarities across the board, but for now let’s see how many of you think like me and us here at the Men of the Scarlet and Gray.

#GoBucks

#MotsagRising