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.

Recruiting Targets: Hits & Misses

In our second installment of the hits & misses content, we will be looking into the class of 2018. Last weeks piece focused on the 2019 class and we will be working our way as far back as we can, but this week is 2018’s weeks to shine.

The recruiting game is great when the dominoes keep falling in place and the recruits commit and stick throughout. It is a terrible thing when coaches leave and there are questions that leave uncertainty, and they all of a sudden look around and ultimately leave for reasons.

The 2018 class was great and it was the last class prior to Coach Meyer’s retirement and this class finished second only to Georgia, but his class could’ve been better if it weren’t for departures from formerly committed players who found opportunities elsewhere.

Chris Olave visiting. Credit: Twitter.

Hit: Chris Olave, WR

When you think of Chris Olave, you think of all the impact plays he has made since he has step foot on campus. From slaying the Wolverines or just making a key play on a tremendous route or blocking a kick, he has made an impact in both years in Columbus. He is one of the biggest gets in recruiting and he was discovered accidentally while scouting JT Daniels in California. While catching passes from his quarterback, Olave was highly underrated and he was recruited lightly, but those who take the time to scout will often find a gem like Olave. That is exactly what the Buckeyes found and he is tearing it up.

Jeremy Ruckert at The Opening. Credit: 24/7 Sports.

Hit: Jeremy Ruckert, TE

Speaking of playmakers, Jeremy Ruckert showed his playmaking skills last week during the Big Ten Championship Game to bring the Buckeyes back from the dead, to secure their third consecutive conference crown after going down 21-7 at the half. On their first score during the second half, Ruckert made a one-handed snag that looked like a Jordan logo that brought the team back to life, that ultimately brought the juice back to the team and it started the run to the finish. This score gave the team the shot in the arm to go on a 28-0 run to close the game out, to win the conference championship for the third straight year.

Master Teague III. Credit: tennesean.com.

Hit: Master Teague III, RB

Who would’ve thought Master Teague would make an impact as a backup to JK Dobbins!? Although he didn’t get a snap in the Conference Championship game, he still has more yards that some starts at the position, as a backup. He has 128 carries and 780 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is averaging 6.1 yards per carry, but imagine if he was the starter? I think he would easily have Dobbins-like numbers, but he has a beast in front of him. If there is a chance where Dobbins stays another year, similar to Chase Young, we will all be excited to see him try to overtake Archie Griffin in the record books, but it is more doubtful than Young’s situation.

Anyway, if he leaves Teague is the next man up with a stable of young, but capable backs in the Cadillac position. He runs with a purpose and he runs through would-be tacklers. He has that burst and the vision and the future is bright with Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers in the mix too. They have Miyan Williams, a former Iowa State recruit in the fold too and the future is bright with Teague being the leader of next years squad. There are other potential backs in the mix, but if they don’t grab another one, it should be fine. The 2021 class will likely grab two backs to make it up.

Jackson Carman. Credit: Hudl.com.

Miss: Jackson Carman, OT

Jackson Carman was once a heavy, heavy Buckeye lean and he grew up in their back yard in Fairfield, Ohio. He was heavily recruited by Meyer and his staff, but the questions about Coach Meyer’s future was the final nail in the coffin before he ultimately made the choice to spurn the Buckeyes for their CFB Playoff opponent, The Clemson Tigers. He has been inconsistent all year, but his team has dominated 90% of their games this season. If the Buckeyes hadn’t had questions about Coach Meyer’s future, which was the final nail that Dabo had used to steal him away, he would’ve been in the class instead of Nicholas Petit-Frere, but it is what it is.

Substitions: Nicholas Petit-Frere and Max Wray

Aside from losing the top prospect in the state of Ohio, they made waves after they snagged the best Offensive Tackle in Florida in Petit-Frere and they also kept Max Wray in the fold for some needed depth. Petit-Frere has been inconsistent and he was a starter at Right Tackle after Brandon Bowen went down with that gruesome leg injury. Fast forward into the 2019 season, he hasn’t played as much, but he is a solid depth piece and he saw some meaningful snap after Davis was injured and Bowen slid into the Right Guard spot and Petit-Frere played in Bowen’s spot. Petit-Frere will be looked at after Bowen departs this season and they just need more depth to add for the time being.

Micah Parsons. Credit: Inquirer.com.

Miss: Micah Parsons, WDE

In another bizarre situation, the Buckeyes lost out on another Weakside Defensive End/Hybrid Linebacker recruit due to unfortunate circumstances. Parsons was so close to being a Buckeye but an impromptu interaction with the College Gameday crew left many questions and the Buckeyes eventually cut ties with him afterwards to prevent the NCAA from taking action and leveling punishment against them for the interactions between Buckeye Alumni and a highly rated recruit. (Sigh). What could’ve been.

Parsons is a terror on the edge and he has helped Penn State’s defense with his skills and his leadership on the field. In two seasons, he has 177 tackles, 92 of which are solo tackles. He has 4.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles, with one recovered. He has been on a tear and minus the fact that he is thriving, he has done well for himself and he could’ve been ours.

Substitutions: Tyreke Smith and Alex Williams

Although it was a miss, the Smith and Williams have flashed but not to the extent as Parsons, but they are on their way. Smith filled in admirably for the suspended Young and he flashed his potential during cleanup time when games are put away. Smith has 9 tackles and 3 sacks, while Williams has 8 tackles. They aren’t producing but they are going to be cog’s on the defense in the future. There were clips of Chase Young potentially coming back for a senior season, but we will see what the future holds. Regardless, if he does come back, that frees up a rusher opposite of Young. That would be cool, but we will see if he would turn down a Top 5 pick NFL salary. I am skeptical, but who wouldn’t want that to happen?

Rumble In C’Bus

A collision course between Ohio State and Penn State will be in Columbus this year.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are on the home-stretch of an amazing season and with two games remaining, an old foe will arrive to stand in the way of a College Football Playoff bid. Penn State will visit The Shoe to attempt to de-rail the Buckeyes’ plans to end a two-year drought where they suffered terrible road losses to Iowa in 2017 and to Purdue in 2018. Will the Nittany Lions continue the trend? Will another conference foe, with this particular one being in the same division as the Buckeyes be able to pull it off?

This game is often decided by splash plays from any phase of the game. Penn State has won on a special teams play with a blocked field goal with little to no time left that resulted in a touchdown three seasons ago. Ohio State has won the last two and four of the last five contests. The last two were won by a single point, 39-38 at Columbus and 27-26 during a White Out, where Haskins brought the team back from a three-score hole. This contest will be in Columbus and although the team has yet to play in the second half, specifically the 4th quarter, Penn State will attempt to score early and often, all while leaning on their defense to keep the Buckeyes at bay.

Justin Fields scanning the field pre-snap.

Fields Impending Heisman Push

With a few precious weeks left of the 2019 season, everything the Buckeyes have accomplished is all part of the grander scheme of playing for another National Championship. Penn State is in the way this weekend and the last three-game stretch will most likely be Top 10 contests between CFB Playoff hopefuls that could add a bit of intrigue to the Buckeyes path back to the big dance. They have to fend off #8 Penn State this week, #13 or better TTUN at Ann Arbor in week 14, and #10 or better Minnesota or #12 or better Wisconsin in the Conference Championship Game before the final playoff rankings are released.

Justin Fields has the skills and the platforms these next three weeks to surge up the Heisman rankings if he continues to light up the scoreboard and against this type of competition. 31 passing scores and 10 rushing scores against one single interception is crazy and he could potentially be unleashed in the second half and in crunch-time during the 4th quarter. He is unproven, but if the moment comes, he will be ready. He has a chance to prove why he is Heisman-worthy and if everything goes well, he can overtake former Buckeye and now LSU QB, Joe Burrow for the lead by the seasons’ end. He has the weapons to make a run, but it all depends on his poise during the final stretch.

Young hunting for another strip-sack against Jack Coan.

The Predator’s Return

Chase Young has been the talk of Buckeye Nation and he has ended his two-game suspension for taking money to fly his girlfriend to the Rose Bowl. He is now back with a massive boulder of a chip on his shoulder and he has returned to haunt every offensive opponent that he has left on his schedule. James Franklin was sarcastic during a press-conference stating that “Chase Young is back for good-old Penn State”, and he might have been the source that got Young in the weeds, but we will never know and it is all in the past now.

Big boy football in the Big Ten will continue and the chase for rings is still on-going. Young’s addition will add more juice to the defense and they will try to punish Penn State. They will have their hands full with Hamler and Friemuth, but I can see their assigned defenders coming out with an edge. Hamler will be matched up with Wade, who he beat for 90+ yards and a score on a slant route. Borland and/or Harrison will be guarding the seams, where Friemuth has hurt defenses. This defense has not given up many splash plays, but this will be a test against Hamler and company. The opposing running backs are good too, so we will see how or if the Buckeyes can negate the playmakers and the young opposing quarterback.

Penn State defense after a key play.

Defensive Firepower

The Penn State defense has been a stellar group up until being upended by Minnesota. They have a top defense highlighted by a former recruiting target, Micah Parsons. I am not 100% on what happened, but he approached the college gameday staff and something happened that affected his status, and I am assuming it was illegal. He quickly fell out of the short-list of defensive targets before heading to Penn State. Now, two years later, he is leading this defense and he will be looking to ruin the Buckeyes’ dream season. He plays in an aggressive defense that matches up in talent with the Buckeyes, but do they have the depth?

The Buckeyes have loads of depth players on offense and on defense. They will look to flex their muscles with it in order to wear down this defensive group. This group of Slobs has a chip on their shoulder and they have been great so far. This will be another great test to see where they are at and I am planning on them being ready. They have already proved it against Wisconsin and Michigan State. They have a rough road ahead, but the focus will be on Penn State.

Dobbins continuing his domination on the ground for the score.

Running Wild With Depth

The Penn State message boards were on something this week, and they called Dobbins a one-trick pony and they called out the Cadillac position for its “lack of depth”. One thing that Dobbins isn’t, is a one-trick pony. He plays and runs hard, and he can catch the ball when necessary. He is a key cog in this offense and he has been amazing when leaned upon. He is certainly aware of the comments and I think he will punish this defense.

He also has a couple of partners that accompany him in the backfield in Master Teague and Steele Chambers. DeMario McCall is there and he is a change-of-pace back that plays in garbage-time. Marcus Crowley got hurt a couple of weeks ago, but the walk-on backs can be valuable cogs as well, but this game will be centered on Dobbins and Teague. This will be a bloodbath and we can only hope that the line opens up a bunch of holes for team Stiff Arm and Harm.

An overhead of The Shoe in Columbus, Ohio.

Buckeye Bonus

This weekend is homecoming week and it marks the last game for the Buckeye upperclassmen. With a big-time opponent on the schedule in Penn State, this is where the Buckeyes use their magic to re-load to take over those who are graduating and those who might leave early for the NFL. They have been on one of the best runs and it can only help their needs to restock the cupboard and what better platform than against one of your rivals in Penn State? This week will have a large group of potential targets and a few current commits will be on-hand to seal the deal. With or without them, the Buckeyes have been successful on the recruiting trail with Ryan Day and his staff, and I do not see that changing. This week is a recruiting milestone and with a big win, they can potentially flip and snag a few before the early signing day period.

Matchups To Watch

  • Fields versus Clifford
  • Zone 6 versus Penn State Back Seven
  • Hamler and Friemuth versus Ohio State Back Seven
  • Chase Young and The Rushmen versus Penn State O-Line
  • The Slobs versus Parsons and Gross-Matos

Prediction:

I want to predict this close, but I feel that the talent and depth would put the game out of reach. The last two games have been close between both teams, but this might be the year where the close games cease to exist. I think with the potential narc on Penn State’s sidelines and with Young returning, I think of TTUN beatdown in 2018.

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeat The Penn State Nittany Lions 48-17.

#GoBucks

Buckeyes Take A Business Trip To Piscataway

The Ohio State Buckeyes are taking a trip to Piscataway without their star player, Chase Young, who will be sitting out for a second game after the NCAA determined that missing those along with paying off the loan would be sufficient enough punishment and that matter is now officially resolved.

Looking ahead, the Buckeyes will travel to New Jersey and they will face a struggling team before Young officially returns for a pair of rivalry games, with Penn State at home and afterwards, it will be rivalry week with a contest against their most bitter rival at Ann Arbor against The Team Up North, but lets focus on the task at hand against the Scarlet Knights.

The Rutgers fired former Buckeyes secondary coach Chris Ash after a four-year run, finishing with an 8-32 overall record. Nunzio Campanile will be the Interim Head Coach for the time being and he will attempt to lead his 2-6 team against a red-hot Ohio State team and it might be more than what they bargained for, but that cannot be helped at the moment.

Buckeye Chase Young in pursuit of Jack Coan.

Young Bucks

With a couple of key starters missing due to a combination of injury and a suspension, Zach Harrison, Javonte Jean-Baptiste, Tyreke Smith, and Tyler Friday will be primed for some valuable playing in the absence of a few starters in Chase Young, Baron Browning, and Jonathon Cooper. As we all witnessed last week against Maryland, the impending loss of Chase Young won’t be as bad as we all think because the future is in capable hands with this new group. The current level of talented personnel on this defense is amazing, but the reserves are proving their worth and they will once again jockey in the absence of starters to earn praise and a leg-up on next year’s positional competition. This defense has been playing well and they will look to take this tune-up game against a bad Rutgers team.

Fields getting the ball off before getting hit by a Bearcat defender.

Torrid Offensive Output

The Buckeyes offense runs through Justin Fields and with him at the helm this game against Rutgers could be a breeze in the eyes of a casual fan. I applaud confidence but that brings bad things, but this year’s team is focused and on a mission and I believe they will not play down to their opponents level. I do it believe that, but I will let things work itself out. Justin Fields has a total of 37 touchdowns this season and he has 27 through the air and 10 on the ground. He does tend to hold the ball too long and that has been 18 times this season, but he makes good decisions on the fly so it isn’t too bad. This game will most likely end with him playing a half, but we will see how it shakes out. Back-up Chugs will have his time to shine in front of his family and friends and he could be in line for a half to do so.

Dobbins celebrating after another score.

Dobbins Road To Immortality

J.K. Dobbins is the lone #2 standing at he also has been a threat to the opposing defenses for this entire season. After calling his 2018 season a failure while sharing the load with Mike Weber, Dobbins had 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. This season through nine games, he has 1,200 yards and 11 scores with a little under 100 yards and another score. He is just entered the top ten in the Buckeyes all-time list and he will continue to climb as he encroaches into the top five in school history. If he is used in close games, if there is ever a close game, he can potentially get into the top four, but even if he doesn’t play a full game, he is still in great company. Like Fields, stats don’t matter and that is fine. A group of shiny trophies has been the goal and I don’t see him jeopardizing their mission for selfish reasons.

Jonah Jackson, former Rutgers Captain and current Buckeye Slob.

The Return of Jonah Jackson

The former Rutgers All-American is coming back in a new uniform and he has carved out a role on this nasty offensive line squad that has been abusing opposing defenses so far this season. He has been reliable even after it seemed as he would be the penalty scapegoat, but he has fixed the issues and as a unit, they have punished teams and imposed their will on them in the process. This will be a homecoming of sorts, but they will be ready to do what they always do. Barring the 18 sacks that were surrendered, they will continue to be the barrier between Fields and Dobbins and the opposing defense.

Match-Ups To Watch

  • Fields, Dobbins, and Receivers versus The Rutgers Defense
  • Jackson and the Slobs versus The Rutgers front seven
  • Chugs and the Backups versus The Rutgers starters and reserves

Prediction

Buckeyes defeat Rutgers 62-0.

The Maryland Terrapins VS The Ohio State Buckeyes

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

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

Buckeyes swarming defense.

Young Bucks Golden Opportunity

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

Malik Harrison breaking through.

Defensive Effort

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

Fields dodging a would-be tackler.

Field Of Dreams

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

Dobbins rumbling through the Spartan defense.

Boom Boom Room

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

Match-Ups To Watch

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

Prediction

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

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

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

Michael Penix Jr, Game Time Decision

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

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

Fields/Dobbins Hot Streak

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

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

The Chase Young Show

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

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

Zone 6 Machine

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

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

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

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

PREDICTION

Ohio State Buckeyes defeat Indiana Hoosiers 48-20

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0) defeat Florida Atlantic Owls (0-1)

 

The Ryan Day Era at Ohio State has begun, and boy, you have to like what you just witnessed.  In a span of a couple of minutes, the Buckeyes erased any remaining concerns or doubts with the offense and its new additions.  You can also say the same for the defense as well because they played like their heads were on fire and with an urgency that we have all been crying for.  In a season of new, the Buckeyes went out and made somewhat of a statement in their season debut.  It wasn’t mistake-free football but after one game they looked pretty good, but now Coach Day has the tools to fix a few things as the season matures.

The Justin Fields Show

Justin Fields, a former 5-star dual-threat quarterback had high expectations for him coming out high school.  He chose to stay close to home and enrolled at the University of Georgia.  He sat behind fell behind Fromm and he then decided to use the transfer portal to find his next home for his shot to play.  Fields brought more expectations and some well-warranted hype after his decision to go to a university like Ohio State.

As soon as he arrived, Fields was tabbed to as Dwayne Haskins’ successor, but he had to beat out fellow transfer portal quarterback Gunnar Hoak.  Once named as the starter, the distractions were tuned out.  Fields began his Ohio State career with a bang as he racked up chunk plays on four straight drives to put the Buckeyes up 28-0.   Although a lovely sight to see, the FAU Owls eventually found their stride and forced a punt in consecutive drives–effectively rendering Ohio State ineffective on offense.

Fields’ speed was evident and his accuracy was noticeable.  He did not force any bad passes into tiny windows and he had the awareness to slide or run out of bounds to protect himself.  The depth at his position is fairly new and unproven, so at least he is aware of his importance.  18/25 for 234 yards, 12 carries for 61 yards, with 4 total touchdowns aren’t bad numbers, but there is certainly some room for improvement and I am confident that he will continue to improve as the season goes on.  He had a lateral pass that resulted in a fumble, but look for Coach Day to fine-tune the offense against Cincinnati.  It would be unrealistic if you think it was a perfect game for him, but he is well on his way to becoming an integral part of this offense.

Playmakers Paradise

The Buckeyes lost a lot of their offensive playmakers to the NFL after the 2018 season, but today they showed no dropoff in production.  Campbell, Dixon, and McLaurin were all team captains and the majority of the offense revolved around those three, but in 2019 they returned Hill, Victor, Saunders, and Mack to take their place as the pulse of the offense.  They also have a few younger stars like Olave and Wilson to add quality depth to the Zone 6 group to add some sizzle to the 2nd team offensive attack to keep opposing teams second-guessing.

The playmakers aren’t limited to just the guys in Zone 6, we saw a re-emergence with the Tight End group and we witnessed an uptick in their usage.  Former #1 Tight End Jeremy Ruckert gathered his first two TD’s in a good showing during year two.  He finished the game with 4 catches for 38 yards and two scores.

The Cadillac position or Tote Nation also showed out and had 178 total yards and two TD’s between the four backs, which is good, but they were far from perfect due to the Dobbins fumble that might have swung the momentum in FAU’s favor for a short period of time.  What could be Dobbins’ last year, he was noticeably more decisive when carrying the rock.  He looks bigger and stronger, and he runs with more purpose and aggression.  His stablemates McCall, Teague, and Crowley all showed out as well, gaining the tough, hard-fought yardage putting any doubts about the future in check.

Trench Warfare

The Slobs have been iffy and after numerous losses in the trenches, the Buckeyes had to re-build the Offensive Line when they returned a single starter in Thayer Munford.  The new-look line features a bunch of former 5 stars and they look like a talented and deep group.  From the left to right, Munford, former Rutgers guard Jackson, Myers, Davis, and Bowen look to re-establish the Slob standard in 2019.  They blocked well in the beginning before getting lazy as the game progressed.  It gave me a bit of hope but like all things, it is a work in progress this early into the season and they gave up a couple of sacks in the process.

On the opposite end of the trenches, the Rushmen played spectacularly and to their standard lead by Chase Young.  Young himself gathered 1.5 sacks by himself and his position group had a total of 4 for the game.  They are definitely playing with the urgency even after the departure of Dre’Mont Jones and Nick Bosa.  They had a few key players that were banged up and unable to play, but the future of this position is bright.

Back Seven Improvement

The back seven of the defense became the running theme of the 2018 season because they were plain bad.  Poor angles, missed tackles and chunk plays plagued them the entirety of the season and naturally, they would be one of the major stories coming into the 2019 season.  After a single game, they improved under Coach Mattison, Coach Washington, and Coach Hafley simplifying things to make them read and diagnose plays quicker.  It worked and they look like the Silver Bullets of old, flying all around the field and making sure tackles time after time.

The new zone scheme and the DB’s tracking the ball has helped, but later in the game the seams were ripe for the picking and FAU was able to move the ball.  Like every other topic, it is a work in progress because it was far from perfect.  Werner showed his speed but he overran the play and missed out on a sack in the second half.  The improvement is obvious and back-up Safety Josh Proctor came away with a turnover, so it’ll get better–I promise you.

Overall Analysis

The Buckeyes are 1-0 with many pluses and a few negatives, but they are minor fixes.  Fields played good and the offense clicked with him at the helm, but the dropoff after the scorching start was evident.  The Running Backs are beasts that all play hard, but ball security needs to be in their minds after turning it over.  Zone 6 and it’s Tight Ends are going to be hard to account for and they bring a needed balance to the offensive attack.  Finally, the defense played well and if they continue to improve, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

 

The FAU Owls (0-0) VS The Ohio State Buckeyes (0-0)

We are now within 24-hours folks!  We all have waited and seen the offseason develop and now we are so close to game time, I can barely contain myself–and I am positive that you all can’t do it either!  After another offseason that featured a few more key players departing to live their dreams in the NFL, I cannot begin to tell you how much they will be missed, but we will be fine.  Talent at Ohio State comes and goes, but they always restock to perceived “bare” cupboard.  Let’s see how the cupboard stacks up against the Florida Atlantic Owls in my new 24-hour preview with five burning storylines.

The transfer portal savior comes in as the first and probably the most important on this makeshift board of mine.  The “bare” cupboard (the quarterback room) was one of the major storylines that haunted the Buckeyes in the offseason and with the sudden departure of Matthew Baldwin, the position looked grim, but the Buckeyes added the aforementioned Fields and Hoak to bolster their depth, with Fields beating out Hoak for the starting position for the Buckeyes.

Fields certainly has the hype behind him, even before the spring game, but he seems poised to become the leader of this offensive charge.  He will replace Dwayne Haskins who left to become the Redskins’ first-round pick.  Fields has the wheels to run and the gun to sling the ball to his playmakers, but will we see a slow-developing rise?  Or will he come out guns blazing in what could be a tune-up match with an overmatched Owls team?

J.K. Dobbins returns from what he himself has called as a sub-par season at the Buckeyes Cadillac position, he will attempt to redeem himself in the 2019 season.  In a season where he logged 1,053 rushing yards and 263 yards receiving, he is looking for more yardage in what could be his last season at Ohio State.  He will look to best his 12 TD total to establish himself as a legendary Buckeye RB and leave his mark.

He is a shifty runner and he can handle passes out of the backfield, which suits the offensive scheme.  He will be leaned upon heavily to occupy the defenders in the box IF Fields cannot sustain the aerial assault, Dobbins will start up the ground assault, but he has reinforcements in long-forgotten Demario McCall and Master Teague.  They also have two-studs in Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers lying in wait if or when the game gets out of hand.  Can this stable of backs, especially the Dobbins make an immediate impact?  Can they place the game out of reach to earn some rest to prepare for a tough game against Cincy and their former coach?

The question is will the Slobs play to their usual standard?  The Slobs are usually great year in and year out, but with the departure Prince, Jordan, and Knox, can the next generation of slobs live up to the expectation and help Dobbins gash offenses?  With a nearly-new starting five of Munford, Jackson, Myers, Davis, and Bowen can they be another nasty starting five?

Branden Bowen has healed from his season-ending injury a season ago, and he has thrust himself into a starting role beating former five-star Nicholas Petite-Frere for the job.  He does have the potential to go out with a bang and what better opportunity than this season with being an integral part of a potentially lethal offense?  His fellow slobs are also fighting to retain their reputation as Munford returns to man to blindside, former Rutgers stud enters the fray as the starting Left Guard, another former five-star talent in Myers finally grabs a starting role at Center and the same for Davis at Right Guard.  The depth is there as well, but for now, the starters will look to secure the trenches for Fields and Dobbins.  Can they live up to the standard or even exceed it as the season winds down.

Damon Arnette left NFL money for another season for redemption in the Scarlet and Gray.  The story a year ago was his inability to cover and the consistent penalties incurred, but with a new position coach in Hafley, he had to come back to prove himself.  He, along with Okudah and Wade have all secured their usual spots can the trio regain their BIA swag?  Or will they fall further away from the standard that has been a constant for the past few years?

On the back end, at the Safety positions, Jordan Fuller also turned down the NFL for one more season at Ohio State.  He will pair up with Brendon White, who broke out last season and became an impact player once he received his shot.  Can they DB’s reduce the poorly-timed penalties and live up to the BIA reputation?  Or will they go through the growing pain along the way with their new secondary coach?  Will the takeaways become their specialty once again?  Or will they continue to get gashed by opposing the offensive playmakers time and time again?  Can they stop the constant bleeding and negate those same playmakers?

Lastly, to go along with the defense, can the Linebacking Corps recover from what was a horrible year from the defensive side of the ball–particularly with the play from this group.  Tuf Borland and Pete Werner always seemed to be out of position and opposing offenses picked on them.  Will they be able to put those worries to rest with two more new, but familiar coaches in Washington and Mattison?  Can they be counted on since they have regained their roles as starters?

Another question is can the backups get some reps to carve out their roles once the game gets out of hand?  Make no mistake, the trio of Pope, Browning, and Mitchell are ballers, but they fell behind the seasoned vets who were starters a year ago and that it is nothing to be ashamed about.  They will most likely carve out crucial roles as backups, but the trio of thumpers will be something to watch during mop-up duty.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them inserted into starting roles later in the season if nothing changes for the defense.

PREDICTION:

Ohio State defeats FAU 49-13.

Ohio State will start out rusty and eventually right the ship, both on offense and defense.  The starters will gain much-needed reps and put the game out of reach by halftime and then earn well-deserved rest in the third quarter.  Fields will rack up 210 yards through the air with a pair of TD’s and 45 yards on the ground.  Dobbins will tear it up and go for a minimum of 100 yards and a TD with a couple of catches out of the backfield.  Hill and Zone 6, along with the TE’s will be used frequently in a balanced attack, scoring at least three times.  The defense will start up slowly, but they will eventually regain their swagger and have a game.  3 sacks, 2 interceptions, and a forced fumble, and one would result in a defensive score.  The backups will gain valuable experience in clean-up duty and they will score twice more to secure the win.

Depth Chart: Offensive Line

The Slobs are a pivotal group on every team, but for Ohio State, it could make or break the offensive scheme and what the team wants to do.  Considering what they had lost coming into the offseason, this group had so many questions after the bulk of their experienced players left for an NFL futures.

In a time where a new quarterback will lead the offensive huddle, the O-Line is leaned on to block and help him make the adjustments throughout the game.  This years team will have to learn together after losing their starting Center Michael Jordan, Left Guard Malcolm Pridgeon, Right Tackle Isaiah Prince and then there is the Right Guard Demetrious Knox to the pros.  It is definitely a bunch of huge shoes to fill, but I think the talent remaining in the room and the talent coming into the fold will surely be up to the task during the Ryan Day era.

After the exits, the few Slobs that are left still have the potential to pick up where the others left off at.  Thayer Munford and Josh Alabi operated well at Left Tackle a season ago, Brandon Bowen was a great blocker at Right Guard before being taken out with a devastating leg injury, and Wyatt Davis blocked well in starting duties at Right Guard after Knox was injured late into the season.  The one player to watch would the Grad Transfer Jonah Jackson who came in after a stellar career at Rutgers leaving them as an Honorable All-Big Ten performer.  Jackson will have to adjust to the team scheme, but he looks to be a plug and play type of player after it is all said and done.

Behind them are players who operated while in mop-up duties, but this is surely a talented group headlined by a trio former five-stars in OT Nicholas Petite-Frere, OL Harry Miller, and OC Josh Myers.  Then there are a ton of high-end players that could contribute right away like Gavin Cupp, Ryan Jacoby, Dawand Jones, Matt Jones, Max Wray, and Vimahi Enokk.  Walk-ons like Nathan Brock, Jack Jamieson, Brandon Pahl, and Kevin Woidke are also viable options and the needed depth to help develop the scholarship players.

The beauty about Coach Stud’s players is that they are interchangeable and they play where they fit–they will play the best five blockers and players regardless of their position.  That is the beauty about the incoming 2020 class, they are mostly Offensive Tackles, but Coach Stud is pitching the idea of them playing all over the line.  Headlined by five-star Paris Johnson Jr, he is joined by four-star OC Luke Wypler and a trio of highly talented three-stars, Trey Leroux, Jakob James, and recent Penn State flip Grant Toutant.  They may or may not be done, but they could be picky with the one or two players left on their board.

The talent and depth that is building in this room is a great, competitive situation for the coaches to build upon and it is a great opportunity for the players currently in the rooms and for the inbound ones to develop against players of similar skillsets and talent.  Iron sharpens iron and with the horses opposite of them, it will be fun to see the trenches strengthen each other for years to come.

Below isn’t set in stone, but I am just going off of experience and potential at specific positions.  To me, the starters are solid, but they could be unseated by the younger players during summer camps, Friday Night Light and then fall camp, so buckle up Buckeye fans!  It will be a grind for the slobs up until the season begins.

Projected Depth Chart:

LT:  Thayer Munford, Branden Bowen, Kevin Woidke

LG:  Jonah Jackson, Josh Alabi, Ryan Jacoby, Nathan Brock

OC:  Josh Myers, Matt Jones, Harry Miller, Jack Jamieson

RG:  Wyatt Davis, Gavin Cupp, Vimahi Enokk, Brandon Pahl

RT:  Nicholas Petite-Frere, Max Wray, Dawand Jones

Future OL:  2020, Paris Johnson Jr, Luke Wypler, Jakob James, Trey Leroux, and Grant Toutant.