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.

Depth Chart: Wide Receiver

The Wide Receiver room at Ohio State is arguably one of the deepest and the most talented positional groups on the roster.  It boasts an impressive collection of high four-star players, a few five-stars and a lot of underrated three-star athletes and players that have found the position that suits their skills.  Former WR coach Zach Smith had quite the hauls prior to his departure, but now former player and now Coach Brian Hartline is looking to improve the quality and the production of players in his room in 2019 and beyond.

Fast forward to the 2019 season, after losing not one, not two, but three team captains at the wide receiver position in Johnnie Dixon, Terry Mclaurin and Parris Campbell–how would this team fare without that leadership element from the more seasoned members of the team?  It is truly a deep void to fill, but all is not lost this season because there are trio capable members that could grow into the leaders this offseason in K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, and Binjimen Victor.

Early on, the had to grow with and under the wings of the three that have recently departed for the NFL, but this year they will be leading the charge.  Hill, a fifth-year senior has the most experience and he even turned down an NFL shot in favor of being “the go-to guy” at Ohio State and to possibly grab a few records in his last season in the Scarlet and Gray.

Both Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor are returning for their senior seasons at Ohio State and they will try to go out with a bang.  Mack was seriously hurt following the Purdue loss and he will look for a bounce-back type of season without the help of his former roommate Dwayne Haskins.  He will take the field with Justin Fields or Gunnar Hoak so there is a lot of work to do with new signal-callers on the roster.

With Victor, he had an up and down season, but he turned it on late into the season with a spectacular game-saving grab and a little RAC to set-up Hill’s game-winning TD to stun Happy Valley in another thriller to the rivalry.  Victor among the three potential leaders in the room is the least vocal player in the room, look for him to develop more as a vocal leader through the offseason and well into the season.

Behind the next big three are a slew of talented and yet forgotten prized recruits that could shine in limited action.  The players that immediately come to mind are Elijah Gardiner and Jaylen Harris, two big-bodied receivers that have been waiting for their time to shine.  Then there is the legend himself Chris Olave and incoming five-star signee Garrett Wilson, who just barely scratched the surface of their potentials. Close behind them are Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown, who are all speed burners.  Unfortunately, Babb suffered another major injury, but the staff can turn his situation into another feel good, Dixon-like story (which would be awesome!), so keep fighting kid!

After that is a collection of walk-ons with C.J. Saunders leading after defeating the odds.  Even after losing Blue Smith and Garyn Prater to Cincinnati, the walk-ons are still good players.  Alec Koch, Austin Kutscher, De’Shawn White, and Sam Wiglusz.  There is also Craig Young, who was recruited as an Athlete, so you never know if he will break through and earn some reps at receiver.

Looking into the future, the 2020 receiver group is headlined with another five-star stud in Fleming, who is the #1 at his position in the nation.  Scott Jr and Smith-Njigba are also no slouches either.  The 2020 class is looking pretty deep with one or two more possibilities left.  The 2021 class has no one committed, but that could change after they added Marvin Harrison Jr’s high school QB, but you never know, but the future is really bright with Hartline leading this groups development.

This is definitely the room that generates the most excitement, especially with the potential of Day’s offensive mind at the helm.  This room will have to step up and learn fast, but all signs point to the Zone 6 group kicking it up a notch.  Go Bucks!

Projected Depth Chart:

WR 1:  Binjimen Victor, Jaylen Harris, Cameron Brown

WR 2:  Austin Mack, Garrett Wilson, Elijah Gardiner

Slot:  K.J. Hill, Chris Olave, C.J. Saunders

WR 4:  Alec Koch, Austin Kutscher, De’Shawn White, Sam Wiglusz

Future WR’s:  2020:  Julian Fleming, Gee Scott Jr, Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

2019 NFL Draft: Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins, Quarterback

PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Dwayne Haskins #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks to make a pass during the first half in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019, in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Dwayne Haskins had a wonderful year during his only season as the starting Quarterback for the Buckeyes.  After torching the Ohio State record books, he will look ahead toward his future as an NFL Quarterback.

Although he could use another year to sharpen and hone his skills, he has the necessary tools and traits to succeed at the next level.  The lucky team who covets him will get a baller with very few flaws.

Haskins is surely capable of playing at a high level and if he gets a shot early he could make some noise, but every team interested in his services seems to have a veteran in place for the time being.

Having a seasoned veteran in place isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker in the Haskins sweepstakes.  In a pre-draft interview, he mentioned that he was open to learning under an established veteran, so although we would have to wait some time for the Dwayne Haskins era to begin, he will have an opportunity to become an understudy until his number is called.

Here is a list of Quarterback-needy teams to keep an eye on for the upcoming draft.  There is a lot of smoke from multiple teams, so it will be an interesting ride for Haskins the fans out there (including myself!) to get drafted by their own NFL franchise.  Buckle up, folks!

 

Arizona Cardinals, #1 Overall Pick:

Arizona has been connected to a Quarterback prospect in the draft, but unfortunately, it isn’t to Haskins.  They have their eyes set on Kyler Murray, the Oklahoma Sooners stud who spurned the Oakland A’s to pursue football instead of baseball.

I know that it isn’t Haskins, but its the NFL Draft, the pick could change.  There can be a situation (a la Aaron Rodgers) where Murray could slip down after a last-minute discovery.

It seems likely that it will not happen, but it is always fun to play the “what if” game before the draft.  Given their infatuation with the type of Quarterbacks Kliff Kingsbury has had at Texas Tech, Murray fits that Gunslinger mold similar to Mahomes, so there is that.

The team also spent a 1st Rounder last year on Josh Rosen.  There has been some speculation about his future, but we will see what continues to develop as the NFL Draft inches closer.  There might be a surprise or a few on draft day.

Chances:  5%

 

Oakland Raiders, #4 Overall Pick 

Oakland has a franchise Quarterback in place in Derek Carr, but John Gruden might be ready to turn the page on him with Haskins.  By acting as the understudy, it would give time for him to master the playbook while biding his time.  There could also be some waves during the draft and we could see Carr getting traded during the draft.

You honestly never know about the draft, but it is possible.  Chucky is also always somewhat connected to anything Ohio State.  Like before Urban Meyer accepted the job, Gruden was always mentioned as a potential candidate for the job.

I have been seeing a lot of draft experts talking about Haskins at this pick, but it could be more smoke and mirrors, and we could see a trade happen if the right offer comes up.  The fit for Haskins would work as well, but with the number of talented pass-rushers in the AFC West, he might spend a lot of his time on the ground as he learns, but he could thrive under the Raiders system.

Chances:  40%

 

New York Giants, #6 Overall Pick

The Giants are the most connected to when talking about Dwayne Haskins.  With the combination of being a lifelong Giants fan and the teams need for a solution after Eli calls it quits, it seems like a perfect storm for the team.

With the departure of Odell Beckham Jr and the extension of Sterling Sheppard, it would be a fun offense to watch with the addition of Haskins and the rise of Barkley.  This would be the ideal situation for him to thrive and learn under another Super Bowl winning Quarterback.

He would certainly be up for sitting behind Eli as he continues to develop and learn the playbook.  It would be a shock if they don’t take him.

Chances:  75%

 

Jacksonville Jaguars, #7 Overall Pick

The Jaguars are in dire need of a Quarterback after cutting ties with Blake Bortles.  They have put a bandaid on the situation with the former Eagles Super Bowl hero Nick Foles, but the future remains murky.

Haskins could fall to the Jags if the Raiders and the Giants end up taking other needs and he would fit here too.  With a solid defense in tow and a punishing running attack, he could thrive with little pressure to put up points.

All he has to do is become more productive than Bortles was and cutting down on the turnovers or mistakes.  If he could do that, he would be golden.  This makes sense because of the age and the wear and tear with Foles.

Chances:  35%

 

Denver Broncos, #10 Overall Pick

Denver has needed a Quarterback since the end of Peyton Manning’s playing days and it is beginning to show.  Firstly, I am a fan of this franchise and it hurts, but Haskins at this spot would restore my faith in John Elway.

The Broncos, Elway specifically is infatuated with Drew Lock at this spot.  Kind of like the Brock Osweiler experiment, the Trevor Siemian season, the Paxton Lynch debacle, and the Chad Kelly gamble.  Each of them reminded Elway of himself and each selection was a bad one.  This year, Elway has a chance to change that if he selects Dwayne Haskins, but will he be willing to do it?

New Head Coach Vic Fangio would like to bolster the defense with a game-changing Linebacker and with Joe Flacco joining the team, they could wait another year to draft his successor OR they could grab a Haskins who is plummeting in the draft (allegedly).

Haskins fits with the Broncos and he could study under a Super Bowl winning Quarterback like Joe Flacco.  I would certainly enjoy it and start watching the NFL more, but it is up to Elway to work his magic.

Chances:  50%

 

Cincinnati Bengals, #11 Overall Pick

 

The Bengals are in a spot where they could keep the former Ohio State product in the state of Ohio and it could certainly happen.  Andy Dalton has been iffy over the last couple of season and his health is a huge concern.

Haskins is like a tank and he has been fortunate enough to not be seriously hurt by the injury bug.  Haskins to Green/Eifert has a nice ring to it and I am positive that a few Bengals fans would love it too.

Although the learn under the Super Bowl winning Quarterback does not apply here, he can stay in Ohio and he has a decent offense to work with Mixon being there for the handoffs in the running game.  Their defense will undergo a lot of changes, but with the addition of Haskins, you never know.

Chances:  85%

 

Miami Dolphins, #12 Overall Pick

The Dolphins moved on from Tannehill and they could get a steal with a plummeting Dwayne Haskins.  If all of the previous teams pass on him, I would be upset, but it is the name of the game.

He could learn under Ryan Fitzmagic for the time being before earning the starting job.  The offense is not as good as the other teams, but it the cupboard isn’t bare and Haskins could inject some energy into the team.

He also would have a good defense and he would reconnect with former Buckeye Linebackers Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan, which would be awesome to see at the next level.

Chances:  85%

 

Washington Redskins, #15 Overall Pick

The last team on the docket is the Washinton Redskins.  They have a lot of depth in the Quarterback room with Alex Smith recovering from a gruesome leg injury, the recent trade with Denver for Case Keenum and then there is Colt McCoy too.

The situation could get more complicated with the addition of Haskins, especially when having that many players at the same position.  The only way this would happen is to make draft day trades, but we shall see what they could manage.

If Haskins joins the fold, he would have a pretty explosive offense with a punishing running game.  The defense is always good in D.C.  He would learn under three Quarterbacks with varying levels of success in the league.

Chances:  25%

Dawn of A New Day at Ohio State

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

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

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

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

Expectations:

Offense:

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

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

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

Defense:

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

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

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

Special Teams:

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

QB Battle Brewing

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

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

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

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

Playmakers Paradise

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

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

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

Defense

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

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

Prediction

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

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

Final Score:  55-24

Bucks by 90 by @MarkSamuelPrine

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

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

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

 

Prediction:

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

Mike Weber: 100 yards and two TDs

Bucks by 90.