Spring Game Outlook: Quarterback

With the practices for the annual Ohio State spring game underway, after a dreadful end to last season at the hands of eventual National Champion Clemson, we are on the verge of entering another season that is filled with high expectations.  Ohio State made it to the CFB Playoffs last season, and as we look ahead, they look to finish on the top of the College Football Mountain once again, but will they will have to rely heavily on the Quarterback position to reach the summit.

Ohio State lacked in the passing department last season, placing as the #81 team in the NCAA in passing offense, as they tallied 2,781 total yards through the air and 26 total touchdowns.  They averaged  213 yards per game, 6.80 yards per attempt and 10.91 yards per completion.  These are pretty average numbers, and a change needed to be made to fix an anemic and broken passing attack that has been lacking the past few seasons.

New Faces at a different place

 

Enter new Offensive Coordinator and shot caller Kevin Wilson.  Wilson was the former Hoosier Head Coach, who was successful with the players that were willing to play football at Indiana.  He comes with the clout of being an Offensive Guru, who can rehabilitate struggling offenses.  He had coaching stops at North Carolina, Miami, Northwestern, Oklahoma and the previously mentioned Indiana.  Oklahoma was his best example of installing a potent and dangerous offense, and with Sam Bradford and Adrian Peterson at his disposal, he played on the strengths of his program.  Wilson has shown what he is capable of when he has the athletes in place, and this move was the perfect situation for both Ohio State and Coach Wilson.  Ohio State looks to move forward and upgrade until their passing game catches up with the running game.  Wilson will be up for the challenge as he looks to start a new chapter in his coaching career.

 

Ryan Day is the designated Quarterbacks Coach and he takes over a treasure trove of players, who are all capable of contributing if necessary.  He is tasked with molding his room into full-fledged starters and with names such as J.T. Barrett, Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins and true freshman Tate Martell, Coach Meyer is not taking any chances with the passing game anymore.  Day is a former College Quarterback and he comes fresh off back to back NFL seasons under Chip Kelly in Philidelphia and San Fransisco. Now, he looks to develop the personnel at Ohio State, and with the talent in place, he has to re-establish the passing game by teaching them up.  He is capable of transforming these Quarterbacks into more consistent and capable passers.  He turned Nick Foles in Philidelphia and Collin Kaepernick in San Fransisco into the players they were during those seasons during his tenure with those teams, and there is no reason to doubt his ability to teach young Quarterbacks to their potential.

The Quarterbacks

J.T. Barrett is the incumbent starter and with the worst game of his life behind him, there was almost no choice but to return to rebound from that dreadful performance in last years CFB Playoffs.  Barrett has the grit and the determination to push forward to improve individually and to improve the players around him.  He will have new coaches on the sidelines and with that, it gives him more motivation that ever.  Barrett will need to learn fast and with him moving forward, the Buckeyes have a winner at that position and the experience to will his team to victory.  They are in good hands under the watchful eyes of Wilson and Day.

Joe Burrow will go into Spring practice as the backup to J.T. Barrett after Stephen Collier put up the cleats.  Out of all the back-ups, he has the most experience because he played sparingly during blowouts last season.  Burrow could see game minutes if Barrett goes down with an injury and he is capable of moving the offense because he showed that when he checked in.  Another Dual Threat Quarterback waiting for an opportunity to show what he is capable of at Ohio State.  He isn’t as fast as Barrett, but he is deadly accurate when throwing the ball.  He has the ability to lead and the ability to lead, which is a trait that Barrett displays consistently.

Dwayne Haskins is another Dual Threat weapon waiting to be unleashed.  There has been a ton of hype surrounding him this Spring, and any Buckeye fan would be excited to know that the Buckeyes have another talented player on the roster, that is waiting for an opportunity to shine.  Haskins might see the field, but it might be unlikely unless both Barrett and Burrow get bit by the injury bug.  Haskins has the skills necessary to thrive in the Ohio State system, all he will need is one moment to display his skills.  Haskins has the make of an alpha dog and has taken the steps to work and grind until he gets his shot.

Tate Martell is a true freshman and he comes from Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada, one of the best programs in the nation.  Martell comes with all the hype, just like the Burrow and Haskins, but he has the high school achievements that will make your jaw drop.  He is another quarterback that fits the Ohio State mold.  Another Dual Threat capable of running and throwing if things align to their liking or if the play breaks down.  Martell won’t see the field this season, but as an early enrollee, he will learn from the upperclassmen above him of the depth chart.  Barring any injuries, he may see some time, but it unlikely.

 

Tyreke Smith to Visit Buckeyes

College football has become a twelve months a year thing for fans (it always was for coaches). The recruiting season never ends, but is especially noisy after bowl games.

Now it’s spring football time and most programs are back on the field. Anytime a college team is on the field is a time to show the program to recruits.

This weekend Ohio State will host Tyreke Smith, a big time recruit from Cleveland who visited Penn State last weekend (video here).

Smith is a consensus top ten defensive end who undoubtedly is impressed by the NFL success Buckeye linemen have enjoyed. Buckeye line coach Larry Johnson has a reputation for developing talent and in 2016 Joey Bosa burst into a big rookie year.

Defensive line is certainly a position of need. The Buckeyes are likely to lose Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Homes to the NFL after this year. Joey’s brother Nick could also be gone the following year.

Smith would seem to be a natural Ohio State lean. We will be paying attention.

Myles Martin, 2017 NCAAs

Here are photos of Myles Martin’s win in the 2017 NCAA

at Scottrade Center, St. Louis.

Kollin More, 2017 NCAA Qtrs

Here are photos of Kollin Moore’s quarterfinal win in the 2017 NCAA quarters at Scottrade Center, St. Louis.

Kyle Snyder, NCAA 2017 Qtrs

Here are photos of Kyle Snyder’s quarterfinal win in the 2017 NCAA quarters at Scottrade Center, St. Louis.

Kyle Snyder, 2017 B1G Championships, X

Kyle Snyder had a tougher match than usual, prevailing 8-5 in the Championship bout over Wisconsin veteran Connor Medbery. Also, BiG Coach of the Year, Ohio State’s Tom Ryan.

Playstation Fiesta Bowl Recap: Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 BIG) vs Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC)

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Game Day is here, and so are the nerves and the paranoia.  The angst and the dread are there too.  I have this knot in my stomach as we are minutes away from the opening kickoff.  Clemson is ready.  Ohio State is ready, and as both teams take the field, the anticipation kicks in and I am ready.  This is what Ohio State and Clemson is here for a spot in the College Football Championship Game.  All of the players are ready to unleash a whooping on each other.  As a College Football fan, no matter what the end result is, we had a hell of a season.  A rollercoaster ride of ups and downs.  And Clemson has gone through the same ride. This is a successful season for both of their standards, but a win would be ideal.  We will see how it goes.

On the opening possession, J.T. Barrett begins the game with a pop pass to Samuel to ensure he gets his quota for touches per game.  The drive then stalled as on 3rd and 8, Barrett finds an open Mike Weber out of the backfield for an easy first down catch.  Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Weber dropped the pass and the Buckeyes punt the ball back to Clemson.  Clemson began past the 15-yard line, but their first drive only lasted two plays.  A receiver slipped on the turf and Gareon Conley undercut the route for the games first turnover.  With decent field position, the Buckeyes drive ended on a sack after Michael Jordan went down after with a key injury.   Demetrius Knox was inserted into the game and gave up the first sack of the game after failing to get off the line to block and Tyler Durbin pushed the field goal a smidge to the right. Clemson took over and drove into Ohio State territory for a field goal and currently lead the Buckeyes 3-0. The Buckeyes got the ensuing kickoff and Parris Campbell returned it to the Clemson 46-yard line. After another missed field goal, the Buckeyes leave more points on the field.  Clemson takes over at their own 30-yard line.  The Tigers take the ball 67 yards on 9 plays and Deshaun Watson takes it in to extend their lead 10-0.  Ohio State get the ball back on their 23-yard line and reach Clemson territory and end the 1st Quarter on a 1-yard gain.  The predictability of the play calling and the inability to block and get open in space, coupled with the nerves that has shaken Tyler Durbin to the core have cost the Buckeyes as it should be a 10-6 game, but things happen.  Here is to another quarter.

After receiving the Buckeye punt, Clemson begins their next drive at their 11-yard line.  The Silver Bullets makes the stop as Jalyn Holmes and Raekwon McMillan stop Watson short of the line to gain.  The Tigers punt and the ball takes a Clemson roll to the Buckeyes 11, pinning them deep in their territory.  Ohio State was once again plagued by drops and untimely penalties and it results in another Buckeye punt.  The Clemson Tigers began their next drive with the lead at their 26-yard line.  The Clemson Offense looked to tack on another score to pad their lead, but Malik Hooker added to his interception statistics as the most of the Buckeye crowd burst into excitement.  Hopefully, this will bring energy to the offense because they are struggling to make plays and the play calling is predictable at best.  Mike Weber needs to be fed like Zeke was because he still has no carries for the game.  Long behold, Weber on the first play of this drive received his first carry of the game for a gain of 5 yards.  The interception was all for nothing as the Buckeyes punt once again bringing up his total to 189 yards for the game compared to the entire offenses 76 yards.  This is not looking too good, but I will keep the faith.  The Clemson offense received and took the ball in the end zone on another wheel route to a leaking Running Back.  Baker was left in coverage and Holmes had a roughing the passer penalty to guarantee a touchback.  The Buckeyes end the half with a 17-0 deficit.  They all look defeated as their punter doubles the offensive output with 240 yards to the offenses 88.  Things need to change or they will get blown out.  See you after halftime.

On Clemson’s first drive of the second half, the Buckeyes look to stop the bleeding.  Three plays later, the Buckeyes come up big on defense to force a Clemson punt.  The possession did not last long as Weber fumbled the ball, putting the Buckeyes in a bad spot.  This is probably what happens when you don’t feed him enough.  Anyway, the Clemson Tigers raced into Ohio State territory once again and that is when the Buckeyes made three huge defensive plays in a row.  Three big tackles for loss and one, a sack from McMillan is a welcome sign for the way the game has been for us fans.  A near offsides penalty by Dre’mont Jones cost the Buckeyes the stop, but Huegel missed the field goal wide left to keep the score at 17-0.  It is within reach to creep back into this game, but it’ll take some imagination with the playcalling.  The Tigers force another punt as they continue to shut down the Ohio State Offense.  On their drive, they reach the Ohio State territory, but the defense comes up with their second sack of the game forcing a rare Clemson punt.  Ohio State comes back with another punt on their own after another sack of Barrett.  Well, the end is here.  Watson scored once again to push the lead to 24-0.  It is now over with Beck and Warriner’s inability to call anything but swing passes.  After back to back deep shots and two penalties on Clemson, Weber runs the ball, then runs over the defender and fumbles.  Next play, Barrett throws a pick.  I am ready for this game to be over because I am sick to my stomach at what I am seeing.  The players are getting a bit chippy as Weber pushes Tankersley after the interception and Watkins comes to his rescue.  The end of the 4th Quarter as the Tigers look to salt away the game.  They get into Ohio State territory once again, but they end up punting the ball.  Samuel earned some yardage as he gained 64-yards on a counter play.  The Buckeyes line immediately gathers more negative yardage on a false start and it set them back 5 yards and a sack on the next play.  On 3rd and 17 the Buckeyes turn it over with a pick that nearly went for six points. Gallman punches it in for another score.  Clemson up 31-0.  At this point, I just want some points to cap a terrible showing.  On 4th and short Weber gets stuffed and the shut-out is still there.  The Clemson Tigers win 31-0 and blank the Buckeyes for their first shutout since 1993 to TTUN.  This has been one hell of a ride and you can only grow from this, no matter how bad it tastes at this moment.  Life will go on and this will certainly be a long cold offseason for all of us.  Good job team and it has been a great season and good work Clemson, you deserve it.  Goodnight folks.

Playstation Fiesta Bowl Preview: Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 BIG) vs Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC)


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Who:      The #2 Clemson Tigers versus The #3 Ohio State Buckeyes

What:     College Football Playoff Semi Final, Playstation Fiesta Bowl

Where:  University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

When:    7 p.m. ET on December 31, 2016


Game Day is here and with hours in between kickoff, I will ease my anxiety with doing one last article before the recap.  In roughly 9 hours, the game will begin and I will take the time to talk about the matchups within the game because there are many juicy matchups between each unit for both teams.  The magnifying glass will be placed on each of those units, regardless of which team wins out, in the end, this game will be used to analyze talent on both teams that are potential NFL Draft prospects if they declare either after or before the game.  This game is viewed as the game to watch because the last team both of these teams met in the Orange Bowl two years ago, it was a shootout.  This year looks to follow suit with a potent offense versus a stellar defense.  Clemson’s Offense is lethal and Ohio State’s Defense is suffocating and this is guaranteed to impress no matter who wins and who loses.

Friends Turned Foes:

imgres-7Urban Meyer and Dabo Swinney share a bond as they both grew as coaches.  Coach Meyer has the edge with multiple championships and one of them came at the expense of his current team when he coached up at Florida.  Coach Swinney on the other hand built Clemson into the monster that they are currently, and he is looking for another shot to prove his worth as a coach and as a team.  Coach Swinney was playful during media day as he playfully mentioned Meyer’s book, constantly mentioning excerpts when given the chance.  Coach Meyer on the other hand was dialed in and seemed distant and focused on the task at hand.  Clemson dished Meyer one of the 5 losses during his tenure at Ohio State.  He gave Meyer his first consecutive loss streak, after Meyer and the Buckeyes fell short in the Big Ten Championship Game.  Is Meyer plotting his revenge?  Will he have something in store for them?  The doubters, who are assuming that Clemson will move on with little to no challenge from the Buckeyes?  The mental chess match between Meyer and Swinney began when the Playoff field was announced.  This is one of the friends turned foes battles.

images-8J.T. Barrett versus Deshaun Watson will be the other friend versus foe matchup to focus your attention on.  Barrett and Watson were good friends when they both served as counselors for an elite passing Camp.  Their relationship has blossomed since as they shared the “see you in Arizona” pleasantries when discovering that their teams will go up against one another.  This will be Watson’s pass-happy attack versus Barrett’s run heavy offense.  Both Quarterbacks aren’t talking and both don’t have to with the body of work that they have created with their respective teams. Both teams will play fast and hard, both teams will be prepared for the kitchen sink at each other, both teams will ride the wave with their Quarterback.  Both players are proven winners and they will look to display their value on the field.

Trench Wars:

51859_hThe battle in the trenches will be another factor in the game. Ohio State has three new starters on the Offensive Line with Junior Jamarco Jones, True Freshman Michael Jordan and Sophomore Isaiah Prince, who has been the chink in the Slobs’ armor at Right Tackle.  Prince will be the crux of if Ohio State is productive on offense and Jordan will also be tested early and often.  Prince will face star Defensive Lineman and former Ohio State target, Christian Wilkins and Jordan faces another beast lineman and another former target, Dexter Lawrence.  Wilkins is a quick twitch lineman, who flashes the speed and burst to blow past linemen and Lawrence has the bulk and outweighs all the Slobs at 340 lbs.  He will be used to take double-teams to free up his companions.  He is also a bully in the interior and the leaders for the Slobs will be tested and busy the entire game.  Pat Elflein and Billy Price will look to stop the bleeding attempting to keep Barrett upright and untouched.  It is easier said than done with the talent on Clemson’s D-Line.

imgresClemson’s has a stout Offensive Line and they are beyond beefed up as they average 310 lbs on every position with their Right Guard being the heaviest at 340 lbs.  The Rushmen will face their toughest challenge of the year trying to reach Deshaun Watson in the backfield.  Clemson boasts a Left Tackle and former Ohio State targer, Mitch Hyatt who has allowed one sack in his tenure at Clemson.  This matchup will be another factor as the battle in the trenches looks to become another tough, but exciting matchup for both teams.  The trench wars will be one of the highlights and the main attraction of the game due to Ohio State’s inability to protect the line line of scrimmage.  With Prince struggling mightily, will he finally earn his star in College Football circles?  Or will he fail once again?  You will never know until the first couple of drives but it very intriguing and my heart hurts just thinking about what could go wrong and what could potentially happen.

Explosive Offense VS Stingy Defense:

imgres-4Ohio State has one of the best secondaries in College Football and they will be needed to stop Clemson’s explosive offense.  Ohio State has playmakers at every level on the defense and Clemson does too, but players like Malik Hooker is a scoring threat with Conley and Lattimore locking down their receivers.  The explosive offense will be a problem as well because Clemson, like Ohio State has playmakers on offense, who can break the game wide open for Watson.  This matchup focuses on WR’s Mike Williams, Artavis Scott, Hunter Renfrow, TE Jordan Leggett and RB Wayne Gallman matching up against Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Damon Arenette, Denzel Ward, Damon Webb and Malik Hooker.  This will be another exciting matchup between a suffocating defense versus and crazy good offense.  If this doesn’t get you as excited and paranoid as I currently am, you might be dead.  Get a pulse because this could be the matchup that could decide who advances to the big dance.  Ohio State collects athlete’s and playmakers, who add a different element to the defense.  Their secondary is one of the best in taking the ball away and turning it into points.  The Buckeyes have 7 TD’s for points and Hooker has 3 of them.  Turnover’s will be key in this contest that could go either way.

mike-williams-clemsonClemson initially opened up as a three point underdog, even as the higher seed.  They feel slighted and they should because their playmakers will look to do some damage on the vaunted Ohio State Secondary who is known to shift the momentum during close games.  Mike Williams is a dog and a playmaker who can also shift games in their favor.  The rest of the playmakers who start and a few of their key reserves would also do the same.  It is just a matter of protecting the ball and their Quarterback.  It is a strength versus strength battle with both teams as they both look to advance forward.  This will not be a cakewalk for either team.  Ohio State’s Secondary will be one of the best that they have seen so far this season and likewise with Clemson’s Offense.  Clemson will be the best offense that they have faced this season because the depth and talent at every position.  This will be crazy to see both squads fighting to advance into the Championship Game.  Talent versus talent for the glory.

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The Ohio State Offense will lean on Curtis Samuel and the rest of Zone 6 to produce.  Zone 6 has struggled mightily to get separation during games and that is one reason why J.T. Barrett’s production has been lacking a reliable and consistent receiving threat outside of Samuel.  This will be an interesting factor and the pundits are expecting Clemson to put this one out of reach early, with no one giving the Buckeyes a shot with their lack of a passing threat.  It is true that he hasn’t been required to throw it downfield, but when the running is so effective, why change what works.  The Clemson Defense will key in on this fact as they look to shut down Ohio State’s run game early.  The production for Mike Weber and friends, and Samuel will be needed to pull this one out.  One of the Zone 6 members or a couple of them need to show their talent in order to win out.  Binjimen Victor, K.J. Hill, Dontre Wilson, Parris Campbell and Marcus Baugh will be needed, badly.

imgres-4On the other end, the Clemson Secondary will be leaned on to keep the Buckeyes contained.  If Gallman struggles, then it’ll be a defensive battle and both teams are pretty good on offense and defense, it is just a matter of opportunity to make plays.  That is all you could ask for.  Both teams will look to cancel each other out and this will be the epic battle of the century.  The strengths and weaknesses are obvious and well documented and it is up to every unit to produce or make play when needed to.  This will be a crazy game filled with many momentum swings and it will be a good one.  Everyone will be glued to their seats as we watch how the game unfolds.  Are we in store for a blowout or another overtime dance with another well-coached contender.  Who knows, but we will find out in a couple of hours.

Conclusion:

So to conclude, this will be a fight from beginning to end.  Both teams will swing for the fences for a chance at the title.  Everything will be left out on the field after this one.  One team will advance and the other will face their end to a magical season.  For my prediction, I have Ohio State advancing after a hard fought victory.  It will come down to the wire, whether in overtime or at the ending seconds of the game.  This will be a defensive struggle with both teams struggling to get things going.  Barrett does it again, 31-34 Buckeyes.  The a member of the Ohio State Defense will turn the tide on a turnover.  I don’t know who it’ll be and Clemson will be paying attention to where Hooker is lurking, essentially avoiding him.  My guess is McMillan or Baker wreak havoc and Nick Bosa has a game in the Rushmen Package.  A shootout will happen.  Go Bucks!!!

 

 

 

Preview: Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 BIG) vs Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC) Part 5

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The huge day is almost upon us and I am nearly complete with my preview series of the Ohio State versus Clemson matchup in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.  It was a blast getting back into the swing of things, but sadly, the College Football Season is drawing to a close.  The thought of life without College Football makes me cringe, and the anticipation when awaiting the beginning of a new season will seem to drag on.  Now I am certainly not chalking this contest up as a sure loss, just like the Penn State defeat, anything can happen, so I will stick to that until this next game is completed.  The beauty of College Football is anyone can take down the big bad giant, at any given moment.  The passion is unmatched and you could see it in each individual players eyes and in the way that they carry themselves on the field.  Ohio State is already being counted out by everyone who is paid to talk about it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way than that. The Buckeyes thrive when playing the underdog role.  Ohio State is favored by a mere field goal, but they are already being counted out before the game even begins.  We will see what they do when the opening kickoff commences.

Defensive Backs:

Each team has strengths and advantages in certain areas.  Clemson has a dominant and stout Defensive Line that loves to get to the opposing Quarterbacks.  Both teams, in my opinion, are equal when comparing the Line Backing Core’s, as they are both rangy, athletic, sure-tacklers, who can play from sideline to sideline.  Ohio State has an advantage at Defensive Back and their defenders have shown a knack for making clutch plays during crunch time.  The Silver Bullets have 19 total interceptions for the season, 3 of which were takeaways from Line Backers,  so the Scarlet Curtain accounted for 16 of the 19 interceptions for the season, and 6 of the 7 interceptions for scores for the defense.  They have the ability to flip the field and score on that end as well because they have 7 pick six’s for the season.  Clemson’s Defensive Backs aren’t terrible either, as a defense they have 18 total interceptions, with 2 being taken back for scores.  14 of them were due to the Defensive Backs on their roster, 4 of their interceptions were from their Line Backers and their backs took both picks to the house.  I will give the Buckeyes the slight edge, due to the production of their unit and their ability to turn the tide in the ball game, but for now, I will go over each key player.

Ryan Carter, CB:

imgres-1Ryan Carter is a Redshirt Junior who will be most likely be matched up against Noah Brown during this contest.  Clemson tends to blitz, a lot, and that leaves their Cornerbacks on islands with opposing pass catchers.  Carter is listed as being 5-9, 180 lbs and he comes from Grayson, Georgia.  Carter has 28 tackles for the season, with 18 of those tackles being solo tackles.  He also has one interception, one sack and he has 5.5 tackles for loss for the season so far.  Carter will be charged with locking down the outside receivers.  Size is always a concern, but he plays up to his competition as he has tallied 7 total pass break-ups to date.  He will contend with unproven and young receivers this game, who routinely struggle to get separation from defenders.  The blitzing and the constant pressure will be leaned upon to prevent big splash plays from occurring as Carter will be tasked to shut his man down.

Cordrea Tankersley, CB:

imgres-2Cordrea Tankersley is one of the Senior leader’s of the Defensive Backs as he looks to finish out his career at Clemson with another shot at the Championship, and hopefully against Alabama.  They have to go through the Buckeyes prior to that, and with the media counting them in the Championship Game already, why not share the same mindset.  Right?  Tankersley is second on the team in interceptions with 3.  He has made 43 tackles and 32 of them were solo tackles.  He leads his team with 10 pass break ups and he has 6 tackles for losses.  He will be shadowing Curtis Samuel for the majority of the game.  His leadership will be needed as that, by no means is an easy assignment.  He will need to be ready for whatever the Buckeyes throw at him because in the Pitt loss, he was not playing up to his ability and the team suffered their first and only defeat of the year.

Van Smith, FS:

imgres-3Van Smith is the starting Free Safety for this Clemson squad replacing T.J. Green, who now plays in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts.  He has big shoes to fill, but he has filled the void.  Smith is listed as being 5-11, 195 lbs and he has grown up this past season.  He leads the Defensive Backs in tackles with 87 and 59 of them were of the solo variety.  He has 5 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles and pass break ups.  He will be roaming the backfield with reckless abandon, to attempt to make plays on the inexperienced receivers that Ohio State has on their roster.  Smith plays aggressively and tends to over pursue, but more often than not, he makes the play.  He is rangy as he looks toward this matchup against the Buckeyes.

Jadar Johnson, SS:

imgres-4Jadar Johnson is the starter at Strong Safety and he replaced Jayron Kearse after he left for the pros.  Johnson is listed as 6-0, 210 lbs and he is the hammer on the defense and the other Senior on the roster.  Johnson leads his team with 5 interceptions for the season and is second in tackles with 49 and 34 solo tackles.  He has 1.5 tackles for loss with 7 pass break ups.  He is the leader on the back end and he has a ton of confidence prior to this game as he has been talking about J.T. Barrett during media days. Although he is correct about Barrett’s lack of statistics in the throwing department, he cannot discount the fact that he is just as capable as the “better” Quarterbacks that he has faced this season.  Lamar Jackson is a beast and I know this, and that is why I am not completely disagreeing with him, but to throw a Buckeye under the bus prior to the game?  Think Oklahoma.  But this should be a fun matchup to see how Barrett responds to the chatter.  If he is able to find the time to make the correct throw, watch out.

Gareon Conley, CB:

imgresGareon Conley, from Massillon, Ohio was on the cusp of becoming a hated rival for the Buckeyes, but a last minute offer turned him toward the Scarlet and Gray, and the rest is history. Conley turned out to be a suitable replacement for Eli Apple after he left for the New York Giants.  Conley is 6-0, 195 lbs and he is the one of the older members of this secondary being in his Junior season.  Conley has 3 interceptions this season, 20 total tackles, 16 solo tackles and 8 pass break ups.  He takes on the opposing offenses best receiver, which will be Mike Williams, who is a projected First Round lock in the upcoming draft.  This will be one of the most anticipated matchups in this game as Williams is projected to go in the first round and Conley is floating around in the Late First Round to Second Round.  With a good showing, I could see him shoot up draft boards prior to the combine, but that is assuming that he shuts down Williams during the game.  Conley will looks to advance against a loaded receiving corps that can score at will.

Marshon Lattimore, CB:

imgres-2Marshon Lattimore has finally beat the injuries to live up to the expectations from when he first set foot onto the campus.  After lingering injuries prevented him from playing, he broke into the College Football scene after 2 years of waiting.  It has been a sight to see as he is second on the team in total interceptions with 4 for the season.  He brought one to the house against Tulsa to break the game wide-open for the Buckeyes.  He could have had two, but a penalty erased one from existence, but he shows the playmaking ability with his speed and man to man skills, which will be needed against a loaded offense that Clemson possesses.  Lattimore is also a sure tackler with 38 and 27 solo tackles.  He has 9 pass break ups as he and Conley are usually placed on islands during games and they will look to shut down whoever they both face.

Damon Webb, FS:

imgres-3Damon Webb, a player plucked from Michigan is the starting Free Safety at Ohio State who is replacing Vonn Bell.  Webb is the smallest member of the secondary, but he plays with a lot of heart and fire.  At 5-10, 195 lbs the Junior will look to shut down this talented Clemson Offense.  Webb has 53 tackles for the season with 29 solo tackles and he has 2 tackles for a loss with an interception for a score and 3 pass break ups.  He will be tasked with stopping the Tight End and the Slot Receivers during the game.  Ward has the ability to tackle, but he often relies on big hits to dislodge the ball away from the receivers and he will need to wrap up this game.  Coverage will be key as the Clemson Offense can put up points in a variety of ways.  Discipline will be key in this matchup as he will face the most potent offense this season.

Malik Hooker, SS:

imgres-4Malik Hooker is the star of this Ohio State Defense as he leads the team in interceptions with 6 and 3 of those went for touchdowns.  Hooker, a Redshirt Sophomore will look to make plays against a dangerous offense that Clemson will attempt to unleash.  Hooker will be one of the obstacles in their way, because he has shown his ability to make key, timely plays in the clutch.  Hooker nearly left the Buckeyes after being unable to obtain a starting position, but family and the coaching staff made it happen and look what they have unleashed.  Hooker was a three star recruit out of New Castle, Pennsylvania coming out of high school and he is one player where stars did not matter.  Hooker is 6-2, 205 lbs and he is a threat on the field.  He is the ball hawk of the secondary and he can do it all from sideline to sideline.  Hooker has 67 tackles, 38 solo, 5 for loss, he has half a sack and 5 pass break ups.  His stats aren’t gaudy in those categories, but he can hurt you in a variety of ways.  He will hover around the field to make plays.  Hopefully he could add to his stats at the end of the game.

Specialists:

Special Teams is important when fighting for field position.  Both teams will look to unleash their respective Special Teams members when needed to flip the field and kick field goals and extra points. They, like everyone else, needs to bring their A Game and as we inch closer, their kicks and punts will play a role during this contest.

Greg Huegel, K:

imgres-5Greg Huegel will be the primary kicker for the contest.  Huegel is a Redshirt Sophomore who stands at 5-11, 195 lbs.  He will be the primary kickoff man as well.  He has 86 kickoffs for the season and 36 of them were touchbacks.  He has kicked 17 field goals this season, making 13 of them for a 76.5% field goal success rate.  For extra points, Huegel is 62 of 64 for a 96.9% success rate.  This will be key in this game as every point matters and is of great importance.

Andy Teasdall, P:

images-2Andy Teasdall is a Redshirt Senior who is looking to cap off his Clemson career on top of the College Football mountain, but he will need two wins to do it.  The first battle to the top will be against Ohio State and he will be asked to pin the Ohio State Offense deep within their territory to unleash the hounds.  Teasdall has 48 total punts for 1808 yards and he is averaging 37.67 yards per punt and 150.7 yards per game.  Teasdall will try to pin J.T. Barrett deep the entire game to give his defense a chance to make plays.

Tyler Durbin, K:

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Tyler Durbin, a former walk-on, earned his starting gig after Sean Nuernberger was injured.  He has been quite the asset, but his most recent performance against Michigan before coming up clutch to force overtime was a much needed confidence booster for him.  For the season Durbin is 17 for 19 with his two misses and last make coming in the overtime thriller in Columbus.  Durbin hit 89.5% of his field goals and 63 out of 65 of his extra point attempts, which sits at 96.9%.  Durbin is also in charge of kickoffs and out of 92 kickoffs this season, 35 of them were touchbacks for a total of 38.04%.  He like the Clemson kicker, will be used to score whenever called upon to extend the lead or earn points to pull a little closer.  Coach Meyer has been alongside him whenever he practices kicking field goals and he will need ice in his veins to keep up with this Clemson Offense.

Cameron Johnston, P:

imgres-6Camerson Johnston is a Senior Punter from Australia who is also looking to cap off his Buckeye career on top of the College Football mountain, but Clemson will be a tough task with the Athletes that they have at every position.  Ohio State has the same quality and quantity of athletes, but it makes it very hard to choose who would win.  Johnston will be looked at to flip the field on Special Teams with his patented rugby style kick.  He has been effective when utilized for punts.  He has punted the ball 49 times for 2266 yards and he is averaging 46.24 per punt and 188.8 yards per game which is absurd.  He has one rushing attempt, that if properly blocked, would’ve been enough for a fourth down conversion, but it was not meant to be.  He will be needed to give the Buckeyes a chance on defense.

 

Preview: Ohio State (11-1, 8-1 BIG) vs Clemson (12-1, 7-1 ACC) Part 4

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With only four short days away, the inevitable clash between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Clemson Tigers in Glendale, Arizona is coming.  The thought of the Semi-Final Playoff bout between two top-tier programs that are vying for a spot in the Playoff Championship Game fills my heart with a good mix of nervousness and excitement, and I am somewhere in the middle.  I occasionally am paranoid when the Buckeyes play and this game is no exception.  Hopefully, Ohio State can advance, but this should be another instant classic that the Buckeyes are participating in.

Defensive Front Seven:

Both teams possess stellar and stout defenses capable of holding opposing offenses down until their respective offenses get things rolling.  After the completion of last season, both Ohio State and Clemson suffered a mass exodus when a group of starter left to begin their careers in the NFL.  Clemson had 12 players drafted with Shaq Lawson being the only player who was drafted in the first round.  Clemson had four players taken in the first three rounds.  Ohio State also had 12 players drafted, but they saw Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Eli Apple, Taylor Decker and Darron Lee being taken in the first round and a total of 10 players taken in the first three rounds.  Both teams took a hit on talent on the defensive side of the ball and when comparing both teams losses, Clemson lost 8 total defenders and Ohio State lost 7 on their end.  Both teams showed their ability to recruit and reload, and they both have players on their respective rosters that they battled each other for.  Can their new-look defenses shut down the opposing teams’ offense?

Christian Wilkins, DE:

imgresChristian Wilkins, who stands at 6-4, 310 lbs is one of the playmakers on this Clemson Defense who can disrupt the rhythm of opposing offenses and he will be the one to set the tone for this defense.  Wilkins was a one of the few five star recruits that Coach Meyer wanted badly, but things tend to happen for a reason.  Wilkins is a beast who can affect offenses because of his motor and his willpower.  Wilkins has 44 total tackles this season with 21 solo tackles.  He has 12 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks to go along with that.  The Slobs will face their toughest defensive front to date.  Wilkins will look to make an impact in the trenches.

Carlos Watkins, DT:

imgres-1Carlos Watkins is Clemson’s 6-3, 300 lbs Redshirt Senior who is the oldest player on the Defensive Line.  Watkins has tallied 41 tackles with 22 solo tackles.  He has 8.5 sacks for the season and 10.5 tackles for loss with a blocked kick to add to his stat sheet. Watkins is a penetrator and one of the most influential players on the young Defensive Line.  He will work with the other linemen to disrupt the Ohio State Offensive Lineman.  Watkins is the third heaviest lineman on the line, but he is ruthless.  He will look to take advantage of True Freshman Michael Jordan in this matchup inside the trenches.

Dexter Lawrence, DT:

imgres-2True Freshman Dexter Lawrence was the other prized five star recruit that Coach Meyer missed out on.  His recruitment went down to the wire and Ohio State nearly had it, but distance was the key determining factor in this recruiting battle between Clemson and Ohio State.  Lawrence is from North Carolina and he is the heaviest lineman on the defense.  He is 6-5 and he weighs 340 lbs.  Lawrence is literally the anchor and he will be matched up against Elflein and Price along the interior.  He has logged 58 total tackles with 19 solo tackles, he has 9 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and he has 2 blocks on Special teams.  He has an engine and he will be a problem for the Slobs the entire game.

Clelin Ferrell, DE:

imgres-3Clelin Ferrell is the lightest Defensive Lineman on Clemson’s roster.  Ferrell is 6-5, 265 lbs and he is the quickest member on the squad as well.  Ferrell has 39 tackles with 16 solo tackles, he has 8.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks for the season.  He earns his keep by pressuring the opposing Quarterback.  He will line up against Isaiah Prince, who is Ohio State’s biggest question mark.  He has given up an excess of 45+ Qb pressures and Clemson will take that matchup.  They will look to pressure J.T. Barrett early and often to disrupt his rhythm and put him on his back.  This will be one of the matchup’s to watch as Prince will look to redeem himself against a stout Clemson front who loves to blitz, a lot.

Dorian O’Daniel, WLB:

imgres-4Dorian O’Daniel is 6-1, 215 lbs and is a fourth year Junior.  He has 48 tackles for the season with 31 solo tackles.  He is a sure tackler with the grit and determination to bring down the ball carrier.  He has 9 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. O’Daniel will be used on the edges and he is one of the many speed rushers that Clemson seems to stockpile on their roster. He plays like Vic Beasley as he looks to terrorize the Ohio State Offensive Tackles.

Kendall Joseph, MLB:

imgres-5Kendall Joseph is 6-0, 230 lbs and he is from South Carolina playing for his home state team.  Although he is the smallest member of their Linebacking core, he plays with the grit and the determination of a bigger player.  Joseph is a playmaker and he sits at second on the team in tackles with 94 tackles and 49 of those are solo tackles.  He has 10 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 5 Qb hurries and a forced fumble.  He will attempt to wreak havoc on the Buckeyes O-Line to expose their youth at both Offensive Tackle spots and at Left Guard.  Joseph is only Redshirt Sophomore, but he has played in big games, as he gained valuable experience during last season’s College Football Playoff run.

Ben Boulware, WLB:

images-2Ben Boulware is the heart and the soul of this Clemson Defense.  He play with fire and you could see it when he steps onto the field and after he makes plays.  Boulware, a Senior out of Anderson, South Carolina who is 6-0, 235 lbs leads all tacklers in the front seven with 105 tackles and he has 50 solo tackles.  He has been disruptive with 9 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Boulware plays with the raw emotion that gets his team up for games, but that could also be his downfall.  He is known to have a short fuse and he is prone to penalties, but he is a valuable playmaker that needs to get going early.  He will be used on blitzes and in coverage as he looks for the win and a Championship berth.

Sam Hubbard, DE:

images-3Sam Hubbard stands at 6-5, 266 lbs and he was tabbed as an Athlete coming out of high school.  He was supposed to become a Safety for the Buckeyes, but a growth spurt shifted him toward the D-Line.  Hubbard has 41 tackles and 18 of those were solo tackles.  He has 7 tackles for loss with 3 sacks.  He sees a lot of double teams while on the field and not in the vaunted Rushmen Package.  He does his job well and frees up the Line Backers from the trenches.  Hubbard is an effective pass rusher and he will be looked at to hold containment when Watson attempts to rush the ball and rush the passer as well.

Dre’mont Jones, DT:

images-5Dre’mont Jones benefited from the injury to Tracy Sprinkle during the offseason.  He is 6-3, 280 lbs and he fits the Ohio State mold of the athletic and disruptive space eater in the interior.  Jones, a Redshirt Freshman, started off slow, but he has gained more consistency and confidence as the season draws to a close.  Jones has registered 46 total tackles as an interior Defensive Lineman with 18 solo tackles.  He will be used to disrupt the linemen in the trenches.  He will most likely be used in a rotation as the Buckeyes have depth at just about every spot on the defensive front seven.  Although Jones has no sacks to show, he shows up on film constantly taking on double-teams and catching the attention of O-Lineman to free up a blitzing member of his defense.  He will look to doing battle in the trenches.

Michael Hill, DT:

imgres-6Michael Hill also benefited from the Sprinkle injury, but unlike Jones, he was slated to start alongside him.  Hill is 6-3, 305 lbs and he is the heaviest member of the team.  Like Jones, his stats aren’t mind blowing, but he serves a purpose on the defensive gameplan. He is another space eater that will take on double teams to free up teammates.  He has 19 tackles this season with 7 solo tackles.  He has 3 tackles for loss.  He has the ability to penetrate if given the opportunity and he will line up against a mammoth Right Guard Tyrone Crowder who weighs an astounding 340 lbs.  He will certainly be tough to move and maneuver against, but the war in the trenches will be another aspect of this game to pay attention to.  Hill played high school ball in Pendleton, South Carolina and was also recruited by Clemson.  Hopefully, he plays with the intensity and a chip on his shoulder as he dons the Scarlet and Gray during his third season at Ohio State.

Tyquan Lewis, DE:

imgres-7Tyquan Lewis was another recruit that fought over by both teams.  He played in nearby North Carolina, but chose to branch away and play further away from home.  Lewis is in his third year at Ohio State.  He is 6-4, 266 lbs and he is another pass rusher that fits the mold at Ohio State.  He will be utilized to rush the passer and disrupt the Clemson tempo.  Like Hubbard, he lacks in the statistical aspect of things, but he does his job and plays his role on defense.  He has 10 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.  He has 5 Qb hurries and 3 forced fumbles.  He is a disruptive force and in obvious passing situations, he will be utilized in the Rushmen Package to get to the Quarterback.  He will be looked at to set the tone and ensure his brothers follow suit.  The opposing Tackles opposite of them will be tough tests for Lewis and his teammates, but they will bring the heat as often as they are allowed to.

Chris Worley, SLB:

imgres-8Chris Worley, a Junior out of Cleveland will be one of the playmakers on this defense that will look to cause fits for Clemson’s Offense. Worley is 6-2, 228 lbs and he plays to Ohio State’s standard for Line Backers.  There is a legacy at the position that he has to uphold and he has done a good job as he finally gets his chance after sitting behind players like Darron Lee.  Worley has 59 tackles for the season and 35 of those were done by himself.  Worley has no sacks this season, but he filled that void by gathering an interception, a forced fumble, 2 Qb hurries and he has batted down 4 passes.  He has 4.5 tackles for loss and he will looks to shut down the strong side of the Clemson Offense with his speed and his ability to tackle.  He will have a tough time getting past the Offensive Tackles, but we will have to see what will happen during gameday.

Raekwon McMillan, MLB:

imgres-9Raekwon McMillan will lead the defense after taking the reins after sharing snaps with Curtis Grant.  McMillan is a Junior and a projected early round pick in the upcoming draft, but like all draft eligible players, they are locked-into this matchup with Clemson. McMillan is 6-2, 243 and he is one Coach Meyer’s most prized recruits that he pulled from the heart of the south.  McMillan is from Georgia and he picked Ohio State over Clemson.  He is as motivated as anybody on this defense due to the proximity to home.  McMillan leads all tacklers with 87 total tackles and 37 solo tackles.  He has 5 tackles for loss with a sack, 2 Qb hurries and 2 forced fumbles.  He will need to play the game of his life on defense against a potent Clemson Offense.  He will need to make the right checks and audibles.  He will need to get his teammates motivated and he will need to play motivated like the “basic defense” that shut down the potent Oklahoma Offense.

Jerome Baker, WLB:

imgres-10Jerome Baker also benefited from an injury to a Dante Booker.  Although Booker began as the starter, injuries derailed his chances and it gave way to Baker’s talent. Baker, a Cleveland native, is 6-1, 225 lbs and he plays with a reckless abandon that Darron Lee played with during his Buckeye career.  Baker, Sophomore had the chance to grow under Lee and he certainly plays with the same intensity.  Baker is second on the team in tackles with 79 and 42 of those were solo tackles.  Baker has 8.5 tackles for loss and he is the swiss army knife of the defense.  He has 2 interceptions, 1 of which was a pick-six that he had against Oklahoma and 3.5 sacks. He will be used to rush the passer and play in coverage.  He is as rangy as they come and he has the speed to do both.  The only question mark is his tackling ability.  Sure, he is second on the team, but he rarely wraps up and goes for the huge hit.  He will need to bring his A Game if he wants to advance.

The Reserves:

Both teams have depth in their front seven.  Clemson has Richard Yeargin and Austin Bryant on the Defensive Line to spell the starters.  Ohio State has the likes of Nick Bosa, Jaylin Holmes and Robert Landers who are all disruptive in their own right.  This will be a test of wills for both teams as they looks to advance and both teams are just about even talent-wise.  This will be a game within a game and the team who dominates in the trenches will advance.  This will be a battle until the end and as it draws near, the excitement becomes more overwhelming.  This is a game that could go either way, and it is probably the matchup to watch in the Playoffs.