Scarlet Letter: Don’t Give Up Just Yet

With another hard-fought victory against another Big 10 conference opponent, the Buckeyes leave today’s game with a few more questions about their identity and their ability to fend off a lesser team that they should have dominated.  Aside from Rutgers and Tulane, the Buckeyes have been vulnerable and prone to giving up huge, momentum-shifting plays to teams week in and week out.

I have never seen an Ohio State defense get gashed, nickel-and-dimed, and straight up bullied by opponents this badly, and it is becoming quite bothersome if I am honest.  This is definitely not up to par and it is not close to the standard that we have enjoyed, but maybe–just maybe this game might light a bigger fire underneath the players and they will start to take things personally and to heart pushing forward.

As I watch the fanbase implode and point fingers, it makes me wonder if they were all fully invested with the team that they “love” and if the “love” was truly real or not.  It is understandable and it is very frustrating, but we are still undefeated.  Insert shrug emoji here.

Have we become too spoiled as fans to the point to where hard-fought wins that displayed the Buckeyes resiliency, their grit, and their determination to secure an ugly win is not enough?  An undefeated season is still not enough?  No one is perfect and the weaknesses today will be addressed a week from now because it was evident that more work needed to be done.

Yes, certain players and position groups need to improve, they need to play much better than they have been, but it’ll take time and it isn’t an easy fix.  I could easily call out everyone on social media, but you know what?  That does more negative things than positive.  Just calm down and enjoy the ride because you never know what the future would be like, and it could be grimmer than right now.

Injuries, penalties, and miscommunication happens–and again, it will be addressed and fixed.  Just have faith in the coaches, in the players, and everything will fall into place.  Enjoy the win because next week will be another hard-fought game.  It is not like the Big 10 of old, where it is top heavy.  Teams have improved, there are a few bottom feeders, that have the talent, but it will take time.  Breathe Buckeye Nation, WE…ARE…FINE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indiana (4-1, Big 10, 1-1) at Ohio State (5-0, Big 10 2-0)

After a drama-filled, come from behind victory at Happy Valley, the Buckeyes face a resurgent Indiana team that could potentially give them problems.  In what was one of the better games of the season, pitting two Top-10 teams against each other, and during a White-Out, the Buckeyes cannot afford to take a loss to another unranked, but talented team again just like that terrible Iowa loss a season ago.  The stars aligned once again and after another 1-point, hard-fought win, the Buckeyes might be vulnerable once again.

Indiana will take their Sophomore QB Peyton Ramsey into Columbus to try to shock the world.  Ohio State will be looking to maintain their current hot streak and blow past Indiana.  Ramsey is no slouch, he is efficient, but he leaves points off the board and he tends to force throws.  He won’t be alone in the backfield because he has another bruiser at RB in Stevie Scott.

With that combination, it might give them some life to at the very least, put up a fight.  On the other end, Dwayne Haskins, Zone 6, and the duo of Dobbins and Weber will look to continue on with their fireworks display on offense.  The defense will look to sharpen up their skill and be more disciplined as they get into matchups with conference foes.

Positional Keys:

  • Quarterback:  Remain calm/Stay sharp
  • Running Backs:  No dancing around/Remain involved in the gameplan
  • Wide Receivers and Tight Ends:  No drops/Gain separation
  • Offensive Line:  Grind out possessions/Maul defenders/Minimize penalties
  • Defensive Line:  Shed blocks/Gap discipline
  • Linebackers:  Discipline in coverage/Do not overrun gaps/Tackle better
  • Defensive Backs:  No blown coverages/Tackle better

There was a lot of errors on the Buckeyes’ part, but this win has and will boost their confidence moving forward.  Last week drops, overrunning plays, and tackling were issues that stunted their progress down the field, but this week, they will be better since they’re at home.

Realistically, the Buckeyes will start out slow because of last week and injuries are a concern with Bosa still being out and Jones almost being lost to injury as well.  Realistically, the Buckeyes will be looking to put this game out of reach by halftime as well, but we will have to see how they will respond, and I am leaning more toward the latter because they played poorly, but showed their grit in the second half.

Haskins will put up points in a hurry as he looks to retain his hot streak and I think it’ll be another multi-touchdown game.  Dobbins and Weber will bruise the defense and Zone 6 will necessary blocks and make the plays once again.  The defense will be looking to improve and play better in the absence of Nick Bosa.

Final Score:  Ohio State defeats Indiana 58-17.

 

 

 

 

 

Penn State Preview

It is finally here. Ohio State vs. Penn State. Normally, this game is played mid to late October, but this year this potential College Football Playoff match up is coming already in September.  The Big Ten this year, so far, has seemingly been down this year. This makes this game even bigger than what it has been in years past. And in the last few years, this game has been huge.  This game seems like it will decide the winner of the Big Ten East with Michigan State and Michigan looking subpar, so far.  Ohio State the #2 scoring offense.  Penn State the #1 scoring offense. Ohio State has had the better schedule so far with traveling to Jerry’s World and playing a very good TCU defense.  Penn State has been tested at home to Appalachian State, and tested in the first half of the Pitt and Illinois games before pulling away in the second half of each game. Lets compare these two offenses.

QB:

Haskins: 87/115, 1194 yards, 16 tds, and 1 int.

McSorley: 57/106, 763 yards, 8 tds, and 2 int.

RB:

Dobbins: 56 attempts, 323 yards, 2 tds. Long of 21 yards

Weber: 52 attempts, 299 yards, 3 tds, Long of 49 yards

Sanders: 71 attempts 495 yards, 5 tds, Long of 48 yards

Ohio State has a clear advantage at quarterback. Dwayne has been absolutely incredible this year. Making every single type of throw with ease.  Even in the TCU game he was stellar, especially on the blitz.  Trace’s numbers don’t tell the complete story.  His wide receivers have had some drops.  But he also misses open people.  Trace is a gamer though. He makes plays when it counts, and really its all about wins and loses at the end of the day. The Penn State run game is what concerns me.  They run the qb read option very well.  McSorely is making the correct read time and time again rushing 41 times this year for 5.7 yards a carry.

Penn State will be without backup Mark Allen at the running back position.  But Miles Sanders seems to be picking up where Saquon Barkley has left off.  He has been  very good this year. Especially, in the Illinois game where he had 200 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  Ohio State has split carries the whole year, and will continue to do so. Mike Weber has been practicing this week, after leaving the game early against Tulane.  Ohio State has been missing the big runs this year, so far.  With the passing game being so great to begin the year, I am surprised to see that Dobbins hasn’t broke one yet.  Ohio State will need the running game to be excellent in Beaver Stadium.

With both offenses performing so well this year, both teams will have to rely on their defenses to step up, and limit the big plays.

Defense:

Opponent yards per game: Ohio State is ranked 22 vs Penn State is ranked 36

Rushing Yards per game: Ohio State is ranked 52 vs Penn State is ranked 78

Passing Yards per game: Ohio State is ranked 30 vs Penn State is ranked 24

Third Down Conversions: Ohio State and Penn State are tied for 54th giving up 5.2 3rd downs per game

To me this is where the game will be decided.  With both offenses dominating early on in the season limiting 3rd down conversions will be the key.  It will keep both defenses fresh, and will allow these potent offenses to stay on the field.  Ohio State linebackers will have to play fantastic if Ohio State wants to earn this W.  They CAN NOT crash down on the running back as soon as the play starts out.  McSorley is very good in open space, and will destroy the Ohio State defense if the linebackers do not keep containment of him.  McSorley also can take a hit, and seemingly likes to get hit, as it is rare for him to slide.  He will fight for every yard he can get.

The defensive line is going to miss Nick Bosa for this game.  I for one, and deeply saddened we wont get another Bosa double sack in Happy Valley. But this defensive line is going to play just fine, even without the BEST player in college football.

This game on Saturday night, 7:30 on ABC, will be exciting, and well agonizing.  With both offenses playing so well, and both defenses playing okay, not great not bad, the big plays will come, and honestly they might come often. This game might give Tressel fans heart attacks, but this is who Ohio State is this year.  I feel Ohio State has an advantage over Penn State, since we had to play a good team away from home. (Yes, I know it was mostly Ohio State fans). Penn State’s schedule so far, has been well terrible.  Penn State has also struggled in 3 out of 4 games so far, and just had to use their depth to help them win because none of the teams they played so far have no where near the depth Penn State would have.  But Penn State has shown up in the second half, and have shown why they are the #9 ranked team in the country.

I feel Ohio State is prepared for this game.  I feel the defense will be ready for the #1 offense in the country.  I feel Dwayne will continue to have the Heisman type year in this game.  However, Happy Valley is an animal. It scares the crap out of me every other year.  I hate going their. Those fans are loud.  Weird things happen. Blocked punts. Blocked kicks. However, Ohio State is 2-2 in whiteout games, and after Saturday I believe it will be 3-2.  The game wont be easy, and I for one will be glad when it is over. I’m feeling a score of 56-45.

Urban Meyer’s presence will bring juice to the Ohio State sideline for Saturday’s showdown with Tulane by @MarkSamuelPrine

Juice noun
\ ˈjüs \

a : a motivating, inspiring, or enabling force or factor

b : STRENGTH, VIGOR, VITALITY

It’s no secret that Saturday’s game against Tulane is an assumed win for Ohio State. The game itself may be viewed as nothing more than a formality, by most Buckeye fans. However, I can say without reservation that Urban Meyer doesn’t see it that way. Sure, he knows his team is going to leave the horseshoe with a win; but what will make this game special for Urb is that it’s his first game on the sideline for the Buckeyes this season. Meyer has spent that last six weeks facing a suspension handed down by Ohio State University President Michael Drake, based on the recommendation of the school’s board of trustees for failing to manage Receivers coach Zach Smith. Meyer has been permitted to participate in football activities for the previous two weeks with the exception of coaching on Saturdays.

In his first game back, emotions are sure to be high for Meyer, the entire Meyer family, the players, the coaches, and Buckeye Nation. Ultimately this means guys will be playing with their hair on fire; with juice if you will. If you listen to any Meyer’s press conferences or any interview of any player or coach for that matter, you are sure to hear someone being praised for the level of energy and intensity they are showing in practice, games etc. That daily emphasis on juice is a symptom of the culture instilled by Meyer, since he arrived at Ohio State six years ago. Some of OSU’s best players like Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins have spoken about the intensity level and energy at the WHAC the past few weeks, since Meyers return. You may ask “what does all of this mean?” It means Buckeye fans should expect Meyer to bring that same intensity to the sideline on Saturday.

In short, a mediocre Tulane squad is about to play an angry Ohio State group that just happens to be one of the most talented teams to ever take the field at Ohio State or any other school for that matter. There’s no need to bloviate on and on about this game but if you must have something to look forward to, John Cooper is getting his first career start at defensive end in lieu of the injured Nick Bosa. Look for Cooper to have a solid performance as the defense prepares for next weeks showdown in State College. Ohio State by seventy.

Buckeyes and Their Second Half Heroics

The Ohio State Buckeyes game planned as they travel to the heart of Texas to Cowboys Stadium to face what was and is their toughest opponent to date in TCU and man, it did not disappoint!  In the last game of Coach Meyer’s suspension, Coach Day was tasked with this tall task in what will be his final and most memorable game before Meyer’s return and it certainly had my heart stopped a early on before the team started to show their playmaking ability.  The Buckeyes were very much tested and although they made it through, they need to fix a few things and there are a few areas of concern for this team moving forward.

The dynamic and potent offense that Ohio State possesses, the offense took a while to function correctly despite the 40-28 score.  Firstly, the lack of consistency with Michael Jordan and the Center position.  There were many times during the game, where Jordan snapped the ball too low which disrupted the rhythm at least momentarily.  Additionally, the 7 to 11 connection being open?  Yes, it was open and Haskins got the ball out and to Mack, but he could not reel in the ball and he accounted for 4 drops, which boggles my mind and is uncharacteristic of him.  He made up for it in the second half, but if he grabbed that near TD pass in the end zone, it would’ve been the difference, but a win is a win–especially against a good TCU team!

This game showcased two teams that want to be in contention for a CFB Playoff berth and it was gut-wrenching and hard to watch at first after sputtering on offense early and remaining stagnant to where the offense only managed three FG attempts with one barely missing.  The defense scored on what should have been a safety, but all together the refs managed to let them play with minimal penalties for either team.  Both offenses managed to make the big play with Anderson’s 93-yard sprint to the end zone, which is their longest play from scrimmage and the longest play surrendered by a Buckeye team.  There was also that bomb that resulted in another 50+ yard TD against Wint, who was not sure where the ball was before getting dragged into the end zone.

On the flip side, the Haskins and the Buckeye offense would not be held back and they responded in the second half with two big plays to put them up for good in the game.  A screen pass to Campbell and a bomb to Hill made up for the slow start to the game. and Haskins even earned a rushing TD to pull away.  The defense after Bosa strained his abdomen or groin area also chipped in with big-time plays that swung the momentum in their favor.  Dre’Mont Jones intercepted a shovel pass and housed it, while late in the game Harrison picked off Robinson to seal the game for the Buckeyes.

It was a stiff test in what was essentially a home game for the Horned Frogs, but a few of the hometown kids showed up.  Specifically J.K. Dobbins ran roughshod and ran with power and anger as he racked up 121 yards on 18 carries, while his stablemate Weber grinded out 64 yards with the same amount of carries.  Next week, the Buckeyes will try to re-establish everything under Coach Meyer, who returns against Tulane after his suspension.  They will need to fix a few things and rest the players who were injured for Happy Valley in two weeks.  Go Bucks!

 

Here’s why J.K. Dobbins is poised for a huge game on Saturday

J.K. Dobbins is averaging 73.5 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry in Ohio State’s first two weeks; which is decent by most tailback’s standards. However, considering that Dobbins ran for 100.2 yards per game and 7.2 yards per carry last season, it is evident that he has not yet reached his potential with respect to statistical production. On the other hand, Mike Weber is averaging 7.2 yards per carry to this point in the season. Weber is also on pace to rush for over 1300 yards this season, which would be his best year yet for the Buckeyes.

Obviously, these statistics for Dobbins have to be taken with a grain of salt due to the fact that he has not played more than three quarters in either of OSU’s first two contests. Not to mention, he is splitting carries with another running back who is also one of the three best backs in the Big Ten. Hence, Dobbins has not regressed as a player. He has just lacked the opportunity to have the explosive performance that fans are used to seeing from him. That trend can’t last forever and I suspect it won’t last past Saturday night in Dallas. Buckeye fans should expect Dobbins to have his first big game of the season on Saturday against a pretty good TCU defense. The Horned frogs have put an emphasis on pass defense to this point in the season, which has paid dividends for them. They have the 6th best total defense and the 8th best passing defense so far this season. On the other hand, their rushing defense is ranked 36th best in the nation; not terrible but not elite either. Simply put, Ohio State’s 2nd ranked scoring offense and 12th ranked rushing offense, in a climate controlled dome, could prove to be overwhelming for TCU. The run blocking ability of Ohio State’s offensive line and wide receivers will be an astronomical advantage when it comes to the Buckeyes imposing their will on TCU by controlling the line of scrimmage; and as Buckeye fans have all heard Coach Urban Meyer say time and time again, the game is won or lost at the line of scrimmage.

Lastly, this week will be Ohio State’s first true test season of the season. Which means ultimately the load will be a little heavier, for clock management purposes, for OSU’s tailbacks. Hence, barring a blow out in the first half, expect Ohio State’s starters to stay in the game a little longer this week; meaning Dobbins will rack up more carries, yards, touchdowns, and his first breakout game of the year; while doing it all at home, in Texas.

Showdown In Texas: Ohio State vs TCU

It is the last week of Coach Meyer’s suspension and the first big test for the Buckeyes is upon us.  It is TCU week and there is a lot of excitement from both fan bases, and what better venue than at the AT&T Stadium–the home of the Dallas Cowboys?  This is essentially a home game for TCU, but the Buckeye faithful will find a way to paint the stands in scarlet and gray.

For the Buckeyes, we have seen two dominant performances against mediocre teams and the positive momentum that they have gained cannot be ignored.  This Buckeye team is talented and they are arguably one of the most talented teams in the nation and they are also one of the deepest teams at just about every position.  They will need to bring their “A” game in order to stop this TCU team, who will be their toughest opponent after two weeks worth of dominating performances.  Coach Meyer’s input coupled with Coach Day’s playcalling will be key for the Buckeyes to leave Texas with a win–and possibly a resounding victory.

For TCU, they also faced a pair of mediocre opponents and looked sluggish in the beginning before pulling away.  They cannot do that against this Buckeye team due to the explosiveness of Haskins and his wide receiver core.  They also cannot afford to lose the battle in the trenches against another collection of talented rushmen led by Nick Bosa, Chase Young, Dre’Mont Jones, and Robert Landers because it is going to be a long day for TCU.

Shawn Robinson provides a unique problem that could threaten this vaunted Buckeye defense and it could spell trouble for them with his ability to run and pass.  This will be the first dual-threat quarterback in this years docket and it will be their biggest test before diving into the meat of the rest of their BIG 10 schedule.  Another funny part about this is that the Buckeyes heavily recruited Robinson, but he chose TCU instead and the Buckeyes ended up with the Gatorade Player of the Year in Tate Martell.

A lot has been said on the message boards on TCU’s end and they claim that the speed from within their program would essentially give the Buckeyes fits for the entirety of the game this weekend.  I get it and in practice, you can be faster than your teammates, but be careful what you wish for because the land of make-believe will come crashing down on you once you witness the caliber of athletes on Ohio States roster.  Year in and year out, they constantly reload and bring more speed on top of what they already have on the roster.  From the offensive side to the defensive side, they are fast at all levels, and they could be shellshocked once the ball gets housed and the difference in overall speed is evident.

Matchups To Watch:

  • Haskins vs TCU Defense:  This will be his measuring stick and with the increase in overall talent and team speed, this could be interesting.  Will Haskins have another dominant offensive performance against one of the best defensive units?  Or will he make mistakes and falter?
  • The War in the Trenches:  You have to win in the trenches before speaking and with another talented group on both sides of the ball, this will be another matchup to watch.  Bosa and friends against the best offensive line that they will face during Coach Meyer’s final game of his suspension.  On the offensive side, will their line matchup and dominate against a scrappy TCU defense that ranked in the top 15 a season ago?  Or will they struggle?
  • TCU WR’s vs Ohio State Back Seven:  With the proclaimed speed of Turpin and friends, it is essential that the back seven of the Ohio State defense plays disciplined and focused football and that they trust their instincts and their keys against TCU.  Against an inferior Oregon State team and their backup QB they put up 31 points due to miscommunication and inexperience and it is encouraging for this group.  If Fuller and pals can matchup and stick with the gameplan, they can shut down this offense with ease, but with the inexperience and the youth of the LB core, we will have to play it by ear.
  • Zone 6/Tote Nation vs TCU Defense:  It will be interesting to see this matchup!  With a handful of receiving threats and a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, there aren’t enough footballs to give to everyone, so they need to make their time on the field count.  TCU has had one of the better defenses in recent years, but will they or do they have enough to stop this talented offense?
  • Texans Return:  With a few former Texans on Ohio State’s roster still on the team, how would they perform in front of their family and friends that they left behind?  Will the lights be too bright as they no-show?  Or will they dominate and show TCU what they missed out on?  J.K. Dobbins, Baron Browning, Demetrius Knox, Kendall Sheffield, and Jeffrey Okudah will return to Jerry’s World and face a team that wanted them on their team.
  • Special Teams:  Jekyll or Hyde:  It is no secret that the Ohio State has struggled with the Special Teams units over the years and this year is no different.  With a rotation of returners, there comes growing pains and miscues.  Fumbles have been an issue and with an offense that can make you pay.  On TCU’s side is Turpin, a potent return man who can swing momentum if given the opportunity to do damage.  What this matchup in particular because it could determine the game.

Prediction:  With everything considered I am predicting another 50+ point game for the Buckeyes in a near shootout with TCU.  It will be close in the first quarter with both teams providing the fireworks.  In a statement game and Haskins’ coming out party against a Top-15 team, he will throw for 200+ yards and at least 4 TD’s.  The Running Back duo will carve up the defense with Dobbins showing out in his home state of Texas, but Weber will match him with a score as well.

Haskins: 235 yards and 3 TD’s

Dobbins/Weber:  155 yards and 2 TD’s

Buckeyes Defense:  3 sacks, 1 int, 2 forced fumbles, 1 TD

Final:  56-24, Buckeyes defeats TCU

Ohio State vs Rutgers Preview

 

The first week has come and gone, already.  We wait 7 months only to have the season blink by it seems.  However, we are moving on to the second week of the season where Ohio State will open its Big Ten play with Rutgers.

A successful first week for the Ohio State Buckeyes as we now start the season off 1-0.  The Buckeyes put up 77 points in the first game of the Dwayne Haskin era. 70 of the points being offensive, the other would be a Nick Bosa fumble recovery.  The Buckeyes didn’t have a top power 5 opponent, but the Oregon State Beavers are a power 5 school.  It was the first time since 2016, against Bowling Green, the Buckeyes put up 77 points in a game.  The offense looked stellar.  They could seriously do no wrong.  They had to punt one time, and it was during a drive with Tate Martell at the quarterback position. The Buckeyes had the right game plan, right matchups, and well the better talent.

The defense side also played very well.  There is cause for concern at the safety position. However, Jordan Fuller was absent from the game with hamstring issues.  Also, Marcus Hooker was suspended for the first game of the season and is expected back.  So, the safety concerns may be fixed here in no time.  The only other problem was the first two drives in the second half where Oregon State had back to back touchdown runs of 80 and 78 yards, respectively.  The game was strange.  It was a beautiful day in the first half.  There wasn’t really a cloud in the sky. Both teams went to the locker room for halftime, then had to sit there an extra hour and a half due to a crazy rain storm.  The start of the second half and the rest of the game was then beautiful outside.  Ohio State goes the ball to start, had a quick strike to Terry McLaurin from Haskins for a 75-yard touchdown.  Then Oregon State had an 80-yard run. Ohio State had a 10 play drive for a touchdown that only took 2 minutes and 30 seconds off the clock.  The Oregon State had a 78-yard run.  Four touchdowns in the span of 3 minutes and 54 seconds.  I’m going to say the delay had something to do with the big running plays.  So with the whole offseason and a new quarterback, this was almost a great of a first game as Ohio State could have hoped for.

Rutgers has the number 1 defense in the country in terms of yardage per game.  Seriously.  Haha. Okay, I know many of you would never buy that.  Rutgers did hold the Texas State Bobcats to 176 yards last game.  Held the quarterback to 7/20 for only 79 yards.  But this is Texas State we are talking about.  They finished 2-10 last year.  Rutgers is probably getting better like many, many are hoping for, but I’m not so sure, yet.  Sadly, their best cornerback, Blessuan Austin, will not play on Saturday with an ongoing knee injury.

Rutgers offense is still not quite there yet.  Artur Sitkowski, the quarterback, threw 20/30, but also threw 3 interceptions, 2 of them being in the red zone.  They ran the ball decently for 218 yards.  Johnathan Hilliman had two rushing touchdowns on only 15 carries. But, again, that was against Texas State.

Ohio State has played Rutgers now 4 times.  In 2014, the Buckeyes won 56-17.  In 2015, the Buckeyes won 49-7.  In 2016, the Buckeyes won 58-0.  In 2017, the Buckeyes won 56-0.  I do believe this is the best Rutgers team Chris Ash has had so far.  But I also believe this could very well be the best Ohio State team Urban Meyer has had, especially in terms of recruiting.  Now the first game of the season we saw almost every play work to perfection.  Will that happen here against Rutgers? Probably not.  However, Urban Meyer returned to the practice field this week, and that really only can help the Buckeyes get better.  I see no reason Ohio State should even come close to losing this game, and since everyone is talking about the defense and how awful they were(they weren’t).  We could see a very fired up defense. I am going to predict the score to be 70-6.

The Other Guys

In just a few short hours, the Buckeyes and the Oregon State Beavers will each kick off their 2018 campaign for a spot in the college football playoff and a national championship. Oregon State won exactly one game last season; so I’m not going to pretend like this game will be some kind of dogfight. Honestly, if it ends up being close, something will have gone terribly wrong for Ohio State. However, I’d like to avoid sounding completely arrogant. So here are two legitimate reasons Oregon State might actually be better than we’re giving them credit for.

Johnathan Smith

In the fall of 2000, walk-on quarterback Johnathan Smith led OSU to an 11-1 record. Eighteen years later, he’s their new Head Coach. He’s young. He’s energetic. He believes firmly that old-fashioned hard work will lead to the eventual success of his football team. I believe firmly that teams, whether it be in the business world, in the home or in college football, will take on the personality of their leader. A prime example of this can be seen in the difference of performance between the 2011 and 2012 Buckeyes after the Meyer regime took over. Smith’s Beavers are no different. Make no mistake, they are not flying all the way to Columbus with intentions of rolling over for Ohio State.

Experience

The only metric where Oregon State could actually be “better” than Buckeyes is it’s extremely experienced roster. The Beavers are returning thirteen of their twenty-two starters from last season. Such an experienced first string will give Oregon State the best opportunity to limit mistakes and avoid beating themselves. It will also give them a better opportunity to make the most of any mistakes that Ohio State’s talented but inexperienced lineup will make along the way. They are a veteran football team who is ticked off after the way last season turned out. There is no doubt in my mind that the Beavers will give Ohio State their absolute best. However, time will show how their best compares to that of The Ohio State University.

Week one of the 2018 season is finally here and it’s packed with an amazing lineup of marquee matchups. Certainly Auburn and Washington’s battle in Atlanta will be the main course. Watching Notre Dame open their season with a win over Michigan will be so very sweet; like dessert, if you will. Which means Ohio State’s warm-up game against the other OSU will be your perfect low-stress appetizer to jumpstart a great weekend of college football. Enjoy.

 

Ready, Set, Go! Buckeye Starters Announced, Primed, and Ready To Rock

With a handful of days left in the pit of misery, it is officially game week and with that, the starters for positional units have been announced during the presser–and boy the future looks bright.  With the drama behind us (hopefully it stays that way!), we can all begin looking forward to how our Ohio State Buckeyes respond to the backlash and the three-game suspension of Head Coach Urban Meyer.

Quarterback:  Dwayne Haskins.

Haskins as the heir apparent to J.T. Barrett was one of the worst-kept secrets at Ohio State.  He beat out a shifty dual-threat quarterback in Tate Martell, but even he did enough to earn a few reps when called upon.

Haskins has the arm and the talent to make this offense explode.  He also has the weapons to make that happen as well.  With a collection of talented receivers and tight ends at his disposal, he almost cannot mess this up, but we will have to see once he steps onto the field if he can live up to the hype surrounding him.

Tate Martell might have lost the battle, but he will act as a change-of-pace quarterback when he subs in for certain situations inside of the red zone.  It will be an exciting combination and it would also act as his audition for next seasons quarterback battle if Haskins has one hell of a year and leaves for the NFL.

Running Back:  J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber.

This is probably the most obvious out of every position announced.  The dynamic duo will re-assume their roles on the offense this year.

With Dobbins, he will use his success from his freshman season as he shares the snaps with Weber in what should be his final season.  With one final season, Weber will search for holes to better his draft stock and reach his personal goals, while simultaneously helping his team achieve their own season goals.

This is another talented group with two talented freshmen in Master Teague, Brian Snead, and Jaelin Gill in the mix for snaps as well.

Wide Receiver:  Johnnie Dixon, Austin Mack, and Parris Campbell.

This is another deep group of players, and the three players above are just the more seasoned players of the group.  They still have weapons in the wings in McLaurin, Victor, Hill, and Saunders.

This is a talented group of receivers from a season ago that all came back to play with Haskins before they realize their NFL dreams.  This is a potent group of playmakers that could light teams up the entire season.

People say speed kills and this group has all the speed!  It will be crazy to see, but I am excited to see big plays consistently and often.  Like the Troy Smith years–I cannot wait!  With McLaurin, Dixon, and Campbell captaining, it will be an exciting time for sure.

Offensive LineThayer Munford OR Joshua Alabi, Malcolm Pridgeon, Michael Jordan, Demetrius Knox, and Isaiah Prince.

The offensive line has been set and you gush with excitement due to the potential.  The one move that shocked many was the decision to move another offensive guard to center, this year it is Jordan’s time to lead from the inside.

There is still an on-going battle going on between Munford and Alabi at left tackle, but everything else has been nailed down with Pridgeon at left guard, the aforementioned Jordan at center, Knox at right guard, and Prince at right tackle.  With a combination of Jordan at center and one of the seven team captains in Prince on the offensive line, they will lead the newer starters into battle for what could be their last year at Ohio State.

The feel I get from this lineup is salivating.  I feel like they could be road graders in the run game and that they will bring that nastiness that has been missing for a little bit, both within and outside of the trenches.  While Bowen still recovers, the depth is a little green, but they have a talented group that earned their spot on the two-deep.

Linebacker:  Malik Harrison, Baron Browning, and Pete Werner.

Linebacker is one of the deeper position groups and the roster and the starters that were announced are all athletes–quick ones too.  The sheer speed and athleticism with this group, not even factoring their backups is crazy, but it is too early to buy into the hype for now.

Run stuffers and gap fillers are their specialties, but Harrison and Browning and can be effective in coverage while Werner acts as the missile to blow up players in the backfield.  The previous to can do the same, but after seeing Werner blow people up on special teams, it is not out of the question.

The will get beat sometimes because of their youth and inexperience, but they could also be scary good behind one of the best defensive line collections out there in the nation.  With captain Tuf Borland still recovering from an Achilles injury, he will mold these younger players into machines.

Defensive Line:  Chase Young, Dre’Mont Jones, Robert Landers, and captain Nick Bosa.

Scary doesn’t do this unit and their backups justice.  They will be one of the most active units that will consistently try to harass the opposing quarterbacks and disrupt their offensive attack.  They will make then earn every single yard and this offense could be a frustrating bunch to beat and overcome in the trenches.

Jones and Landers have proven that they could blow up plays with their coordinated efforts and it usually frees up Young and Bosa.  Behind then are a talented group of underclassmen and a few true freshmen.  Togiai and company have made a lot of noise this offseason and they are expected to contribute this season.

Watch out!  This could be the best collection of disruptive playmakers in the trenches that we have had in a while.  I cannot wait to see what becomes of this unit.

Defensive Backs:  Damon Arnette, Kendall Sheffield or Jeffrey Okudah, Jordan Fuller, and Isaiah Pryor.

Captain Fuller will lead his unit to live up to the Ohio State standard.  Everyone who was expected to start secured their respective spot on the depth chart and the only question is who will be the starting corner opposite of Arnette.

The battle between Okudah and Sheffield has been tight so far, but either or will do and they are interchangeable players that can play the sideline or the slot.  Also, with Shaun Wade getting healthier and the true freshmen stepping up, if someone gets banged up they will be perfectly fine because of their depth at every position.

A fiery leader, Fuller will command everyone and coordinate the attack for his defense with other captains at every level.

Specialist/Special Teams:  Sean Nuernberger and  Drue Cristman.

I am giving the special team unit some love and it is well deserved.  During the spring game, they showed their worth in what was the weakest units a season ago.

They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great either with a mixture of issues from missed FG’s to pointless penalties that killed the momentum or swung it in the other teams favor.  It was also the lack of containment on special teams that opposing teams often exposed the Buckeyes–especially when Barkley took it to the house on the opening kickoff last year.

Improvements must be made, especially with the new rules regarding this specific unit, where the ball can be fair caught and placed at the 25-yard line.  There are some hungry young studs (think Pete Werner) that will look to make an impact.  I think it’ll be Mitchell and Gant that will fly around this season and they will bring the boom!

Jeremiah, Tony, and Shannon, I apologize for the lengthy piece, but I am so excited to turn the page from the media storm that occurred a month ago.  I am truly excited for Buckeye season and so are Trevor and Mark.