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.

 

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%

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

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.

What If Urban Was Not Our Head Coach?

Since that turbulent season 2011, we have been spoiled as Ohio State fans.  Point blank.  Period.  Once Urban Meyer showed up for the head coaching gig, we have experienced a ton of success both on and off the field, we have seen it in rivalry games (5-0 against TTUN), and in the recruiting game–and he is still working to improve in many other areas annually.

He took a Luke Fickell led a team who finished 2011 with a 6-7 record and 3-5 in the BIG 10 and flipped it around.  A culture change occurred and he even kept Coach Fickell on his staff for a couple of years for continuity purposes–and it worked out.  After Ohio State fired Coach Tressel and declared star QB Terrelle Pryor ineligible, it did not look good for the Buckeyes.  During the search for their new head coach, there was a lot of uncertainty, but Coach Meyer was a just what the Buckeyes needed to become successful again.

For fans, I cannot agree or stand the fact that they question Coach Meyer’s motives–especially when they questioned him for leaving J.T. Barrett as the starter during 2016 and 2017, with the perceived “better QB” waiting in the wings (Cardale Jones, 2016 and Dwayne Haskins, 2017).  You people need to just shut up and let the head coach do what he is paid to do or you’ll just be like the Volunteer fans who ran off Coach Schiano with the mob mentality that you all spew all over the social media waves.

Is an overall record of 73-8 and a conference record of 47-3 not good enough for you?  How about a bowl record of 4-2 and a College Football Playoff Championship accompanied by 2 BIG 10 titles to boot?  Still not satisfied because you are bent out of shape over a QB.  Let me say that we should be excited about whatever he chooses to do, and that is also with who he deems ready to start at QB.

This year Haskins is going to take the reins and he better be ready this year, or he’ll face the same criticism as Barrett did with Tate Martell waiting in the wings.  Most people forget that J.T.’s backup was Joe Burrow, and up until he got injured, I saw nothing with Haskins to be impressed with.  Intangibles, learning and taking mental reps, and more importantly–leadership skills.  None of those traits were present and yet, he could mentally throttle any team with a decent defense.

Since we are so spoiled as fans, let me take the time to say that Urban Meyer WILL retire at Ohio State and that I am proud that he is my head coach.  Since we want to take social media pot shots as well, let me play devils advocate and let us say Coach Meyer did not get or want the job and we had to settle for someone else.  Here is a short list of candidates that came up.

Bo Pelini, Nebraska

Bo Pelini finished 2011 with a 9-4 record and was 5-3 within the conference–so he probably was never a real threat for the Ohio State head coaching gig anyway.  Pelini, a former Ohio State Free Safety was a prime candidate for the job.  He was an aggressive defensive minded coach that leaned heavily on his Offensive Coordinators to put up points on the other side of the ball.

He started off really good, but he never got over the hump with his team before being fired after compiling a 67-27 record with the Cornhuskers.

What could he bring to Ohio State?  I think he could transform them into a winner, but like Nebraska, that hump would prove to be too much for him to stay as the head coach at Ohio State.  Expectations would run him out of town in the same manner, but since we are spoiled anyway 9-win seasons will earn him the angst and the axe at Ohio State.

Chris Petersen, Boise State

Chris Petersen was one of my favorites after compiling a wildly successful career at Boise State.  Petersen went 92-12 overall and he dominated the Mountain West Conference finishing 56-7.

He is also famously known for the Statue of Liberty play that defeated the Oklahoma Sooners and he has also beaten a few Power 5 Conference teams in Arizona State, Utah, and Washington–so he would have been a proven winner and a take at Ohio State.

He fits schematically and he would have been fun to watch at Ohio State, where he has an endless supply and a great mix of facilities, education, and the recruiting tactics would be the only question mark.  He has yet to sign a top-notch team at Washinton, but his games would be fun to watch because he isn’t afraid to run a trick play or two.

Jon Gruden, NFL Commentator

Jon Gruden was enjoying life as a Broadcaster with ESPN for NFL games.  A lot of people were thinking or holding out hope for Chucky to become the next head coach of Ohio State–and it would have taken a lot to get him to go down a level after winning a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He coaches the defense and he was a pretty good play caller, but I am not quite sure with the offensive side of the ball.  He normally leaned on the Running Backs and luckily at Ohio State they had a bruiser named Carlos Hyde and Boom Herron.  They also had a pretty good defense with Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier, which would have anyone excited over coaching this team.

Sadly, like Petersen, I don’t have a clue if he knew or was willing to do the recruiting necessary to be successful because that is the lifeblood of any program.  He would win a fair share of game, but would it translate to winning recruiting battles and winning the big rivalry games?  I don’t think so, but it is sure fun to speculate.

Greg Schiano, Rutgers

Greg Schiano was another rising candidate for the job after leading the Rutgers programs to newer heights.  He was available and he was ready for the challenge of becoming a head coach at the next level, for the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.  He was ill-equipped for it after laster a single season in the NFL.

If he chose to remain in the CFB ranks and if he has a shot at the Ohio State job, he would have had access to many resources to rebuild the Buckeyes into a threat once again.  He is known for his work with Defensive Backs and since he’s been at Ohio State, he has been helping in the development of these young men.

Offensively would be the biggest question because he has always been dependent on his defenses while the offenses put up points to maintain the lead.  The type of athletes that Ohio State attracts would easily put these questions to rest and with the right hire as the offensive shot caller, it could be a great match.  Would he sustain the success?  We won’t know, but it is fun to have him on our current staff.

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Bob Stoops would be the best candidate to sign.  He is originally from Ohio and he has a proven track record at Oklahoma and in the Big 12.

This would have been a difficult pull, but if it did happen, the BIG 10 would have burned down because he would keep his foot on the pedal until the clock hit zeroes.  Sure, it would run a lot of the head coaches the wrong way, but it isn’t like Coach Meyer doesn’t do that occasionally too.

Coach Stoops would have inherited Braxton Miller and a lethal collection of weapons on offense.  The defense was also good, with Shazier and Roby roaming around, so there is virtually no real concern for him.  Another huge plus is that he can recruit his tail off.  This would have been a near perfect hire if Coach Meyer wasn’t ready to lead another team on Saturdays.

 

So, in conclusion, we should always be thankful for what we have right now because good things don’t last forever.  You can be a fan and have your opinion, but it gets tiresome when just because you perceive something to be something it is not, you throw fits and complain–you argue tooth and nail until your opinion is heard or mutually agreed on.

We have a great coach who knows what is best for his team and moving forward, just be a fan.  I know that we all cannot be happy, but I am happy with double-digit wins each season and a good bowl game.  I am happy that he can recruit his tail off and that he has the capability to recruit the best personnel or assistant coaches that make his life and his job easier.  You cannot beat Top-10 or Top-5 ranked reasons and recruiting classes because there are other teams that would kill for that type of success.  Coach Meyer took less than half the time after taking over and assembled an impressive recruiting haul with less than half the time.

It is rare that a coach that can do all these things while still focusing on the future of these kids with the real-life Wednesdays–you can’t beat it.  The most important thing is the kids and if a coach can connect on more of a personal level and he can reach their untapped potential at the same time, he’s a keeper for sure.

We should be proud as a fanbase, but it’s not always gonna be perfect for everyone.  I am proud of what Coach Meyer has done and I will continue to be that way and loyal no matter what.  The fakes will be exposed and as much as I would like to kick them out, I will just let things play out and enjoy the success.  We could always have it worse, but some people cannot see past the negatives.  GO BUCKS!!!

 

Season Preview: Rutgers @ Ohio State

In week 2, the Buckeyes will square off against a team led by a former coach in Chris Ash.  It has been two seasons since he left and he has gone up against his former team twice and they have yet to get on the scoreboard.  The past two years have been miserable for the Scarlet Knight as they were blown out both times, by a very wide margin and in embarrassing fashion.

Teams would often tip their hat to the other team, but being on the opposite end of a 56-0, 58-0 beatdown in consecutive years?  Things need to change and they need to try to put some points on the board.

So what will this years edition be like?  Will it be the same old stagnant offense getting dismantled by another dangerous defense?  Or will they make it a little more competitive and interesting?

No one really knows and since it is college football, anything can happen, but unless drastic changes are made, it is not looking too good at this point, if I am being honest and objective.  Since Coach Ash took over, he has gone 0-2 against his former team which is respectable despite being throttled both times, but that is the least of his worries because he has yet to post a winning season and he is 6-18.  He needs to win a few more games or he will feel the pressure.

The biggest question remains with the offense who finished 128th in total offense, 86th in rushing offense, and 124th in passing offense.  Last year, the Buckeyes were 9th in the nation in total defense,  6th in rushing defense, and 30th in passing defense, which gave offenses fits.  This years defense will undoubtedly be just as dangerous and relentless as last years, but they do have new starters at a few positions.  The unfortunate thing is they still have no idea who will lead the offense at Quarterback, which goes in Ohio State’s favor.

Rutgers will have their leading receiving threat at Tight End in Jerome Washington.  They also return a pair of defenders, Trevor Morris (leading tackler) and Jawuan Harris (interception leader), which is helpful.  They have a star in the making in Jonathan Hilliman, who is projected to be the starting Running Back after Gus Edwards left.  A committee is also another option at the position because they have a ton of talent there.

The O-Line is also solid, with a pair of new Guards that are wedged in between experienced players with experience and a few starts.  Will it help against another Bosa brother led defensive front?  We will see what happens.  I feel like this game will be another massacre and it’ll get ugly quick.  The defense will keep them in check as the offense puts on a show with their shiny new toy at Quarterback.

Prediction:

Like I said a little bit ago, it’ll be a massacre.  The Rutgers are the away team after all, and they go into the Shoe with a purpose that quickly disappears after a few turnovers–and poof!  Thier will is gone.  The D-Line will prove to be too much for whoever is the starting QB and the defense scores at least once and collects a minimum of 4 sacks.

Haskins lights up the scoreboard as well.  He will tear it up with 4 passing TD’s while his Running Backs pound the will out of the defense for a combined total of 145 yards and a TD.  This game will be put out of reach quick and the starters will use this as a tune-up for the neutral site game at AT&T Stadium.  Rest or go pedal-to-the-metal, it’ll be helpful if the offense runs efficiently.

Final:  Ohio State defeats Rutgers 55-6

 

 

 

Season Preview: Oregon State @ Ohio State

With 43 days left until the Ohio State season opener, there is a lot of hype with the 2018-2019 team.  Since we are ready for the season to begin, I will take my shot at previewing the games on deck for this season.  If I get worked up, let it happen–this offseason has dragged on way too long, but its nearly over with!

The first game of the season will be an out-of-conference game against another Power-5 team in Oregon State.  The Beavers have a new head coach in Jonathan Smith and he looks to improve from a 1-11 overall record, going winless in the Pac 12.  He will attempt to resurrect his teams spread offense with a brand new starter at Quarterback and a pair of offensive player that look to build on last seasons numbers in JR Artavis Pierce and RS JR Noah Togiai.  Pierce had a decent season with 323 yards on 68 carries with just a single touchdown and he also added 128 yards on 15 catches.  Togiai, on the other hand, had 34 catches for 461 yards and 2 scores.

On the other side of the ball, they return 4 of their top 5 defenders from last season, which would help the newer players in the long run.  Safeties Jalen Moore and David Morris return after recording 75 tackle seasons and a pick a piece and a forced fumble.  Jonathan Willis also returns with the entire linebacking core that tallied 155 total tackles between them, 5.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  It is quite the collection of defenders within this multi-scheme based defense.  Isaiah Dunn is the lone returnee at Corner and they will need to be aggressive with the Ohio State receivers to be competitive in this game.

On Ohio State’s end, their offense will have a new starter in Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell.  Haskins has the advantage, but Martell seems to be making it interesting as we inch closer toward fall camp.  I think Haskins will edge out in the end, with Martell getting a package of plays to keep the defenses on their heels.  Ohio State also returns a ton of weapons from a season ago, with a battle at Tight End coming with the recent addition of Jeremy Ruckert, the upperclassmen better be ready for a dogfight with the true freshman.  Most of the receivers have returned for a season with Haskins and both Running Backs are back as well.  It is a potent accumulation of talent that could explode in this game–that could set the table for the rest of the season.

The defense is also returning many starters and they should pick up where they left off with potential NFL draft implications at stake.  Nick Bosa, Dre’mont Jones, Damon Arnette, Kendall Sheffield, Jordan Fuller are the more notable members of the defense that are eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft, and I am sure they wouldn’t mind bolstering their stock during this season.  A ton of underclassmen will also look to improve with Chase Young and Robert Landers looking to be a disruptive force and a near brand-new group of Linebackers behind them.

Prediction:

The defense will be too much for the Oregon State offense, especially the Offensive Line.  With Bosa becoming a full-time starter and Young lining up opposite, and Landers and Jones on the interior, it’ll be great to see them demolish the other team and throw them out of rhythm.

The Linebackers will close the running lanes as the DB’s lock up the Beaver #1 receiving threat Togiai.  The Linebackers will be without Borland, who suffered an injury, but his replacement Browning or Mitchell will show their skills.

With all things considered, I think the back seven will suffocate the offensive attack and they’ll come up with a few turnovers–especially with a young, unproven signal-caller, it’ll be ugly.  I predict a two-pick game and a fumble type of game.

The Ohio State offense will make a statement after shaking off the rust, the offense will put up points in a hurry afterward.  I think 3 receiving scores and 4 on the ground.  Campbell, Dixon, and Mack score through the air and Dobbins, Weber, Martell, and Teague rumble it in, with Martell and Teague scoring when the starters get pulled.

Ohio State defeats Oregon State: 49-10

What to Expect: Secondary

The Ohio State Buckeyes will have some real experience at the cornerback position. Kendall Sheffield will look to on a good season last year, but not the season most expected the former 5-star, Alabama transfer to have.  Sheffield is looking to be the next first-round pick out of Ohio State at the cornerback position.  I expect him to have the breakout season he wants to achieve. I am going to the guess the Junior will have at least 3 interceptions this year.

On the other side of the field will most likely be Damon Arnette.  Arnette started last year, so this is a no surprise he will be the starter this year.  Splitting carries is Jeffrey Okudauh.  Okudah got the starting job for the Cotton Bowl last year after Denzel Ward chose not to play in the risk of injury before the 2018 NFL Draft.  The coaching staff is high on Okudah and I’m expecting him to have a  huge season.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Okudah didn’t get the starting job at some point in the season, but I’m giving the job to Sheffield and Arnette do to their experience already.  The next in line player is Shaun Wade.  Another 5-star player.  Wade will be a big key for the Buckeyes, especially if one of our other cornerbacks go down with an injury.  Ohio State shouldn’t miss a beat though.  Wade has been committed to being a Buckeye since 2015, and is ready to show Buckeye Nation what he can do.

Jordan Fuller should return as one of the starting safeties. Fuller had a good year last year, and I’m expecting him to have another good year this year.  The big question mark for the Buckeye Secondary is the other safety.  I’m expecting it to be Isiah Pryor who had playing time last year, but not in any real meaningful time.  The safety position is the only real place where the Buckeyes don’t have real depth.  Josh Proctor is coming in this year, but he will be a true freshman.  They also have Brendon White who has only played in 1 game against Rutgers, where the Buckeyes won 56-0.  Shaun Wade may move to the safety position if need be this year since the Buckeyes have 3 reliable corners, but hopefully Fuller and Proctor can stay healthy throughout the year.

The Buckeyes will also miss hype-man Kerry Combs, who left the program to become the secondary coach for the Tennessee Titans.  the Buckeyes are bringing back Taver Johnson who coached the Buckeyes in 2007-2011 with Jim Tressel.  Johnson has coached talent before including Malcolm Jenkins and Kurt Coleman.  I expect the Buckeyes secondary to be the same secondary that has been sending cornerbacks and safeties to the NFL year after year.