Post Spring Game Depth Chart: Offensive Line

The Offensive Line or the Slobs have been a staple at Ohio State since the new Playoff system and as time has passed, the tradition still remains.  The Buckeyes have one lone member of that Championship team remaining.

At Left Tackle, Jamarco Jones will return to protect J.T. Barrett’s blindside for the 2018 season.  Jones was a solid contributor the entire year and he will try to continue to improve as the offseason continues and as the 2018 season approaches.  Behind Jones, a talented true freshman Josh Myers will look to make the two-deep as his back-up, but nothing will be given to him.  He will try to beat out upperclassmen such a Branden Bowen and Kevin Feder for the back-up spot.

Left Guard will return Michael Jordan, a rare true freshman starter who was the second Buckeye to earn a starting role along the Offensive Line just like Buckeye Legend Orlando Pace did years ago.  Behind Jordan Gavin Cupp, Matthew Burrell, Brady Taylor and Demetrious Knox will try to earn their way onto the two-deep.

The Center will be leaned on because the lone member on the Offensive Line, Billy Price will cap off his Ohio State career and start at the position.  He brings the experience and the stability to ensure the rest of the line lives up to the standard.  Behind him is Gavin Cupp and Jack Wohlabaugh who are two more versatile linemen wanting to help the team this season.

Right Guard was the only question mark as Price changed positions and Pat Elflein left for the NFL.  There are a bunch of good candidates in play here as incoming freshman Wyatt Davis will try to impress the coaches to be the third true freshman to start, but he will have to fend off the competition.  Malcolm Pridgeon, Matthew Burrell, Demetrious Knox, Brady Taylor and Gavin Cupp are all in play as well, making Right Guard the most interesting open spot on the roster.

Finally, at Right Tackle Isaiah Prince will look to rebound after surrendering a dreadful amount of pressures a season ago.  Prince was the weak link for the Slobs and he will have a fire in his belly to ensure he protects Barrett.  Behind him is incoming freshman Thayer Munford and the upperclassmen Bowen and Feder, who will try to unseat him or earn spot on the two-deep.

Consistency will be key and with 4 of the 5 starters from last season returning, the Buckeyes will search for improvement in communication and protection.  The trenches will be the biggest point of emphasis along with the lack of creativity with play calling.  Coach Meyer made some changes to his staff and it is now fight or flight.  How his team will respond to adversity and change.  Clemson did a number on the Slobs and they are looking for redemption and quite possibly, payback after the beatdown that they endured at the Fiesta Bowl.

 

Ohio State Buckeyes: 2017 Season Outlook

The Ohio State Buckeyes are coming off one of the worst defeats in the Urban Meyer Era.  The loss at the hands of Clemson was one of the worst offensive displays in recent memory, dating back to 2011, when Ohio State finished 6-7 and it proved that wholesale changes needed to be made on the offensive side of the ball.
Coach Meyer made the necessary changes during the off season bringing in a new Offensive Coordinator Kevin Wilson and Quarterbacks Coach Ryan Day, and collectively his squad will be looking to improve the passing game and bring back the sizzle to the Buckeye offense.  The offense will need to maintain a balance between the passing and the ground game to secure another playoff berth in the 2017 season.
The goal is set firmly in place, but the Buckeyes will have to traverse through a perilous road to secure another coveted spot in this years College Football Playoffs.  The goal will be attainable because 7 of the 12 games will be played at home and the home field advantage in The Shoe, helps the Buckeyes chances. Unfortunately, 5 of the 12 games are going to be played away from home, far from the confines of Ohio Stadium.
According to Alexander P., odds maker at mytopsportsbooks.com, “Ohio State is the modest favorite to win the Big Ten despite losing three first-round talents to the NFL. While they have a tough schedule ahead, the fact that they get to host Penn State and Oklahoma is a massive advantage. Their toughest road game is against a Michigan team that’s arguably losing even more key pieces.  The Buckeyes should be good for ten wins, if not more.”
It’s the 7 of 12 games on this season’s schedule that can shift the Buckeyes from being modest favorites, however.  They’ll be taking place at home, at The Shoe.  Home field advantage definitely helps the Buckeyes, but they will still be tested during those games.
The big games on the home slate will begin with a tilt with the Sooners.  Oklahoma will come into town in week 2 looking for some revenge after the Buckeyes came to Norman and embarrassed them.  The Buckeyes will welcome Penn State in week 9 to get some payback after they fell in Happy Valley a season ago.  In week 11, Michigan State will visit after a down year to potentially spoil season for the Buckeyes.
This years non-conference home games providea decent level competition as well, with Army being the most dangerous of the bunch.  Army finished 8-5 and they run the triple option, which will test the Buckeyes Defense.  UNLV will be coming in after a down year, after they finished 4-8.
The Buckeyes will also welcome two up-and coming conference foes in Maryland and Illinois to The Shoe.  Both coaches are looking for their signature wins, and what better opportunity that spoiling the Buckeyes chances at the Playoffs?
D.J. Durkin worked under Meyer at Florida before taking a job at Michigan over Ohio State.  Lovie Smith has the NFL Head Coaching experience that could turn the program around.  So the Buckeyes shouldn’t take these two teams lightly.
5 of the 12 games will be played away from home and at hostile stadiums across Big Ten country.  The Buckeyes open the new season against an Indiana team that always gives the defense headaches.  The kicker is the offensive genius in Kevin Wilson does not lead that program anymore and he now calls the shots on offense for the Buckeyes.
From there, the Buckeyes will face off against another former coach in Chris Ash.  He is looking to resurrect a Rutgers program and will look for improvement in year 2 as the Head Coach.
The most intriguing away game will be played at Lincoln against Nebraska due to the heated Wide Receiver battles that both position coaches engage in on the recruiting trail.  They constantly butt heads and it often ends with fireworks and subtweets between the two.
The Buckeyes will then travel to Kinnick Stadium for a gritty, Big Ten style game.  The battles in recent memory have been low scoring affairs, and it will be interesting to see how they rebound after falling apart toward the end of last season.
The Buckeyes will cap their season off with a stopover at the Big House to engage in another installment of The Game.  With both teams suffering losses to the NFL Draft and with graduations, this will be fascinating as new pieces will face off in another high-stakes game for all the marbles.  The road to the Playoffs will run through The Big House and this clash will not disappoint.
The expectation is clear at Ohio State, but with key starters returning for redemption, the Buckeyes will look to build something special this year and for years to come.  J.T. Barrett returns to lead the team in his last season to rebound after the Fiesta Bowl.  He will have new pieces to play around and with new coaches on the staff, there is no reason to think good things are on their way.
Ohio State is has one of the deepest teams in recent memory and they certainly reload year after year, before and after the draft.  The players on the two-deep projections and beyond can play anywhere in the nation as they anxiously await for their shot.  They remaining players from last season are battle-tested and they will look to lead their younger teammates and their new starters.
The road will most certainly not be easy, but the overall schedule favors Ohio State with the majority of their games being played at home.  The rest of the Big Ten however, will not cooperate and they will try to play spoiler to ruin another shot at a title for Coach Meyer and his squad, and they most certainly will not go out quietly.

For more content or information on the projected Win/Loss total for every Big Ten Team please visit the link below: 

Big Ten Football: Buckeyes Lead 2017 O/U Win Totals (again)

 

Post Spring Game Depth Chart: Wide Receiver

Zone 6 is one of the many crowded position groups that Ohio State has on it football roster.  This is evident as just about every group has their share of talented players patiently working for their shot at big boy football at Ohio State, but the Wide Receiver unit is jam-packed with talent.

The Starter #1:

Johnnie Dixon has battled and endured season after season of debilitating injuries to his knees in back-to-back seasons while at Ohio State.  This is most likely his last shot at glory as his eligibility is running out and as he showcased during the annual spring game, he showed his talent en-route to a stellar multi-touchdown game.  He also showed that, when healthy, he can be that deep threat that Ohio State hasn’t seen since Devin Smith.  Johnnie Dixon showed that he is healthy and working towards a comeback that is eerily similar to what Marshon Lattimore went through during his tenure at Ohio State.  If he can produce the same way that Lattimore has during last season, Ohio State will be lethal.  With a new Offensive Coordinator in Kevin Wilson, who is an offensive genius at the helm, the receivers should have the numbers necessary to keep teams unbalanced and on their heels.  With Dixon, he has the speed and the hands to separate and he is a reliable receiver.  His productivity would just depend on his health.

The Starter #2:

K.J. Hill has the talent to start alongside Dixon.  He also has sure hands and has the ability to obtain RAC yards with ease.  He is elusive and shift, but not Dixon shifty.  He won’t beat defender with blazing speed, but he has the strength to break arm tackles and blow through defenders for big gains.  Hill could also catch between defenders, which would be useful during key third down situations.  With the amount of talent on the roster, this second starter at Wide Receiver could go in any direction, but I am sure that Hill has done enough to catch the eye of the coaching staff.  He is also durable and if other go down, the staff could rest assured that Hill and company have the weapons to plug in and play.  He is a big-play waiting to happen and with his suddenness and burst, he could give defenders headaches throughout the season.  He will be leaned on during the entirety of the season to produce for the coaching staff this season as one of the few contributors to last seasons squad.

Slot/H-Back:

The need for the next Curtis Samuel is needed to ensure production in the Ohio State passing attack and with his departure, it opened up the door for Parris Campbell, Brendon White and Eric Glover-Williams to make their impression on the coaching staff.  Unfortunately for the last two, Campbell was given many looks and he looks like the eventual starter this fall.  Between his speed and the ability to run after the catch, he will be another weapon and asset to the Buckeye coaching staff.  He will be moved around and utilized similar to many of those before him under Coach Meyer.  There is still a lot of time for him to lose ground, but we will see.

 

Other Candidates:

There are other names out there and the Class of 2017 will have previously mentioned Brendon White, Trevon Grimes, Jaylen Harris and Ellijah Gardiner coming in this summer.  The also have Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor waiting vying for playing time as well.  For now, they will grind until called upon and under Urban Meyer, waiting isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as he has been able to produce NFL caliber players with little to no experience or production.  With another mass exodus, this time with transfers out of the program and the occasional underclassman leaving for the pros, the younger players will have to be ready to be called upon during game days.  Lets hope they will be ready.

 

 

2017 NFL Draft: Day 3

 

Noah Brown, WR (Dallas Cowboys):

Noah Brown was the first Buckeye taken on Day 3 of the draft, and better late than never.  At 6’2″, 222-pounds, Brown is an imposing Wide Receiver with the size to bully the smaller Defensive Backs and box them out for the football.  He couldn’t have gone to a better team, and he joins fellow Buckeye Ezekiel Elliot in Dallas.  Brown has Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley to work with and he will compete with the rest of the receiving group for reps and a roster spot.  During the 2016 season, Brown was used heavily early on in the year, but the lack of creativity in playcalling derailed his once promising season.  In the Oklahoma game, Brown was the go-to guy and he bullied his way to a stellar 4 touchdown game at Norman, Oklahoma.  He made highlight reel catches early and often and he gave the Sooner Defense fits.  After that however, his usage declined with a combination of poor line play and playcalling on offense.  He was underutilized and could have used another year in college, as he left for the NFL and caught the team unexpectedly.  Brown is a project, but he has the skills to flourish in Dallas’ offense.  He has a few injury concerns, but he should be in good hands.

 

 

2017 NFL Draft: Day 2

 

Curtis Samuel, WR (Carolina Panthers):

Curtis Samuel was the first Buckeye that was taken on Day 2 of the 2017 Draft, being selected with the 40th overall pick by the Panthers.  The Panthers have spent picks on back to back offensive studs due to the losses of Ohio State Alums Ted Ginn and Corey Brown during free agency.  With Samuel the Panthers will be getting a playmaker just like McCaffery who can play multiple positions.  Both players have the speed and they will help Cam Newton give opposing teams defenses fits.  Samuel will be used early and he will work in the slot, and he may see some time at Running Back.  Samuel is 5’11” and 196-pounds and turned in a 4.31 40-time in the combine.  His measurable and his talent will be utilized to spread the opposing defenses and keeping them honest during games.  He will share time with McCaffrey, but I feel like Ron Rivera will give both draftees ample opportunities to shine.

Raekwon McMillan, ILB (Miami Dolphins):

Raekwon McMillan, a recruit out of the Peach State was the second Buckeye taken in Round 2.  At 6’2″, 240 pounds he is the motor that was in charge of the Buckeye defense the last two and a half seasons.  He has the speed and the leadership abilities that will continue to flourish at the next level.  He is viewed as a 3 down linebacker and he must show development to see some playing time this fall.  McMillan is the first Inside Linebacker taken over Vanderbilt’s own Zach Cunningham, and he will be behind newly acquired addition Lawrence Timmons and Kiko Alonso, who re-signed with the team this offseason.  Behind both of them McMillan will have the time to develop under Timmons, who arrived after time in Pittsburg and Alonso, who was still hasn’t established himself in the league yet.  McMillan’s only concern is in coverage, but he is a sure-tackler, who can stuff the run when called to.  He can become great with some time, so I can see him as a back-up for now, but he can flourish with the right coaches in place.

Pat Elflein, C (Minnesota Vikings):

Pat Elflein was the Swiss Army Knife out of Ohio State who can play multiple positions along the Offensive Line.  During the Ohio State Championship year Elflein began at Guard and then the following season he seamlessly switched to Center, where he earned the award for the Top Interior Lineman Award in his last season at Ohio State.  At 6’3″, 303-pounds he will compete with the likes of Joe Berger and Nick Easton for the starting Center gig in Minnesota.  If he cannot beat out the others at Center, Elflein can compete for the starting job at Guard opposite of former Ohio State Alum Alex Boone.  The Vikings have another Guard in waiting and all Elflein needs is an opportunity to play and earn playing time.  The Vikings drafted Dalvin Cook in the Second round and he will look to Elflein to block for the fellow rookie in the upcoming season.  Elflein is a tireless blocker that almost always finishes until the whistle is blown.  There are questions about his overall strength, but with an NFL Caliber strength and conditioning program, he will improve.

 

Spring Game Fever: The Spectacle We Love

The spectacle of the Ohio State Spring Game is upon us.  This is one of the biggest offseason events that the Buckeyes host and this year will be no different.  With many blue-chip recruits of all ranks, the Buckeyes will look to rise up in the rankings with a great showing, that is looking like it won’t disappoint.

***  The storylines will feature a brand new Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach in Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, it will return a good amount of starters from last season with J.T. Barrett on offense and the majority of the Defensive Lineman.  The inexperience and the lack of creativity and variety was a problem, but with a few old pieces in places and some new faces on the coaching staff, this makes for another intriguing storyline to follow.  Look for a more improved offense that will tire out the defense with their upgraded tempo.  Will they find their next version of Curtis Samuel?  Will they find their next Devin Smith, Braxton Miller or Mike Thomas?

***  Zach Smith and Tony Alford will be tasked with providing playmakers and balance for the Buckeyes offense with members of their respective units.  Will Coach Smith find the next stars for his unit?  He needs Zone 6 to produce another playmaker and establish his role in the offense.  The Buckeyes will have the talent, but can they find the playmakers to follow what Mike Thomas, Devin Smith, and Braxton Miller have built?  Will Coach Alford they find their next version of Curtis Samuel or the next Ezekiel Elliott?  He has Mike Weber, who acted as their workhorse, but will Antonio Williams and J.K Dobbins step up?  Or can walk-on Jerimiah Knight carve out a steady role for himself?

***  Look for new Linebackers Coach Bill Davis to find his niche from within the Schiano captained defense.  He took over for Luke Fickell and he looks to use his extensive NFL coaching experiences to bridge the gap left by Fickell.  He lost Raekwon McMillan, but he retained Chris Worley, who is now the starter at the Mike spot, Dante Booker, who is coming off of an injury-plagued season and Jerome Baker, who had a coming out party last season.  He also has a lot of talented personnel waiting for their chance to reload the Buckeyes.

***  Coach Schiano and Coach Coombs will have the task of rebuilding the Scarlet Curtain or B.I.A., the Best In America.  Three of their starters, Malik Hooker, Garon Conley and Marshon Lattimore left for the NFL, leaving only Damon Webb as the only returning starter.  The Buckeyes signed five talented DB’s during NSD and they will look to make an immediate impact or contribution to the lack of established starters.

***  Last, but not least, the recruiting aspect for this game will be one of great importance.  Many blue-chippers will come to see if their prospective unit succeeds or what improvements have been made.  The potential of someone pledging their allegiance to the Buckeyes are good, but only time will tell.  Both the offense and the defense need to put on a show, and with a few Buckeye commits present, you really never know what could occur.

***  P.S.  The BTN chose to air the Ohio State Spring Game over TTUN’s.  Lol!

 

Draft A Buckeye: Cameron Johnston

 

Cameron Johnston took over punting duties for Ohio State and he was quite the weapon.  Johnston hails from Australia and he turned out the be a dependable weapon during special teams with his patented directional and rugby punts.  He has the ability to shift field position and put opposing teams in a bind, with little to no room.  Johnston averaged 46.7 yards per kick in 2016 and he was second in the nation as he averaged 43.9 net yards.  He also has wheels.  He ran a 4.92 on the 40-yard dash and that could be another weapon, if he is willing to stick his nose out during special teams opportunities.  Johnston is destined to go in either day 3 or go undrafted.  Maybe he will be the next undrafted special teams ace thta makes it in the big leagues.

Draft A Buckeye: Noah Brown

 

Noah Brown blew up against Oklahoma, showcasing his ability to out-muscle opposing DB’s.  He showed the ability to separate and high point the ball over unsuspecting defenders.  It was certainly a shock for him to leave, but he has the size and the speed to make it if a team takes a chance on him in this year’s draft.  Brown is 6’2″, 222 lbs. and he can be a monster, and has the ability to take over during games. Brown is susceptable to the injury bug and two seasons ago, he broke his leg, which caused him to redshirt that year.  Last season, he was the featured peice, but then the gameplans moved away from him as the season progressed.  He has some film, but he doesn’t, but he is an intriguing prospect due to his measurables.  He is projected to go as early as day 2 of the draft, but he is more likely going to be taken sometime in day 3.  He may follow Jailin Marshall and end up being an undrafted free agent, but who knows, the draft tends to be unpredictable.

Draft A Buckeye: Pat Elflein

 

Pat Elflein has been an anchor on the Buckeye Offensive Line for the past few seasons.  He has the talent to plug into either Offensive Guard spots and he can also be effective as a Center.  At 6’3″, 303 lbs. Elflein, last seasons Rimington winner will be a valuable commodity for a Offensive Line needy team in the NFL.  Although a tad bit inconsistent with his strentgh, his effort level and his dedication to his craft are traits that most teams covet.  He needs to improve his strength, but his experience as a wrestler would help him when placed in the game.  Versatility is the name of the game and Elflein is a proven asset at Guard and at Center.  He is projected to go in the 2nd Round.

Draft A Buckeye: Raekwon McMillan

 

Raekwon McMillan was one of Urban Meyers most prized recruits coming out of SEC territory and he has grown into a leader on defense for the Buckeyes.  At 6’2″, 240 lbs., McMillan is viewed as a speedy Middle Linebacker who can play sideline to sideline, stuff the run and diagnose plays.  The former Butkus Award recipient played Quarterback for the Buckeyes defense and directed his troops as he sees fit.  He was a leader and he should blossom and evolve after a team takes a chance on him.  He ran a 4.61 in the 40, 7.15 on the 3 cone, 4.39 in the 20-yard shuttle and an 11.84 in the 60-yard shuttle.  He is athletic and flat out fast for a linebacker, and he will be used sparingly until he finds a foothold or if injuries occur.  This is not detracting from his talent, but he had a decent season but was less productive than previous seasons.  McMillan will be an asset to a team as he is projected to be drafted in the 2nd to 3rd Round of this year’s draft.