MOTSAG Draft Profiles: Justin Fields

With the 2021 NFL Draft fast approaching, the odds of a Buckeye getting drafted are pretty high—especially after the championship run this past season. Although the game did not go as planned, the legacy of the outbound players cannot be underestimated and their achievements speak for themselves. Here are just a few tidbits about each draft eligible Buckeyes starting with Justin Fields.

Although the scoreboard failed to showcase his improvements, Justin Fields’ had plenty of good plays that were captured on tape. His intangibles are good enough to be a great, productive quarterback in the NFL and he could potentially break the stigma for future Ohio State Quarterbacks.

Fields is accurate from deep and he has improved his mid and short range accuracy as well. The know of locking onto his first receiver is a thing of the past because he has shown that he is actively coming off of the first receiver and is working through his progressions. Yes, sacks and holding onto the ball is bad but Fields has the potential to be a good one in the future. Pack in the speed and toughness—and you have a durable player with leadership capabilities and the concept I’ve drive to help your team turn things around.

If oddsmakers have it right, there is very little chance Justin Fields winds up a New England Patriot after the 2021 NFL Draft says Paruk from SportsBettingDime.com had mentioned. After the 49ers traded up to #3, they became -150 favorites to take the Ohio State pivot. The Patriots were not among the other eight teams listed. That’s because the chances of Fields lasting until the 15th-overall pick are basically nil, as is Bill Belichick’s history of trading up in the draft.

The NFL Draft is never lacking in drama, but there many teams looking for a future signal caller/playmaker. Fields fits the mold in being one of those future stars and all he needs is to hear his name to begin putting in the work.

PROS:

  • Deep ball accuracy/placement
  • Durability
  • Athleticism/Speed
  • Leadership Qualities
  • Arm Strength

CONS:

  • Holds onto ball too long/Eats sacks

The Reload: Running Backs

The running back room is also affected by uncertainty with Trey Sermon’s status up in the air. He suffered an injury that took him out of the game and it cost the Buckeyes. It is his decision to make but all signs point to him pursuing his NFL dream. The talent that is in place and the backs that are coming in will be exciting to say the least.

Master Teague played in place of Sermon and he did what he could, scoring twice and running for 65 yards. This season, he will be in his third year with the program and he is the early favorite to be the bell cow for the Buckeyes. Yes, he’s no Sermon, but he could fill a leadership role and he brings experience in a mostly green room of backs. He could take his game up a notch while guiding the younger backs under the tutelage of Tony Alford, but this is if the redshirt sophomore decides to stay.

Marcus Crowley is the next talented back and he is a former Gatorade Player of the Year in the talent-rich state of Florida. He saw a few snaps in the championship game when the game was out of reach and he showed some burst but not a ton. As talented as he is, all he is waiting for is his shot for some meaningful snaps. I hope he sticks around for the long haul.

Steele Chambers, out of Roswell, Georgia is the third back on the reload and he is coming off a year where he was recovering from an ACL injury and we will see how he feels in 2021. When he was in the game, he always got his yards and I’m hoping the rust shakes off quickly.

Miyan Williams is the third and “bowling ball” really went out there against Clemson and played like a man possessed. He will ride that momentum moving forward and watching the tape, he really is a downhill runner that isn’t afraid of contact. He is also deceptively shifty which won’t hurt either.

The incoming freshman are TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor, two talented back that will come into the fold soon. Henderson, a five star out of Hopewell, VA has a lot of potential to overtake the talent above. Electric and sudden, he will give the Buckeyes a potential game breaker in the backfield. His stablemate Pryor from Cornelius, NC is a four star but also has the same traits that compliment Henderson. The pair are the #1 and #2 players at their position and they will look to make an immediate impact as freshman.

Regardless of who stays or goes, the room is in good hands. Coach Alford has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal and I know we will be fine. Attrition wouldn’t shock me either, but until we know enjoy the talent we have been stockpiling.

#GoBucks

The Reload: Quarterback

The combination of the current group of Ohio State quarterbacks and the incoming freshman over the next two seasons helps Coach Day and Coach Dennis build toward the future of the program. They certainly have the talent at their disposal, but even that could be put into jeopardy with a surprise return from Justin Fields. Let’s say he leaves and what do we have left? Who is available to make some noise? Who will come in in the future?

Jack Miller III and C.J. Stroud the understudies to Justin Fields in the 2020 season and they have had their moment when called upon. When games were out of play, they were put in and when each got their shot, the electricity was evident for each. Jack Miller III was the first of the pair to be thrust into the game against Nebraska. He had no pass attempts but carried the ball twice for 23 yards and a score. C.J. Stroud on the other hand played in the Michigan State game and carried the ball once for a 48-yard scamper for six. Both will have a leg up on the incoming players, but even their talent is notable.

Joining Miller and Stroud in the summer, Kyle McCord and is another player that will show up and add to the competition within this position group. McCord, according to 24/7, is a quarterback from Pennsylvania is the #25 overall player in the nation, the third-best quarterback and oh, he’s one of the five five-star players that is coming in. Spicy, but having competition never hurt anyone, especially at a blue blood school like Ohio State.

Looking into the future, we have Quinn Ewers currently committed. Obviously, he is a 2022 recruit and the McCord of the class that will hopefully add to the QB room. He is a big-time player that will be playing in the Texas State Championship Game and he is one of the few players to have a perfect grade of 1.000 on the 24/7 composite. It is still a long way until he signs, but he looks like a gunslinger, and imagine if he is fully developed under Coach Day.

Each of these quarterbacks brings a diverse set of skills. It is up to Coach Day to develop them as men and as players, and the competition this spring will be a storyline to watch. It’ll be a three-way deadlock and the competition will be fierce to be “the man” at Ohio State.

The future at Ohio State is bright. There is no taking away from that. The reload is here. Buckle up.

#GoBucks

Silver Linings, Onto The Future

The offseason is usually a rough time for me, but being able to continue writing about the Ohio State Buckeyes puts my mind at ease. The passion I have and the sheer love for the team prevents me from walking away and here I am talking about the future of the program.

Players will often take some time to make up their minds about their future and here we are in limbo for the time being. Fields, Olave, Fields, Wade and the majority of the linebacking core are likely to leave but the greatest mystery would be to see who stays.

Now, when we find out whoever does stay, it’ll be interesting to see the attrition process play itself out too. Younger players with no shot at being “the guy” for their respective positions—let’s see how mentally tough they are and if they can be patient. This is probably the most interesting part of the year where anything can happen leading up to the annual spring game.

While you can’t bet on the Buckeyes in Ohio just yet, there is optimism in 2021. Sports betting legislation is in the works. If you can’t wait and are in the Michigan area, sports betting in MI is going live this week. You can wager on all the Buckeyes futures bets on DraftKings, FanDuel, or BetMGM, Lineups has the latest news and reviews if you don’t know which book to use.

Anyway, this team should look different this year and the future is too bright to discount the efforts and the strives it took to have a season. These kids are here for our entertainment and for their future. Do not blur the lines. Being able to not let wins or losses dictate our lives is a blessing and for me, I’m just happy that I have found that silver lining in this.

MOTSAG Sign Off: Thank You Guys

The season has come to a heartbreaking close and give props to these young men that made it happen. Making it to the title game in the manner in which this Buckeye team did is an achievement in its own—and they deserve the praise through the highs and the current low.

The Buckeyes were outmatched and it only took a half to see that. There are few silver linings in this story, but they are left with another question-filled offseason. Who will be leaving, who will be retuning, who will transfer in or out, which coaches will leave or come in—a lot can be said after this crushing defeat at the hands of Alabama.

Whether it was due to poor preparation or poor game planning, there is no reason to abandon ship just yet. Yes, the Buckeyes were whooped with everyone watching but what is another lesson for Coach Day? Or even Coach Coombs? I have no insight as to what will or won’t transpire in the future but this looks to be a turbulent offseason for the players, coaches and us fans.

I am not one for handing out trophies during situations like this but I think Fields deserves a huge pat on the back after fighting until the end. Yes, we had injuries and Covid issues but there is no excuse. We were hit hard with injuries right off the bat and it hurt this team and it only got worse as the depth along the defensive line was lacking, just like the pressure or the lack of tackling.

Regardless, great season, great players, great memories. Thank you for all you’ve done to make this missable year go by. Always behind you guys.

Go Bucks.

Ohio State vs. Alabama national championship key player matchups: by Mike Scharf

We are officially one day away from the 2021 National Championship between Ohio State and Alabama. Both the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide are coming off dominant performances in the CFP semifinals and are prepared for the biggest game of the year.

Both teams are led by star players in key positions, and the outcome will come down to these players and the matchups that present themselves on both sides of the ball.

The four key matchups for Monday night are seen below:

Trey Sermon vs Dylan Moses

Trey Sermon has been rolling and making a name for himself this postseason dominating on the ground in the Big Ten championship and CFP semifinals rushing for a combined 524 yards and 3 touchdowns. The ground game has been near perfect for Sermon and this Buckeye offense but come Monday the biggest threat to the Tide may be Sermon in the pass game. Sermon had 61 receiving yards on 4 catches against Clemson and will look to be more of a factor in this aspect against this Alabama defense.

This is when the matchup with Alabama’s star linebacker Dylan Moses comes into play. Moses has been dominant stopping the run as he has 38 tackles this season but has struggled in pass coverage as of late. 

Look for the Sermon-Moses matchup in open field — with Sermon taking full advantage of it. —

Devonta Smith vs OSU’s Secondary

Coming into the biggest game of the year, everyone knows how dominant Heisman winner Devonta Smith has been all year. Smith can beat you in more ways than one — catching, handoffs, punt returners — He’s the real deal. 

The Buckeyes are known to have highly talented defensive backs. Their best this season is Shaun Wade. Wade flourished in the slot last year, while coming back this season to play on the outside to prove he’s capable of playing both positions. Although Wade has not been as solid on the outside this season, he’s still a Thorpe Award semifinalist and has all the tools to be a factor in this matchup.

The matchup will be an interesting one — I expect to see the Buckeye secondary to show more zone and focus more help containing Smith whereas leaving him on an island could lead to success for the Tides offensive game plan.

Chris Olave vs Patrick Surtain

SEC Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Surtain has been locked down all season, and not many quarterbacks throw his way.

The 6-foot-2 junior recorded 32 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one interception this season.

With that being said, Chris Olave is the real deal. Buckeye Nation saw how valuable Olave is as he missed the Big Ten championship against Northwestern, and the Buckeyes found struggles opening up the pass game in a 22-10 victory.

Olave was available in the CFP semifinal against Clemson and didn’t disappoint as he had 6 receptions for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.

In a short season for the Buckeyes, Surtain will be Olave’s toughest matchup thus far and the two will be in a battle all game. 

If Justin Fields finds trouble throwing Surtain’s way, look for Garrett Wilson to have a monster game on the other side for the Buckeyes.

Najee Harris vs OSU’s Defensive Line

Along with Devonta Smith, Najee Harris has been a working force for the Crimson Tide offense. Harris has 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

With more COVID issues swirling around the Buckeyes program, we are not sure who is suiting up for game time.

But — Zach Harrison, Jonathan Cooper and Haskell Garrett are players we expect to see. Look for these three to control the line of scrimmage against the Tides front and contain Harris from making explosive plays. 

If the Buckeyes defensive line can contain Harris and apply pressure on quarterback Mac Jones, look for this team to find success Monday night.

These are two of the best programs in the past century we’ve seen in College Football.

The stage is set. The matchups will be exciting. A champion will be crowned.

Ohio versus the world.

MOTSAG X-Factors: Defense

With the national championship game approaching , as a fan you can’t help but be anxious for Monday. Despite the news that a few key players are out due to testing positive—the game is just four days away.

The story continues and this week the Buckeyes are potentially losing Togiai and Smith—two dogs the rushmen cannot afford to lose. Rumors that will remain on our minds until they release the names of the infected.

We all saw what a Olave-less offense looked like and the struggles that Fields had during that game. He had an awful outing but Sermon carried the burden of leading the offensive charge. Now the defense is in jeopardy of losing two of their cogs on defense and the depth takes a shot.

The odds of the Buckeyes losing starters is high, but they’ve done it with less all year. Against an elite Bama squad that boast the Heisman winner and after winning just about every offensive award, including the best offensive line—this should be a tough test for the defense. Nothing will change the fight but until we know who is in and who is out, let’s take a look at the defensive X-Factors of the defense for this game against Alabama.

The Rushmen

The biggest story out right now is this position group potentially not having enough depth to play the game. This depth issue might have pushed back the date on the championship game but the game looks like a go. Names like Togiai and Smith are huge ones and the Buckeyes need them on Monday, but until we know for sure, I will still write as if they will be playing.

The Rushmen need to control the line and wreak havoc on the best offensive line in America. Alex Leatherwood was quoted as saying “let’s see if they want to play” and Garrett responded with “I feed on that”. In order for the Buckeyes to contain a potent Alabama offense, they must be disruptive and they must play with a huge chip on their shoulder to stall this offense. It’ll be a team effort to stop them with or without Togiai or Smith.

BIA and LB’s

Shaun Wade wants Devonta Smith for the challenge and while some might see it as a slight, he is competitive and wants to gauge his skills against the heisman winner. Aside from Wade, Banks, Williamson, Ransom and Proctor must play disciplined and they must tackle well at all levels. Big hits are good to swing the momentum but the risk of targeting could derail any hopes of contain this offense.

The same can also be said for Browning, Borland and Werner—they too must play near perfect game to edge out Bama. Harris is a monster and don’t discount the Bama tight ends to get some work. Tackling is key and the coverage must be perfect to pull this off. The underdog role suits this team and another challenge is on the table.

MOTSAG Key Players

Haskell Garrett, DT

Tommy Togiai, DT

Jonathan Cooper, DE

Shaun Wade, CB

Sleepers: Lathan Ransom, S and Baron Browning, LB

National Championship X-Factors: Offense by Mike Scharf

Over the past century, whether it’s been on the field or in recruiting, the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide have been two of the most dominant programs in the sport. 

Ohio State has won 931 games to go along with 8 national championships. Alabama has won 928 games while claiming 15 national championships.

On. Jan 11. The two programs meet for only the fifth time in history — Ohio State has a record of 1-3 against Alabama — the last meeting coming in the first ever College Football playoffs in 2015, where the No. 4 Buckeyes defeated the No. 1 Crimson Tide 42-35 in the semifinals. 

The Buckeyes were heavy underdogs against Clemson, but showed the world even though only six games were played, they indeed deserved a playoff spot after dominating the Tigers 49-28 in New Orleans.

The Buckeyes get another chance to prove the doubters wrong as they square off with the Crimson Tide.

In order to win, the Buckeyes need to execute the game plan and come in with that underdog mentality. Not many will choose the Buckeyes in this one as Alabama has been clicking on all cylinders this season, but as we saw in New Orleans, don’t count this talented Buckeye team out.

Here are a few x-factors offensively that could prevail the Buckeyes’ to victory:

Justin Fields

There’s not much needed to be said about QB1. Fields proved all the critics from previous weeks wrong as he BALLED out against the Tigers in the semifinals throwing for 385 yards and breaking the Sugar Bowl record with six touchdowns. Ball security and decision making will be key in this matchup for Fields — one turnover could be a substantial changing point in the game — After taking a huge hit to the ribs, one of the biggest things to keep an eye on is how the injury will affect Fields’ play. Everytime Fields followed through on his throws he was in pain and was limited in the run game. Fields will need to use his legs in this one. Keeping the Crimson Tides defense guessing will be key. When it’s said and done there’s no other quarterback Buckeye nation wants heading into this one. Fields is a baller, competitor and has all the swagger to win a big time game.

Trey Sermon and the Slobs

The Buckeyes are averaging 545 yards per game this year, and poured 639-yards on the Tigers. Sermon and the front seven have a lot to do with that, especially the past two games (Northwestern/Clemson). Sermon has the most rushing yards in a 2-game span in Ohio State history with 524 yards. The front seven led by Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis are looking for blood, they have been dominating the line of scrimmage and look to continue that trend. Some big keys to the game are managing the penalties and controlling the line of scrimmage on both passing and running plays. Holding penalties can kill momentum and be a changing factor in this game. Every drive matters. As for controlling the line, pass protecting Fields and opening up holes for Sermon will lead to big plays as we saw in the past two games.

Garrett Wilson

The duo of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave have been one of, if not the best duo in college football. Wilson and Olave have been causing havoc for secondaries all season, but Alabama’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Patrick Surtain II has been locked down all season long for the Tide. Surtain II has 20 tackles, 1 INT, and 11 PD (tied-3rd). It’s more than likely Surtain II will be assigned to Chris Olave which will open plenty of opportunities for Garrett Wilson to make a statement championship game for Zone 6. Alabama’s team defense has been dominant of late, but containing both Wilson and Olave is a task many teams find trouble doing. The Crimson Tide has one of the best in Surtain II, which may limit Olave in some aspects, but Wilson will be ready on the opposite side of the field.

The Tight Ends

As we saw in the semifinals against the Tigers, the play of the tight ends can be an enormous x-factor in how the Buckeyes play and attack the defense. The use of tight ends seemed to be limited all season for the Buckeye offense, but in this year’s Sugar Bowl, Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert made game changing plays for the offense. In a 14-7 game led by the Tigers, 3rd and goal, Farrell caught a 8-yard bullet touchdown from Fields. While, Ruckert had himself a game with 3 receptions, 55 yards, and 2 touchdowns. These two will be a key in Fields’ passing game against a stout Crimson Tide defense.

This offense seems to have found it’s rhyme and If all these x-factors on the offensive side of the ball come to play and execute the game plan ahead we could see a similar result to the 2015 Sugar Bowl game — Ohio versus the world.

Freshman Ransom, a star in the making

Ohio State has found a gem with true freshman Lathan Ransom.

Ransom, a former 4 star out of Arizona quietly gained more snaps for the Buckeyes as the season progressed, but has been making a name for himself this postseason, delivering the biggest hits, and plays at key moments.

As a true freshman Ransom earned his first grade as a champion in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson.

Ransom saw a season high 28 snaps in the Sugar Bowl victory and made plays for the Buckeye defense. Most notably, Trevor Lawrence’s last throw in the end zone targeted for Amari Rodgers was contested and batted by Ransom right into Sevyn Banks’ hands leading to an interception.

Although Ransom has appeared in three games for the Buckeyes he has made his presence known these past two post season games (Northwestern, Clemson). In the Big Ten Championship, on 4th down Ransom made a huge hit on Northwestern’s John Raine causing an incompletion and icing the game leading to a Buckeyes fourth straight Big Ten Championship. 

Meeting with the media ahead of the national championship, defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs and senior Shaun Wade had high praise for the freshman.

Coombs said Ransom has improved everyday this season. “He showed up and played big when we needed him to,” said Coombs. “He continues to improve and develop and we’re excited for his future.”

Wade told the media that Ransom is going to be a great player and he even reached out to Wade ahead of the Clemson game to go over things in the slot corner position where they both went over to the WHAC to work on techniques before game time.

Ransom has 4 tackles and 1 PD on the season. 

The future is bright.

All the tools Ransom has shown dominating high school and translating it to the college game has future All American written all over it and is going to be a problem for offenses years to come.

#11 Ohio State Buckeyes Silences #2 Clemson Tigers in the Big Easy

Yes, you read that right and it was intentional. With all the chatter and all the slights sent their way, the Buckeyes have finally defeated the Clemson Tigers. The risk of falling 0-5 to Clemson was possible, but with all the motivation in the world the Buckeyes trounced the Tigers and silenced the doubters for now—and oh, how sweet it is?!

The build up to this moment was heavy. Two elite teams with two distinct paths to the CFB Playoffs. Two budding rivals that always seem to meet. Two elite head coaches with loaded rosters that could compete to become the next dynasty in college football. Both sides had their motives and their wills tested up to this moment.

One team, Ohio State went through adversity to play this season. They fought for a chance to play and they defeated the odds to do so. They had a nine-game season that turned to six with Maryland and TTUN cancelling, and the Illinois game being cancelled due to COVID concerns.

Clemson looked good but suffered an early loss at the hands of Notre Dame without Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence returns and throttles Notre Dame and avenged the loss to set the table for another head-to-head with the Buckeyes.

The chatter was immense and extremely disrespectful toward the Buckeyes leading up to the game—no one gave them a shot to advance. Coaches, Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney ranked the Buckeyes 11th (11th!) in his final coaches poll and the media was forecasting another Bama versus Clemson game.

With their demons on the field, the Buckeyes looked great in this game. They played with poise and balance—and they really dominated all phases of the game. Constant pressure by the defense stifled Lawrence while Fields’ grit shined through with the help of Trey Sermon in the ground game. The game was never really that close after the 14-14 tie but the job is not done with the #1 Crimson Tide on the horizon.

Yes, savor the win—do it! But we all know if you want to win a championship, you have to run through Alabama and Clemson. The Buckeyes demolished the latter and now they must be laser focused on the Crimson Tide and their arsenal of weapons at their disposal.

For what it’s worth: Even the Bama head coach, Nick Saban and their future opponent had them out at 5th overall behind Texas A&M and while the slight is less severe—we can all assume that it’ll be used again to sharpen their edge. Focus on the win and enjoy it, the Tide are not to be taken lightly especially with the issues we saw tonight with the secondary.

MOTSAG Heroes of the Game

Offense: Justin Fields, QB

Defense: Haskell Garrett, DT

Special Teams: Drue Chrisman, P

#GoBucks