Miami (OH) Redhawks (1-2) VS Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0)

With another week to hone their skills, the Buckeyes square off against a wounded Redhawk team that has lost two out of the last three games early in the young 2019 season.  On the other side of the field, the Buckeyes have won three straight, in convincing fashion with one road game to open up the Big Ten season and two games against inferior competition from the Group of Five conferences.  Two teams with different situations, but its looking like another tune-up for the home team against a team that is struggling to stay afloat.

Road Woes

Life on the road hasn’t been kind to the Miami (OH) Redhawks.  This season, have not been able to break through and secure a road win in three games, going 0-2 with losses against Iowa and Cincinnati.  They have been outscored by a lot and so far it has been a whopping 73-17 scoring margin.  In 2018, they split the difference and finished 6-6, with a 101-75 margin on the road while losing to Minnesota, Army, and Buffalo.  It hasn’t been too bad on the road because the three that they managed to win came against Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, and Akron and they outscored them 92-47.  It hasn’t been easy, but going into Columbus will be hard and so far a 6-8 road record isn’t going to make things easier.

At home, the Redhawks are alright.  In 2018 they finished 3-3 and in 2019 they started 1-0.  They beat an out-manned FCS team, but the Buckeyes will be a stiff test to beat at home.  The odds aren’t in favor of the away team and I don’t think they stand a chance.  Brett Gabbert will have a stifling defense to contend with and we will see if he is ready for the big lights.

Dobbins and His Running Back Stable

J.K. Dobbins has been on a tear lately and why shouldn’t he continue his dominant streak?  Against FAU, he toted the ball 21 times and ran for 91 total yards and a TD.  Against Cincinnati, he carried the ball 17 times for 141 yards with a long of 60 and two more scores.  In the most recent game on the road against Indiana, Dobbins has 22 and he nearly went for 200 yards, but he finished with 193 yards and a healthy 8.8 average, he displayed his physical prowess while dashing for 56 yards before bowling over and bouncing his way for one of his two scores of the game.    Dobbins also had two catches for 14 yards and a score, but it should’ve been two, he will get some work with the JUGs machine, but he is doing damage on the ground and is currently sitting at 4th in the nation in rushing yards.

Dobbins eventually gave way to Master Teague and Crowley got some reps to put out minds at ease regarding the future of that position.  Teague is a bigger Dobbins, but he loves contact as he finished with 10 carries with 106 yards and a score.  He capitalized it with another physical 40 yarder–and he had a healthier 10.6 average.  Crowley and McCall eventually spelled the two and combined for 4 carries and 11 yards before the game ended.  This game will get out of hand quick and eventually they will get valuable reps to gain more game time experience.

The Return of BIA, The Rushmen and The Silver Bullets

So far in three games, Buckeyes have been playing with a huge chip on their shoulder.  Senior and 2019 captain Damon Arnette took the advice of Buckeye Great Chris Carter and stayed for his last ride in the scarlet and gray.  He, along with Okudah and Wade at his position has been a nuisance for opposing offensive players.  Behind them, fellow Senior Jordan Fuller and Brendon White have held it down so far this season, but the little dump offs in the seams sometimes get the best of them, but they have improved so far early on in the season and Arnette made a statement with the first pick-six of the season in a dazzling display of patience and athleticism.

The Rushmen have also been a nuisance and their depth is one of the strengths of this team.  With BB Landers, Tyreke Smith, and Jonathan Cooper missing the game, the reserve unit will grab some reps before continuing their conference slate.  They are averaging 4.67 sacks per game and through four games they have 14 sacks for the season which is good for being tied for 2nd in the nation.

The Linebackers have also improved in their play and this season, they are tearing it up.  Improved tackling and a more aggressive approach, the Silver Bullets are back!  Tackling was a sore subject and they would give up splash plays consistently.  The penalties were also a weakness, but the 2019 team has cleaned a lot of that up.  They currently sit 8th in the nation in third-down stops allowing a conversion in 0.229% per game.  The zone scheme with man-to-man sprinkled in seems to work right now, but we will see how far they’ve come when they get to the meaty part of their schedule.

Fields Day and His Zone 6 Weapons

Fields had an off game in his first true road test at Ohio State, but he was still lethal.  He missed his receivers while being pressured, he often threw too high or away from his targets frame or catch radius, but he finished with 199 yards and four total TD’s.  It was a more inconsistent day of his young Buckeye career, but he still put the points on the board and he executed to keep this team humming.

Zone 6 has benefited from the play of Fields, but they lean on each other.  The Legend of Olave is alive and well–he even managed to make key catches, he caught a TD, and he also blocked a punt that resulted in a safety.  He surely has helped swing the momentum in each game and he continues to amaze me.  K.J. Hill finally got on the board with the receiving score and Dobbins also had a one too.

The Tight Ends, although they haven’t been utilized still play hard and they certainly are a key cog in the offensive attack.  We saw it against FAU, but it sort of fizzled as of late.  They certainly can be used at any moment, but they play hard even though they are used in the blocking game.  Either way, they all play for their brothers, but we will see how they’ll be used later during the season.

PREDICTION

56-6, the Ohio State Buckeyes defeat the Miami(OH) Redhawks.

Yes, I am predicting a 50-burger, but the Redhawk offense is bad this year.  They can possibly get some pity points, but it is doubtful and this defense is preparing for a clash with a Big Ten West foe, Nebraska.  Without looking ahead, the Buckeyes will have their focus solely on Miami (OH).  In another routine throttling, look for the game to get out of hand by the winding minutes of the 3rd quarter before the reserves come in to get some playing time once again.  The goal would be to flex their muscle, get a win, and give your starters a well-deserved rest before traveling to Lincoln.

MOTSAG Conference Progress Rep

I will be trying something new, but I think it’ll be another fun way to take the MOTSAG faithful into a whole new stratosphere with our new Conference Progress Report.  Here we will take a look at the Big 10 Conference as a whole and grade each team from week to week.  I may or may not take a stab at teams outside of the Big 10 and grade other conferences as well, but let’s focus on the Big 10 first.

#1:  Wisconsin Badgers (2-0)

The Wisconsin Badgers have been a force to be reckoned with and in two games they have outscored opponents 110-0.  In week 3 they are on a bye, but I will still have them ahead of our beloved Buckeyes for the time being at least.  As much as I want to place them ahead, I cannot overlook the fact that they have yet to give up any points.

They look like a well-oiled machine and until someone knocks them off of their perch, I feel the need to leave them because technically they are perfect in the sense that they haven’t given up a point and they haven’t shown any weakness up to this point.  They have the weapons to give other teams fits so for now, they sit as the top team in the Big 10.  They also have Michigan at home so things could change.

#2:  Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0)

As much as I want to put them at the top, I am not prepared to at this point.  It’s not that I am doubting them, I am pretty proud of this team so far, but they are sort of an unfinished product at this point.  Yes, they have outscored opponents 138-31, but they need more time to develop.

The defense is terrific and they are very disruptive, and the tackling is definitely better, but I like they could improve a little bit more.  Sacks are always going to be a thing for this years team, but I want consistency with getting turnovers.  The pick-six from Arnette was a sight for sore eyes, but if they can become a little more consistent with takeaways, I will move them up accordingly.

#3:  Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0)

Okay, they barely skimmed by Pitt in a rivalry game, but they managed to pull it off.  No harm, no foul on their part and I won’t penalize them for being tested.  They have been a terror on offense and they have outscored opponents 141-30.

They showed their grit in week three and their defense answered the call to stop Pitt.  They are disruptive, but if challenged with the right pressure, they looked somewhat beatable.  Penn State always has weapons on offense, so they cannot be taken lightly, but they’re a solid team that could make noise.

#4:  Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0)

The Iowa Hawkeyes were also tested against a feisty Iowa State team, but luck played its hand at the end of this one with one of the most dreadful punt return sequences I’ve seen in a while.

Lady luck certainly favored the Hawkeyes in this battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, but they too were tested.  Their offense took a step back and only managed 18 points, but a win is a win and they’ve been outscoring opponents 86-31.  They aren’t as flashy as the top three but their system grinds teams down and they just win.

#5:  Michigan Wolverines (2-0)

The hype train ran rampant throughout the and guess who started feeling themselves a little too early on into the season?  Yup, you guessed it, the Team Up North definitely thought they would destroy teams cause of their talent alone, but no one got the memo that your Offensive Coordinator would need some time to adjust to the team as well.

Yes, he came from Alabama but come on it won’t work out that fast.  They showed their potential against Middle Tennessee, but against Army, they barely escaped at home.  They too are on a bye week, but with a trip to Madison on the horizon, we will see exactly what this team can do.

#6:  Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-1)

Okay, some might feel like they are too high, but they can be that Big 10 West team that comes out of nowhere at home and guess who the Buckeyes play in week 5?  I think highly of them because they have everything I need in a team.  A speedy quarterback and a Blackshirt defense that should pose a challenge, especially since it’s a home game.

An explosive offense and a good defense are enough to keep me anxious, but since a lowly Colorado team could squeak out a win against this team, who knows.  They travel to Illinois but they took it on the chin, so they may use them as a tune-up to prepare for Ohio State.

#7:  Michigan State Spartans (2-1)

Michigan State appeared to have it all in the bag, but another bad loss to a young Arizona State team, this time at home, I cannot help but feel robbed at this point.  They have a stifling defense, but the offense looks a bit outdated and boring.

They have been the thorn on Ohio State’s side for a little bit and this gets me pumped for the upcoming clash in Columbus, but they must defeat Northwestern in Evansville.  They seem to be getting into their usual groove so we may see another good win for the Spartans or another tough loss.

#8:  Northwestern Wildcats (1-1)

The Northwestern Wildcats took an early loss to Stanford and they looked like they had regressed.  They beat UNLV and looked better offensively.  They play a Spartans team that took a bad loss to Arizona State and even they are at home, they could get taken out.

Their defense is still the same disciplined team, but their offense is inconsistent.  With Thorson leaving for the NFL, they look confused and they are not as explosive as the Cardiac Cats of old.  They need to find an identity soon, but we will see if they can survive a clash with the Spartans.

#9:  Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-0)

Don’t let the undefeated tag fool you, this team is very inconsistent and they have barely managed to avoid losses to South Dakota State, Fresno State, and wait for it…  Georgia Southern.  The common denominator is they won by the skin of their teeth, by a single score.

Sure, a win is a win and they managed to skim by, but come on.  They should be able to be more consistent, but the talent is still trying to gel together.  I get that, but I cannot help but feel like they should be a little bit better than what they are showing.

#10:  Maryland Terrapins (2-1)

Fools gold!  What was a high-octane offense, but they just flopped against Temple in a rivalry game in Philadelphia.  Their offense was fine, but their defense has been atrocious.  If they can run teams out of the stadium. they’ll be fine.  If not, then they look completely beatable.

This team is improved and they did take the Buckeyes to the absolute limit a season ago.  So they did they just run out of steam or have they peaked as a team too early into the season?  Either way, they have a bye to figure it out before hosting Penn State.

#11:  Indiana Hoosiers (2-1)

So the Hoosiers ran into a buzzsaw and they were trounced at home.  They had two convincing wins against lesser teams, but it is evident that they aren’t ready for big boy football against more elite teams.

They stood no chance against a gritty Buckeye squad who is on a mission.  Looking ahead, they need to refocus their efforts and recover against UConn.  The jury is still out, but I believe Indiana can turn it around.

 

#12:  Purdue Boilermakers (1-2)

The last team to upset the Buckeyes has struggled to produce wins against Nevada and TCU, but the most recent loss isn’t a bad one in my opinion.  They could certainly rebound against a lowly Minnesota team that has managed to skim by.

Up to this point, the Boilermakers have been off and the jury is still out on this team.  Their schedule looks pretty tough and they could have a bad season if things don’t change soon.  For now, they are underachieving and they could sneak up on a few teams.

#13:  Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-1)

Well, the Scarlet Knights have been a tad bit better this season before they played Iowa.  Either way, they look to be an improved team so far, but they very well might be the same old Rutgers team.

They have a tough schedule as well and they could struggle to make a bowl game once again.  Unless they can sneak up on a couple of unsuspecting teams, but at this point, it is very doubtful.  This team has some moxie and they can be explosive against the right opponent.

#14:  Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1)

So Lovie Smith will have a hard time coming back from a bad loss against Eastern Michigan.  Sure, he is 2-1 but he has to get his team back after such a devastating loss.  It won’t be easy against Nebraska, but like the previous three or four, it might not be easy in the Big 10 schedule.

In what could be his last season, Smith would need a miracle to save his job.  He would have to beat a good team or win all of his rivalry games before the end of the season.  They should be relieved that Illibuck isn’t on the docket, but they could still mess it up for themselves.

The Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0, BIG 1-0)defeat The Indiana Hoosiers (2-1, BIG 0-1)

In Justin Fields’ first true road game in the Big 10, he did well enough to help his team secure another win for the Buckeyes.  Sure, he left some throws on the field, but at this point, we need to give him time as fans to adjust to the speed in just his third start.  In the first three games, he has flashed and he continues to learn as the season ages, but we all have to love what he has flashed so far.  He has yet to throw a pick and he has been efficient racking up 657 yards through the air and 9 scores.  He is also pretty darn fast, but with Dobbins sharing the backfield, he doesn’t feel pressured to take off, but he has a respectable 114 yards and 4 rushing scores on the ground.

Against the Hoosiers, it was evidently an off game.  He had a good performance, but he openly admitted that it wasn’t on par of what he expects of himself and what he is capable of.  He was accurate when he had time, but when the Hoosiers brought the pressure and mix of his throwing mechanics caused the ball to sail high or he would miss the frame of the open receiver, but it is all about growing more comfortable when pressured in the pocket.  Let’s not kid ourselves by saying that he is not having a productive season because he certainly is lighting it up and doing so in a perfectly balanced offense.

His backfield partner J.K. Dobbins also had himself a game against this Hoosier defense.  He broke their will and also seemed to be breaking tackles at will while en route to a season-high 193-yard rushing performance highlighted by the 56-yard score as he bounced off of would-be defenders before finding the endzone.  Even Dobbins’ backup Master Teague had himself a game as well.  He played well while spelling Dobbins and he finished with 10 rushes for 106 yards and a touchdown.  He too broke off a long 40-yard run toward the endzone.

One of the more underrated groups that have played well beyond anyone’s expectations to me would be the Slobs on the offensive line.  They have been the glue that sparks this potent offensive attack and it is nice to see this group dominate up to this point.  Thayer Munford has been playing lights out, the trio of internal linemen in Jackson, Myers, and Davis have been aggressive and have been mauling opposing defensive players, and my favorite out of the bunch Brandon Bowen is picking up where he left off before being lost for the season due to a leg injury two seasons ago.  He is a lead by example type of leader and he has been showing it this season.

The Buckeye defense has been lights out as well and what an exciting time to be a Buckeye fan?  They have been dominant and the coaches have found an identity and it is showing this season.  In one of the worst defensive display in 2018, they would constantly get gashed with trick plays, splash plays, and even with swing passes, slants, and screens, but this defense is really playing with a swagger that we all have craved for.  Better tackling, very few big plays, constant pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, sacks, and they are stuffing the run have been a sight for sore eyes and what better exclamation point that the pick-six in the red zone by Damon Arnette?  He took it back and it brought us all back to the times where the team thrived and excelled at turning defense to offense.

Yes, all is well in the Buckeye Kingdom and it has been one hell of a ride, but Indiana, Cincinnati, and FAU are small samples of the teams potential.  Up next is Miami (OH) and yes, they will be another small sample and I think it’ll be another stellar offensive show, but at this point, Ohio State’s depth and talent are showing up and beating these teams up.  Don’t get me wrong, I love everything I have seen so far, they were a little inconsistent in week 1, they look motivated and earned that shutout in week 2, and week three, they exploited the talent gap and in week 4 it looks to be the same.

For now, we should enjoy the balance and the early part of the schedule.  The fireworks have given us a glimpse of what they are capable of and they can definitely use the momentum before returning to the conference games.  The non-conference slate hasn’t been that competitive, but since TCU backed out, they need to make sure they do not play to the opponents level and just impose your will against these other teams and just enjoy the ride.  The goals for this team will always remain high, but let us take it a single game at a time.

 

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.

The Cincinnati Bearcats (1-0) VS The Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0)

After just a single week in the books, both Cincinnati and Ohio State are looking to add another win to their season record to begin the season 2-0.  Both teams came off of impressive wins a week ago and they would like to add to the momentum in this collision course of two of Ohio’s best college teams.  A lot is on the line with this matchup and this could be one of those hotly contested games that are sure to be packed full of dramatic twists and turns.

Luke’s Return Home

To start this bit, there is a lot of anticipation regarding the return of former player, former Defensive Coordinator, and former Interim Head Coach Luke Fickell.  You could say that he inadvertently brought us Urban Meyer after a dreadful 6-6 season, but I think those wounds healed after both Coach Meyer and Coach Fickell brought reigned in the 2014 College Football Playoff Championship.

He remained Coach Meyer’s Co-Defensive Coordinator up until he took the Head Coaching job for the Cincinnat Bearcats in December of 2016.  Now here we are, a face from the past who bled scarlet is has returned to face his old team, his alma mater and the new face of the team, Coach Ryan Day.  Will Coach Fickell be able to pull off the in-state upset over another good Buckeye team?  Or will he feel the wrath of the Buckeyes?

We all know that before he sets foot in the Shoe, he will have his team ready to go.  The offense looked legit too, so hopefully, they can contain them.  This will definitely be their first big test because the Ohio kids against Ohio State factor still always seems to haunt the Buckeyes.  Will the Buckeyes shut them down and play their first complete game of the season?  Or will they play with their heads on fire and go vanilla when they think the game is out of reach?

Ball Security Issue?

J.K. Dobbins may have played with aggression, but he did have a key giveaway that seemed to swing the momentum in FAU’s way in the second and third quarters.  Sure, he is playing fast and he is being more decisive when running, but what use is that after giving up a turnover?  Listen, I love the way he is running.  He is running hard, but he is also being impatient and is running straight into defenders.  He is running away from openings and being impatient–and that is what is the most frustrating part.

Dobbins is a beast, I will not deny that, but to be successful he needs to hit the holes fast after they have developed and most importantly, he should take better care of the ball.  He racked up 21 carries for 91-yards, he had a catch that went for 14-yards and he had a rushing score, so it’s not like I hate his play.  He goes up against a stout defensive unit that so happens to have a former coach.  He needs to buckle up for war.

Under The Lights

Justin Fields has been impressive, but under the lights in the Shoe, he needs to show a little more consistency in his game.  Like Dobbins, he has a bad exchange during an RPO play and it resulted in another turnover for the Buckeyes.  He played lights out for the first 6 minutes of the game but after that barrage of points, the FAU defense forced a string of punts that negated the offensive attack and the overall flow of the game for the Buckeyes.

By simply executing a variety of blitz packages that both pressured the offensive line and Fields.  Enter Coach Fickell and his band of Ohio kids that have a huge chip on their shoulder after being deemed as not good enough to don the scarlet and gray.  This could spell disaster for the Buckeyes in an early tilt and Fields’ first big test against a stout and motivated defense.  Can he overcome his inexperience?  Will he be able to dissect the Bearcats defense and avoid the sacks and the turnovers that they routinely get?  Malik Vann, a Cincinnati kid will be a player to watch and he will be looking to shut down the offense.

Defensive Struggle

The overall theme for this game revolves around the term “defense” and this could be one of those games where it is the key to winning.  The Silver Bullets flashed in week 1 and they did so well they gave some reps to the younger players to build their confidence.  There are a ton of talented reserve players, but I feel they need more to further develop because a few of there were getting worked in mop-up time.

Chase Young and company will be looking to control the trenches and they better play disciplined because one of those that got away so happens to be one of Cincinnati’s best playmakers.  Michael Warren II, an Ohio kid who got away was one that I particularly wanted and he is a major weapon for the Bearcats.  Desmond Ridder will attempt to confuse this potent Buckeye defense with his arms and his legs.  Can the Buckeyes shut them down?  Will it be another nail-biter?

Five Match-Ups To Watch

  • Fields vs Cincinnati DB’s
  • Dobbins vs Cincinnati Front Seven
  • Harrison/Borland/Werner vs Warren/Cincinnati TE’s in the seam
  • Arnette/Okudah/Wade vs Cincinnati WR’s
  • Slobs vs Cincinnati Front/Bliztes

PREDICTION

Buckeyes def. Cincinnati 52-20

  •  Fields: 19-26, 287 passing yards, 3 TD’s/10 carries, 68 yards, 1 TD
  •  Dobbins:  22 carries, 102 yards, 1 TD
  •  Defense:  3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 defensive TD (still want that!)

 

 

 

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.

 

The FAU Owls (0-0) VS The Ohio State Buckeyes (0-0)

We are now within 24-hours folks!  We all have waited and seen the offseason develop and now we are so close to game time, I can barely contain myself–and I am positive that you all can’t do it either!  After another offseason that featured a few more key players departing to live their dreams in the NFL, I cannot begin to tell you how much they will be missed, but we will be fine.  Talent at Ohio State comes and goes, but they always restock to perceived “bare” cupboard.  Let’s see how the cupboard stacks up against the Florida Atlantic Owls in my new 24-hour preview with five burning storylines.

The transfer portal savior comes in as the first and probably the most important on this makeshift board of mine.  The “bare” cupboard (the quarterback room) was one of the major storylines that haunted the Buckeyes in the offseason and with the sudden departure of Matthew Baldwin, the position looked grim, but the Buckeyes added the aforementioned Fields and Hoak to bolster their depth, with Fields beating out Hoak for the starting position for the Buckeyes.

Fields certainly has the hype behind him, even before the spring game, but he seems poised to become the leader of this offensive charge.  He will replace Dwayne Haskins who left to become the Redskins’ first-round pick.  Fields has the wheels to run and the gun to sling the ball to his playmakers, but will we see a slow-developing rise?  Or will he come out guns blazing in what could be a tune-up match with an overmatched Owls team?

J.K. Dobbins returns from what he himself has called as a sub-par season at the Buckeyes Cadillac position, he will attempt to redeem himself in the 2019 season.  In a season where he logged 1,053 rushing yards and 263 yards receiving, he is looking for more yardage in what could be his last season at Ohio State.  He will look to best his 12 TD total to establish himself as a legendary Buckeye RB and leave his mark.

He is a shifty runner and he can handle passes out of the backfield, which suits the offensive scheme.  He will be leaned upon heavily to occupy the defenders in the box IF Fields cannot sustain the aerial assault, Dobbins will start up the ground assault, but he has reinforcements in long-forgotten Demario McCall and Master Teague.  They also have two-studs in Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers lying in wait if or when the game gets out of hand.  Can this stable of backs, especially the Dobbins make an immediate impact?  Can they place the game out of reach to earn some rest to prepare for a tough game against Cincy and their former coach?

The question is will the Slobs play to their usual standard?  The Slobs are usually great year in and year out, but with the departure Prince, Jordan, and Knox, can the next generation of slobs live up to the expectation and help Dobbins gash offenses?  With a nearly-new starting five of Munford, Jackson, Myers, Davis, and Bowen can they be another nasty starting five?

Branden Bowen has healed from his season-ending injury a season ago, and he has thrust himself into a starting role beating former five-star Nicholas Petite-Frere for the job.  He does have the potential to go out with a bang and what better opportunity than this season with being an integral part of a potentially lethal offense?  His fellow slobs are also fighting to retain their reputation as Munford returns to man to blindside, former Rutgers stud enters the fray as the starting Left Guard, another former five-star talent in Myers finally grabs a starting role at Center and the same for Davis at Right Guard.  The depth is there as well, but for now, the starters will look to secure the trenches for Fields and Dobbins.  Can they live up to the standard or even exceed it as the season winds down.

Damon Arnette left NFL money for another season for redemption in the Scarlet and Gray.  The story a year ago was his inability to cover and the consistent penalties incurred, but with a new position coach in Hafley, he had to come back to prove himself.  He, along with Okudah and Wade have all secured their usual spots can the trio regain their BIA swag?  Or will they fall further away from the standard that has been a constant for the past few years?

On the back end, at the Safety positions, Jordan Fuller also turned down the NFL for one more season at Ohio State.  He will pair up with Brendon White, who broke out last season and became an impact player once he received his shot.  Can they DB’s reduce the poorly-timed penalties and live up to the BIA reputation?  Or will they go through the growing pain along the way with their new secondary coach?  Will the takeaways become their specialty once again?  Or will they continue to get gashed by opposing the offensive playmakers time and time again?  Can they stop the constant bleeding and negate those same playmakers?

Lastly, to go along with the defense, can the Linebacking Corps recover from what was a horrible year from the defensive side of the ball–particularly with the play from this group.  Tuf Borland and Pete Werner always seemed to be out of position and opposing offenses picked on them.  Will they be able to put those worries to rest with two more new, but familiar coaches in Washington and Mattison?  Can they be counted on since they have regained their roles as starters?

Another question is can the backups get some reps to carve out their roles once the game gets out of hand?  Make no mistake, the trio of Pope, Browning, and Mitchell are ballers, but they fell behind the seasoned vets who were starters a year ago and that it is nothing to be ashamed about.  They will most likely carve out crucial roles as backups, but the trio of thumpers will be something to watch during mop-up duty.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them inserted into starting roles later in the season if nothing changes for the defense.

PREDICTION:

Ohio State defeats FAU 49-13.

Ohio State will start out rusty and eventually right the ship, both on offense and defense.  The starters will gain much-needed reps and put the game out of reach by halftime and then earn well-deserved rest in the third quarter.  Fields will rack up 210 yards through the air with a pair of TD’s and 45 yards on the ground.  Dobbins will tear it up and go for a minimum of 100 yards and a TD with a couple of catches out of the backfield.  Hill and Zone 6, along with the TE’s will be used frequently in a balanced attack, scoring at least three times.  The defense will start up slowly, but they will eventually regain their swagger and have a game.  3 sacks, 2 interceptions, and a forced fumble, and one would result in a defensive score.  The backups will gain valuable experience in clean-up duty and they will score twice more to secure the win.

Depth Chart: Offensive Line

The Slobs are a pivotal group on every team, but for Ohio State, it could make or break the offensive scheme and what the team wants to do.  Considering what they had lost coming into the offseason, this group had so many questions after the bulk of their experienced players left for an NFL futures.

In a time where a new quarterback will lead the offensive huddle, the O-Line is leaned on to block and help him make the adjustments throughout the game.  This years team will have to learn together after losing their starting Center Michael Jordan, Left Guard Malcolm Pridgeon, Right Tackle Isaiah Prince and then there is the Right Guard Demetrious Knox to the pros.  It is definitely a bunch of huge shoes to fill, but I think the talent remaining in the room and the talent coming into the fold will surely be up to the task during the Ryan Day era.

After the exits, the few Slobs that are left still have the potential to pick up where the others left off at.  Thayer Munford and Josh Alabi operated well at Left Tackle a season ago, Brandon Bowen was a great blocker at Right Guard before being taken out with a devastating leg injury, and Wyatt Davis blocked well in starting duties at Right Guard after Knox was injured late into the season.  The one player to watch would the Grad Transfer Jonah Jackson who came in after a stellar career at Rutgers leaving them as an Honorable All-Big Ten performer.  Jackson will have to adjust to the team scheme, but he looks to be a plug and play type of player after it is all said and done.

Behind them are players who operated while in mop-up duties, but this is surely a talented group headlined by a trio former five-stars in OT Nicholas Petite-Frere, OL Harry Miller, and OC Josh Myers.  Then there are a ton of high-end players that could contribute right away like Gavin Cupp, Ryan Jacoby, Dawand Jones, Matt Jones, Max Wray, and Vimahi Enokk.  Walk-ons like Nathan Brock, Jack Jamieson, Brandon Pahl, and Kevin Woidke are also viable options and the needed depth to help develop the scholarship players.

The beauty about Coach Stud’s players is that they are interchangeable and they play where they fit–they will play the best five blockers and players regardless of their position.  That is the beauty about the incoming 2020 class, they are mostly Offensive Tackles, but Coach Stud is pitching the idea of them playing all over the line.  Headlined by five-star Paris Johnson Jr, he is joined by four-star OC Luke Wypler and a trio of highly talented three-stars, Trey Leroux, Jakob James, and recent Penn State flip Grant Toutant.  They may or may not be done, but they could be picky with the one or two players left on their board.

The talent and depth that is building in this room is a great, competitive situation for the coaches to build upon and it is a great opportunity for the players currently in the rooms and for the inbound ones to develop against players of similar skillsets and talent.  Iron sharpens iron and with the horses opposite of them, it will be fun to see the trenches strengthen each other for years to come.

Below isn’t set in stone, but I am just going off of experience and potential at specific positions.  To me, the starters are solid, but they could be unseated by the younger players during summer camps, Friday Night Light and then fall camp, so buckle up Buckeye fans!  It will be a grind for the slobs up until the season begins.

Projected Depth Chart:

LT:  Thayer Munford, Branden Bowen, Kevin Woidke

LG:  Jonah Jackson, Josh Alabi, Ryan Jacoby, Nathan Brock

OC:  Josh Myers, Matt Jones, Harry Miller, Jack Jamieson

RG:  Wyatt Davis, Gavin Cupp, Vimahi Enokk, Brandon Pahl

RT:  Nicholas Petite-Frere, Max Wray, Dawand Jones

Future OL:  2020, Paris Johnson Jr, Luke Wypler, Jakob James, Trey Leroux, and Grant Toutant.

Depth Chart: Tight End

If I could think of a position at Ohio State that is key, but is usually an afterthought, I would say Tight End.  That isn’t a bad thing at all, so don’t misjudge my opening statement, but with all that talent, they are often underutilized in the passing game, but when they are used, it is like a punch that you cannot see.

Coach Wilson, the former Indiana head coach takes ownership of this group and he teaches them the importance of preparation and toughness to play without touching the football–which to me is very, very important in the Ohio State grand scheme of things.  Think about it–without the Tight Ends sealing the edges or splitting out into the slot that is one less matchup nightmare for opposing defenses to worry about.  Yes, they are barely called upon, but later in the 2018 season, they had a larger role and the players made the best out of their opportunities when called upon.

With 2019, I feel like the offense will evolve and this room will see an uptick in usage and see more opportunities in the passing game.  The room did not lose a player from a season ago and Rashod Berry will be the clear leader in this group with a lot of talent behind him.  A former number one player at his position in Jeremy Ruckert, Jake Hausmann and Luke Farrell make up the room with Cormontae Hamilton joining the team during the summer is quite the room, filled with high-end talent with an underrated, team-first player like Hamilton coming into the fold.  And let us not forget the walk-on Brock Davin, who gives us more depth and flexibility to the Tight End room.

Like I stated earlier, this room is often underused, but the work we don’t see in the blocking game is a crucial piece of this offensive scheme that adds a ton of value to the offense.  So what if they don’t get the stats, the heart of this room is evident and to me, they are as valuable as the offensive linemen.

Berry is often used as a lead blocker, playing in the long forgotten Fullback position.  He excels at it and he and Hausmann often hurt the defenses downfield for huge chunks per reception and I think the gameplan for this season is to unleash the pass-catchers at the position.  At a school like Ohio State, the position is usually not a part of a defensive gameplan, but it could be used to open up the offense and throw defenses off when the elements and the field conditions line up.

I could see Wilson pounding the table for his guys this year to bring more balance to the offense.  If it happens or if it doesn’t, it won’t affect the work ethic of these players entrenched in the Buckeye culture.  The players in this room are the unsung heroes of the offense and often the forgotten bunch, but their team-first attitudes will elevate their play of the other positional groups.  Here is to hoping the Stoneburner shot plays resurface.

Projected Depth Chart:

TE 1:  Rashod Berry, Luke Farrell

TE 2:  Jake Hausmann, Jeremy Ruckert

TE 3:  Cormontae Hamilton, Brock Davin

Future TE’s:  No committed players.