Pack up the babies, grab the old ladies, everyone goes, because everyone knows it’s time for Buckeye football! After nearly eight long months, it’s just about time for our favorite college football team to take the field at the Shoe. No more unethical writers, no more one-sided reporting, no more off-the-rails hashtag movements. The only thing that matters is what happens on the field and what the scoreboard says when the game ends. I’ve said this time and again, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Ready For The Other OSU
Some random info as the Buckeyes prepare for Oregon State tomorrow:
Interim head coach and offensive coordinator Ryan Day said earlier this week Dwayne Haskins will start, but Tate Martell will play on Saturday against Oregon State. Day put to rest the idea Martell will be used only in situational packages and said he’ll run the regular offense. But, you can bet the play calling will be tailored to Martell’s skills. I’m really excited to see the different things Day has put in to take advantage of Haskins’ arm. He said Haskins has the look of an NFL quarterback.
Michael Jordan is the starting center. Brady Taylor entered fall camp at the top of the depth chart, but Meyer likes to have his five best linemen on the field. So, with the emergence of Malcolm Pridgeon at left guard, Jordan made the move to center. I can’t say I’m surprised with this. We started hearing about Pridgeon during spring practice and when word came over the summer that Jordan was beginning to work at center, you knew something was brewing. I never got the impression Meyer was completely sold on Brady Taylor. I have to be honest and say I feel much better about this offensive line now.
The rest of the offensive line is made up of Isaiah Prince at right tackle; he should be an absolute force this year. Demetrius Knox is at right guard. He took over that position in the middle of last season after Branden Bowen went down with an injury. Day said Bowen is still working his way back. Thayer Munford and Josh Alabi are sharing time at left tackle right now while Munford deals with an injury.
They are going to play a lot of receivers early in the season and see what happens. We know there will be a rotation of the usual six of Terry McLaurin, Binjimen Victor, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Austin Mack and Johnnie Dixon. But, I’m interested to see just when and how much we’ll see of C.J. Saunders, in particular, and true freshman Chris Olave.
Ultra-talented sophomore Baron Browning has won the starting job at the MIKE linebacker position over Justin Hilliard. This is another I’m not surprised about. A lot of people think the sky is the limit for Browning. He will be the starter until the coaches decide Tuf Borland is fully recovered the achilles injury he suffered in the spring. Borland said he’s ready, but there is no reason to risk him against a team like Oregon State. Pete Werner and Malik Harrison will start on the outside. But, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said they will rotate more linebackers than they have in the past. Expect to see Hilliard, Keandre Jones and Dante Booker, who was a starter for part of last season before being injured. Don’t be surprised to see true freshman Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell or K’Vaughan Pope get on the field with some of the starters.
Kendall Sheffield, Damon Arnette, and Jeffrey Okudah will rotate at corner.
No official word yet on the “Rushmen” package, but I’m guessing it will be Nick Bosa, Dre’mont Jones, Chase Young, and Jonathon Cooper.
As many as four true freshman could get playing time on the defensive line Saturday. Who am I most excited to see? All of them…lol!! Tommy Togiai, Taron Vincent, Tyreke Smith, and Tyler Friday all have me excited.
Although Schiano said both Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint will play against Oregon State, it’s Pryor listed as the starter on the depth chart, which was released Tuesday. This is the position battle Meyer was most concerned with after spring practice. A lot is expected of the “field safety” and it takes a special skill set. It’s not an easy position to play. Eleven Warriors did a great article breaking down the position. You can read that by clicking here.
Six more have “officially” become Buckeyes in the last week. Cornerbacks Tyreke Johnson, Cameron Brown, and Sevyn Banks, along with defensive ends Tyler Friday and Javontae Jean-Baptiste, and linebacker K’Vaughan Pope all had their black stipes removed.
WVU transfer quarterback Chris Chugunov is now on the roster. No idea where he stands right now in relation to Matthew Baldwin and Kory Curtis. But, having a quarterback with experience to provide depth behind Haskins and Martell is a good thing since Baldwin’s knee isn’t quite ready yet and Curtis is a walk-on (still hoping to see him play Saturday, if they are blasting Oregon State in the 4th quarter). Chugunov started WVU’s bowl game last season after Will Grier went down with an injury in November.
The Buckeyes voted Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Isaiah Prince, Nick Bosa, Jordan Fuller, and Tuf Borland captains.
By all accounts, Ryan Day has handled himself quite well during his time as interim head coach.
Urban Meyer was allowed to meet with the team before beginning his suspension late last week.
Here is the full depth chart for tomorrow’s game.
After winning their final two games in 2016 to finish 4-8, Oregon State plummeted to 1-11 last year. Their only win was over Portland State, an FCS program. New head coach Jonathan Smith, a former Beavers quarterback, will try to lead a turnaround of a program which has four consecutive losing seasons. Believe me when I tell you, he has a lot of work to do.
Last season the Beavers were 114th (out of 130 FBS teams) in scoring offense and 113th in total offense. Smith has brought in Brian Lindgren as his offensive coordinator to help implement an up-tempo, pro style offense. Lindgren spent the last few seasons at Colorado in the same position. Jake Luton, a 6’7” former JUCO All-American, is back at quarterback after missing most of last season with a thoracic spine fracture. In just four games, Luton completed 61% of his passes for 853 yards with four TD’s and four interceptions. He’s not known as a good decision maker. Leading returning rusher Artavis Pierce (323 rushing yards) is a smallish (5’11”, 201 pounds), do-it-all kind of running back, who is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. Most of the starters are back from an offensive line that struggled in 2017.
Former Wisconsin linebackers coach Tim Tibesar will try to turnaround a defense that finished 128th in scoring defense, 121st in rushing and total defense. Smith feels the defense is greatly improved from spring practice. He’s very happy with their tackling and overall understanding of the scheme. Injuries have bothered them all through August camp. Projected defensive line starter Jeremy Reichner broke his foot and, at least, four in the secondary have battled injuries all month. Linebacker appears to be this unit’s strength.
What Do I Think?
Considering the Beavers have entirely new offensive and defensive schemes, I can see them doing a few things the Buckeyes are not expecting. But, once adjustments are made after the first series or two, the Beavers are going to get turned into road kill in a hurry. In the Pac 12, they’re not used to seeing the kind of speed and athleticism like the Buckeyes possess. That injury-depleted Oregon State secondary is going to be tested early and often, and I’m sure they’re going to struggle covering Ohio State’s speedy receivers. If Oregon State is to slow down the Buckeyes’ run game, their linebackers must have a huge day. I don’t see that happening. A suspect offensive line going against one of the better (possibly best) defensive lines in the country is a bad combination. I think Nick Bosa and his d-line partners chase Jake Luton all over the field and make it next to impossible for the Beavers offense to do much of anything. Overall the Buckeyes have way too much speed and skill for Oregon State to handle. I think the Buckeyes blow them out and a very large part of their roster sees playing time.
Parris Campbell said the team is angry with everything that has happened and angry to be better than they were last year. Bosa said, “When people are hatin’, you just want to prove them wrong even more.” A team playing with a chip on its shoulder can be dangerous. A supremely talented team playing with a chip on its shoulder is downright scary. The Buckeyes playing with an “us against the world” mentality is going to lead to an awful lot of damage done to their opponents.
Earlier this week the announcement came we all knew would happen. Joe Burrow has been named LSU’s starting quarterback. It is so great to see him walk into an SEC program and take over. You can see Burrow make his first start for the Bayou Bengals Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Dallas against the Miami Hurricanes. The game will be carried by ABC.
Kevin Feder, who transferred from the Buckeyes in late May, is listed as a co-starter at left tackle for the Kansas Jayhawks. Hoping to improve on last season’s 1-11 record, the Jayhawks open the season Saturday night against Nicholls St.
Wayne Davis spent his time with the Buckeyes as a cornerback. Just a few months after transferring to James Madison, an FCS national power, he’s listed as a starting outside linebacker despite weighing just 186 pounds. But, Davis will most likely play a “hybrid” role in JMU’s 4-2-5 scheme. The Dukes take on North Carolina State at noon on Saturday (ESPNU).
When true freshman running back Master Teague had a big performance in the spring game, Antonio Williams decided it was time to leave. He joined his home state North Carolina Tar Heels and received an NCAA waiver in late July, which makes him eligible to play this season. According to the coaching staff, he’s emerged as a team leader and will see plenty of playing time when the Tar Heels open the season at Cal on Saturday afternoon on FOX.
Jack Wohlabaugh is another former Buckeye, who is eligible to play immediately. He’s listed as the back-up at center for the Duke Blue Devils. They open their season tonight against Army on ESPNU.
When Branden Bowen went down with a season-ending injury against Maryland last year, Matthew Burrell stepped in and finished the game at right guard. But, the next week the coaches decided to go with Demitrius Knox as the starter. After a trial run at center did not work out during spring practice, Burrell decided to transfer. He landed at Sam Houston St., a perennial FCS playoff program. The coaching staff is thrilled to have him, but are unsure just where to put him because he’s so versatile. Head coach K.C. Keeler said he’ll definitely get snaps at center, but his athleticism allows them to use him at all five offensive line positions. The Bearkats don’t open their season until September 8th. As a side note, for all of you who have followed Mount Union over the years and remember their epic battles with Rowan in the late 90’s, Keeler was Rowan’s head coach during that time.
In July, I wrote a blog listing some of my favorite and not-so-favorite things in college football. One of the things I listed are my favorite teams besides our beloved Buckeyes. New Mexico State is one of the teams on that particular list. They are a great example of why us Buckeye fans should always be thankful we’re fans of a winning program and not take that success for granted.
Last season NMSU won a bowl game for the first time in 57 years when it beat Utah State in OT to win the Arizona Bowl. So, needless to say expectations were high for the Aggies in 2018 in the Las Cruces area. Then reality hit last Saturday night in the form of the Wyoming Cowboys. NMSU didn’t just look bad, they looked horrific in getting boot stomped to the tune 29-7. Things didn’t get any better in Minneapolis last night. The Aggies got blasted by Minnesota and their walk-on, true freshman quarterback 48-10. I’m guessing the excitement for the Aggies has died down among the locals
Don’t take winning for granted and treat it as a birthright. There are a lot of long-suffering fans of programs out there, who have no idea what it is like to see their favorite team have the kind of success the Buckeyes are enjoying.
The Cactus Bowl has changed its name to the Cheez-it Bowl. I want to cover this bowl game. I know what you’re thinking, “Why on earth does he want to cover THAT?!” Well, I covered the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl when the Buckeyes defeated Miami for the National Championship in 2003. The key word in that sentence is “Tostitos.” In the hospitality room at the media hotel, there were tables spanning the width of the room filled with Tostitos products. Not only could you help yourself to whatever you wanted to eat while there, you could take armfuls of their products with you. If the Tostitos reps didn’t think you were taking enough, they were piling more into your arms. My partner on that trip, Ryan Recker, and myself ate A LOT of Tostitos products that week. Now do you understand why I want to cover the Cheez-it Bowl?
Too Much Craziness
There has been an awful lot of craziness this week with the Zach Smith/Urban Meyer/OSU story. Smith had a bit of a meltdown on Twitter, an OSU Board of Trustee member quit, Zach’s mother bashed Urban Meyer on Facebook, and the usual one-sided reporting from the media.
ESPN, Fox Sports Radio, and Yahoo! Sports have led the way with misleading the public. By doing so, they have shaped an EXTREMELY negative public opinion of Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. So, here is what I decided to do. I’m only going to report what directly affects Urban Meyer’s status and Ohio State’s football program. None of the things that happened this week really mean much when it comes to those two things. If there is a new, impactful development, I’ll write about it. Until then I’m going to talk about football. That’s why I started writing this blog.
Yes, I borrowed some of Neil Diamond’s lyrics to start this blog. I don’t think he’ll mind because Neil’s a Buckeye fan, right?