Nearing A Decision
Ryan Day said August 19th will be he probably names a starter at quarterback. After last Saturday’s scrimmage he did not seem to be anywhere near doing that, “Nobody went out there and won the job for sure. So again, it’s still a work in progress. Hopefully at this time next week somebody steps up and wins the job.” My guess is Justin Fields has taken a considerable step forward this week, and Day is now comfortable with naming him as the guy. “Justin is practicing at a high level now, and had a couple of nice, really good days here,” the first-year head coach said after today’s practice.
Before camp began Day said the quarterback job would be an open competition; most thought that meant transfer Gunnar Hoak would push Fields to be the starter. But, Fields has taken most all of the first-team reps, while Hoak has not yet had his black stripe removed, and appears to be third on the depth chart behind Chris Chugunov.
It is important to get this out of the way because Day said they will begin to point towards preparing for opponents next week. I’m really happy, and comfortable with Day’s tone about the quarterback situation right now. Things seem to be progressing in a very positive direction.
Offensive lineman Ryan Jacoby, running back Marcus Crowley, and linebacker Cade Stover all had their black stripes removed. All three are true freshman.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson thinks he could rotate as many as six players at the defensive tackle positions. Davon Hamilton, Robert Landers, and Tommy Togiai at the nose, with Jashon Cornell, Taron Vincent, and Haskell Garrett at the 3-technique (lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard).
Left tackle Thayer Munford is finally back practicing, although he’s being closely monitored. He was seen working with the second-team offense. Also, running back Master Teague is back from injury as well. Receiver Austin Mack should return late this week or early next week.
Expect Pete Werner to be a starter again at outside linebacker after co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said he is impressed with the junior from Indianapolis.
Miami head coach Manny Diaz named his starting quarterback the other day, and it is not former Buckeye Tate Martell. I think many expected Martell to win the job without a lot of trouble. Martell was not at practice the following day, but there is no word yet if he’ll seek to transfer again.
Day said receiver Chris Olave is practicing on the level of a starter. Well, there’s a shock. Not surprised by this at all.
Food For An Argument
Just about every year I buy one of the seemingly zillion college football preview magazines. This year I decided to go with Phil Steele’s publication. It comes highly recommended by the Football Writers Association of America (I’m a member), so I thought I’d give it a try. The section on the top draft eligible players caught my eye because it is one of those things that provides plenty of material for arguments on message boards. The Buckeyes are well-represented on the list, which was compiled by a couple of guys from draftscout.com. Keep in mind this list is for DRAFT ELIGIBLE players. That means only seniors, juniors, and redshirt sophomores are listed. Also, they are not predicting who will leave school early. It is simply a ranking of the best players who COULD be drafted next spring.
Running back J.K. Dobbins is ninth, K.J. Hill is thirteenth among receivers, and Binjimin Victor 29th. The ranking for Hill is too low in my opinion, as is the ranking for tight end Luke Farrell; they have him at number 28. Transfer lineman Noah Jackson will play left guard for the Buckeyes, but is listed as the number 22 center on the list. Right guard Wyatt Davis at number 5 is the highest rated of OSU’s offensive lineman; Thayer Munford is 19th at tackle.
On the defensive side of the ball it comes as no surprise to see Chase Young as the top-rated end. Fellow defensive end Jonathan Cooper is 27th, and Jashon Cornell (who will play inside at tackle this season) is 48th. The low ranking (50th) for defensive tackle Robert Landers all comes down to his size. He’s only 283 pounds, but I’m still surprised by where they have him. I’m equally surprised that they don’t even list Davon Hamilton. Malik Harrison and Pete Werner are seventh and tenth respectively among outside linebackers; Tuf Borland is the thirteenth middle linebacker. At cornerback Jeff Okudah is fifth, while Damon Arnette is 20th. Jordan Fuller is the number five free safety, and should be higher. Isaiah Pryor is 20th on the list of strong safeties. Drue Chrisman is only the number three punter. Buckeye fans know he’s the best in the country. The omission I can’t quite wrap my head around is long snapper Liam McCullough not listed among the eight at his position. He’s easily one of the best in the country.
I’m very sure the guys who put this together really work hard, and do a lot of research. But, their quarterback list is a head-scratcher. Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama tops the list with Oregon’s Joey Herbert second. But, Michigan’s Shea Patterson fourth? Nate Stanley of Iowa fifth? They even have Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke at number 13. I know he’s had injury issues, but he’s someone who has definitely regressed in his career. However, the one that made me do a double take is the number nine ranking for Jalen Hurts. If you recall, Hurts transferred to Oklahoma after three seasons at Alabama. He never struck me as much of an NFL prospect because he’s never been that accurate with his passes. Finally, I have no idea how former Buckeye Joe Burrow can be rated below Hurts and Lewerke: he’s listed as the 15th-best draft eligible quarterback.
Ok, there you have it. Have fun on the message boards.
Embracing The Enemy
I’ve seen a lot of Ohio State fans, who are also Browns fans, say they are having a hard time getting used to Baker Mayfield being the Browns’ quarterback. Not me. My unhappiness with Cleveland drafting the former Oklahoma Sooner lasted about 15 hours or so. The day after Browns general manager John Dorsey selected Mayfield first overall, I was in my local Wendy’s. As I was gathering up napkins and straws, there was a guy dressed head to toe in his Steeler garb telling anyone who would listen what an awful pick it was, how the Browns suck, Baker Mayfield sucks, and how the Browns will continue to be the laughingstock of the league. It was right about that time I forgot my complete dislike of Baker Mayfield, and became his biggest fan. Please don’t think it was because of one Steeler fan. Oh no, this has been building over the years.
Look, I get it. Baker Mayfield beat the Buckeyes, and then acted like a classless ass after the game when he planted that ugly Sooner flag in the middle of the Horseshoe. That made a lot of Buckeye fans furious, and they’ve carried that forward to this day. But, I’m tired of the Browns losing. I’m even more tired of listening to the not-so-good-natured barbs from far too many Steeler fans over the years. I think Mayfield is pretty much a jerk, but he’s just what the franchise needs. He’s brash, a leader, and a competitor. He’ll fight, scratch, and claw for wins as he drags that team along with him. If Steeler fans can cheer for a quarterback who has twice been accused of sexual assault, I can cheer for a jerk. I know it is very difficult for some Buckeye fans to accept Mayfield, but I’ve learned to embrace the enemy.
I had not planned on posting a blog until the weekend, or even early next week. But, I feel the news of the quarterback situation is too important to wait on. Nothing fancy about this one; I worked quickly to get it finished and posted.