The Waiting Game
This week’s This and That: the waiting is the hardest part, Buckeye royalty passes, triple boom, time for Buckeye picking, finally got around to doing something.
So, We Wait
Since just about 2PM on the 14th of this month or about the time the spring game ended, Buckeye fans everywhere have stood around nervously shuffling their feet and continually checking their phones, computers or iPads. If you didn’t know better, you’d think they were a bunch of expectant fathers waiting outside of a delivery room in a 1950’s comedy (for all of you X-generation types, no, they didn’t have iPads then. They checked their watches instead). They’ve been waiting rather impatiently for Urban Meyer to “deliver” the news the team’s new “bundle of joy” has arrived by naming the his starting quarterback. I’m not going to get into speculating if it will be Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow or Tate Martell. That’s been done countless times by countless blogs and websites. I’m not even going to speculate on when the announcement will be made. Meyer, along with offensive coordinators Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson have a difficult and important decision to make and I don’t want to see it rushed. He’s made it clear he feels he owes Joe Burrow an answer soon, but he also has an obligation to the program to make what he feels is the correct choice. If that means he takes three weeks, then it takes three weeks. I don’t think it will drag on that long; we’ll probably hear something by the end of this week. I said I’m not going to predict who is named the starter, but I will say I think Meyer names a starter and then says it isn’t “set in stone”, like he has with a few other positions. If that happens, Joe Burrow is going to have a very difficult decision to make as to whether he transfers or remains a Buckeye.
Believe it or not, a lot of other things have been going on while we’ve been waiting.
-As reported by Dan Hope of Eleven Warriors, Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said Thayer Munford is, indeed, the starting left tackle for now. Munford began the spring on the right side as the two-year starter at that position, Isaiah Prince, was switched to the left. But, at the spring game, Munford opened the game on the left side with Prince on the right. That looks like how they’ll start the season.
The third-year position coach shed some light on the closely watched battle at center. While Brady Taylor has emerged as the leader, Studrawa said redshirt freshman Josh Myers came on very strong over the last two weeks of practice. Myers, a guard last season, had problems learning to snap the ball and make blocks in the early practices. Stay tuned, I’m fairly convinced he’s going to push Taylor all the way to the opening game of the season and beyond; he’s that talented.
Studrawa, also, said he likes the depth the team has along the offensive line and the Buckeyes could have a rotation of more than five linemen this season. If that means fresher legs late in the season so All-American-to-be Michael Jordan can drive block some poor Ohio-native Wolverine all the way to the passing lane of I-71, so be it.
-Linebackers coach Bill Davis met with the media last week and said all three positions are still up for grabs. Although I think Malik Harrison has pretty much locked down the strongside, I’m not surprised by Davis’ declaration. Justin Hilliard is being pushed by Baron Browning in the middle and Pete Werner is doing the same to Keandre Jones on the weakside. I’m beginning to believe you’ll see a situation similar to 2014 when senior Curtis Grant and freshman Raekwon McMillan rotated in the middle. I can see this happening with Jones and Werner as well. Just keep those fresh legs coming. The less wear and tear on players while pummeling the likes of Oregon State, TCU and Tulane in September, the better off this team will be down the stretch.
-Last week offensive lineman Matthew Burrell announced he is transferring. Burrell has played mostly on special teams the last two season, after redshirting his first year with the Buckeyes. When starting right guard Branden Bowen was injured during the Maryland game last season, Burrell stepped in and played the remainder. However, Demetrius Knox was named the starter the next week. Burrell was mentioned as one of the players being given a chance to win the open job at center, but that never seemed to gain much steam and there now appears to be little room for him on the two-deep depth chart. No word yet on where he will be transferring.
Running back Antonio Williams has announced he, also, will transfer. The junior will be going back to his home state and joining the North Carolina Tar Heels. Williams was third on the Buckeyes’ depth chart and, barring injury to J.K. Dobbins or Mike Weber, had little hope of getting meaningful playing time. Last season he rushed for nearly 300 yards in mostly mop up duty. The departure of Williams opens the door for early enrollee Master Teague to move into the number three spot. Teague was very impressive in the spring game and will welcome those mop up duty carries in the fall. He has the look of a future star in the making.
These two departures leave the Buckeyes at 86 players on scholarship; one over the NCAA limit of 85.
The Earl(e) Of Columbus
Former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce passed away last week at the age of 87. Bruce
coached the Buckeyes from 1979 through the 1987 season, finishing with a 81-26-1 record and four Big Ten championships. He was the 1979 national coach of the year, finished with a 5-3 record in bowl games and, most importantly, had a winning record against Michigan (5-4). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
One of the things I remember most about Bruce was the time I was driving out to cover the Michigan game in the 90's. As I got close to Columbus, I turned on one of the local radio pregame shows right about the time Earle was being interviewed. He began to talk about the rivalry and the more he talked, the more passionate he became. Before he had finished, the old coach had pretty much worked himself to a fever pitch. That's when I realized Earle loved Ohio State and being a Buckeye was something special for him.
Perhaps the most impressive thing I've read about his coaching career comes from Doug Lesmerises of cleveland.com. He pointed out eleven of the last sixteen national championships have been won by coaches who were assistants under Bruce. Jim Tressel, Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer and Nick Saban all coached under him at one time.
Boom, Boom And Boom Again
The Buckeye coaches like to announce a commitment from a recruit by tweeting "BOOM!" Last week they got to do that twice when Steele Chambers of Roswell, Georgia and Mentor High School’s Noah Potter decided to pledge to the 2019 recruiting class.
Chambers is a 6-2, 215 pound running back/linebacker, who is considered the number twenty-nine “athlete” by recruiting services. He rushed for over 1,300 yards and had 70 tackles on defense in helping lead his Blessed Trinity Catholic team to its first-ever state championship. Gotta love when Urbz goes into SEC country and plucks away a prime talent.
The 6-5, 250 pound Potter checks in as the number eighteen strong-side defensive end. He becomes the second player from the ultra-successful Mentor program to commit to the Buckeyes for 2019. Offensive lineman Ryan Jacoby became a part of the class in early March.
Just about two weeks ago, 6-1, 200 pound “Rocket” Ronnie Hickman, a four-star talent from DePaul Catholic in Wayne, New Jersey gave his commitment to the Buckeyes. Hickman is listed as the number thirteen “athlete” by recruiting services, but the Buckeyes will move him to safety when he arrives in Columbus.
With The First Pick
Not long after a bunch of drunk people boo Czar Goodell, when he declares the NFL’s spring
carnival open Thursday night, the Browns are expected to select Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen with the first pick of the NFL Draft. At least that’s what everything seems to be pointing towards. Cleveland GM John Dorsey said last week he likes quarterbacks with big hands because they better control the ball in the bad weather of November and December; Allen is the only one in this draft, who measures over ten inches. Is it the right pick? No idea. Is it the wrong pick? No idea. There are so many question marks surrounding all of the quarterbacks in this draft, I don’t think there is a “safe” pick. My concern about Allen is his accuracy. You can teach a guy to better secure the ball so he doesn’t fumble, but you can’t do much to improve how accurate a quarterback delivers a pass. Sam Darnold of USC has fumbling issues, but at least he’s accurate. Then again, there’s always Baker Mayfield. Please, no.
Former Buckeye Denzel Ward is expected to go within the first ten picks. The lowest I’ve seen him projected is 12th. He will probably be the only former OSU player taken in the first round, although I think Billy Price and Sam Hubbard are first round talents. Price, Hubbard, offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, and linebacker Jerome Baker are expected to go in the second round. I’ve seen defensive linemen Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes projected anywhere from the second to fifth rounds. Teams shouldn’t sleep on Holmes; he can be a nice addition to any team’s depth.
For a while, it looked as if J.T. Barrett would be drafted, now I’m not so sure. I do think he makes the roster of whichever team signs him as a free agent. He’s a perfect fit for a number three quarterback. To steal a hockey saying, “He’s good in the room.” J.T. is just a good guy to have on your roster because of the type of person he is.
If Marcus Baugh, Tracy Sprinkle or Damon Webb are to be drafted, it will probably be in one of the very late rounds. I think Sprinkle is a longshot to be taken, but I’m guessing Webb and Baugh hear their names called. Baugh has improved by leaps and bounds over the last few seasons and could be a real hidden gem.
If They’ll Take Me…
I joined the Football Writers Association of America recently. The organization is open to writers, broadcasters and photographers. So, after thirty years in the media, I finally decided to join. I now have a vote in the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year and Outland Trophy awards. I don’t get to vote on their All-America team, but I do get to nominate players for it. Also, there is a ton of information available to me, including every media guide in the country, which will help in writing this blog.
Hopefully, the next time I sit down to write this blog, we’ll have an answer on a starting quarterback.