It is no secret that the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft is loaded with Ohio State prospects. We have heard all about how defensive end Joey Bosa possesses top pick talent and is almost guaranteed to be off the board within the first six or seven selections. Running back Ezekiel Elliott is the most well-rounded player at his position in the 2016 field and is slated to be picked in the top-half of the first round in an era where running backs are regarded as a reach early in the draft. Taylor Decker, Darron Lee, Eli Apple and Michael Thomas are also thought to be drafted in or just outside of the opening round. In what is shaping up to be a historic draft, even by Ohio State standards, could linebacker Joshua Perry not only be a sleeper first round pick but formulate himself into the best pro out of the group?
Forget about Ohio State, we already know that Perry is probably the nicest guy in the entire draft field and is a true role-model. However, the man can play some football. Perry missed just five tackles throughout the entire 2015 season.
Now, think about that for a second. That is an amazing stat considering it was a rarity to see Perry on the sidelines during a defensive snap for the Buckeyes. An NFL linebacker who rarely misses tackles is the recipe for a long and successful career, provided that the injury bug is avoided. Perry’s versatility will be a huge advantage as he is more than capable of playing any of the three linebacker positions.
Athleticism usually isn’t one of the first things we talk about regarding Perry, but it probably should be. He is listed at 6’4″, 254 pounds and was the third-heaviest linebacker to run the 40 at the 2016 NFL Combine. Perry finished the 40 in 4.68 seconds and only six other linebackers finished with a faster time.
Not that the other Ohio State players who will be drafted, whether it is round one or seven, are going to have brief and unsuccessful careers because they shouldn’t, but I like Perry to play on Sunday’s for a decade-plus and finish his career as one of the better Buckeyes selected when we look back at this draft class. Is it likely that Perry will know which team he is playing for by the end of the first round? Probably not, but around this time in the next year or two, 32 general managers may be trying to figure out who the next Joshua Perry is.
NFL scouts and experts mainly agree that Perry’s play is not dominating in any one area on the field, but it’s extremely well-rounded and diverse when it comes to possible defensive schemes and should be a great fit for any of the 32 teams he will soon be a part of.
Have you ever heard Perry speak? Not that his voice has anything to do with the football field, but Perry sounds like and is as intelligent as it gets. The intelligent players are the ones who turn into solid NFL pros. Not all, but especially the players with talent and Perry certainly possesses that. Being such a high-character guy, Perry will be an addition welcomed wholeheartedly by the NFL. At the end of the day, Perry’s character and football ability may be mentioned in the same sentence and not necessarily in that order.
Do you know what time of the year it is? That’s right. It’s NFL Combine season.
The Combine gives college football players the opportunity to prove how many repetitions they can do on the bench press, how fast they can run the 40-yard dash and how fast they can run the three-cone drill. These are just some of the highlighted events that the prospective NFL players get to prove their worth in.
I find the Combine to be a boring spectacle that is used as an attempt at a standardized athletic test. Do you know what I prefer as a means of evaluating would be NFL talent? Actual football games.
My preference is to watch the Joey Bosas and the Reggie Raglands of the world prove their worth on the football field. All of a player’s strengths and weaknesses can be found on the field and are preserved in the countless hours of film that the players find themselves on. A large portion of that film is available to all of us bloggers and even more is available to NFL general managers.
So why is there a need for exercises like the three-cone drill? That’s easy. NFL general managers are essentially risk-averse gamblers.
I get it. Drafting college athletes and signing them to multi-million dollar, multi-year contracts is risky. But here’s the thing – there are no sure bets. There are no sure small bets or large bets. There are just bets.
Once a player has performed for their college team, and more often than not their Senior Bowl types of teams, a general manager should have all of the information they need to make a confident but not fool-proof assessment of whether a player fits their needs on the football field. But like I said, general managers are risk-averse gamblers and the old three-cone drill somehow acts as a safety blanket.
All of the hopeful NFL draft picks that participate in the Combine also take part in interviews. Look, none of us actually like interviews. Whether you’re applying to be a fry cook or the 15th Vice President of your local bank, interviews suck. And you know why they suck? They suck because more often than not we’re asked some ridiculous question that has little to do with the job we desperately want to be hired for. If you’re like most of us, and not a football player, you’ve probably been asked some version of this question – How many golf balls fit in a school bus?
Here are some of the more memorable questions asked at the 2016 Combine:
Spare me the psycho-babble when I ask my follow up question: Why do these questions or questions like them mean anything?
That’s right, they don’t mean anything. And if you think they do, well, remember what I said – Spare me the pyscho-babble.
My favorite response to questions of these sorts was from Cam Newton. Here is what Newton was asked:
Essentially, did he see himself more as a person who drinks milk out of a saucer and arches his back when touched? Or did he look at himself as someone who lets his tongue hang out and drools all over the place and chases after a frisbee?
Newton answered this question the way that I would want to and that was by telling the psychologist that it wasn’t a relevant question because he was a human being. Well done Cam. That answer deserves a retro-active dab.
While I am clearly impressed with how Newton chose to handle the question, the psychologist was less than impressed and used Newton’s answer to diagnose him as a person that has issues with authority.
Maybe Newton has issues with authority and maybe he doesn’t, but the reality of the situation is that it didn’t matter how he answered this question or how any of the players answer questions such as this. The person asking the question will always find a problem with the answer.
So I don’t care how fast a player runs around three cones, I don’t care if a player finds his mom attractive and I don’t care if a player is able to self-identify as a cat. What I do care about is how well a player performs in actual games.
And one more thing. Don’t even get me started on the Wonderlic.
Ohio State returned 15 starters this season from a national championship roster from a year ago.
That talent translated to a twenty-plus game win streak, until a loss at home to Michigan State ended the streak and Ohio State’s chance to repeat. With a number of talented junior’s and a few seniors playing in their last game as a member of the Buckeyes on New Year’s Day against Notre Dame, the Ohio State team that will roll out of fall camp next season will look much different compared to this one.
Ohio State will lose senior starters Taylor Decker, Jacoby Boren, and Chase Farris on the offensive line. It’s tough to lose three senior leaders on the offensive line, and the Buckeyes will look to replace them with talented blue-chip recruits Urban Meyer has lured to Columbus over the past couple years.
Highly recruited players like Matthew Burrell, Demetrius Knox, Isaiah Prince, and Jamarco Jones will receive serious consideration for playing time next season. Although young and inexperienced, each of these potential replacements on the offensive line possess enormous potential to be great.
Braxton Miller will also be playing his last game in a Buckeye uniform after one of the most successful careers in Ohio State history. Although not utilized to his full potential this season, Miller will be remembered as one of the most dynamic players Urban Meyer has ever had at his disposal.
His playmaking abilities will be missed on the Ohio State offense next season. Look for dynamic athletes Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson to fill that void at the hybrid running back/receiver spot with Miller heading to the next level.
Ohio State will also lose senior tight end Nick Vannett, who had somewhat of a disappointing season in his first as the starter. Vannett will be replaced next season by current sophomore Marcus Baugh, who has the size and athletic ability to be a very good tight end for the Buckeyes.
As for the Buckeye defense, Ohio State will lose senior starters Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt on the defensive line, and second leading tackler Joshua Perry at linebacker for next season. Look for current sophomore’s Michael Hill and Donovan Munger to compete to replace Schutt next season.
A replacement for Washington will be more difficult. Robert Landers and Tracy Sprinkle will both receive opportunities to replace the playmaking defensive tackle next season.
As far as Perry’s replacement goes, former five-star prospect Justin Hilliard will get every opportunity to fill that void next season. Dante Booker, and Jerome Baker will also be afforded chances to fill Perry’s outside backer spot. All three are former top recruits Meyer kept in state and are very good players.
The real losses for Ohio State however will come from the redshirt sophomore/junior class.
Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Vonn Bell, Michael Thomas and Pat Elflein headline a tremendous junior class that could all declare for the NFL draft after the season. This also includes redshirt sophomore’s (key components to Ohio State’s success the past two season’s) Darron Lee, Eli Apple, and Jalin Marshall.
Look for Sam Hubbard, who had a tremendous season as a redshirt freshman to replace Bosa at defensive end next season. One of the top running backs in the nation coming out of high school, current freshman and Detroit native Mike Weber will get the first crack replacing Elliott.
Cam Burrows and Erick Smith (both former high school All-Americans) will battle to replace Vonn Bell at the safety spot next season. Michael Thomas’ starting spot will be a battle but will most likely be filled by Noah Brown, who lost his entire 2015 season to injury.
If Elflein decides to declare, look for the aforementioned Demetrius Knox to slide in his guard spot next season. Darron Lee plays a very important position for the Buckeyes, and athletic linebacker Chris Worley will be the man to fill that void next season.
If Apple declares, Gareon Conley will become the number one corner next season. Damon Webb, the nickel corner for the Buckeyes this season will slide into the other starting corner spot alongside Conley in that scenario next season.
Jalin Marshall is a player that should stay put for another collegiate season, but if he does decide to declare early look for current freshman K.J. Hill to get a shot out wide next season.
Bosa, Elliott, and Thomas are all but gone as all three are considered top players at their respective positions. The other players listed are very good players as well and could also very easily throw their name in the hat for the NFL draft.
My guess is that Jalin Marshall and possibly Pat Elflein return and the rest of the underclassman listed will enter the draft. With all of those losses, Ohio State would be looking at replacing over ten starters for next season.
The good news for Urban Meyer and company is that although a number of core players could be gone from this season’s roster, Ohio State has players to reload and avoid a complete rebuild.
That’s the beauty of Meyer recruiting a top ten class every year since his arrival, the talent will always be there for the Buckeyes. Getting players accustomed to their new roles as starters will be the biggest issue for Ohio State next season, not the talent level.
Having an experienced J.T. Barrett as the full-time starter with no distractions behind him next season will be a huge plus. Barrett is a player who as a redshirt freshman finished with 45 total touchdowns and was fifth in Heisman voting. Regardless of how this season finishes for Barrett we know the talent is there, and the outlook is good next season at quarterback for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes won’t have much time to prepare their new starters before they are tested next season, as Ohio State will travel to Norman, Oklahoma to face the Sooners in the third game of the season.
Enjoy this current Buckeye roster for one more game. It will look much different come Sept. 2016.
In perhaps the most anticipated matchup not a part of the College Football Playoff, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl. Despite not having met since the Fiesta Bowl in 2006, the two schools have quite a history due to proximity and competition for recruits. Many Notre Dame fans–myself included–make their homes in Ohio, which often results in competitive banter between fanbases and endless “what-if” scenarios.
Notre Dame and Ohio State fans can put those “what-ifs” to bed, at least for the time being, when the two teams square off in Glendale, Arizona on New Year’s Day.
Notre Dame and Ohio State have ultra-talented rosters. When both teams take the field, there figures to be multiple players with NFL first-round talent on the field at the same time. Let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing matchups:
The Irish’s quarterback situation looks much like Ohio State’s did last year. Starting spring practice, Deshone Kizer was the third quarterback on Notre Dame’s depth chart, and his rise to be the starter after Everett Golson’s transfer and Malik Zaire’s injury is well-documented. Ohio State, likewise, saw third-stringer Cardale Jones take them to the National Championship last season and become the starter entering this one, but Cardale does not figure to see much time in the Fiesta Bowl.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Ohio State will be lead by JT Barrett. When comparing Kizer and Barrett, there are a few similarities–both were thrust into the position early due to an injury and both have similar types of experience, at least as far as number of starts is concerned. Neither has started a postseason game, but both have started and performed well in other big games.
Both quarterbacks run a system where the quarterback run is utilized often. Barrett probably has the edge on the ground versus Kizer, where passing similarities are too close to call.
As far as quarterback play, it’s a wash between the two teams.
The two to keep an eye on in this game are Will Fuller, #7 in blue and gold, and Michael Thomas, #3 in scarlet and grey. For the Irish, Fuller has caught 56 balls for over 1145 yards and 13 touchdowns. For the Buckeyes, Thomas has caught 49 balls for 709 yards and 8 scores. All things held equal, Fuller has had the better season and the passing stats of Notre Dame versus those of Ohio State indicate the Irish have had slightly more success in that area.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Both teams have boasted solid running attacks, when utilized, this season. For the Irish, CJ Prosise has carried most of the load, running for over 1,000 yards, 11 scores, and a 6.1 yards per carry average, while battling injury at the end of the season. His counterpart, Ezekiel Elliot, has run for over 1,600 yards, 19 scores, and an 6.4 yards per carry average. It’s no secret that Elliot is arguably the best back in the country.
Advantage: Ohio State, but not by as much as you would think.
In the Trenches:
Going right along with the running game is the offensive and defensive lines.
When the Irish have the ball, they will look to utilize a talented and experienced offensive line, which features a future top-pick in left tackle Ronnie Stanley and fifth-year senior center Nick Martin. They, however, go up against a defensive line that boasts Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington. This duo may be among the best the Irish face this year. This matchup may be the most intriguing of the game. If the Irish have their running game firing on all cylinders, they will be hard to stop and this game could turn in to a shootout quickly. If the Ohio State defensive line and linebackers win the battle against the Irish, it could be a long day for Brian Kelly’s offense.
When Ohio State has the ball, the Buckeyes will look to feature Elliot after he demanded (and received) more carries in Ohio State’s final game against Michigan on the way to 214 yards in the running game. Ohio State does not have a superior offensive line (but 1600 yards for Elliot clearly indicates they’re plenty good enough), while the same can be said for Notre Dame’s defensive line, which will have the services of Jarron Jones for the first time all season, after recovering from an MCL tear suffered in preseason practice.
Bottom line: This game will depend on who wins the line of scrimmage. Both teams’ passing game is largely predicated on keeping the defense off-balance. If either team is unable to run the ball and puts their quarterback in obvious passing situation too often, it will be difficult for either to have success on offense.
In the end, I expect this to be an incredible football game–one that fans such as myself have waited far too long to see.
The Browns are now 2-9 and officially done with the playoffs, many fans have thrown in the
towel and are hoping we tank for a number one pick. I for one think tanking for a better draft pick is disrespectful to the leaders and veterans on the team.
Plus a lot of the teams that look to be a top the draft board, (Tennessee, Dallas, San Diego, Baltimore) are not in the market for QBs. It seems very likely a QB like Paxton Lynch or Jared Goff could be available to us at the 3rd to 5th pick. So now with tanking out of the question here is my plan for the rest of the season.
1. Start Duke Johnson at running back! Isaiah Crowell has been an absolute disaster as a RB. Right now he is last in the NFL among qualified runners in with 2.9 yards per attempt. The advanced stats do not treat him in any better as he last in the NFL in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and Defense-adjusted Value over Average (DVOA) stats from Football Outsiders. Johnson has done better than Crow in all ares and he deserves to keep moving forward as our starter.
2. Play Austin Davis now but do not be reluctant to hand the keys to Johnny Manziel. Manziel had the job and lost it by lying about his partying. As a twenty year old college kid I sympathize with him a bit. Partying, getting drunk, and listening to Future at the club is quite fun honestly. The only difference is I’m not getting paid 1.8 million dollars to lead a professional football team.
This is the reason that I’d keep Manziel on the bench until Davis shows that he is not the quarterback that gives us the best chance to win. And perhaps Davis is a good quarterback, he seems to have a great attitude and has starting experience with the Rams. Perhaps he can bud into a decent QB with us.
3. Fire Jim O’Neill! We have the highest paid defense in terms of percent of team salary, yet we are the worst at stopping the run and second worst at keeping teams out of the end-zone. After this I would try to get younger guys like Nate Orchard and Ibraheim Campbell into the rotation more to see what kind of value they’ll hold in the future.
In the off-season my main goal would be to figure out if the Browns have a chance to go to the playoffs with either Manziel, Davis, or even McCown. If I don’t think these guys are capable of doing that I’d take a QB in the first round.
It’s still too early to tell which QB would be worth taking as every top guy has some key weaknesses but I’m sure some one will emerge as a top 5 pick. If I feel that one of these guys can take me to the playoffs my number one target is Joey Bosa. Now keep in mind I am not an OSU fan by any means, but I know that Joey Bosa has the capability to boost our run defense and our pass rush. Other options include upgrading our secondary by taking CB/S Jalen Ramsey of FSU or CB Vernon Hargreaves out of Florida. If I don’t feel that Josh Gordon is focused on football Laquon Treadwell would be a great option to help bolster the receiving corps which has been our weakness since Braylon Edwards decided to stink.
Before we begin I’d like to send my condolences and well wishes to the entire Carr family. Former head coach Lloyd Carr’s grandson, Chad Carr, passed away on Monday after battling an inoperable brain tumor for 15 months. Chad was only five years old… #ChadTough
The Michigan Wolverines bounced back nicely last weekend, winning in a tough environment at Penn State.
The most important takeaway is that the defense looked like itself again. The secondary locked up the Nittany Lions’ receivers and there wasn’t much quarterback Christian Hackenberg could do since the front seven recommitted to stopping the run.
Penn State’s only touchdown drive came after a blocked punt that set them up at the Michigan 43. For the first time this season Jabrill Peppers was actually made to look bad. Peppers got turned around somehow and Hackenberg burned him with a back-shoulder throw from 25 yards out. I’m still not sure what exactly he was trying to do while that pass was in the air. Other than that brief lapse, Peppers played a tremendous game.
Every time Penn State gained some momentum Michigan was quick to answer. Unlike their nerve-wracking trips to Minnesota and Indiana, the Wolverines kept this game in front of them, and in doing so were able to avoid another close call.
Now, we could spend the remainder of our time together going through a solid, uneventful win at Penn State, or we could dive right into the best rivalry in sports.
Yeah, I figured you’d choose the latter.
For many reasons I hadn’t given this game much thought prior to this week. Looking ahead doesn’t do much good in the ever-changing landscape of college football. As soon as you think you’ve got a team figured out they remind you they are, after all, a group of unpredictable 18-22 year olds. Frankly, I wasn’t sure the Wolverines would have much of a chance in this one. Now that rivalry week is upon us though, it’s safe to say the Wolverines certainly do have a chance against the Buckeyes this Saturday.
This will be Harbaugh-Meyer Part One, a coaching matchup people started looking forward to the day Jim Harbaugh announced he would be coming to Michigan. Considering their fiery demeanor, many will concentrate on the coaches’ behavior as much as the game itself. Sideline antics are an entertaining sideshow, but don’t let them distract you from the feature presentation going on in-between the lines.
Watching the Spartans upend the Buckeyes had to be a bittersweet experience for the Wolverines. The result means Michigan now needs a win and a State loss to clinch the East division. In the process of putting a likely end to the Wolverines’ playoff hopes however, the Spartans laid a blueprint on how to beat Ohio State.
Michigan State’s front seven hit the Buckeyes in the mouth and they didn’t know how to handle it. JT Barrett and Ezekiel Elliot couldn’t find any running lanes because there weren’t any running lanes to find. If there’s one thing we learned on Saturday it’s that Ohio State is not the same physically dominating team that won the national championship last year.
The Buckeyes boast a ferocious pass rush led by Joey Bosa. That cannot be denied. But it’s almost like they don’t know how to play defense if they can’t pin their ears back and hunt the quarterback.
State ran the ball as much as possible and drew up quick, easy completions when they needed to throw it. In executing that gameplan the Spartans, behind two rarely-used backup quarterbacks, were able to neutralize a defense that is defined by its pursuit of the passer.
At this point it’s fair to say that Michigan poses more of an offensive threat than State does. Harbaugh’s pro-style offense has evolved over the course of the season, as has his quarterback, Jake Rudock. The graduate transfer has been getting better each week. The playbook has expanded because of his progression and the increased usage of the electric Jabrill Peppers.
Harbaugh and his coaching staff have probably watched the tape of Michigan State’s offense from last week dozens of times already to see what worked and why. Expect to see them incorporate a lot of the same schemes the Spartans utilized even though they’ll be operating a much different offense.
Most importantly, the Buckeyes know they can be beaten now. A loss can be motivating, yes, but when you have your 23-game win streak snapped, that loss can also really shake a team’s confidence.
Unfortunately this year’s clash won’t be for all the Big Ten East marbles like we had hoped. Even so, how could you not recognize the immensity of this game?
It’s Harbaugh versus Urban for the first time. It’s Michigan finally looking like it belongs on the same field as Ohio State. It’s a chance at a ten-win season in Harbaugh’s first year. It’s a shot at possibly receiving a bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
It’s “The Game.”
So work your way out of that Thanksgiving food coma and plant yourself in front of a television at noon on Saturday.
As of right now, the best team in the Big Ten is Michigan, and to me it isn’t even close. Yes, I understand that UM has already lost in the season opener to Utah, but since then they have been on an unbelievable roll. Michigan has not allowed a point since a fourth quarter garbage time score by UNLV three games ago. UM has outscored their opponents 98-0. Coach Harbaugh has Michigan playing at a level that the Wolverines have not seen since the days of Lloyd Carr. While Michigan has looked very, very good, Ohio State and Michigan State haven’t looked nearly as good.
The Buckeyes escaped Bloomington with a lucky win, played to the level of a terrible Maryland team for three quarters, and quite frankly haven’t put together a full game yet this season. In East Lansing, the Spartans haven’t done much more to put themselves ahead of the Buckeyes in my book. Since their win at home against Oregon, which now doesn’t look nearly as good, the Spartans have had close calls with two of the Big Ten’s worst in a three point win vs Purdue and a touchdown win on the road at Rutgers.
It may not stay this way the entire season, but as of right now Michigan is the best team in the Big Ten.
The best team in the Big Ten is Ohio State. Yes, they have been incredibly inconsistent at the quarterback position, but keep in mind, they are STILL the defending National Champions. Cardale Jones has made significant improvements in the last couple games to quiet all the chatter about him being worthy of starting. And, even if Jones were to struggle, you have a once-Heisman contender in JT Barrett waiting in the wings. Name one program in the Big 10 with those types of quandaries. To pile on even more, former QB- turned wide receiver Braxton Miller is as explosive as it comes in reference to skilled players. He is a virtual match up nightmare. They still have a rock solid defense lead by one of the premier defensive lineman in Joey Bosa. Finally, they boast one of the best running backs in the game in Ezekiel Elliot.
I know with the recent up rising of Michigan and the solid play of Michigan State, there’s a little more room for discussion. But honestly, that’s where it ends. Michigan has lost it’s last 3 games to the Buckeyes. Even though Coach Harbaugh has the Wolverines looking like that streak is about to end shortly, Michigan still has no offensive identity and are getting by with smash mouth defense and opportunistic offensive play, at best. If Michigan were to upset the Buckeyes, it would literally be one of the lowest scoring games in their storied rivalry. As far as Michigan State goes, they are the only legitimate contender to being the best. When the Spartans defeat the Buckeyes, we can open discussion to passing the torch. Until then, Ohio State stands supreme.
Wednesday, Urban Meyer announced that Cardale Jones would start this weekend against Western Michigan. I quipped that perhaps Meyer was either watching a different game than most of us, or that Jones perhaps had something on him. Clearly they were both jokes, but let’s tease out Meyer’s decision a bit further.
Full disclosure: I’ve been on the J.T. Barrett train since the end of last season. I believe Barrett brings consistency and experience that Jones doesn’t bring. I’ve also said MANY times that I’m not an X’s and O’s guy and I live my entire life based on the ‘eye test.’ So I guess I should make the case for Cardale Jones while the rest of America makes the case for Barrett.
Remember, it’s a lot harder to play devil’s advocate than it is to back up your position.
So, let’s state the obvious: Cardale Jones as a starter is 6-0 and has won a national championship. That’s factual even if not a complete version of the facts. Here’s the rest, Cardale Jones played the final three games in the 2014-2015 season and no other person played quarterback in those games. The accuracy of Cardale Jones is questionable at best. Many times this season he’s overthrown and underthrown his receivers, or, well thrown it to the wrong team.
In the first three games of this season, Jones’ Total Quarterback Rating (QBR; created by ESPN) is 73.4 versus Barrett’s 33.4. Now, the number is not-surprisingly skewed towards Jones because he did take a lot more snaps in the Virginia Tech game than Barrett did.
So, that doesn’t really help us much – does it?
Last week versus Northern Illinois, Jones threw two interceptions. One in the rain and one after a misread. He didn’t manage to lead the team to a touchdown drive, which without looking it up, seems like the first time that’s happened over the past six games.
J.T. Barrett wasn’t awesome. At all. He took more snaps than Jones did on Saturday, but I’m not sure that wasn’t more of an in-game tryout than anything else? What do I know?
And certainly not more than Urban Meyer does about football. We can all talk about Meyer’s past and the drama that he brings everywhere he goes, but he knows how to coach a team. So, if he and his what seems like five offensive coordinators think Cardale Jones is the best option, what am I to say?
I think we’re beyond the point in the season and probably Meyer’s career where we see him try and repeat switching quarterbacks like he did with Tim Tebow and Chris Leak, but there are few things that are obvious needs of work:
The offensive line- They haven’t played well, and they were especially bad last week. As in, really bad.
Ezekiel Elliott- He hasn’t done much because of the point above. Elliott needs holes, and considering the team has at least eight offensive starters coming back, it’s a complete surprise they can’t create space for him.
Jones’ short game-It’s basically non-existent. I understand his nickname is 12-guage, so he can throw far, but in order to help the offense move and shake, he needs to develop the short game for Elliott and Braxton Miller. Also, feel free to look at some of the other people who might be open.
Braxton Miller is everywhere- I guess we can’t get enough of Braxton Miller, which is fine, but I FEEL like Jones and to some extent Barrett are focused so much on getting the ball to Miller that they’re forgetting everyone else. Again, probably only my feeling, but I feel like Barrett and Jones are getting Miller the ball so much because they feel like they took his job. Then again, this could be a directive from the play-caller. Either way, stop. Spread the ball.
Joey Bosa- I know he’s there, and I understand offenses are keying on him, but I need to hear his name more than once or twice per game. A few years ago I suggested he would be Ohio State’s most valuable player, but obviously that’s all changed. The defense has been rockin’ thanks to Vonn Bell and Adolphus Washington, but I miss my guy Joey Bosa. #FreeBosa
ALL this said, if I were Ohio State’s coach, I would start J.T. Barrett, but thankfully I’m just a dude with a website.
It only took five days, but our first weekend of College Football is in the books. We had a lot of chalk and some disappointment, but it was the “Wow!” moments that really jumped off the page. The bar was really set high for the individuals that the consensus expects to be in the running for that big heavy trophy, and for the schools interested in playing in that little tournament, well, they just had to win.
From the home of the Belk Bowl to the campus of the last program to slay the dragon that Urban Meyer built in Central Ohio, it was an extended weekend of debuts, vengeance, and perhaps an introduction to some new contenders. We’ll start in Blacksburg, where the first unanimous Preseason AP #1 team in the country took on Frank Beamer and the Virginia Tech Hokies, seeking their pound of flesh for what took place in Columbus a year ago.
Ohio State 42 Virginia Tech 24
The story has been told, time and time again. Cardale Jones has never started a game in his own stadium for Ohio State, and on Monday night, he earned his first regular season victory, so it’s long past the time we stop referring to him as the Buckeye’s 3rd-string quarterback. In case you felt his previous three performances were some type of sorcery on the part of Meyer last December and January, the junior from Cleveland showed the magic is still there on Ohio State’s first possession, hitting Curtis Samuel on the money with a throw off of his back foot, good for a 24-yard touchdown. The next time the Buckeyes snapped the ball, Ezekiel Elliott went 80 yards to make it 14-0 in favor of the defending champs, perhaps making fans in Tuscaloosa feel better about things, but likely not.
It appeared the Buckeyes were going to roll, but misfortune, the type that goes beyond taking the field at Lane Stadium without Joey Bosa or Jalin Marshall on the field, struck, and the Hokies ripped off 17 unanswered, taking a 17-14 lead into the break. A missed Ohio State field goal gave the home team some momentum towards the end of the first quarter, but all of the credit in the world goes to Virginia Tech for designing a wheel route to full back Sam Rogers, who was all by himself on the left sideline. The big man had to hustle, but Eli Apple stood between him and the goal line and he shook the Buckeyes’ the third-year corner out of his shoes to cut the early advantage in half. Without the services of Marshall, Meyer had Elliott back returning punts, and call it inexperience or whatever, but the All-World running back struggled to field AJ Hughes second punt of the night, and four plays later, another nicely designed throwback to Ryan Malleck on third down gave the Hokies the lead.
Anyone remember Braxton Miller, the forgotten head on the three-headed monster of Ohio State’s open competition for the starting role last spring? They gave him a new number and a new position, and it only took him about a half of football to get his sea-legs beneath him. He did have a couple of rushing attempts and a nice diving 24-yard catch in the first half, which I think showed us he’s still a legitimate player, even when not behind center. On the third play of the second half, he took a pass from Jones and tip-toed by the Hokie defender, down the right sideline for 54 yards and the score. On the Bucks next offensive play from scrimmage, he gave the Scarlet and Gray their first Wow Moment of the season with a spin move that you can, yeah, only do on video games. From there, the rout was on.
Give Beamer and company some credit; they nearly made Mark May look smart. While the final score really was indicative of the game we watched, they did some really good things to take the straight-up running game away from Ohio State, despite big plays from Elliott and Miller, and they found enough vulnerabilities in the defense to put some points on the board and make this prime time affair interesting into the late night hours of Labor Day. The game really didn’t get out of hand until Brenden Motley had to spell starting quarterback Michael Brewer.
Unfortunately for Brewer, we live in a world where what you say with a certain expectation of privacy is subject to “going viral”. He was caught on camera, and yes, it’s likely he knew it was in his face, spouting off some one-liner about how it’s going to take a lot more than a fairly brutal hit he took on the Hokies last drive of the half to knock him out of the game. You can’t blame the kid; he was talking to his teammates in the locker room, more so than the national television audience through the lens of ESPN’s camera, but people are going to talk about karma. To that, I say “whatever”.
It’s widely believed that this is Ohio State’s last real test before Michigan State visits Columbus in November, and it’s hard to disagree. Up next, the Buckeyes get Hawaii, Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan at home, and then a relatively simple conference slate, though I’m not ready to overlook Minnesota’s visit to the ‘Shoe on November 7th. For the Hokies, don’t expect the season to instantly go down the toilet after this acceptable performance. Last year, East Carolina beat Virginia Tech on their home field a week after they stunned Ohio State. Don’t expect Furman to follow suit; in fact, I’d say you can expect the Hokies to get their own pound of flesh from ECU on the road in a couple of weeks, and for them to be competitive in the ACC.
Marshall 41 Purdue 31
It was tough sledding for Darrell Hazell and Purdue in the only game on the slate for this pre-NFL Sunday. If Hazell and his signal-caller Austin Appleby never see Tiquan Lang again, it will be too soon for the both of them. Though, I’m very open to the possibility that Appleby never saw Lang at all, yeilding two pick-sixes to the Thundering Herd’s junior safety, which were good for the first and last scores of the game.
On the game’s very first play from scrimmage, Lang stepped in front of the intended receiver, and went 30 yards untouched to give Marshall the early lead, but there was still a good 59 minutes and change of football to be played. Purdue was able to recover on a DJ Knox touchdown run, on his way too a 100-yard day on the ground, but the game went back and forth all afternoon. The visiting Boilermakers led for most of the first half, until Devon Johnson put Marshall back up 34-31 with a 6-yard score, but Appleby had one more chance. After timeouts by both teams, it appeared the Purdue junior had too much time to think about it once again. And once again, an ill-fated pass attempt fell into the hands of Lang, who had to work harder on his second return, cutting across the field for a 55-yard score to put it to bed.
You've had nine months to come up with a first play.
Given their early success in making the jump from Division I to Division I-AA with Chad Pennington and Randy Moss nearly twenty years ago, it’s difficult to believe Sunday’s win, in front of a home crowd of nearly 39,000 in Huntington, was the school’s first win over a Big Ten program, but the Boilermakers seem to be giving a few mid-Majors that milestone in recent years.
Alabama 35 Wisconsin 17
Hey Badger fans, I think Derrick Henry just scored again! Okay, maybe not, but the Alabama junior running back averaged 11.3 yards per carry, en route to three touchdowns on the ground at “The House That Jerry Built” in North Texas on Saturday. It probably would have been more, but the end zone kept stopping him. If there’s honestly a debate about the quarterback position at Alabama, and I don’t think there is, we gained no clarity about it on Saturday night. My gut tells me Nick Saban will let Jake Coker assume the role, unless his poor play forces his hand or Cooper Bateman takes things to a new level in the time he’s getting.
So, I know Gene Chizik was 5-19 at Iowa State before being awarded the Auburn job, where he landed the services of Cam Newton and won a title in his second season, so maybe I don’t read too much into Paul Chryst’s 19-19 mark at Pittsburgh. Seriously though, in Chryst’s debut with the Badgers, he wasn’t just behind the curve with the X’s and O’s, that Big Ten size and strength, which is supposed to be their finest asset in Madison, it’s not there. I’ve long thought that Barry Alvarez was the reason Gary Andersen chose a new gig in Corvalis over what he’s built in Madison, but he might have just seen the writing on the wall with what he wasn’t able to recruit. Sorry, but 16 yards on 8 carries for Corey Clement just isn’t getting it done; Melvin Gordon III isn’t walking back through that door and head coaches will dare Joel Stave to beat them all season.
Texas A&M 38 Arizona State 17
Is it possible to lose a game by more than just the numbers on the scoreboard? In being picked apart by Scottsdale, Arizona’s Kyle Allen and Christian Kirk, the very successful head coach of the Sun Devils, Todd Graham, was exposed for losses to the state of Texas in the recruiting game. Allen, the sophomore quarterback fighting off highly touted freshman Kyler Murray, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, but Kirk was the star of the show. You get sick of hearing about video games when you’re discussing actual human athletes, but between his 79-yard punt return that put the Aggies up 14-0 early and his 66-yard touchdown catch and run, that status quo had cheat codes on their mind. I’d reference the Game Genie here, but it would be lost on everyone not born between 1975 and 1985.
After A&M’s season went downhill after their big win in the opener against South Carolina a year ago, Aggie fans can only be cautiously optimistic about Kevin Sumlin’s squad’s chances in the SEC. On the other hand, after watching how hapless the ASU offense was in Houston, there has to be some concern about senior quarterback Mike Berovici, a guy that wasn’t spectacular in his understudy role in 2014, despite the team’s success in games he started.
This neutral site game was the only game of any sort on the 2015 schedule that paired a Pac-12 school against a team from the Southeastern Conference. If you’re an SEC honk, you want the Sun Devils to dominate their conference. If you support a Pac-12 contender that isn’t Arizona State, you’re probably hoping your program isn’t basically a coin flip for that fourth playoff spot with a member of the SEC in December.
Northwestern 16 Stanford 6
We should probably acknowledge this battle of Academia that took place in Evanston, the most watchable matinee of the day on Saturday. Was this more about Kevin Hogan and Stanford being inept on offense, or does Pat Fitzgerald have a great defense at Northwestern? I fear David Shaw may be on the decline, the more we see time separate this program from the days of Jim Harbaugh.
One thing I’m hearing and I don’t agree with is that Stanford is suddenly too slow. Sure Hogan isn’t a runner on the level that Andrew Luck was, and Ty Montgomery is gone from the offense and special teams, but Michael Rector isn’t slow and we should see more of Christian McCaffrey in both the running and passing games. My guess is the offense works it out, but I don’t know if the glass is less than half-full when I look at that defense. The departing talent hasn’t been replaced, or the newbies haven’t been developed, but Northwestern owned the line of scrimmage when they had the ball. That’s going to be a problem for the Cardinal all year.
The victory in the trenches translated to a good game for running back Justin Jackson, who ran for 134 yards. However, it was quarterback Clayton Thorson’s 42 yard run, on what looked like a designed draw play, that represented the only touchdown of the day. The Wildcats will host an FCS team next week, and visit Duke in a few weeks, but expect them to finish non-conference play 4-0, setting up a big match up with Minnesota, on October 2nd at Ryan Field.
Ole Miss 76 Tennessee-Martin 3
Yuck, just yuck. Hugh Freeze, you’re in the SEC, and I know you want the home game at whatever price, but playing FCS foes is totally beneath you. Indiana got lucky doing this, but Wyoming, Washington State, and Kansas were not. Shame on everyone who partakes in this practice, even you Arizona State, where I’ll watch you rebound against cal-Poly, but still, Yuck!
Michigan State 37 Western Michigan 24
Kudos to the AD’s in East Lansing and Kalamazoo for making this happen, with the mid-major hosting the high major. PJ Fleck, your Western Michigan program isn’t quite there yet, but they didn’t look out of their element with a big boy from the Big Ten in town.
Michigan State might want to work on kick coverage this week, while the Broncos shouldn’t change a thing. Row your boat, fellas.
Charlotte 23 Georgia State 20
This game kicked off at 12:30 PM, during my work day on Friday. I caught the end on the ESPN app in my office. It was fourth College Football game I’d watched with some interest in a 24-hour span; yeah, I need help.
For the 49ers, it was their first game as an FBS program, and obviously also their first victory, but the Panthers of Georgia State made it interesting in the end.
TCU 23 Minnesota 17
I don’t know if I just don’t like the idea of B being a Heisman candidate, or if I have the bar set too high for him and, really, the rest of the Horned Frogs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think TCU is phenomenal when they have the ball, and that’s where the expectation comes from, but they just didn’t seem to have it, despite a nice victory over an underlooked Minnesota team on Thursday night at TCF Stadium.
He’s got weapons all around him, most notably Josh Doctson, and 246 passing on a day he rushed for 92 is far from underwhelming, but in real-time, I didn’t think he was anything special. That just tells me we haven’t seen anything yet from the offense. Based on what SMU was able to do to Baylor for 30 minutes on Friday, they might make for an interesting opponent for Gary Patterson’s defense, still a question mark for me after Minnesota had many opportunities Thursday.
Jerry Kill has a nice little team in Minnesota. They hung around the entire game, even if TCU did adjust better at the half. Rodney Smith seems like a good find; the freshman had 88 yards on 16 carries, but a lot of it that offensive line. Junior quarterback Mitch Leidner needs to be more efficient or throw the ball less, but I don’t know how much less he can throw it, considering he was sacked 20 times a year ago.
That Ref Deserves a Hug
Sometimes, I just can’t get over how the universe can even itself out. Two years ago, going left to right across the Big Red “N” at midfield in Lincoln, a backup quarterback heaves up a prayer. You know the rest, Jordan Westerkamp is on the receiving end for the touchdown and the win against Nebraska. Redemption is spelled R-O-N (Kellog).
Fast forward to Saturday, BYU down 28-27, 1 tick on the clock for Tanner Magnum, on in relief of the injured Taysom Hill. Mitch Matthews hauls it in for the win, but #11 Terenn Houk is the star of this Vine.
…and the rest.
These are all of the items that are too short for a capsule of their own.
Penn State, I’m glad you went to Philly to play Temple, but how did you lose that game?
Michigan, you can’t run the ball and don’t have a real answer at quarterback. Jim Harbaugh isn’t saving you right away.
Between the Cactus Bowl and Friday’s somewhat awkward return to Boise for Chris Petersen, I’ve now bailed on Washington at halftime in consecutive games, only to learn the second half was interesting, the next day. Show up in the first half, Huskies.
Nicely done, Josh Rosen. What a performance for the true freshman; he came with a lot of hype, but lived up to it. UCLA wasn’t playing an FCS school on Saturday, they were hosting a Power 5. It was Virginia, but still.
Northern Illinois, that’s two years in a row that you’ve dominated UNLV, but let them hang around. A MAC rival will take advantage at some point, just watch.
We’re so spoiled with digital options for viewing, that it was aggravating that CBS Sports didn’t have an option and I’m told didn’t regionally switch to the UNLV-NIU game in DeKalb, while overtime was played in Tulsa.
By the way, way to finish your win over Florida Atlantic, Tulsa.
So, Auburn is pretty good. Louisville might be too, but not based on their play Saturday. Either way, good to see Verne and Gary on CBS in Week 1. (They called Ohio State-Navy for CBS Sports Network to open the 2014 season)
Play-by-play announcers and color analysts, it’s okay to punt in College Football. Not every opponent is Oregon, and not every situation near or behind midfield equals four-down territory. Our game is about field position, and you win it by punting when appropriate.
Adults that paint their bodies and dedicate their lives to “me time” on camera for their favorite College Football team don’t deserve the air time.
I’d rather get neutral site games than no game at all, but there’s something about the games being played on campus. Steve Spurrier, that atmosphere sucked with all of the empty seats in Charlotte. Go to Chapel Hill or have Larry Fedora bring his team to Columbia, and stop trying to do too much.
Nice touchdown reception, Robert Nkemdiche. We’ll talk more about the two-way play of the Ole Miss pass-rusher, when they play an FBS foe.
Lastly, I think I underestimated how cool Scott Van Pelt’s midnight Sportscenter would be, because I was mostly upset about losing his radio show on my mid-day drives. I’d planned on getting straight to my writing room when the game ended, but I stuck around. It’s a shame the technical stuff had to be difficult in Virginia, I really would have loved to see him interview Braxton Miller.
Back on Sunday to discuss Week 2…61 hours until Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky kickoff.
With just two weeks until the start of their 2015 title defense, the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes are fresh off of being named the first unanimous Associated Press (AP) No. 1 team in the preseason poll.
For good reason, after running off 13 straight wins, a team that was thought to be a year away from competing for national titles last season should have every opportunity to defend its college football crown. What must be discussed, however, is just how hard it will actually be for Ohio State to not only make the college football playoff, but to repeat as national champions.
Ohio State received 61 of 61 first-place votes from the AP media panel, the rankings which were released Sunday. According to FoxSports.com, since the preseason rankings started in 1950, Ohio State is the first team to receive every first place vote, with the highest before them being Florida, (2009) and Alabama (2013) receiving 58 of 60 votes.
If past failures are any indication, Urban Meyer has his work cut out for him trying to start and finish the season as the No. 1 team in the country. Like Meyer’s 2009 Gators, (who started as the preseason AP No. 1 team in the nation fresh off of a national title) expectations are repeat or bust. This time, he hopes to avoid the pitfalls that derailed his teams at Florida from being able to repeat as national champions.
If you believe in the phrase “the past is a good indicator of the future”, that isn’t very good news for this years Buckeyes. The last two times Ohio State opened the season at No. 1, (1998, 2006) they finished the season at No. 2.
With talk that this may be the most talented roster ever assembled at Ohio State, anything less than a repeat championship would be a travesty for Buckeye Nation.
It’s not easy being on top, as we see it time and time again that taking each teams best shot every week can take its toll as a season wears on. Only twice, (according to FoxSports.com) has the preseason No.1 team gone wire-to-wire as No. 1. The good news for the Buckeyes is at the end of last season, this Ohio State team seemed to be still getting better.
Ezekiel Elliott’s explosive 698 rushing yards with 8 touchdowns over a three-game stretch to end the season seemed to be just the beginning of the hype train for the 2015 Heisman trophy candidate.
Joey Bosa returns as arguably the best defensive player in the country. After serving his one game suspension, Bosa has his best season at Ohio State ahead of him.
Want one last reason Buckeye faithful should have optimism in regards to its teams chances to repeat? The schedule. Outside of Ohio State and Michigan State, (both ranked preseason AP top-5) the Big Ten is mediocre at best.
Ohio State plays just one team (Michigan State) ranked inside the preseason AP top 25. Without a regular season game against the only other member of the top 25 from the Big Ten (Wisconsin) until possibly the Big Ten title game, the rest of Ohio State’s path to a repeat is pedestrian to say the least.
Sept. 7th, Ohio State takes on Virginia Tech, the only team to defeat them last season. Although it may be one of the stiffest tests of the season, losing last seasons match up should be just what the Buckeyes need to fight off a championship hangover and keep their winning ways in tact.
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