Where did this 2016 version of THE Ohio State Buckeyes come from?
You’re not supposed to be able to reload like this after losing a bushel of NFL talent, replacing sixteen starters in all. You’re not supposed to be able to take a lot of kids on their first plane ride and waltz onto Owen Field and whitewash an Oklahoma team that is more seasoned and has a ton of ability itself. Even Urban Meyer had his concerns:
Urban Meyer on taking young team to Oklahoma early in 2016: “I don’t really have a choice…I wouldn’t say I like it.” pic.twitter.com/23S4WKvpCb
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) July 26, 2016
But this is an Ohio State that has recruited with the best of them and seems to have reloaded in earnest.
There is speed to burn, explosive depth, and all-around athleticism that can play with, and beat anyone in the country, even big, bad Alabama (or Clemson, or Louisville).
The defense is outscoring opponents offense, and even punter Cameron Johnston is a cut above almost every other punter in the country.
There are more weapons in Columbus than all the Rambo and Die-Hard movies combined.
Look, there’s still a long way to go. The Buckeyes still must play at Wisconsin and Penn State on the road in back-to-back weeks, must also go to Michigan State later in the year, and then host the biggest of games against arch-rival Michigan on an early and cold December day to finish up the regular season.
That’s a tough road to traverse for any team not playing on Sundays.
But I wouldn’t for one moment count Urban Meyer’s team out. This team is young and will only get better. As scary as that sounds, if the Buckeyes continue to find their identity and begin to get in a rhythm and cadence with its play-calling on offense, and the defense develops to get a little more pressure on the quarterback, then pity will be heaped upon teams dragging themselves on the field against the Scarlet and Gray.
But I digress.
On display tonight was a team that was raw but talented. JT Barrett was making the right reads and providing much needed leadership at the quarterback position, Mike Weber was running with purpose, Curtis Samuel was electric, and Noah Brown established himself as a No. 1 threat in the passing game with an OSU record four touchdown catches including a remarkable one-handed touchdown catch pinned against a defender’s back in the end zone.
There are still things to work on like the kick coverage, and the defense gave up more yards than it would have liked, but Meyer and the rest of the coaching staff have to be over the moon with coming out of Norman in prime-time with a bold and bright statement in the Oklahoma night.
You can bet there will be more as the season wears on because this team seems to have arrived ahead of schedule. Now if it can just stay on schedule with a roster full of youngsters.
Phil Harrison is a frequent contributor to talking10.com. He is also a featured contributor to collegefootballews.com, the Student Section and occasionally campusinsiders.com. You can follow him on twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org If that doesn’t work, you can find him in the doghouse at home.