The 2014 team mantra was The Chase. The Buckeyes took heed of head coach Urban Meyer’s ultimate team goal. OSU won the Big Ten championship by destroying the Wisconsin Badgers 59-0, thus putting the scarlet and gray into the first ever College Football Playoff. Elliot ran through the heart of the south in their win versus Alabama, then they won the final piece of hardware defeating the Ducks of Oregon.
The 2015 team mantra was The Grind. That team too seemed to take heed of Meyer’s mantra —playing lesser teams close, grinding out wins at times. Having elite talent on the field didn’t seem to propel the team into the stratosphere as many had predicted and a once historically talented team didn’t live up to historic levels of hype. A loss to Michigan State in the Shoe in November made a Big Ten championship and a College Football Playoff berth a pipe dream.
The 2016 team mantra is The Edge. Having a young inexperienced team for this season, coach Meyer is lighting a fire under the young Bucks. Letting them know you are currently average, you need to cross over The Edge to become extraordinary.
However, the question facing this team seems to be if the disappointment of 2015’s results carried over enough for the team in 2016. So, let us look back at what this team may have learned about itself last season before we move forward.
A team finishing the season with a 12-1 record is very good, playing in a New Years Day bowl game along with finishing No. 4 in final AP rankings is also good news. There are a ton of coaches, coaching staffs and fan bases wishing their teams could do that.
Offensively Ohio State finished second in scoring with close to 36 points a game, third in total offense with 434 yards a game, meanwhile finishing first in rushing averaging 245 yards a contest.
They also finished second in defensive scoring with 15 a game, third giving up 311 yards. The Buckeyes tied for second with close to three sacks a game.
It all added up to 14 players who were selected in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft, and that was the ultimate good for the 2015 season.
The quarterback competition that lasted till about the Penn State game (seventh of the season) seemed to really have the team misfiring. Cardale Jones seemed to sputter and miss throws, resulting in having to use J.T. Barrett in the red zone and chop up any flow the offense may or may not have had going. The play calling was extremely questionable at times — as was extremely evident in the Michigan State game.
The lack of consistency from the offense seemed to cause damage to the defense since they seemed to have to play more than usual. The defense was getting worn down quicker than usual, leading to mental mistakes that seemed to cost this team at crucial times in key games. Even star defensive end Joey Bosa was not immune from those issues.
It all resulted in some shuffling of the look of the coaching staff on game day. Urban finally moved offensive coordinator Ed Warinner up into the press box with co-coordinator and QB coach Tim Beck after the debacle that was the Spartan game. The final two games of the season showed how talented and explosive the Buckeyes could have been.
November 21, 2015 , a day that will live in infamy for the 2015 Ohio State players, staff and fans. Michigan State came into Ohio Stadium and pulled off the upset. The Spartans win allowed them to play Iowa in the Big Ten championship game and then play Alabama in their first ever showing in the college playoffs.
After the game, running back Ezekiel Elliott went on a rant blasting the offensive coordinators while releasing to the media that was his final home in Columbus. He went on to have great games against Michigan and Norte Dame to finish his college career.
Yet, few really got over what took place on that infamous date in Columbus back in 2015.
What it means for 2016
Ohio State has six returning starters from 2015 — three on each side of the ball. J.T. Barrett is firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback. Hopefully, he can be back to 2104 form following a rough 2015 with the rotation happening at QB.
Young inexperienced players will need to step up around him though, which puts a lot of responsibility on Barrett and the few returning starters on offense.
Mike Weber is a redshirt freshman being thrown into the fire of having to replace Elliott, Michael Jordan is a true freshman who has wowed coaches playing for a starting guard spot. There is still a number 97 with the name Bosa who will be getting playing time but his first name isn’t Joey.
A young inexperienced team will have to learn how to cross over The Edge in order to etch their names into the Buckeye historical lore.