The Ohio State Buckeyes continued to make history last season. After all, they were the first team to not win their division and make the College Football Playoff.
It didn’t end well, as the Buckeyes were dropped hard by the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff semi-final. You know, something about a 31-0 loss.
However, that was last year and the 2017 Buckeyes are certainly going to look a lot different thanks to graduation and players once again leaving early. There are also changes on the coaching staff in the hopes of re-sparking a sputtering offense and to give more control to one person on defense.
Can the Buckeyes get back to winning Big Ten titles and play for another national championship? Spring ball is going to go a long way in telling us the answers.
Spring Football Start Date: March 7
Spring Football Game: April 15
Key Players Lost: Noah Brown, WR; Corey Smith, WR; Pat Elflien, C; Curtis Samuel, H-Back; Raekwon McMillan, LB; Marcus Lattimore, CB; Gareon Conley, CB; Malik Hooker, S;
Key Players Returning: J.T. Barrett, QB; Mike Weber, RB; KJ Hill, WR; Jamarco Jones, LT; Billy Price, RG; Sam Hubbard, DE; Tyquan Lewis, DE; Chris Worley, LB; Damon Webb, S
Offensive To-Do List:
— Get Comfortable With Kevin Wilson: Yes, that Kevin Wilson…formerly of the Indiana Hoosiers. He returned to the sideline quickly as the offensive coordinator for the Buckeyes and opposing Big Ten defenses have to be shaking at the thought of Wilson getting to work with top talent once again.
It is no coincidence that Oklahoma was at its best with Wilson at the helm of its offense, but just how quickly can Wilson and a veteran offense get on the same page? That is especially true at the quarterback position, where J.T. Barrett seems to have hit a ceiling.
Can new blood at the top of the offensive coaching staff help change that? Will Wilson’s scary ability to get the most out of the passing and rushing games show through? Spring ball needs to showcase changes if we’re to be confident that OSU can become the scary-good offense it once was.
— Find Big-Play Receivers: Explosive plays are the name of the game in Kevin Wilson’s offense. Ohio State certainly lacked them in the passing game last season, having just seven receptions of 20-plus yards. That wasn’t good and neither was the news of Curtis Samuel and Noah Brown — the only two big play threats in the passing game — were off to the NFL early.
Is K.J. Hill, who eventually started as redshirt freshman, ready to be a big play receiver? What we do know is it is put up or shut up time for juniors Paris Campbell and Terry McLaurin. Hill will be moving to H-back in this offense, so look for another player to have to step up in the receiving game.
Perhaps the best battle to watch at receiver this spring will be the one between Binjimen Victor and Alex Mack at X-receiver. Both have flashed early in their careers, but need to step up after being big-time recruits coming out of high school.
— Get Barrett Back on Track: One of the more interesting coaching moves for the Buckeyes this offseason was the hire of Ryan Day out of the NFL to become co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Most assumed that would be Wilson’s role given his previous work at the position.
Instead it was an outside hire for the QB position, and it is a critical time at QB1 for senior J.T. Barrett. Much was expected of him last season as he had firm control on the starting job, but he failed to power this offense the way many believed he was going to do before the season. He completed just 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,555 yards and 24 touchdowns to seven interceptions.
No doubt the numbers weren’t terrible, but they were all down from his career high numbers of his freshman season at OSU. Can a coaching change at the position help reinvigorate Barrett and take his game to the next level?
Saying it is make-or-break for Barrett this spring may be a bit much, but there are a ton of talented quarterbacks behind him. If one or two of them push Barrett hard in spring ball, it could be time to really watch for a battle heading in to fall camp.
Defensive To-Do List:
— Find Chemistry: One thing that there is no substitute for in sports is chemistry. Having it can be as key to winning championships as having the best talent is. With Ohio State having to replace three-quarters of its secondary and its unquestioned leader, middle linebacker Raekwon McMillian, chemistry certainly is a question mark for this team.
Who steps up to take the vocal and experienced leadership role that McMillan had? Could that be the four returning starters up front or a name like fellow linebacker Chris Worley?
Additionally, OSU needs to find a chemistry that works in the defensive backfield in a big way. While position battles and the depth chart may not be settled, find a group of four or five players that can play well with each other coming out of spring would be huge for the Buckeyes’ defense.
— Stay Healthy: If there is a strength to the Buckeyes on paper heading in to this spring it is the defense. Part of that is the fact that they are completely loaded on the defensive line and have arguably the top four defensive ends in the conference on the same roster.
Keeping that kind of talent and depth healthy and away from any major injuries is going to be very helpful to the cause come the fall. Let’s see if OSU’s defense can avoid the injury bug during spring ball.
Greg Schiano out at Ohio State, Michigan’s Mattison reportedly in
In terms of rivalries, there is no more intense in the Big Ten than Michigan an Ohio State. It’s one that lives on in the fans, players and coaches for 365 days a year.
On Jan. 7, 2019 things got a whole lot more interesting for the next 365 days that’s for sure.
First, news broke that defensive coordinator Greg Schiano will not be back with the Buckeyes under new head coach Ryan Day. Many believed this past season wasn’t up to par for the Buckeyes and Schiano seemed likely to take the fall for that.
OSU finished this season ranked 72nd in total defense after back-to-back seasons in the top 10 of that category nationwide. The Buckeyes gave up over 400 yards of total offense this year as well.
So, who will replace Schiano? In a really interesting twist, multiple reports have come out stating that Day has his replacement ready — in the form of Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison.
According to Mike Sullivan of 97.1 The Ticket, Mattison’s contact with Michigan was about to be up and that Harbaugh chose not to renew his deal.
Thus, he is a free agent and Day has chosen to scoop him up.
Mattison is very familiar with this rivalry, having served as Michigan’s defensive coordinator under Brady Hoke (2011-2014) and then accepting just the defensive line coaching position on Jim Harbaugh’s staff.
His defenses were very consistent in his four seasons as defensive coordinator. Michigan was never worse than 31st in the country in total defense and peaked at No. 6 in his final season at the helm of the Wolverines defense.
Coaches plying their trade on both sides of the rivalry is nothing new, but it is a rarity overall.
BREAKING: Urban Meyer announces retirement
Last week, FootballScoop.com reported that Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer would be stepping down by the end of the 2019 season and likely by the end of this season.
They also reported that Ryan Day would take over as the new head coach once that happened.
After a weekend in which the rest of the media attempted to discredit the report, it is now exactly what is happening.
Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com broke the news early this morning. In the report, Lesmerises notes that Meyer is being forced to step down due to complications from a cyst on his brain.
The Rose Bowl game against Pac-12 champion Washington will be the final game he will coach at Ohio State.
Additionally, Ryan Day, who replaced Meyer as interim head coach while he was serving a three-game suspension to start the year will take over as the full-time head coach starting next season.
More information will be made available at a news conference scheduled for 2pm ET.
Meyer has had one of the most successful tenures as a head coach in Buckeyes history. He’ll retire having never lost to Michigan (7-0), won three Big Ten championships and with an 82-9 overall record at the helm of the Scarlet and Gray.
OSU athletic director Gene Smith is the one who decided Day would get the job on a permanent basis, seeing what the Buckeyes did under his leadership in that three-game stint earlier this year and hoping to ride the wave of young coaches making big splashes.
His rise up the coaching ranks comes just as the Buckeyes are putting up some of the most dynamic numbers in the pass game that college football has ever seen.
Star quarterback Dwayne Haskins could potentially top the 5,000-yard and 50 touchdown marks in the upcoming Rose Bowl game.
Talking10 Podcast Episode 100: Something, something Urban Meyer
Ohio State made its decision on Urban Meyer. Andy and Phil are here to break it all down for you and give you the truth in a hazy situation. What better way to celebrate episode 100 of the podcast than to spend 50 minutes breaking down a mess of a situation in Columbus, right?
We’ll talk our reactions to the press conference, break down the actual findings of OSU’s investigative report and we’ll even talk how the media-at-large and the OSU media handled the fallout from Wednesday night’s press conference.
Don’t forget you can listen to the podcast each week via Radio Public and other podcasting apps.
Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Twitter @talkingB1G
Urban Meyer and OSU AD put on suspension following investigation
The media stakeout of the Ohio State Board of Trustee’s meeting can now end. It only took 12 hours or so, but answers finally came.
According to multiple reports, including from the AP, OSU head coach Urban Meyer is suspended for the first three games of the season. In addition, athletic director Gene Smith will serve the same suspension from Aug. 31 to Sept. 16 — both will not receive pay during that time frame as well.
Both came under fire as this story unfolded. It began just prior to the Big Ten media days in late July, the story that Zach Smith had been arrested for criminal trespassing in April of this year broke and Meyer fired Smith on Monday morning of the start of Big Ten media days.
Brett McMurphy then detailed in an exclusive report that Smith had previously been “arrested” back in 2015 for a second allegation of domestic abuse against his then-wife Courtney Smith.
Meyer was questioned about that arrest and allegation from 2015 at media days and struck out against reporters repeated questioning. He would deny knowing of the arrest report back in 2015.
However, further reporting by McMurphy put that denial in to further question and Ohio State decided to get to the bottom of it.
Once Meyer was put on paid administrative leave, he would put a statement out admitting to knowing about the 2015 incident and alerting athletic administrators of the domestic abuse allegations.
Meyer has stayed silent since that statement and awaited the outcome of the 14-day inquiry in to whom knew what and when and what action was taken.
That investigation ended this past Sunday, with the committee verbally advising the Board of Trustees on Monday morning of its findings. Two days later, the Board of Trustees would come to meet publicly and then behind closed doors to discuss what would happen to Meyer and others involved in this situation.
Meyer’s suspension is for the first three games, and on the field that is a big hit with three FBS games coming at the start of the season. OSU kicks off the year against Oregon State, plays a Big Ten contest against Rutgers and a massive game against TCU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
We will have more on this situation and the reaction to what Meyer and Smith had to say on the talking10 Podcast tomorrow.