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How Will Kevin Wilson’s Hire Affect Look of Ohio State’s Offense in 2017

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J.T. Barrett, Ohio STate Buckeyes

When you get whooped 31-0 in a College Football Playoff semi-final, it is time to look in the mirror. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has clearly done that in the week-plus since that debacle and on Tuesday rumored offensive changes became reality. 

No move was bigger then the announcement that former Indiana Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson, fresh off his own firing for “philosophical differences” at IU, as co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach.

Additionally, Meyer announced that Ryan Day, who was hired as quarterbacks coach just a few days ago, would add the title of co-offensive coordinator too.

It means the architects behind OSU’s 2016 offense — Ed Warriner and Tim Beck — are gone. But, what does it mean for an Ohio State offense that clearly had plenty of talent and plenty of issues in 2016?

What we do know is that Ohio State gets one of the best power-spread offensive minds in the country in Wilson. He has long been known as the mastermind of Northwestern’s rise back to a Big Ten title in 2000 and more famously as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator for the better part of a decade.

However, will Urban Meyer turn the keys of the offense completely over? Can he become a “consultant” instead of clearly inside the offensive playbook on a daily basis?

Above all the smaller issues, can a guy who clearly knows what he is doing with an offense be entrusted by Meyer to do what he sees best without Meyer tinkering around with philosophies?

I ask only because the ways in which Meyer and Wilson think of offensive football are rooted in similar goals, but are vastly different in how they get there. Will it be Meyer’s ideas molded in to Wilson’s or will Wilson’s ideas take hold and a few wrinkles from Meyer be put in?

What is often overlooked in talking about Wilson’s time in Bloomington is just how explosive Indiana’s offense was, as in nearly even to the best of Ohio State’s offerings since Meyer came to town.

Going back to 2011, when Wilson took over at IU, Indiana’s offense averaged 441 yards per game. Meanwhile, Ohio State’s chugged along at a pace of 443 yards per game. That is nearly a dead-heat and done on Wilson’s part without nearly the level of talent to work with across the board that OSU has for him to work with coming in to 2017.

But, the bigger question at hand is just what is this offense at Ohio State going to look like in 2017. While we know that Wilson is well-versed in the power spread offense, he also is used to doing it with a more conventional spread passing game look to it.

That brings us to the biggest question of the offense — just who will be the quarterback?

Ohio State’s offense has been based on the power run game, with the quarterback as the centerpiece of the dangerous read-option. From Braxton Miller to Cardale Jones and certainly to J.T. Barrett, the passing game was always secondary to the ability to create mismatches in the run game.

That isn’t what Wilson or Day are about. They are passer-friendly coordinators who also believe that the key to a good passing attack is having a good rushing attack first. The first thing that comes to mind have been the arm punts put up in the last two years by J.T. Barrett on a rather consistent (and unfortunate if you’re an OSU guy) basis.

Barrett will enter his final season in Columbus likely facing competition from two much more highly rated passing prospects than he is.

Joe Burrow will be a redshirt sophomore and Dwayne Haskins has the arm that Barrett doesn’t, with the ability to run that Burrow doesn’t.

First though, Barrett is likely to get every chance to win the job quickly. A lot will depend on how this coaching staff can work with him. Should Barrett prove he hasn’t hit a ceiling, this is likely his offense.

He’ll have to do better than the career numbers suggest though, as he has a career completion percentage of 63 percent to go with 6,381 yards and 69 touchdowns to 21 interceptions.

On paper those are winnable numbers, but the devil is in the details. Often times Barrett was only making the easy or safe throw and that was seen time and again in the loss to Clemson. If it wasn’t easy or safe, he was taking off with the ball rather than extending plays in hopes of passing out of bad situations..

Wilson’s offensive mindset isn’t based on that type of play from his quarterbacks.

Things happen from within the pocket first and foremost, and that is where things have always been dicey for Barrett as a quarterback. If he can develop a pocket passing game, Barrett wins the job.

If not, Burrow is certainly a guy that fits the mold of what Wilson looks for in quarterbacks. He’s got size (6-3, 218) and he’s got athletic ability, but also a presence in the pocket too.

The difference between the two is easy to see in Ohio State’s spring game this past offseason:

Besides the issue of what happens at quarterback, Wilson’s biggest worry is how to shape an offense that doesn’t include the versatile weapon named Curtis Samuel.

He was one of the biggest bright spots for the Buckeyes this past season, but is gone and there isn’t another player on the roster that can fill his shoes. Additionally, Wilson loves to use tight ends in his scheme.

There’s never been and likely never will be an “H-back” in his system. Of course, this is made easier with Samuel being gone and no ready replacement really in the mix.

So, the traditional tight end is likely back in the offense way more than it was this season. That addition likely means a lot more of a traditional spread look to the offense as a whole. Gone will be the funky lineups trying to get space for Samuel to work in the run game and the like.

This offense also happens to have two quality, albeit young, running backs in Michael Weber and Antonio Williams. Weber put up 1,096 yards in his debut season, while Williams played in just one game but was arguably ready to contribute more in the coming years.

OSU’s offensive line was young and inconsistent in 2016, but that experience and overall recruiting prowess up front should take things back to normal this offseason. Wilson has always had good offensive lines to work with, and it may be the most underrated part of what his offenses have done throughout his career.

Look at Wilson’s recent (forget the long-term names even) record with the run game and you’ll see an offense that wins up front first.

It isn’t a coincidence that running backs like Tevin Coleman and James Houston are putting up good NFL careers quickly nor players like Jason Spriggs and Dan Feeney have bright NFL futures ahead of them. They were key components to Indiana’s offensive success in the past few years, never mind the crazy running stats Wilson’s offenses put up at Oklahoma either.

What will perhaps be most interesting is how Wilson takes his tried and true philosophies and applies them to a level of talent he didn’t even consistently have while at Oklahoma back in the day.

It could be a scary marriage of talent and offensive scheming at work back in Columbus. The last time that happened? Some guy named Tom Herman transformed this offense and took OSU to a national championship.

No pressure Kevin Wilson…we’re just sayin’.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

Buckeyes Football

Greg Schiano out at Ohio State, Michigan’s Mattison reportedly in

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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.

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Buckeyes Football

BREAKING: Urban Meyer announces retirement

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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. 

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Buckeyes Football

Talking10 Podcast Episode 100: Something, something Urban Meyer

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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

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Buckeyes Football

Urban Meyer and OSU AD put on suspension following investigation

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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. 

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