Ohio State: Two-Game Review

Ohio State has started the season 1-1, and now faces Kent State this Saturday followed by a bye week. Where do the Buckeyes go from here, and how is each position group faring?

- The shock of loss number-one is over for Ohio State fans, and it's time to look ahead at this week's game with Kent State and the following bye week. Earlier, I had said I saw multiple losses this season and every game was in play. That was incorrect. This week's game is not in play for a loss, even with whiskey in the water bottles and marijuana on the sidelines. They will kill my Flashes 66-7.

- There is some talk that Ohio State will now start to experiment with younger players, in an attempt to get the jump on next year and start the rebuilding process. This is ridiculous and WILL NOT happen. Now there may be position switches, but not out of looking ahead to next year. There's a good chance that two or three of the playoff teams will have one loss this season, and that's all Ohio State has right now. If you know Urban Meyer, you have to know he feels they are going to win every game the rest of the way. I would disagree, but my vote does not count. There will be no look-aheads.

- There has been a lot of talk about what this team is doing wrong, and how to correct it. That comes with the territory when a highly-ranked team loses at home to an unranked team. But what is being done correctly? Where are they winning? The number-one thing fans should look for on a weekly basis is effort, regardless of experience and talent. And this team plays hard. Really hard. That is Job-One for this staff, and they have gotten an A+ from the first game of the Meyer era through last Saturday. There is never a game that you do not sense a strong will to win from both sides of the football. When you have that, you always have a chance, against any opponent.

- QUARTERBACK: I did go back and watch a lot of the Virginia Tech game today, and it only reinforces my belief that Ohio State has a quarterback that's going to win a lot of games for them. J.T. Barrett is good enough to win games for Ohio State right now, and he's only going to get better. He is a better runner than I thought, and he is very accurate. He is also a pure quarterback, and not an athlete trying to play the position like a quarterback. I think he is a more talented Craig Krenzel.

- RUNNINGBACK: I like the specialty guys (Wilson, Marshall, Samuels), but don't think they are full time tailbacks. They can all get a few touches apiece, but this offense purrs best with a tailback running inside the guards. I do not think Ezekiel Elliott is playing all that well, and whether it's injury or inexperience, he's running tentatively. I would love to see Rod Smith or Brionte Dunn get a shot at trying to be Carlos Hyde, or at least that style of back. I think a physical inside runner opens up everything else Urban/Herman want to do offensively. It would get a team playing very soft on offense to be forced to play physical football, and I think it would better suit this current offensive line. There is a lot of talent at runningback, and I would like to see if Smith or Dunn might have a hot run in them. No reason to think Elliott won't be fine going forward at all.

- WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END: I think they have to force themselves to throw short passes to the tight ends, to take the pressure of the young quarterback. The tight ends are exceptional players, where the wideouts are only average. Why not put the ball where there should be a talent advantage? I also like the bubble screens, jet sweeps and any other way to get the ball to the specialty guys. Mike Thomas looks like a possession guy, and I still think Devin Smith is a playmaker, so they need to be on the field. I would not give up on Corey Smith just yet, but he would get this week to show he belongs or head to the back of the line. Where he would be standing with Evan Spencer. His blocking cannot overcome the fact that he is no threat at all. Maybe give those reps to Johnnie Dixon? Or let Jalin Marshall play outside a little? That would put another potential playmaker on the field.

- OFFENSIVE LINE: This group is not playing well, but instead of harping on that fact, let's talk about WHY are they not playing well? There are only two possible answers, and it has to be talent or inexperience. Maybe a combination of both? I'm not even considering coaching, because I'm convinced Ed Warriner is one of the best, so that's off my table. And only Ed Warriner can answer the talent/inexperience question. After the next few weeks he's going to know that answer, and will react accordingly. If it's inexperience, then he has to stay the course and keep coaching up his group. If he determines it's lack of talent after seeing three or four games, then changes need to be made. Not for next year. But to win this year. I trust Ed Warriner to make the right call. He's earned the right.

- DEFENSIVE LINE: They are good, really good, but they have not dominated yet. If this group can play better, and I think they can, it really lifts this entire defense up a few notches. Better pass rush means you don't have to blitz as much, and it means a secondary doesn't have to cover as long. They have been turned loose, which is what they wanted, so now they need to step it up and be dominant. There are three or four NFL guys in this group, so asking them to be better isn't asking a lot. The replacements have been decent, but just watch what Noah Spence means to this group and the defense overall. It should be noticeable, especially from a pass rush perspective.

- LINEBACKER: This group has been average to date overall, with some good moments and some not so good ones. Darron Lee stays on the field. Period. It looks like he has talent, and his mistakes are from not having game experience. There's only one cure for a lack of game reps. Josh Perry can do so many good things that you want to think he's turned the corner, then be out of position and make you wonder what he sees out there sometimes. Curtis Grant is a player that I think everyone knows who he is. I would like to see a time share with Raekwon McMillan just to see what the kid has. I have a feeling Kwon might be an upgrade, but I'm not in meetings and I have no idea if he knows the defense or not. I think the talent is there to play now, if he has the mental part down, I would love to see what he could do. If he fails, you have Grant as a veteran to jump back in. Not sure Hubbard or Booker are ready for playing time, but this week would be a good time to at least throw them out there and see.

- CORNERBACK: Doran Grant is fine and no issues with him at all. Eli Apple had some great plays, and he had a few freshman moments. Wow, what a shock. A freshman made some mistakes? Hard to play freshmen and win. At Alabama, Florida State and at Ohio State. I like Gareon Conley, and also think there's a place for Armani Reeves in his limited role. This group is very young, and this is a position where very young gets tested often. The talent is fine, and you have to live with the inexperience. Freshman become sophomores eventually.

- SAFETY: The broken record about inexperience gets played again. Yes, Tyvis Powell has game experience, but zero at safety. Vonn Bell? He's played two full games now at the position. You live with their mistakes, and you coach them up and grow them up.

- SPECIAL TEAMS: It's been good under Meyer, but the kickers got him the other night. The kickoff out of bounds hurt. The shanked punt hurt more. And the two missed field goals completed the kicking trifecta. The punter is good, and no worries with him. The two kickers are babies, and you have to think nerves got them both. Freshmen become sophomores eventually.

- OUTLOOK: For me, it's still the same. I see a few more losses. Ask me to name them and I can't. I did not predict a loss to Virginia Tech, but said it was a loseable game. I think they lose a couple more, but I cannot say who they might be. Every game except this one is a potential loss, and every game is winnable. I guarantee inside that staff room they are thinking they will win out and get to the Big Ten title game. Win that game with only one loss, and it's off to the playoffs I would think. That is the mindset today from this team.

The main issue with this team is inexperience, and it hits almost every position group. Unfortunately, the only cure is being out there and learning on the fly. But sometimes inexperience gives you dropped passes, interceptions, missed assignments, blown coverages and errors in the kicking game. But the effort is fine, the coaching is sound, and there is a lot of talent on this team. That gives you a chance to win every week.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories