Just because Ohio State isn't playing this weekend doesn't mean there is nothing to talk about. The Buckeyes enter their open week a perfect 8-0, but many questions still face the team. We'll be tackling a different topic each day this week, some serious and some light-hearted, but all with eye towards the Buckeyes four remaining regular season games against Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan.
Four true freshmen have played for Ohio State this season. Will any more see the field?
Ryan Ginn: We always knew this incoming freshman class would have it pretty bad with a logjam of playmakers ahead of them, but I’m not sure many thought it would be this bad. With only four true freshmen – Isaiah Prince, Denzel Ward, Eric Glover-Williams and Jerome Baker – having played through eight games of this season, there’s a very real chance that the Buckeyes don’t add to that total.
This class could end up resembling the famed 2013 class that only had five players avoid redshirts and then exploded the following season once the depth chart cleared up, but at least that class had a high-impact true freshman like Joey Bosa.
With all that being said, I think only two players, K.J. Hill and Torrance Gibson, have a chance of losing their redshirts at this point. They both happen to play the most crowded position on the team and the latter hasn’t even dressed for the last two games, so I wouldn’t be too encouraged at this point.
James Grega: I would be surprised if anymore true freshman see the field for Ohio State this season, but I do think there is still an outside chance a few young players will get the opportunity to show what they can do in 2015.
Coach Urban Meyer has mentioned true freshman wide receiver K.J. Hill on multiple occasions as a possible fill-in with guys such as Noah Brown and Corey Smith out for the season and Parris Campbell, Dontre Wilson and Johnnie Dixon still nursing nagging injuries.
Another possible young player who could see time is defensive lineman Robert Landers. With the injury to Tommy Schutt, Joel Hale and Michael Hill saw their reps increase against Rutgers and played well.
However, if Hale or Hill were to suffer an injury, Landers is a player who defensive line coach Larry Johnson said was getting more reps in practice to stay ready.
While it is a long shot that either Hill or Landers see the field, they are probably the closest to playing time.
Many of us thought there was a good chance running back Mike Weber or quarterback/wide receiver Torrance Gibson would make an appearance early in 2015, but after both suffered injuries in fall camp and neither has seen the field.
Gibson has not only seen the field, but has not dressed the previous two games with what Meyer called academic issues.
Weber is supposedly close to 100 percent, but with Ezekiel Elliott’s consistency and the play of Curtis Samuel, it would be hard to see the Buckeyes pulling a redshirt from such a highly recruited player.
Tim Moody: No.
Sorry to burst the bubble for Buckeye fans hoping to see just what players like Torrance Gibson and Mike Weber can do, but you’ll have to wait until next fall in all likelihood (other than the Spring Game).
Not only is Ohio State already eight games into the season, but it has just two games left before running the gauntlet against Michigan State and Michigan to close out the season. Those aren’t games the Buckeye coaching staff would want to lean on freshmen for, especially if they haven’t already seen extended playing time.
To be clear, just because no more freshmen are likely to play doesn’t mean they aren’t good enough to play. Had Gibson and Weber not suffered injuries in fall camp, they both likely would have seen the field early and often. Honestly, all indications suggest Weber might have been the No. 2 running back behind Ezekiel Elliott, and it seems quite possible Gibson could have provided a boost for the receiving corps. You can throw linebacker Nick Conner in with that group as well as there’s a good chance he would have gotten the call instead of Jerome Baker if not for a season-ending injury.
Blake Williams: This one is tough. If you had asked me before the season which freshmen were most likely to play this season two who have yet to see the field – Torrance Gibson and Mike Weber – would have been among my top three picks along with Isaiah Prince. Prince has ascended to the second-team right tackle position, impressive for a true freshman as linemen generally need more development, but fall camp injuries to Gibson and Weber slowed their progress.
By all accounts Weber was the most impressive freshmen in the fall, and I'm sure the staff is frustrated he suffered a setback with the torn meniscus. I thought he would be the Ezekiel Elliott's backup, but Curtis Samuel has spelled the running back with the game still in doubt while mop-up duty has been Bri'onte Dunn's. I don't think Weber sees the field at this point, even though his talent and the depth that Ohio State is recruiting at running back make it unlikely he stays five seasons.
As for Gibson, I think there is a chance as the Buckeyes continue to look for players behind Braxton Miller, Jalin Marshall, Michael Thomas and Samuel. Those four have been stellar, though, and the fact that Gibson has not dressed the past two weeks makes me think he is destined to red shirt. What that does for his confidence going forward remains to be seen.
As Tim pointed out, there are really only two games – Minnesota and Illinois – that could result in new freshmen seeing the field. I am going to say one does get time, though. Urban Meyer has talked K.J. Hill up throughout the season and I am going to say he plays, at least on special teams, in one of Ohio State's next two games.