SEASON OVERVIEW: Nobody wants to read about what a great year you had the day after getting strapped by Clemson the way they did, but a calm reflection would show exactly that. An 11-2 season, with a win over Michigan and a berth in the playoffs with the most inexperienced team in the country is a reason to celebrate. Ohio State remains an elite team, and in a small group that is chasing Alabama right now. This is still a young team, and recruiting is off the charts right now, so they should continue to be among the game's elite going forward. Ohio State will be ranked highly next year, and will be the clear favorite to win the Big Ten.
THE CLEMSON GAME: This was a shocking performance and there's no way to sugarcoat this loss because it was an embarrassment of the highest order. This was a big time azz-whipping from a team that is darn good, but not exactly someone that has college football shaking in their boots to play. Clemson could very well go on and defeat Alabama for the national title, but they aren't 31 points better in talent than Ohio State. And that's the biggest disappointment of the beatdown. Every team gets beat, and that's just the nature of college football, but this one is going to sting Buckeye fans for a while.
THE OFFENSIVE COACHING: People that have been around Scout for a while know I'm the LAST guy to throw coaches under the bus. But I have done that with the offensive staff the past two years, and the Clemson game brought all their flaws to the center stage for all the world to see. Having Dabo Swinney yank down Urban's pants and spank his bare butt on national television has to chill Meyer to his core, and I expect changes to come swiftly and suddenly. There's no way he's going to take this one lying down, and I expect assistants to pay the price. And while Meyer remains one of the game's greats, it's also time for the blame giver to be a little more blame taker. Instead of throwing players under the bus and blaming execution, it's time to reevaluate how they are coaching the offensive side of the ball. You've seen the absolute best coach in the game TOTALLY revamp his offense and defense the past few years, and this is while Nick Saban is smack dab in the middle of creating a dynasty. He made major changes while winning natty's, and it's time for Urban to accept that it's time to scrap his famed spread. He doesn't need to become Texas Tech or Washington State, and running the QB has to remain a part of the offense, but the passing game needs modernized and there's nobody on this staff, Meyer included, that should be trusted with that responsibility. It's time for Kevin Wilson, or someone like him, and like Saban did with Lane Kiffin, you give him the offense and let him do what you hired him to do. Should Meyer retain veto power over playcalling? Absolutely. But get out of the gameplan and stop calling plays. Should your best O-line coach go back to being the O-line coach? Should your QB coach be the QB coach? Should your new O-line coach be retained? This is all on Meyer's plate right now.
OFFENSE VS. CLEMSON: To have over a month to prepare and put out on the field what Ohio State did Saturday night is a joke. This wasn't Alabama's defense. This was a defense that gave up 43 points to Pittsburgh and 35 points to Virginia Tech, so there's no way Ohio State should have been shut out. The play calling was beyond atrocious, but that should not be a surprise because it's been that way for two years. And you aren't breaking the huddle with Braxton MIller, Nick Vannett, Jalin Marshall, Mike Thomas and Zeke Elliott, anymore. They covered up a lot of sins, but now it's Parris Campbell, Noah Brown and Marcus Baugh, and those guys aren't good enough to make up for this coaching staff's ineptitude. Making J.T. Barrett a dropback passer behind a porous O-line was not genius. Throwing all those swing passes to Mike Weber was comical, to the tune of 3 catches for 4 yards. Weber had caught 23 passes for 91 yards previously, a whopping FOUR yard average, so it makes sense to throw him the ball right? Once Michael Jordan was hurt a bad line became really, really bad. Once it was obvious that Demetrius Knox couldn't play (like one series) they needed to try someone else, but adjusting on the fly is not a strength of this group. When you have a month to prepare and your best offensive play is to throw a high pop down the middle of the field and pray for interference, all hope is lost. This offensive line was pretty good early in the year when they were inexperienced, and as they got more game reps they regressed to what they were Saturday night: awful. The receivers are not good outside of Samuel, and at least they tried to get him the ball, but the Clemson defensive staff was ten steps ahead of the Meyer offense from the first snap. When they stuffed the run and made Barrett have to beat them, well you saw the result. Ohio State is very, very easy to defend with their simple offense. And that's how you get shutout.
DEFENSE VS. CLEMSON: I give Greg Schiano a lot of credit for a nice defensive gameplan against a pretty amazing offense. You hate to give up 31 points, but the inept Buckeye offense helped Clemson get to that number. This group WAS WELL PREPARED, and played their tails off. They kept the game within reach, but that Clemson offense has a great scheme and great freaking skill guys. How many Ohio State skill guys start for Clemson? Only Samuel. Schiano got turnovers and played physical with Clemson. Several times receivers were blanketed, but still made catches. You don't get that from the Buckeye wideouts, and on the rare times Barrett is accurate they miss easy catches. All in all, the defense did their job last night. Had the offense showed up, this would have been a winning defensive showing.
MALIK HOOKER: Yes he deserves his own paragraph. What a GREAT player he is. And I do mean GREAT. He covers more ground than Mike Trout, has the best hands on the team, can cover wideouts, stop the running game, and might be the best safety I've ever seen play for Ohio State. And he did all of this in only 13 games. He just might have the same impact in the NFL next season that Zeke Elliott is having right now. He should be a Top-10 pick and be an All-Pro very soon. I see no chance he stays, nor should he. Go collect your millions young man.
LATTIMORE, CONLEY, RAEKWON AND TYQUAN: I think these four are all gone, and we will see for sure over the next few weeks. McMillan played his best football against Michigan and Clemson, and was especially impressive Saturday night. Lewis had another solid game, and he's had a ton of them this year. Conley improved so much the past two years, and he was glue again against Clemson. Lattimore might go in the first round and he has to leave. This was the first year since junior high that he got through a season without being hurt. Cannot risk coming back and having knee, shoulder or hamstring issues next year.
J.T. BARRETT: Does he come back? Does OSU WANT him back? Can he play in a revamped passing offense? Would he be the automatic starter? What if he loses out to Burrow or Haskins? If they wouldn't bench him last night, would they ever take him off the field? He was pretty awful against Clemson, and it was pretty obvious he was going to be terrible when it was 17-0 and Ohio State had to throw every down. But you're THAT loyal to him that you couldn't try another passer in the third quarter? You were trying to win a national title right, and not worried about hurting someone's feelings? I don't know where things go with Barrett and Ohio State, but whatever happens is going to shape next year's team for sure.
NEXT YEAR'S OUTLOOK: Without knowing the exact roster makeup it's tough to make too many early predictions, but this is one talented roster. And more talent is on the way. I feel pretty safe making Ohio State the Big Ten favorite today, WITHOUT knowing the exact roster. And a possible/probable playoff team once again. Changes need to be made offensively, and I don't mean minor tweaks either. The offense needs a complete overhaul from the top down, and if they become a competent passing team then they are a national title contender instantly. Meyer is facing some tough choices regarding coaches right now, but really are these decisions all THAT tough? Isn't the fix for last night's disaster pretty obvious to everyone? After all, it wasn't just one bad game. It's been two full years.