Ohio State didn’t lose as much as it has in years past from a volume standpoint, but there are still some very key personnel to replace. Add that to coaching changes and the dynamics of a new season, and there are always questions heading into a new year.
Five Biggest Pre-Spring Questions
College football. If there’s anything constant, it’s that there is perpetual change year-over-year. With graduation, early NFL departures, and the coaching carousel, each off-season starts with a litany of questions that will need to be addressed if the lofty expectations at a place like Ohio State have any chance of being met.
So it is again heading into 2018. Here are five of the biggest questions as the Buckeye ship steams towards spring waters:
How Will The Running Backs Be Used?
Mike Weber was supposed to take a giant leap forward in 2018, but a hamstring injury kept him from realizing his full potential. That gave way to the emergence of the super freshman J.K. Dobbins.
Weber surprised some by coming back for his junior year to compete in the backfield with Dobbins, so now there’s the question of how both of these 1,000 yard rushers will be used together?
Will it be a fairly even split in carries, will Weber be the short-yardage and third down back, or will the coaching staff get them on the field at the same time in situations? We haven’t even touched on the bevy of talented kids behind these two.
They are both more than capable, and it’ll be interesting to see how this all evolves in 2018.
Who Steps Up On The Offensive Line?
Urban Meyer will tell you that the Ohio State will only go as far its offensive line takes it. Well, then, there’s some things to figure out going into this year.
Gone is first team all-american center Billy Price. Gone too is left tackle Jamarco Jones. There is still talent in the room across the line, but replacing arguably the two most important positions on the line will keep the coaches up at night.
Will the coaches shuffle returners along the line like Isaiah Prince, Michael Jordan, and Demetrius Knox? Who takes the reigns of the departed? The competition will be stiff with the likes of Brady Taylor, Matthew Burrell, Wyatt Davis, and Thayer Munford, etc.
Yes, three starters are back, but replacing the two that are now gone, will be as key as any offseason storyline.
Will The Defensive Ends Continue To Dominate?
Ohio State had an embarrassment of riches on the defensive line last year. So much so that four defensive ends (Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa and Jalyn Holmes), all got in the game in nickel situations. The “rushmen package” was a force in key downs that played a large part in getting opposing offenses off the field.
Three of those guys are gone now because of graduation and early departure, so who steps up to blow up the Death Star?
Nick Bosa isn’t a bad guy to anchor things around, and Chase Young looks like the next great one that will be setting up a post office in opposing backfields.
Those two will be on the edge most downs, but others like Tyreke Smith and Jonathon Cooper will need to step up to provide the depth that was so key during last year’s Big Ten Championship run.
Who’s Running The Show?
So, who’s really calling the plays on offense? Which coach is the decision maker on the defensive side of things, and how will it all change the way things go in 2018?
In case you missed it, former quarterbacks coach Ryan Day was promoted alongside Kevin Wilson as the Offensive coordinator. There’s also a new co-defensive coordinator on staff, Alex Grinch who backed the UHaul up from Washington State to Columbus.
There have also been rumors that current defensive coordinator Greg Schiano could be interviewing with the Patriots, so just add that into the intrigue.
Day and Wilson worked together last year, so don’t expect too much change there, but if Grinch ends up being the signing off on the calls as defensive coordinator, we could see a slight change in the man-press that was utilized so much under Schiano.
It’s not the first time Meyer has used “co-coordinators,” but it’ll be interesting to see if egos are left at the door, and who is ultimately making the final call on the field.
And The Quarterback is?
By far, the No. 1 thing going into spring and beyond is who’s going to replace arguably the best Ohio State quarterback in history. Yes, folks, J.T. Barrett is gone, and it seems like he should have a doctorate degree by now.
It all boils down to three guys really. Will it be DWayne Haskins who showed he could handle the spotlight in a second half comeback in The Game? Or will it the former backup to Barrett, Joe Burrow, who got passed by Haskins partly because of injury?
And not to be outdone, what about the nation’s top QB recruit in 2017 Tate Martell? He was relegated to a lot of scout team work last year, but he’s the most dynamic runner, and we all know how Meyer loves to have that in the tool chest as an option in key situations.
You have to give the early nod to the composed, accurate, and big-armed Haskins right now, but there’s plenty of competition still to go, and plenty of chances for the other two to close the gap.