Ohio State has a ton of returners on offense, but there are just enough questions to keep the coaching staff guessing. How long will it take for the Buckeyes to know what their identity is in 2018?
Could Ohio State Football Suffer From An Offensive Identity Crisis In 2018?
Every year is different in college football. With graduations, incoming recruits and the development of players already on the roster, there are questions that must be answered every single year.
It is of course no different in 2018 for Ohio State. Though a lot of the offense returns, the fact that a new quarterback will be calling the shots is enough to through a big Scarlet and Gray wrench into things.
So what kind of team will the Buckeyes be in 2018? Will they be a balanced outfit like the coaching staff prefers, or will the two talented running backs take center stage? What about the hopes of slinging it around with Dwayne Haskins and an experienced receiving corps at the coaching staff’s disposal.
All great questions to ask aren’t they? In past years, it seems to have taken the coaching staff almost half a year to figure out the personnel and what works best. Sometimes, it seems, there are too many weapons to determine which one to fire.
It doesn’t look any different in 2018 either.
The top six on the wide-receiving depth chart return to go along with a quarterback who has been praised for his accuracy. That should result in plenty of options in the playbook to move the ball down the field through the air.
But wait. There are also two stud running backs standing behind that quarterback. Both have been 1,000 yard rushers in the past, and both are hungry and talented enough to move the ball on the ground behind a physical offensive line.
Truth is, the coaching staff could dial-up a myriad of weapons. Parris Campbell is a big-play waiting to happen at H-Back. Demario McCall should also get some looks there. Dobbins and Weber have shown the ability to get to the second level and break off explosive plays.
Binjimen Victor or Austin Mack could break out and be a force in the passing game. So could one of three other receivers. Jeremy Ruckert is coming in the fall and might be the best tight end ever recruited by Urban Meyer. Time will tell.
Good Problem Or Bad Problem?
And just as much as all of this could be a good problem to have, it might also be a curse. How do you keep all of these guys happy and engaged? Where do you go when a first down has to be made, and what will the team do best in the biggest of situations.
The truth is, nobody knows. I’m not even sure the coaching staff knows at this point, and that could be a big problem when there are ultimately games in which the outcome is in doubt.
Remember 2015? It took roughly ten games before Ohio State figured out it was a power running game. With Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett flipping in and out as the quarterback, the coaching staff got too caught up in tying to show balance in the passing game.
It finally figured out that handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott behind an offensive line that could push people around was the answer. Too bad that wasn’t a revelation when Michigan State came to town in a monsoon, but it was evident in Ann Arbor and then in the bowl game against Notre Dame.
But it was too late. Ohio State dropped the nip and tuck affair against the Spartans and was left out of the Big Ten Championship Game — and ultimately — the College Football Playoff. There are many that still believe that Ohio State was the best team that year. I won’t argue.
A Lost Opportunity
So what will this team be? My guess is that the coaching staff will pursue balance, but will have to evolve as the season progresses to give it the best chance to win. That’ll likely be in the running game, but if Haskins and his receivers come along, then maybe not.
One thing I do know though, is that the coaching staff needs to figure it all out before the identity is one that involves being on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff.