First, let’s dispense with the obvious context...
- COVID: Garbage
- Season: Late
- Games: Gonna be cancelled
- Life as we know it: neither happy nor normal until America stops pretending there’s any way out of this besides wearing masks, sanitizing, and avoiding unnecessary close contact.
With that done and dusted, on to the American Football.
Step the second—the facts...
Fact: Ohio State returns much of the talent from last year’s playoff team
Fact: Ohio State has the best QB in the B1G
Fact: Said QB no longer has J.K. Dobbins to carry the load
Fact: Chase Young is gone, too
The big question for OSU is what’s going on behind Justin Fields. Fields himself looks to be every bit the 5-star talent we thought he would be, and looks to build on a B1G-best 3,273 yds and 41 passing TDs in 2019. What isn’t known is how the offense functions without Dobbins as a running threat. The Buckeyes’ obvious man-in-waiting, Master Teague, fell to injury in the spring. Marcus Crowley should have stepped in to fill the void, but he also sustained off-season damage. The wild card is OU grad transfer Trey Sermon, who amassed 2000 yds and 25 TDs for the Sooners.
On the O line, it’s a mix of veteran talent in Wyatt Davis, Josh Myers, and Thayer Munford returning in the interior and OT. The other tackle spot looks to be a toss-up between Paris Johnson, Jr and Nicholas Petit-Frere, with the latter listed as the presumptive starter. Wyatt Davis had previously declared for the draft, but the return of the B1G season brought him back to Ohio Stadium.
The defense is where things get iffy. Jaff Hafley departed to coach Boston College, and that made room for the much heralded return of DB whisperer Kerry Coombs as DC. His talents will be key, as the OSU secondary looks pretty bare. Between the high-profile draft departures of Jeff Okudah, Damon Arnette, and Jordan Fuller and the loss of two backups to accusations of rape, the defensive backfield looks quite...uh...”refreshed.” Only Shaun Wade returns.
Compounding that issue is the loss of the B1G’s most feared D-line talent, Chase Young. Young led the league in sacks, forced fumbles, and TFLs. Without him to pressure the QB and to soak up double-teams, the secondary will be tested more than any coach would like for a new set of faces.
Tuf Borland will move to middle linebacker, which I only really point out to say thank god, because it means the world’s slowest D1 defender won’t be trying to cover
Four: Punting is winning? That’s special...
OSU’s golden feet return in the form of placekicker Blake Haubeil and punt Drue Chrisman. Chrisman averages 44 yards per boot and almost 40% exceed 50 yds. Jimmy “Field Position” Tressel is smiling
Lastly—what to expect...
Pain. Maybe? Probably. For OSU fans, there will certainly be growing pains to contend with. Every snap may bring a twinge of needling nostalgia for the days of Dobbins running roughshod over the B1G.
For the rest of the B1G, it’s likely that OSU’s talent will see them through close games—of which there will likely be a few more than last year. Undefeated in the B1G seems like a tall order this season, but I like the odds to see the Buckeyes in Indianapolis.
One thing is for certain: Michigan is guaranteed not to have their November spoiled by the Buckeyes this year.