Fire everyone. The culture is terrible. Ryan Day is basically John Cooper 2.0 but without any redeeming qualities. A real coach would be undefeated, maybe have one loss over five seasons. Losing to Michigan? Pathetic. Urban Meyer never debased himself by losing to Michigan, or in any other notable way.
Hey, just getting that out of the way before people come rushing my house claiming I’m not a True Fan. Ohio State’s season was...pretty good. Not ideal, obviously, with a loss to Michigan kicking them out of the postseason except for whatever that was against Mizzou. But pretty good. After a few years, Ryan Day got the defense sorted out, which is kind of a big deal: just ask Lincoln Riley. The offense was unusually janky, and the offensive line was mostly butt. But other than that, things were pretty good in Columbus, all things considered.
The Quarterback: 3
Ryan Day was pretty reluctant to pick a starting quarterback between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown, and that was probably the first hint that things weren’t going to be that seamless. McCord won the job and was just fine overall, but was also the worst quarterback they’ve had since...I dunno, Joe Bauserman? Then he hit the eject button seemingly minutes after the Michigan game, and has landed in Syracuse.
Devin Brown, for his part, played limited snaps. At one point Ryan Day decided he could be the red zone quarterback. That looked all right until he hurt his ankle. Then he got the Mizzou start, everyone was excited, and he got hurt again. Incoming is Will Howard from Kansas State, who will almost certainly be the starter for 2024. No pressure, buddy.
Running Backs: 4
Not too shabby, really. The running game was a huge mess early, but that seemed to be more an offensive line issue. TreVeyon Henderson struggled with injuries in the middle of the season but was otherwise pretty good. Late in the season the coaching staff seemed to be more willing to run plays that weren’t doomed from the start, which helped considerably. His main backup was Chip Trayanum, who turned in a workmanlike effort. Dallan Hayden and Miyan Williams both barely played.
Things are a changing here, too. Trayanum decided to cross the border to Kentucky, while Miyan Williams decided to skip any more college altogether. Henderson is back for another go, and the Buckeyes surprisingly added Quinshon Judkins from Ole Miss, who rushed for 2700 yards over two seasons there. He and Henderson should make quite the pair, and Dallan Hayden should be the spare.
There is Marvin Harrison, Jr., who will go down as perhaps the best to ever do it for the Buckeyes, and then there was everyone else. Emeka Egbuka and Cade Stover struggled all season with injuries, while the other guys were hit and miss on making an impact. Julian Fleming stayed healthy, but mainly contributed by blocking. Freshman Carnell Tate showed a bit and would presumably be a big part of next season. Xavier Johnson was once again a swiss army knife.
Next season will look different. Harrison is off to get drafted, while Fleming shifted east to Penn State. Egbuka is back and Carnell Tate should get a lot of work. Top recruit in the land Jeremiah Smith will likely get some looks, as will sophomore Brandon Inniss. We’ll see if they can make a connection with Will Howard, because there is no more Marv security blanket.
Offensive Line: 2
The jankiest of jank: the offensive line was not great. I thought they would commit to running the ball and at least look solid there, but I was very wrong. Early in the season they seemed obsessed with running wide plays (outside zone or stretch to football nerds who claim to know ball) and they were completely ineffective.
By the end of the season things had improved somewhat, and they didn’t look completely miserable run or pass blocking. Still, not good enough. Portal additions include Alabama center Seth McLaughlin, last seen snapping the ball to everyone but the quarterback against Michigan. Also incoming is Bill O’Brien, formerly of New England and Alabama and Penn State, who is probably being brought in to fix the run game once and for all. Good luck, BOB.
Defensive Line: 5
Ohio State’s defense was finally, gloriously, not complete garbage. They had been out of sorts since 2020, but Jim Knowles put it together in his second year, fielding one of the best defenses in SP+ history. That’s probably helped by playing Big Ten teams, but whatever: we will take it over the announcers wondering why OSU can’t defend a screen pass. It started up front, where the starting quartet played most of the snaps and was quite effective against pretty much anything.
OSU is also in good position next year, as three quarters of the starting line return, with only defensive tackle Michael Hall declaring for the draft. They will have a few options to replace him, and the hope is in Jim Knowles circa Year 3, we get better depth and more guys rotating in anyway. We all can dream, at least. My hope is Hero Kanu gets the spot, because everyone loves a good Hero.
This spot got a lot more criticism, as the combo of Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers were experienced, but not the caliber of the rest of the team. Still, they were fine. Cody Simon was getting plenty of snaps by the end of the season and was kind of sort of a starting backer. Sonny Styles also moved down at times.
Next season promised more Cody Simon and perhaps Sonny Styles moving to linebacker permanently. They have some dudes in the wings, including C.J. Hicks, who fans are always clamoring for.
Maybe the biggest surprise of for the team, the secondary went from liability to nation’s best. They gave up the fewest passing yards in the country and the advanced stats back it up. The star was Denzel Burke, who went from confused dud to lockdown corner in the course of a year.
This coming year, they lose Josh Proctor and replace him with Freshman All-American Caleb Downs, who fled the post-Saban Alabama, as all good lads should. All the corners return, as does fellow safety Lathan Ransom. Knowles is known for using a lot of different looks - returning this number of players should help the cause.
The season can’t be a 5 without beating Michigan or winning the Big Ten or winning a national championship. But this was a pretty young team that had a deficient offensive line, and going 11-2 ain’t bad. Luckily, young teams get older, and OSU returns a lot o guys and has added a couple transfers, too. They should be in line for another strong season that all the fans can complain about endlessly.
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