The Top Five Position Battles to Watch at Fall Camp

By Mike Young on August 4, 2014 at 11:00a
Ezekiel Elliott runs wild on Penn State.

Kirk Irwin Photography

78 Comments

Urban Meyer and three Ohio State players made their media rounds last week, and now the time for talking is over. Finally, the action takes place place on the field, rather than at a podium.

Fall camp opens today and Meyer faces the daunting task of trying to decide who steps in for Carlos Hyde, Corey "Philly" Brown and Corey Linsley. The 2014 Buckeyes feature a wealth of talent, yet inexperience at several skill positions. Youth is quite apparent in the back half of the defense, but it adds intrigue to this year's fall camp, as the Buckeyes look to fill the spots left by departed seniors. 

Competition for every spot on the offensive line – with the exception of left tackle – will be competitive. The progress of that group will determine Ohio State's success this season, but, with the nature of offensive line play, there are more intriguing spots on the field. Here are five to watch at the beginning of camp: 

1. Running Back

Ezekiel Elliott is widely presumed to be the lead back, but it isn't an assumption Urban Meyer is willing to make.  

“He's certainly not the starter right now," Meyer said, on ESPN Radio last week. "But, the way he handles himself on and off the field, he'll probably get the first rep when we start practice on Monday.”

The brutally honest Buckeye head coach isn't just saying that to motivate Elliott. He knows the wealth of talent competing at the position and isn't ready to count anyone out. As our Kyle Rowland wrote, however, Meyer is "concerned" the abilities of Elliott, Rod Smith, Bri'onte Dunn, Warren Ball and Curtis Samuel aren't manifesting themselves on the field.

To be fair, that was more in reference to those who have been on campus for more than than seven months. After all, as Meyer told ESPN radio, Samuel "stole" his heart. While Eliott's impressive 2013 performance in a small sample size put him at the top of the depth chart, Samuel's 4.3 speed and elusiveness will allow him to see the field, not much unlike Dontre Wilson's freshman season – although, hopefully more consistently productive.

Prediction: Elliott receives over 150 carries, with Wilson and Samuel deployed in multiple sets – together, perhaps – as the season progresses. 

2. Middle linebacker

As our Patrick Maks neatly summarized, it's not too late for Curtis Grant to salvage his career, even though he'll never live up to the heavy expectations placed on him since his freshman year.

He's challenged by the same type of recruit – a unanimous five-star, best at his position – in Raekwon McMillan. Grant is embracing McMillan's presence, not only as competition, but in a leadership capacity. The senior linebacker can help build a monster that he, himself, has been incapable of becoming. It's fair to wonder whether the tumultuous 2011 season – Grant's freshman year – stunted his growth and future coaching shakeups hurt his development. 

Perhaps Grant uses that as guidance while shaping a freshman beast. The middle linebacker's on-field role is simplified in new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash's system, so that will make it easier for McMillan to steal first-team reps. Still, Meyer has to respect a healthy and experienced Grant. 

Prediction: Grant takes the majority of the snaps this season.

3. Wide Receiver 

Much like linebacker, Ohio State puts wide receivers into the professional ranks, but the recent talent hasn't even been at the same caliber as it was towards the end of Jim Tressel's regime.

Philly Brown's combined 123 receptions and 1431 yards in the last two seasons will be incredibly difficult to replace, even with experienced options, such as Devin Smith and Evan Spencer. Smith's deep-ball ability will continue to open up the offense, but his lack of consistency has held him back from being a more well-rounded threat. Granted, much of that has to do with Braxton Miller's play. 

Outside of the two seniors, the hope is Corey Smith, James Clark, Jeff Greene, Jalin Marshall and/or Michael Thomas – again – emerge. Thomas and Miller worked with QB "guru" George Whitfield, maintaining a rapport that only shows up in spring games. If not Thomas, then maybe Greene and his 6-foot-5-inch frame can provide Miller with a big, reliable target.

Prediction: Smith will be the only Buckeye with more than 50 receptions. However, four – Smith, Spencer, Wilson and tight end Jeff Heuerman – will have more than 30 catches.  

4. Strongside / walkout linebacker

As a whole, Meyer referred to the linebacker unit as "one of our stronger groups." Whether it's the change in scheme, recent recruiting efforts or the evolution of existing talent, OSU's head coach isn't nearly as concerned about it as he has been in the past.

Part of the reason why: Darron Lee and Chris Worley. During spring practice, Meyer heavily praised both, Lee in particular. While they're all still working to fully understand Ash's new system, the emphasis on pass coverage at this spot is clear. Lee, who played quarterback in high school, and Worley, who practiced last year at safety, have experience in understanding coverages.

If they continue to play as well as they did in the spring, both will force their way into the lineup.

Prediction: Lee receives the majority of the snaps, but it will be close to a 50-50 split. Worley will sub in for more obvious passing situations. 

5. Cornerback, opposite Doran Grant

The secondary is a significant concern, but it isn't nearly the most intriguing from a positional battle standpoint.

Bradley Roby is in Denver, but what remains is an experienced option. Doran Grant slides into the "boundary" corner spot, and junior corner Armani Reeves takes the opposite side. During Roby's suspension and Orange Bowl absence, the Ohio State defense took on a similar look.

While Reeves wasn't particularly consistent, another year and the switch to a press-style coverage should be more favorable to Reeves.

Prediction: If healthy, Reeves starts every game.

78 Comments

Comments

Hovenaut's picture

I like it...right down the line.

I really like the pass catch totals - that's ball distribution this offense (namely one B.Miller) has to have. Great call.

+4 HS
jpbuckeye's picture

Mondays can go by slowly but waiting for comments on first practice make the clock seem to slide backwards.

The day that will never end.

It is great to be this close though after a seemingly LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGG off eason.

+4 HS
AJBor41's picture

I didn't see Wilson's name in those totals... oversight? Or do you think he honestly catches less than 30 balls this year?

+1 HS
Mike Young's picture

Good call, I'll scale back Thomas' totals in place of Dontre's. Hard to trust Michael Thomas for that many receptions. 

txbucknut's picture

Let's hope we are all wrong about Mike Thomas and this is finally the year where he shines when it counts. His physical ability is unquestionable and he seems to have established a good work ethic. Pair that with a rapport he's established with Braxton on the field and hopefully it turns into a good year for him. 

Hovenaut's picture

Good, uh, catch AJ.

I think Wilson will have 30 touches for sure. Catches? I think he'll be close.

Either way, it's a productive offense that is also minimizing contact on #5.

+6 HS
UrbanCulture's picture

I think Wilson should easily have 30 catches. He is purely a WR from what I understand now, and you have to think that at least a couple of screens will be thrown his way every game. Add in a couple slants / intermediate routes and he should be able to come up with 2.3 catches a game

+4 HS
ToetotheFace's picture

He is starting from the Percy Harvin H-back position, where Brown started last season. Last year he played there frequently but rarely went out on WR routes because he wasn't polished as a WR. He still had great totals that were totally under looked in comparison to great all purpose hybrids of the past during their freshman season.

Mortc15's picture

I would much rather have the problems this team does than all the positions be locked down already bc of lack of depth. The next 4 weeks need to go by quickly! 

Buck-I4Life

+1 HS
droessl's picture

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I truly believe that losing Roby will be addition by subtraction. Yes, he had talent and speed to burn, but there were too many times last season where he seemed more like he was in business for himself.  I think that with a new secondary coach, and the loss of his attitude (which he admitted was poor in camp/early season) will make the secondary better this year. 

+7 HS
Jdadams01's picture

I agree, but for a different reason. I think the D coaches looked at him as a catch-all last year and tried to use him as their secondary solution for almost everything. He seemed like he was being used differently every week. Instead of trying to find the right scheme for all of their pieces, they just moved Roby to what they thought was the weak spot.

This year's coaches won't do that nonsense.

+8 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

don't forget those punts he blocked and a few other shining moments...  he just had a mountain of expectations and a little buyer's remorse

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+2 HS
Barnsey69's picture

I mostly agree with your logic regarding the initial comment (addition by subtraction), however I think I would still rather have Roby on the field versus Reeves. But he definitely appeared to have buyer's remorse as the season went on. It was a bumpy disjointed run , with the suspension and basically missing the whole Iowa game due to that bullshit targeting call. I admire him for coming back and trying to win a championship, so I'll let all the other stuff just be what it truly is...speculation.

Looking forward to his All Pro career in the NFL.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+2 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

i always forget about that bs targeting call in the Iowa game.  It was funny that an opponent we played never got called once for it while playing us either. 

-1 HS
mobboss1984's picture

While respect what you're trying to say, Roby was also left on an island, while playing at times ten yards off the ball. I wouldn't think he would do that to his teammates....or atleast hope he wouldn't.

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
Bruce Lee
 

+5 HS
gumtape's picture

Roby also had run defense responsibilities and despite looking terrible at times was still a first round pick.

just another psycho, irrational, delusional Ohio St fan

+2 HS
Myc24's picture

I really want to see what Eli Apple can do out at corner if Reeves continues to be inconsistent.

"Because I couldn't go for three!"  - Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+9 HS
BucksfanXC's picture

Are we going to get a post camp report today? Does the team or the staff have a presser afterwards (or at least take questions?)

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

+2 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

the media gets to view practice today from 4:45 to 5:15 so I assume we will get updated right around 5:30 or so about todays practice

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

If Rod Smith beats his demons, he's the starter.

Read my entire screen name....

+3 HS
Oakland Buckeye's picture

Prediction: If healthy, Reeves starts every game.

NOOOOOOOO!

After watching Reeves horribly inconsistent season last year, and the ratings of Conley & Apple - I have to (need to!) believe that one or both of these guys will unseat Reeves - they can't be that far behind him - and have much more talent...

+3 HS
allinosu's picture

Agreed, I don't want to see what I say last year out of Reeves but I wonder with our change to being physical at the line of scrimmage changes everything for him even down to being confident which was missing. Let us all hope for the best.

+2 HS
gumtape's picture

The coaches see these guys every day in practice, they don't care about star ratings once on campus. Reeves has a chance to be a good one, no sense throwing him under the bus after his freshman year. If I were judged based on my performance after my freshman year, I would be working at Taco Bell.

just another psycho, irrational, delusional Ohio St fan

+2 HS
kalabuckzoo's picture

to be fair with the criticism it was reeves sophomore season last year.  he is a junior now.

+3 HS
zhamilton05's picture

Reeves could still surprise us as a functional starting CB. But what we saw of him last year was someone who was not NFL draft material. At tOSU, especially under Meyer, the starter at every position ought to be getting a real sniff at playing on Sundays. And cornerback especially is a position that puts a premium on athleticism and speed--neither of which Reeves displayed much of (from my limited perspective, compared to other top-level CB's).

Let me put it this way: who's more likely to blossom into an all-B1G stopper at CB for the Buckeyes in the next year or two: Reeves, or Apple/Conley? If Apple and/or Conley even have a chance at being Roby 2.0 (big impact in RS Freshman year), then why not give one or both of them a chance at starting and make Reeves the extra CB for passing downs?

+2 HS
IslandBumBuckeye's picture

If I were judged based on my performance after my freshman year, I would be working at Taco Bell.

Ditto. Fortunately, I was able to right the ship and landed a really sweet gig at White Castle. 

"...because they wouldn't let me go for three."

+4 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

I also would like to see Damon Webb get some reps, if nothing else, at least in games when we are up big.

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

+1 HS
Buckeye06's picture

Ratings of Conley & Apple?

All 3 of them were 4* guys, and Reeves was a top 10 CB his year in high school.  Just because he looked bad at times last year doesn't mean he doesn't have the skillset to be good. 

+1 HS
Zimmy07's picture

Reeves looked good in the Spring game.

kgratz's picture

Is Wilson not considered a WR? I fully expect him to have more than 50 receptions this season.

How Firm Thy Friendship

+2 HS
kgratz's picture

Sorry I missed the update nevermind

How Firm Thy Friendship

Montana silver bullet's picture

I too like Rod Smith to get lots of touches,  physical freak with lots of ability.  Bigger and faster than El Guapo.  Needs better vision ---

Montana Silver Bullet

+1 HS
txbucknut's picture

He's also consistently had trouble with ball security since he's been a Buckeye. 

+4 HS
ghalephoto's picture

That is a myth, Eddie George had more fumbles his 1st 2 seasons than Rod. So did others.  His last fumble was 2 years ago Vs Indiana and even Meyer said it was a perfect hit on the ball.   He needs to be given a chance, not like Hyde but the more he carries it, the better he gets.   But he will be a 4 year letter winner, a team player and will still have a smile on his face when done.  

-1 HS
jscummins24's picture

New member here guys... my second post;

I think that Dontre Wilson will get more than 30 catches and A LOT of touches. I also think that Michael Thomas or Corey Smith will step up to be a dynamic playmaker. Gareon Conley will eventually be the starting corner and Vonn Bell will be an absolute stud.

What do you think?

+8 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

I'd also predict more catches for Dontre. The past two seasons, Philly averaged 61.5 total receptions. It seemed like about half those were effectively "screen" or bubble plays. I can easily see Dontre getting about 25 of those types of receptions off the top.

What might complicate that prediction, though, is that there is a crowded stable of quick playmakers rotating into the program. Dontre might share some of those screens/bubbles not just with Marshall, but maybe WRs like C. Smith or Dixon, and maybe even a few opportunities for some other young pup speedster (McLaurin or P Cambell?).  

On the other hand, I'm confident that Dontre will make some plays here and there downfield in the passing game, or will find ways to get open as the secondary or tertiary receiver. He's a ballplayer.

As for handoffs/pitches to Dontre, maybe about 2.5 a game, for roughly 35-40 rushes.    

+4 HS
GreatLakesBeer's picture

Really routing for Jacoby Boren loved Zach and Justin

If you will it dude, it is no dream

+2 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

In light of Mike's analysis and predictions above, here are few other over/under propositions for this season:

O/U Eze 850 yards total rushing? I'll guess over.

O/U Curtis Grant 65 total tackles?

O/U Jeff Heuerman 550 total receiving yards? I'll guess over.

O/U #45 in team pass efficiency defense at the end of the season (last year, they were 86th, I think; the teams that were around #45 in that category were Mizz, UCLA, South Carolina, Nebraska).  

CC's picture

Over

Under

Under (based on history not anything to do with Heuerman)

Over

+2 HS
RunEddieRun1983's picture

Jalin Marshall won't have 50 receptions, but mark my words, every single one that he has will count.

I don't always downvote, but I do always downvote a Michigan fan trolling the Buckeye boards.

+8 HS
UrbanCulture's picture

Have your free Jalin Marshall upvote

+2 HS
OldColumbusTown's picture

Count me in as another one on the Jalin Marshall bandwagon.  I'm not exactly sure what it is/was about his high school highlight tape, but as soon as I saw that I was smitten with him as a "hybrid" type of player.  The injuries he's suffered certainly have slowed down the talk of Jalin and his potential, but he's a guy who the coaches seem to love and has always been on the verge of doing something big, just to have an injury.

I could definitely see Marshall as a breakout player this year on the Ohio State offense.

+2 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

He definitely looks the part from when I saw him at FNL.  It will be up to staying healthy and getting on the field to get the reps.  I expect a breakout year for him as well. 

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

My hope is that this year turns out a lot like 2006, when Troy threw the ball all over the place to many different receivers. It seemed like each game it was someone else stepping up. That will all depend upon the O-line and #5 of course, but I have a feeling that will come to pass.

GO BUCKS!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

d5k's picture

I would be surprised if Evan Spencer is in the top 4 in receptions this year.  He may play a good amount due to his blocking ability but I would guess Corey Smith, Michael Thomas, or even Nick Vannett could get more receptions along with Devin Smith, Jeff Heuerman and Dontre Wilson.  

+3 HS
CC's picture

I like Evan Spencer, seems like a good guy and a solid player, but honestly, being a good blocker should not be the #1 qualification as a receiver.  Blocking, while important is less important that making catches and RAC.

+1 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

Being a good blocking WR is high on the priority list for Urban. Remember, Urban's offense is a run first offense. 

+1 HS
Wesleyburgess1's picture

Urban says he wants a 50/50 split run/pass. He wants it all. A electric WR that is great at blocking when needed. Kinda like Percy Harvin. Hopefully we get a Harvin that is 6'3" sometime in the near future.

-1 HS
ToetotheFace's picture

Urban may say that, but what he really wants is a offense that is as efficient passing the ball as it is running the ball. Urban has never had from my knowledge a team pass more than run, and his teams at Florida were juggernauts running the ball. In fact, even in his year at Utah with Alex Smith they averaged something like 10 more runs(all from memory, so feel free to correct). His spread option IS a running offense, but at Florida he showed what he really likes, an efficient passing game. Last year's offense was already brilliant and his best running team ever. If they can become more efficient passing the ball, even if they lose some rushing yards from Hyde's departure, they should be even better on offense. With a decent defense last year's team is likely in the championship game, so that is where improvement is most needed though.

Besides, a player like Wilson can add as much just on the fake sweep to aid a run as a untalented WR who is a great blocker.

Edit: I went through Urban's entire career on http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/coaches/urban-meyer-1.html , and what I said was absolutely true. His greatest offenses which produced championships(though 06 was all defense based), undefeated seasons, etc. all ran more than passed and often there was a 12+ play gap in favor of runs. He has never had a team average more pass plays than runs.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Being that the Percy Harvin, run read/pass read option plays of Urban's offense will finally be implemented this year for Dontre Wilson, he could catch as many passes as the WRs.mentioned. Surprised he was forgotten in this write up..

+1 HS
mtrotb's picture

I doubt Reeves will start every game.  We have new defensives schemes and such, but at the end of the day cornerbacks are ultimately tested by their one on one coverage and we all saw how much he was roasted and toasted last year.

mtrotb

+2 HS
okiebuck's picture

In addition to good position battles, my main hope for camp is for the Bucks to be injury free.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

+1 HS
QBYBuckeye's picture

Can't get enough.  Keep feeding us.

New York Buckeye

+1 HS
Young_Turk's picture

No camp battles expected for the O-line?  Got a lot of former starters to replace.

+1 HS
Buckeye Rocket Sci's picture

The progress of that group will determine Ohio State's success this season, but, with the nature of offensive line play, there are more intriguing spots on the field. 

There will be battles, just not as interesting to follow as some of the "sexier" positions.

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence" - Calvin Coolidge

+1 HS
Young_Turk's picture

Too bad.  I expect more from my Buckeye news source.  I wonder whether Michigan fans feel quality O-line is sexy after last season.  

Young_Turk's picture

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2014/08/left_guard_left_guard_left_gua.html#incart_river

Meyer said it was a solid day, but stressed the importance of finding answers on the offensive line. 

"That's the one," Meyer said. "If I had to say, 'Where's all the focus?' To me, it's that left guard (spot). What are we going to do with left guard?"

Guess Urban considers O-line sexy.

seafus26's picture

My concerns are:

  1. the eventual winner at kicker, being as reliable as we've grown used to.
  2.  the eventual winner at center, bringing offensive line together as a cohesive unit.
  3.  Improvements from Braxton in the forms of getting through progressions faster and being accurate enough to throw covered receivers open.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

buckeye4life050233's picture

3b) in addition to throwing covered receivers open which he was actually not to bad at last year would be being able to throw touch passes over a corner and between a safety without having to throw a bullet pass (like he is trying to throw the ball through a brick wall).  As well as a better throwing ability to hit the quick screens and put it where the receiver doesn't have to adjust as much and gets up the field before the defense can react

+1 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

It would be easy for Smith to win the batter of who gets the most touches at RB. Go to classes every day. Go to study table everyday. Be in before midnight every day. Be a vocal Senior leader every day. Be the first player on the practice field and last to leave the practice field every day. Give 110% every minute of every practice every day. When not carrying the ball, carry out fakes and block with a passion every day.. Do not fumble and catch every pass in practice every day. 

Gametime's picture

And it's waaay easier to type that on 11w, than it is to walk in Smith's shoes and do it. Not saying you said it was or wasn't, but everyone has their reasons and excuses.

How do you know EzE isn't doing all those things (albeit not a SR)? EzE proved himself last year as a true freshman by getting more burn than Rod & Ball last season. He was great pass blocking, dynamic with the ball in his hands, punishing on special teams, and a great receiving option out of the backfield who DIDN'T TURN THE BALL OVER. When you average almost 9 ypcar, 8 ypcth, and you're making things happen every time you touch the rock, you're going to get noticed.

EzE took advantage of his opportunities both On and Off the field thus far and sometimes all this Rod Smith talk feels like we're not giving him his just due on the hope that Rod Smith can reach his full potential....

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

+3 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

Excellent post, as usual. As you suggested . . . 

A). We don't have inside information concerning the players' work ethics, study habits, appetites for working on blocking drills during practice, etc. Maybe Rod has been busting his a--on and off the field, but he just hasn't been able to put his game all together yet. Or maybe EzE simply has better God-given hands (for holding on to the ball), field vision, blocking instincts, etc.   

B). Even if we get to the point that we're ready to assume that EzE also excels at the "intangibles" - that he has the "fire inside" and is natural leader, seems to easily grasp the nuances of the game, and is an academic achiever, that still doesn't mean that Rod is giving less than his 100 percent. Some people are just wired differently, were raised differently, etc.

Personally, I'd like to see both Rod and EzE take big steps forward this season and then let the chips fall where they may. If a fully blossomed Rod means that EzE only gets 8-10 carries a game, so be it. If a precocious EzE means that Rod never gets his chance to be  the "go to guy," so be it as well.

+1 HS
BucksFan2000's picture

In other words, if he were an entirely different player he'd be good.

txbucknut's picture

I think that before the year is done, Eli Apple or maybe even one of the freshman, end up unseating Reeves for the second corner spot. 

HotSauceCommittee's picture

I love the potential of Rod Smith. I love his size. I love the look of him. I really enjoyed the 7 or 8 good plays he has made in his Buckeye career. Heck, I would even enjoy for Rod to get back into the rotation. All that said, lets face it gentlemen (and maybe some ladies), Rod didnt play last year because he was not better than our RB options. Along with this, Rod is Rod's own worst enemy.

His carries dropped to near nothing (22 total carries in 2013; down 10 from 2012) and he didnt red shirt. Hyde, Wilson, Elliot, Hall, Braxton, Kenny and even Cardale received more carries than Rod. Warren Ball had nearly as many. Rod Smith had 4 catches out of the backfield (2 in 2012); 4 other players had more from this position.

Urban recruited over Rod and Rod hasnt shown enough to beat out Elliot, Wilson and at this point Samual. I get folks on here pulling for the kid to get PT. Getting some time is much different than saying he will lead the team in yards or look out for Rod Smith. Rod will play mop up duty behind Elliot, Samual, Wilson and maybe Dunn/Ball.

He will finish his Buckeye career with under 100 total carries/receptions. He will earn his degree, land a decent job and we will adore him for always being a Buckeye. But Rod Smith, barring several injuries (knock the hell out of a piece of wood) will not be our starting tailback this season, nor will he be an RB2.

jonping67's picture

I wouldn't count out Dante Booker at linebacker. We all know who the last defensive player to win Ohio's Mr. Football and I think Dante could crack the starting lineup as a true freshman.

+1 HS
CGroverL's picture

I see a lot of forward pitches (you know...the ones that count as passing yards and work very well if you have blazing speed from RB's and WR's that can take the ball to the house) to take pressure off of the OL and safely putting the ball in the hands of our 2 kids that can run unreal 100's without starting them in the RB position...even if they are RB's. I also see true screen passes, where the QB goes 3 yards left only to throw a lob to the right side to a RB with 3 OLs in front of him. People keep saying that we are getting better at the screen pass but we are getting better at the screen pass where Braxton gets the ball and immediately throws it to the man (of the 3 on that side) that has the most room between him and his opposing DB. The first screen pass I mentioned is much better and the Buckeyes NEVER do it.

Also...I love all of the RB's on the depth chart, but the biggest is still the best option and that is Rod Smith. Hell, Rod Smith even caught a 51 yard TD pass after outrunning a CB to get wide open...he's fast, 238-243 pounds and runs 40 times comparable to Carlos Hyde. In fact, over the last 3 years (2011, 2012, and 2013)their times were almost the same every time. He runs with power and has better feet than Hyde ever had...which is why Hyde tried to run over guys in the secondary. Smith can juke them out of their shoes. Smith had 4 fumbles in his first 50 carries as a Buckeye. THAT is the only reason why Hyde had little to no competition in his last 2 seasons, and I love Carlos Hyde. I started calling him "El Guapo" the day I found out we were getting a 235 pound FB that ran a fast enough 40 to be turned into a TB. I was thrilled that we were getting a RB from the hottest city in Florida (it is in the 90's for 60 days straight in Naples sometimes) and I bitched like an old woman when Hyde lost his job when Dan Herron stole his job after his return from suspension in 2011. Hyde was a better sophomore than Herron was as a senior...that is my personal opinion. If I have a 240 pound back and a 190 pound back and the 240 pounder actually ran A FULL SECOND faster (in the 40) than the 190 pound kid, I'm sorry, but picking a starter in that situation is a no brainer. That is why Fickell keeps his ass coaching the defense.

Anyway...we have about the same thing going on now. We have around a 240 pound RB that has run under 4.35 seconds (unofficially) on more than one occasion, plus you add in that he is the senior of the RB corps....it is another no brainer. If Rod Smith is still fast and still hits as hard to play MLB as in 2011 when it was a thought (Ohio State has not been recruiting the best LB's over the last 5 years), he is the #1 RB. He is fast, very big (the same size as Eddie George), and has the feet to make CB's miss. He is the man for the job. Those early fumbles ruined his career, but that was way more than 2 years ago.

I know that no one agrees with my assessment of Rod Smith....but there is one difference when it comes to Eddie George and Rod Smith when it comes to size, speed, and playability. That difference is that Eddie George IS NOT and never was as fast as Rod Smith is. Athletes get better and better each year.....but they are both the same height, both the same weight, the difference is just that Smith is faster. Eddie George had the same running style as ex San Francisco 49er Roger Craig. It is that they lift their legs to break through ankle tackles...that was Eddie George's strength when he ran. The man was not that fast...he didn't have the speed that Rod Smith has anyway. If Rod Smith had been the #1 RB last season, everyone would have no doubt that he would be the #1 RB this season. So, see...Rod Smith not playing is the only reason you have not to believe what I'm saying. I'm sorry to waste your time. I know that all of you are in love with the kids. Between all of the kids we have at RB right now, there are going to be at least a couple that hardly ever see the field. We all got SO HAPPY when we nailed Bri'onte Dunn. That kid may see less than 75 carries through the rest of his Buckeye career, especially if Rod Smith ends up winning the starting job this season.

The staff has put so much into these RB's that Smith almost DESERVES to start....and players like Ball and Dunn might be thinking about transferring. Our Buckeyes seem to be loaded at RB but none of us really know how good they are or can be over the course of a season. We can only hope that our coaches are right...and playing against the Buckeye Defense on running plays, I do trust the staff. I still don't see at least one RB transferring and I'd put the over/under at 2.5 on the guys we have now.

Please show some reaction at this comment. I can't be the only Buckeye fan that is not crowning Elliot as the #1 RB, and I definitely can't be the only Buckeye fan wondering which RB will transfer first, either. Don't hate me...I'm a Buckeye fan that has been known to cry when our football team loses and while I'm not worried about the 2014 season (The only reason that I won't put money on the Bucks to win it all is that I don't bet on my favorite teams). Beyond 2015, I'm a bit worried, but recruiting sometimes makes that go away. Just try not to give me 200 downvotes, and give me your outlook, please.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

-1 HS
HotSauceCommittee's picture

See my post two comments up. We share opposing opinions. You buy the hype; I believe he has been passed on the depth chart and recruited over. Common ground is we would both like him to be successful in an OSU uniform.

+1 HS
TraptnMI's picture

I can envision Ball starting alongside Wilson, Baugh, Thomas and C. Smith. Dynamic. I see R. Smith more in line with Brandon Saine's abilities. Runs too upright for me. I think Dunn will transfer over Ball because of Ball's excellent special teams play. The coaching staff likely sees R. Smiths ship as sailed and will want to develop with valuable game experience the younger guys. I believe C. Grant and Perry likely lose the starting jobs to Mcmillan and Worley. I personally enjoy reading your in depth shtuffff!

" It's real good whatcha done Anthony, real good ! "

+1 HS
Larryp713's picture

I love Elliot's explosiveness, but I can see Smith and Ball pushing him. Should be fun to see how they all do in the early games. For WR, I really hope Michael Thomas can put it together. It seems like we have been waiting for him so long. I think Conley and Apple will be bigger parts of the secondary. I am really pulling for Darron Lee this year as well. 

Respectfully,

Larryp713

SpielmanForPres's picture

Spencer will not have 30 catches this year. IMO. 

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Dunn or Smith were the starters when the season started.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Knarcisi's picture

How about the battles on the all important O Line?

Poison nuts's picture

I've watched every game from last year at least 3 times now & while many carries were against inferior teams or in clean up duty, Zeke is the real deal IMO & OSU may have a superstar on their hands. I'm a fan of all the RBs, but I think he's the best of the bunch - we'll see.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

+4 HS
DBell8's picture

Don't forget about the kicking competition... Could become the most important battle

weimerad's picture

Ummm Mike did you have a brain fart??? No mention of Johnnie Dixon

ToetotheFace's picture

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Dontre Wilson's frosh season as a hybrid player is right up there with elite hybrid types like Harvin, Austin, etc. He wasn't polished enough to start at H back, but when he did play he was productive whenever he was utilized, and helped open things up merely as a threat. I see him having progression along the same lines as those mentioned above, becoming one of our best weapons this season. Samuel is great but they're thinking about playing him at the actual RB position(I'm sure he will get occasional runs at H-back but DW is starting there almost certainly), and cool down he will have had a great FR season if he even matches Wilson's totals and efficiency.  

-1 HS
Buckeye06's picture

Personally, one of the most interesting battles to me is DE when Spence is out.  We have to play VT without him, so we need someone who will be able to go out and make plays against a quality OL