Ohio State Likes to Boast About Depth, But What's It Worth Without a Bevy of Starters?

By Patrick Maks on August 25, 2014 at 5:00p

While meeting with reporters Monday, senior wide receiver Evan Spencer wore a gray shirt that read “Power of the Unit” – the well-documented, small-group cohesion mantra of Urban Meyer’s fifth-ranked Ohio State football team – in red letters on the back of it.

It’s a mission statement and a reminder for how the team’s individual units (read, position groups) can work together toward one goal.

And in light of the loss of star quarterback Braxton Miller to a season-ending shoulder injury, it seems increasingly relevant for the Buckeyes and their championship aspirations.

When Ohio State plays Navy in its season opener Saturday in Baltimore, it’ll do so with a new quarterback, four new offensive lineman, a new running back, new wide receivers and a new defensive backfield. New, in this case, also means young.  

In fact, though just five days separate the Buckeyes from the Midshipmen, they have yet to name starters at a handful of positions, including:

Left guard:  “Not named yet, and it's not because of ability,” Meyer said. “It's just, one, the guy hasn't separated himself.”

Center: “We haven't named the starter on that either. But once again, it's still because the battles are going on.”

The other cornerback across from senior Doran Grant: “They haven't separated themselves yet either, which is a good sign. (Eli Apple and Gareon Conley) will both play.”

Wide receiver: “I couldn't tell you the starting receivers either right now … all of them could march in and they all deserve playing time. So, it's just a matter of who breaks the huddle first.”

On one hand, it's obvious why Meyer and Ohio State like to boast about what's supposed to be a newfound level of depth. There are plenty of options to work with and plenty of pieces to help take pressure off redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, who will fill in for Miller for the foreseeable future.

But what it’s worth without starters this close to the start of the season? Isn't that kind of concerning?

“That's kind of normal this time of year,” Meyer said.

“If they're bad players, you got a problem,” he said. “If they're really good players and they're just battling and battling and battling – it means they're both going to play.”

Meyer and Ohio State insist the situation at hand is the latter. The Buckeyes say they're brimming with talent on both sides of the ball – so much so that it could take away the sting of a Miller-less season.

"We have so much depth and so much athleticism in our room, and I think it's really going to come to fruition Saturday," Spencer said of the wide receivers. 

Such a mindset spans across all position groups at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Optimism abounds despite the loss of Miller, Ohio State's most important player.

Whether it's appropriate, though, remains to be seen. 


Comments Show All Comments

THE's picture

Depth = Titles

It will be called upon at key times during the season. 

It will also push players to compete and grow throughout the year. 

[[]] []-[] [] [[]]

+8 HS
DerryKing's picture

My excitement level it's..it's..

+15 HS
TheShookster's picture

vegeta...what does the scouter say about JT Barrett's rushing yards this year?

He ain't even stretch doe!!

+2 HS
AndyVance's picture

Damn, I thought I was doing good that mine was up to 11...

+10 HS
jkrk's picture

Why can't you just make 10 louder?

+5 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

With the cohesiveness we are seeing this year, along with lots of people getting playing time, they can better help each other during the challenges of each game. I believe that this will be one terrific year.

Vinsaniti's picture

The depth Urb keeps talking about will help us in the long run and to have 2 guys battling at the same position and they could both start is awesome. It will keep us fresh deep into games when our opponents are gasping for air because they don't have a guy behind them near as good to come in for 2 plays to let them catch their breath. Depth is key, I am confident that Urb and coach Warriner will have the best 5 offensive linemen on the field at all times. As for the WR's play 9 if we have the talent. This is a case where more is always better.

German Buckeye's picture

"We have so much depth and so much athleticism in our room, and I think it's really going to come to fruition Saturday," Spencer said of the wide receivers.

Much to like about this quote me thinks.

+1 HS
CC's picture

So is Armani Reeves not in the 2 deep?

+1 HS
Mortc15's picture

Wondered the same thing. Even recently it was said Reeves will probably start or at least play considerable amount. Now Apple and Conley battling for 2nd corner spot? Hmm. 


Patrick Maks's picture

Plan is to use Reeves as at nickel, don't think Meyer meant to imply he wouldn't see the field. 

Mortc15's picture

Thanks for clarification. 


analyticalguy's picture

There seems to be incredible depth at most positions, in many cases with little seeming to separate 1st & 2nd string.  With the loss of Braxton, it seems to me that the (next) most indispenseable Buckeye is Tyler Decker.  I've heard very little to suggest that there is anyone "this close" who could step in should he go down.  And if Baldwin is our next best tackle, then moving him from R to L would weaken two positions.  Although Baldwin didn't win his job until fall camp, I hadn't heard of the type of battle for the position (from Lisle, or Farris, or Dodson) that we've seen at guard or center.  Given that the responsibility tackles (esp the LT) have in protecting the quarterback, when we have the experience back there, I would be terribly concerned to have to run someone else out there to play tackle.  Or perhaps we just haven't heard the good things happening with the backups.

Dmac3212's picture

Completely agree

BeijingBucks's picture

In previous years a few key injuries have sidetracked the chase. This year we already have started with the worst imaginable... The resolve is firm

i think JT should wear #5 as a tribute one game (if he's playing well)

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

jonping67's picture

JT's legacy starts on Saturday in Baltimore an he should stick with #16.

TURD_BUCKET's picture

“Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.” John Wooden

whiskeyjuice's picture

I know Roby isn't around anymore, but I would like to see someone step up and do more of this...............

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

+6 HS
D-Day0043's picture

I'm a little more selfish. I don't want the opposing team to even get to the 50 yard line....ever! Lol. ;-p

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

+3 HS
Dmac3212's picture

Roby threw his body around like a missile no regard for human life. Unfortunately he didn't really believe in wrapping up (like most DBS), but when he made contact lights out

BoFuquel's picture


I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

lwitters's picture

My only question is what the hell is Cameron Johnston holding?

D-Day0043's picture

A severed crocodile head. They just used that red dot to block it out so it wouldn't scare the children. Australians.... ;-)

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

RUNTOWIN's picture

Braxton is the least important player for this season.  I feel bad for him but I wish the writers and radio/tv peoplewould turn the page.  

-3 HS
Patrick Maks's picture

The dude was a Heisman candidate and single-handedly won games for Ohio State during that 24-game winning streak. His absence is/will be relevant all season. 

SilverState's picture

Disagree with the first sentence, but kinda agree with the second.

+1 HS
Gunship_Buckeye's picture

Lots of unanswered questions...new guys, lots of talent.  I want to believe that they "HAVE IT"...the chemistry to annihilate opponents on Defense......move the ball with ease with all the weapons on offense,  and make all the sportswriters eat their words as well as opponents FEAR us by game 4.  By Nov 8  I want all the media to be saying we'll take down Mich State.  But to be fair, we do need M State to beat Oregon, and Wisky to beat the Bayou Bengals and the team up north to pound ND.  Excitement is an understatement.  GO BUCKS... can't wait.


“If you take it to ‘em, and you keep taking it to ‘em, hell, there’s no question who will win!” - Woody

BeatTTUN's picture

All the matters is whether or not the LG and C are better than the guys they line up against on Gameday. If they are holding their own against the Buckeyes D Line in practice then there is nothing to worry about because Saturday will feel like a vacation.

DB's are deep with Dudes playing an aggressive scheme not sitting back 11 yards and watching a WR make a catch then trying to tackle them.

Go Buckeyes Beat Michigan

apack614's picture

Lot's of excitement built towards this season and our newly found "depth" and all the great players battling. I hope everything turns out good and not into disappointment

I can't wait to poop in the PL bathroom.

Bucks1's picture

"Power of the Unit"...close with and destroy the enemy!

"I will pound you and pound you until you quit." - Woody Hayes

bassplayer7770's picture

So friggin' ready for Saturday...

Dmac3212's picture

Did the Bucks name the starting safety along side Tyvis Powell yet?

bassplayer7770's picture

Good question that I also don't know the answer to.  Another interesting battle.  I would guess both Vonn Bell and Cam Burrows will play.

Dmac3212's picture

Ya same. Although both were big time recruits/talent, I was hoping Vonn would have separated himself a little. But that just my personal preference.