Ranking the Young Blood: Top Five Performances by First-Time Regulars

By Michael Citro on September 2, 2014 at 10:10a
J.T. Barrett shined in his debut at quarterback for the Buckeyes.
94 Comments

Buckeye fans got their first glimpse of Ohio State’s future on Saturday, with a number of freshmen starting and getting plenty of snaps on both sides of the ball. But it was also their first glimpse of the present.

Game one is in the books and, although it’s not too early to start looking ahead to the home opener against Virginia Tech, it’s worth a look back at the top performances by Ohio State’s youngsters. These guys were not a novelty act, sent into the game late in a lopsided affair. They will be counted on to produce if Ohio State is to make anything of this season.

Most eyes were on redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, but quite a few other new faces saw the field as starters and regular contributors on Saturday afternoon in Baltimore. These were the top five performances by first time regulars*, as I saw them.

*For the record, I don’t consider Ezekiel Elliott a first-time regular, as he was a prominent backup last season. That said, I thought he played extremely well once the offensive line settled in.

5. Jalin Marshall

He wasn’t utilized a whole lot, but Marshall impressed me with his quickness on Saturday. His rushing numbers weren’t good (three attempts for seven yards for a 2.3-yard average) but his carries in the first half were partially a product of the blocking he received.

Marshall caught two passes for 19 yards and seemed a very dangerous threat turning the corner on the tap pass that featured so prominently in Ohio State’s game plan on Saturday. The Marshall Plan will be exciting to watch as the season progresses.

4. Curtis Samuel

It’s easy to see why Urban Meyer talked so excitedly about Samuel throughout camp. It’s like having a bigger, stronger Dontre Wilson on the field whenever Samuel is in the lineup. He is equally dangerous running outside or between the tackles. It looks like he’ll be used a lot this season.

Samuel ran for 45 yards on just seven carries, including a 14-yard run, and caught one pass for four yards in his first game as a Buckeye. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry and 6.1 yards per touch. It’s one game, but it really looks like No. 4 will be special.

Shazier-esque
Lee's scoop and score provided a spark for the Buckeyes early in the second half.

3. Darron Lee

Lee had a somewhat mixed day if you consider the rushing yards allowed by the defense as a whole, but when there were big plays made it seemed like he was always the guy making them. His fumble recovery and 61-yard return for a touchdown sparked the team early in the second half and he had the hit of the game, burying Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds with this tackle for loss.

He finished third on the team with seven tackles and tied for second with five solo stops. He and Adolphus Washington led the Buckeyes with two TFLs, and he added a quarterback hurry in a game in which Reynolds attempted only four passes and dropped back to throw only six times.

To make a comparison to another guy who wasn’t always perfect fundamentally but who simply went out and flashed all over the field, he reminded me a lot of Ryan Shazier on Saturday, and that’s very high praise for a first-time starter.

2. J.T. Barrett

Quarterback is football’s most difficult position. The ball is in his hands on every offensive snap and he is charged with a number of tasks—confirming he has the correct personnel on the field, making sure his team is in the right formation, reading the defense both before and after the snap, and executing the play by accurately getting the ball where it’s supposed to go.

The signal caller generally gets more blame and more credit for wins and losses than any other player, so there is also more pressure to perform than virtually any other position.

Barrett had to make his first start away from the friendly Ohio Stadium crowd, and he performed admirably. Taking advantage of a fairly conservative passing game plan, he completed 12/15 passes (one was dropped by his receiver) for 226 yards and two touchdowns with one lone interception. His run reads weren’t perfect, but overall I saw less evidence of pre-determined gives/keeps than we saw from Braxton Miller in 2012—his first year in Tom Herman’s offense.

In addition, Barrett appeared calm and poised regardless of the situation. Perhaps that’s the most important takeaway from a first-time starting quarterback.

1. Sean Nuernberger

 Sure, “Das Boot” didn’t affect as many plays as Barrett, Lee and others, but perfect is perfect, and that should be rewarded. The true freshman didn’t have to make a game-winner in the closing seconds, but he started his career on the road in a game that was close much of the way. He calmly stepped up and nailed a 46-yard field goal—not exactly a chip shot–late in the first quarter, scoring the game’s first points. Then he drilled a 28-yarder to pull the Buckeyes within one late in the first half.

In the second half, Nuernberger went 4/4 on extra points to help provide distance between the Buckeyes and the Midshipmen. Although his volume of work was lower than the others on this list, Nuernberger was asked to do six things and he executed all six. I’ll reward his perfection with the top honors here.


What did you guys think? Which youngsters impressed you?

94 Comments

Comments

Fatpants's picture

Lee. Dude has a bright future.

+5 HS
robobuck's picture

He had some RDS moments for sure

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  1 Corinthians 9:24

+2 HS
shadybuck's picture

Dude played QB and safety in high school too, think about that one for a second

+6 HS
stonybull's picture

"Nuernberger was asked to do six things and he executed all six. I’ll reward his perfection with the top honors here."

Bingo Bango.  It is always nice to have a good leg out there.

What a long strange trip it's been

+7 HS
DiasporaBuck's picture

I really think Coach Coombs should deliver the award for #1

OSU Class of 1999

+2 HS
OfficerRabbit's picture

And only when Sean is stretching.

 

 

+1 HS
BuckeyeSouth's picture

Don't disagree with any of them.  One person I haven't heard anything about from the Navy game was McMillan.  Did he play at all?

Embrace it.

+1 HS
Furious George 27's picture

I don't think so besides special teams, but they did move a lot of LBs around just for this game.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

DannyBeane's picture

I thought he was on special teams?

Furious George 27's picture

Edit, I saw him there as well. I didn't see him rotate in at LB. I think they rotated safties for speed.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

_muckfichigan_'s picture

No he didn't, but Meyer said in the press conference that he'll definitely get playing time against VT

A little special teams but no LB play

SHAKENBAKE68's picture

 Bosa kills me. After causing the fumble that Lee recovers for a TD, Bosa runs with the play down the field like a big linebacker and pumps his fist to the air!

He his becoming my favorite player.

Go Bucks!

There is no such thing as "friendly fire"..

+8 HS
904buckeye's picture

Agreed, Bosa is awesome!

GO BUCKS. BEAT MISSAGAIN

+1 HS
Homey1970's picture

...and he couldn't have any other name.  "BOSA!" just wreaks defensive havoc.  I vote we make up a new name for getting hammered by him....something like, "you just got Bosa'd!"

740Buckeye740's picture

It'll be even better when his younger brother commits...

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

It'll be even better when his younger brother commits...

Did somebody say NICK BOSA?

osupolo's picture

He caused a nother fumble later in the game too (Navy recovered).

+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Bosa was my favorite player from the time he was being recruited. He was a no-nonsense kid, committed and stuck with it, and was the first to fax in his LoI on signing day. Then he performs like an NFL-ready stud as a true freshman last year. He is definitely the real goods.

+2 HS
gumtape's picture

Pretty much what I thought,though there is a difference in degree of difficulty for a QB vs. a Kicker.

I think the staff, in the case of two guys that are even, are going to play the younger guys more at first (Hale vs Price, Boren vs.Lindsay). The O-Line played better once Hale was put into the lineup.

High and tight boo boo

Wesleyburgess1's picture

Billy played the entire second half and I thought they played pretty well.

+1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

And Hale is a senior, Billy Price is a redshirt Freshman.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

OSUBias's picture

Samuel was our best looking weapon other than Wilson, IMO. Thought Bell played well in limited time; he is always around the ball and is a much surer (word? Should be) tackler than our other safeties. 

Shitter's full

+3 HS
DiasporaBuck's picture

technically, I think it's "more surer"

OSU Class of 1999

txbucknut's picture

Darron Lee and Curtis Samuel. Lee seems to have great instinct and plays with his hair on fire, and Samuel hits the holes as fast as anyone I've seen. With an O-Line that is going to take a while to get it together, that could be invaluable in the coming weeks.

+3 HS
BROSEPH's picture

I said Lee reminded me of Shazier a little bit during the game.  He was a missile all over the field coming in and helping tackle on pretty much every play. He's got a nice combination of speed, size, and intensity.  As long as he continues to learn to not to over-pursue and get beat when being too aggressive, I think we could have the next great OSU linebacker on our hands.

+4 HS
Killer nuts's picture

Redshirt freshman U

+6 HS
Killer nuts's picture

I read somewhere that 3 true freshman saw the field. Curtis Samuel and Nuernberger are two, who was the third?

Squirrel Master's picture

maybe it was during special teams. Maybe McMillan or Booker was on a coverage unit.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Woodysghost's picture

McMillan was in on kickoffs.

Squirrel Master's picture

I think you nailed it. I thought Apple and Conley did well too but mostly because I didn't see them get burned in coverage. There was a reason why Navy threw the ball even less than they should have against a suspect secondary. The corners covered their guys well. They could have done better in run support but they normally don't have to do that as much.

Michael Thomas could have done more but he caught everything that came his way and he made the most of them. That TD was a good play. I think he might be quicker than we think because he definitely got to the endzone before help could come. For a guy who really didn't start, he absolutely should belong on the field.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

+2 HS
dwcbuckeye's picture

Agree on Thomas.  I believe he led the team with 3 receptions.

+1 HS
Go Buckeyes14's picture

I can kinda understand why Raekwon didn't play Saturday. True freshman MLB on the road against an extremely difficult offense to prepare for probably wouldn't have been ideal. I think the he might play more in the virginia tech game because he'll be able to just kinda be able to fly around and hit people without having to worry so much. 

+3 HS
Nairion's picture

I think the lack of Kwon was do more to his size than anything else. We didnt need a big downhill deterrent because Navy was running east-west all day. At one point they lined up Reeves at LB, so speed was more important than a prototypical MLB.

tosubuckeye's picture

Vonn Bell. Text book tackler. Very impressive 1st game. Hope he did enough to earn a start against Va Tech. GO BUCKS!!!!

tosubuckeye
 

+6 HS
Vinsaniti's picture

I would have to agree with you on Vonn Bell. I think he tackles better than a lot of the guys in space.

+3 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

I read this as "he tackles better than a lot of astronauts."

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+2 HS
Nutbuck1959's picture

REALLY EXCITED ABOUT MARSHAL AND SAMUEL

+5 HS
AndyVance's picture

Thanks Killer - I was hoping someone would take the bait :)

BroJim's picture

Agreed!

I season my simple food with hunger

HYDEYOKIDS's picture

When Sean Nuernberger first lined up was when I realized how confidently he kicks is going to have a major impact this season. Then he drilled the 46 yarder like he could kick confidently from beyond the 50. I think we will be in good hands/foot.

+3 HS
FitzBuck's picture

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+5 HS
dubjayfootball90's picture

Nice surprise seeing das boot number one. Kid came out and impressed with his leg. Good list!

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

+1 HS
11UrbzAndSpices's picture

Das boot would mean the boat, where the literal translation for the boot is der Stiefel. I know this is something that's gonna cause a lot of people to get angry with me (like my hatred towards saying tOSU), but damn it STOP SAYING DAS BOOT.

Cardale Jones. Cardale Jones! CARDALE JONES!!

+1 HS
DannyBeane's picture

I accept full responsibility for any downvotes given to me but this video is too relevant not to post.

Michael Citro's picture

Just to let you know, it's never going to happen, so get used to it now and save yourself some aggravation.

I know what it means and don't care. I'll just use it as a Germanic article with an English noun because Das Boot is fun to say and the obvious nickname for a German kicker.

Barnsey69's picture

My man is going to kick a boatload of field goals for us. Feel free to continue the use of Das Boot within the proper context.

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!

+4 HS
11UrbzAndSpices's picture

If I could save myself aggravation, I would. I can't do it man...I just can't do it. It's the burden of someone who always has to correct everything.

Cardale Jones. Cardale Jones! CARDALE JONES!!

+2 HS
Michael Citro's picture

Doesn't need correcting if you intentionally do it to mix German and English in one phrase, which is what I'm doing. #DasBootForever

FitzBuck's picture

If you watch beer fest it's obvious they are mixing German and English when saying Das Boot.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+1 HS
TUNBUCK89's picture

Words take new meanings all the time. So, why not Das Boot ?!!!

scrotieMcboogerballs's picture

A kicker at number 1?!?! Is Jim Tressel going by the pseudo name Michael Citro??

"Who do you think you are?!?!...I am!!"  -Pete Weber, bowling legend and dominator of the English language

+8 HS
Michael Citro's picture

How do you think I know what Jim Tressel's least favorite moment is every week?

BrooklynBuckeye's picture

In this writeup, you did skip over what was CLEARLY Jim Tressel's least favorite moment of the week: Kicking off out of bounds near the end of the half. So, not a perfect game for Das Boot, but near perfect. 

Michael Citro's picture

Kyle Clinton kicked off.

BrooklynBuckeye's picture

Touche. Perfection indeed.

+1 HS
Idaho Helga's picture

Your name made me LOL and the boss just looked at me weird...oh well.

BuckeyesALLDAY1's picture

All of our young players are very impressive that's a great thing to look forward too..My personal opinion is Curtis or Jalin should be returning Kickoffs not bkuz dontre isn't good but because he's a featured player on offense the KR and PR..jus my opinion

iamcbs's picture

Jalin Marshall needs to see the ball more, better blocking would have yielded better results in the 1st half!! That young man is electric with the rock, he and and the 'Money Train' Curtis Samuel are must see!!

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep, I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion~Alexander the Great

+1 HS
Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

JT Barrett is going to be a better pure QB than Braxton.  I'm looking forward to the future with him running the offense.

+3 HS
Leonarjl's picture

I think JT and the rest of the young talent looks great. What happens if JT has a great year and the Bucks find success? Does Braxton coming back next year disrupt chemistry/JT's growth?  Don't get me wrong, I love Braxton, but just not sure how it will all play out.

JL

+2 HS
QBYBuckeye's picture

I received a lot of grief for expressing the hope that J.T. has such a good season that we almost forget about B.M.  I love Braxton and his athleticism is unmatched.

My guess is that having him come back after J.T. leads us to the NC would be a problem the coaching staff would love to have.  It sure would give us a bunch to talk about.

New York Buckeye

+1 HS
alust2013's picture

I think the smartest thing Braxton could do would be to branch out into another position next year. I just don't think he is a polished enough passer to play QB in the NFL without being a project guy. Given his speed, size, and agility, I think he would make a solid receiver if he has good hands.

...and Michigan still sucks.

IGotAWoody's picture

I would not have agreed with this sentiment a month ago, but now, with the second injury to his shoulder (especially since it's a labrum tear, which is a difficult injury for QBs to come back from), I think he should consider moving to receiver/slot.

What's funny about that is, tho, that he'll have heavy competition there, as well, with Wilson and Marshall another year better, Noah Brown and Parris Campbell in the mix, and then all those great, young receivers.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

The Rill Dill's picture

A solid receiver, IF he has good hands?  Yeah, that'll work.

fishleehooker's picture

Dude has always reminded me of Marcus Allen, size wise and athletically. Put him at H back or Tailback. Also, he would be way more effective, IMO, in the NFL doing what Antwan Randle El did, only better.   Or he could go own Canada. Braxton on a wide field?  Nice

 
D-Day0043's picture

One thing that I haven't heard anyone talk about was that they only had a couple penalties. That is pretty impressive for a young squad. It shows that they were playing smart and disciplined. 

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

+4 HS
allinosu's picture

These youngsters speed saved us on both sides of the ball. We have a lot to look forward to. I can't help looking at next year with more experience and the Braxton factor.

CarolinaBuck's picture

I wonder how big Darron Lee's eyes were when he saw the ball there with nothing but green in front of him.

+1 HS
D-Day0043's picture

He played QB in high school. He wasn't scared of that ball. He knew what to do with it. Lol!

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

+1 HS
Young_Turk's picture

What happened to our D-line rotation?  It seemed like it was Bosa, Washington, Bennet and MIller(?) the whole game except for Navy's final possession.

MrWiley7's picture

Frazier rotated in at end and Schutt was in at tackle at times during the game. Remember that big run Navy had? Munger, Schutt, Frazier and Miller were in at that time. I think that made the coaches say "Let's wait til we got a good handle on this one". 

+2 HS
Ajake15's picture

I thought Jalin looked special. I think we have too many skill players to keep them all happy. This is not a bad problem to have. I think JT did his thing and didn't expect him to put up crazy numbers anyway. I feel we should use him like Krenzel. Nothing too flashy and control the game. Overall grade of a B this past week. 

Buster Tillman was underrated

+2 HS
Brandon26841's picture

I keep seeing that Raekwon McMillan played special teams, but I don't remember seeing him out there nor was he on the participation report. 

BuckeyeJ's picture

Who gave the huge hit on special teams on one of the kick offs? 

BuckeyeJ's picture

Anyone have a gif???

THEOSUfan's picture

Craig Fada had a slobber-knocker.

+1 HS
BrutusB's picture

Not sure it's fair to ding Lee for rushing yards allowed, as that was more of a scheme in the first half.  It seemed to me that at halftime the coached realized that Washington and Bennett were dominating inside, so they split the LBs out a lot farther wide.  After that the rushing attack was almost totally shut down.

Barnsey69's picture

I would probably flip Barrett and Das Boot, but your point is well taken, in that he was perfect, which should be rewarded.

Just seeing these young guns all making plays and executing on the field warms my cold, half-hardened heart.

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!

NuttyBuckeye's picture

I totally agree with your list, but I want to make one comment.  I could see Samuel overtaking EZE for the #1 TB by the end of the season.  He just has that "WOW" factor.  He is so quick, and seems to just make me stop and stare when the ball is in his hands.  I love Zeke, but Samuel has that "it" factor.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

CPDenn's picture

Not sure if anyone said it before, but I did some counting and out of the 52 rushes/receptions on Saturday, 45 came from Sophomores/Freshman. So yeah, the youth movement on offense is real. Pretty exciting.

+1 HS
QBYBuckeye's picture

You nailed it.  Lee took himself out of a couple of plays by being over anxious (aggressive) to get in on the play, allowing himself to get blocked and the ball carrier to break a couple big ones. But what is there  not to love about him -- a QB with the attitude of a LB. Or is that a LB with the head of a QB?

We should see more than the normal improvement between games 1 and 2 because of the youth factor, and we saw some of that improvement from 1st half to 2nd.

I disagree with those who are saying the game was closer than the score.  We won going away, and the longer the game lasted the bigger the gap was going to be.  I love the sideline reporter's take on Urban's demeanor, he was calm and collected to the point that she seemed amazed.  I take it he was confident and knew his team would be able to prevail in the second half.

New York Buckeye

+1 HS
JoeAndSo's picture

a bigger, stronger Dontre Wilson

We are in for some great things if that's the case..

"¯\_(ツ)_/¯"  - Joey Bosa

SpielmanForPres's picture

Can't really quarrel with your order. I wish Reakwon would have been a guy we would be chatting about this week, but Lee is, and deservedly so. Kid is good. 

FLAMikey's picture

I'm surprised that more people aren't panicking over the LB play. I know that Urbs has declared that unit has been fixed, but the shaky performance against Navy makes me wonder.

-1 HS
Dmac3212's picture

Like an article on here stated, Curtis Grant and Perry just seem a step slow to me. They do not have the best instincts, they wait for a play to develop then react. I want my runningb acks flying around making plays all over the field. Hopefully this was just do to the assignment football needed when defending the triple option. But one I have seen in the past, I don't think much changes come Saturday. 

steveoz49's picture

~~Nuernberger is as cool as the other side of a pillow.  What a leg! 

Not sure if anyone else caught the comment about his kicking at some camp in high school... maybe I heard it wrong (if I did, maybe someone can correct me please), but I thought they said that he was kicking 50 yarders with Coach Meyer standing right next to him.  Nothing like a little pressure and obviously it didn't phase him in the slightest.

OHinTN's picture

Yes, I heard that too.  

I haven't read much here concerning the special teams play in all the preseason articles, but the new kicker was one of my main concerns outside of the OL and Pass D.  It was great to see Das Boot perfect through the uprights.  Anybody know the % of kickoffs for touchbacks?

TNBuckeye1421's picture

We need the other two LBs to play with the same speed and hair on fire attitude as Lee 

Buck Crusty's picture

Check out that gif of Lee returning the fumble. It looks like he scoops it up on the OSU 40 with 3:16 on the clock and then strolls into the endzone with 3:10 on it...  Isn`t that ridiculously fast in pads?

BuckeyesALLDAY1's picture

I know it's the first game but I feel that Curtis is a H back and he needs to be in space more..At the opening he ran a 4.36 with a 40inch vertical jump u have to get him in space and it's pretty difficult to just do that out the backfield playing pure tailback..