2019 Spring Preview: Evaluating Which Returning Ohio State Starters Will Have to Compete for Their Jobs

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RunEddieRun1983's picture

When I think of who as a starter isn't safe, immediately the LBs jump out at me. Malik Harrison is a lock, I don't see anyone overcoming him, but Borland and Werner have the most to prove on the entire roster.

WR is a group that should be pretty wide open, KJ Hill is going to have HB locked down. You don't know quite yet what you have with Mack yet coming back from the injury, Victor has been very inconsistent, so there is a storyline there for sure.

Urban Meyer left an incredible legacy. 12/4/18 Ryan Day begins his.

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kmp10's picture

...but Borland and Werner have the most to prove on the entire roster.

Justin Hilliard, who came in as a five star, i.e., a player who is supposedly headed to the NFL, has so much more to prove than either Pete Werner or Tuf Borland that it isn't even funny. I realize Hilliard has been injury prone, but heading into year five he's been a bust. Can he change that? Yep, but Justin Hilliard has more to prove than anyone on the entire roster, imo. 

When I die, sprinkle my ashes over the 70's 

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ScarletGray43157's picture

I agree on Hilliard. 

That he appears to be a non-factor as a starter is a surprise to say the least.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

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GVerrilli92's picture

What's most frustrating about Hilliard is that he seems to flash whenever he's on the field. I'm not sure what the deal is there and whether or not he's shown out in practice or not. I just feel like he has the instinct that we've been lacking in the middle and I would honestly give anything for him to get his chance.

We will see about him this year, because he will be a legitimate bust if not named a starter. I'm pulling for the guy though, always been a fan.

Kitties aren't supposed to smell like cigarettes, they're supposed to smell like kitties.

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RunEddieRun1983's picture

I guess I don’t think of Hilliard quite like that because, while he did come in with hype, since he never materialized I don’t hold him to any crazy standard or really expect him to reach his potential. But he’s a monster on special teams and he contributes as a team leader 

Urban Meyer left an incredible legacy. 12/4/18 Ryan Day begins his.

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Jimmy77's picture

Werner was a true sophomore last year and improved from the beginning of the season to the end.  With better coaching, he'll continue to improve and will be a force next fall.  Borland is the question mark for me.  Tough as nails but doesn't run well.  The whole defence should be much improved.  Hope we get through the spring without any significant injuries.

Jimmy77

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Chicago Connection's picture

Agreed on Werner. He's a really athletic guy--fast and strong (and getting stronger) with a big motor and experience to boot that should see him taking a big leap in 2019.

As for Borland, when you're as molasses slow as he is (and that was even BEFORE the knee injury), you just can't afford to misread plays as often as he does or get taken out by blockers as often or as easily as he does.

At a bare minimum, you've gotta close up the space in the middle, which is already crowded (especially with our defensive linemen going to work), and yet, Borland routinely left gaping holes for opposing offenses to exploit, on top of which, we all know he's hopeless on passing downs and will never pose a blitz/pass-rush threat. 

It just doesn't cut it to make an occasional big hit + padded stats earned by jumping on piles already created by our D-line. I don't care how much of a rah-rah captain Borland might be, fact is, this guy would struggle to start at most major schools, and we have too much damn talent to let "leadership" trump production. 

chicagobuckeye

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The Rill Dill's picture

I hope the—‘he came from a good family’ days are long gone. 

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BELLEFONTAINEBUCKEYE's picture

The "Knee injury" told me all i needed to know about your expert fandom.

I did not dv you, but cmon man!

He tore his achilles and came back from that faster than most. I'm not his biggest fan, but i also understand the severity of that injury.

IMADELOUSYPICKS

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McGrind's picture

He got me on Pete being fast and strong...dude will be Pete MacSafety...until proven otherwise.

Justice delayed is justice denied....#FTP

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Buckeye_bob's picture

Borland never had a knee injury, he tore his achilles, LOL. IMHO Borland is in position more than any LB Ohio State has.  He isn't the fastest guy on the LB corps. but being out of position was not his problem. He struggled with contact early in the season because of condition. I thought he rushed back. He is still going to be a force in the middle. I don't see a player on this team taking the Mike spot from him? I honestly don't see many personnel changes over last years group, just better position coaching. Love the expert analysis, you can't make stuff like this up?? This post is priceless.

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Chicago Connection's picture

Bingo! It was an indeed achilles. OMG, ya' got me!  

C'mon, Bobby Boy--talk about a priceless response, cuz, ya' know, an achilles is obviously waaaay less serious than a knee injury, and well, geez, now with the benefit of your expertise, we all know that Borland apparently has ample speed, even if, well, he's 'not the fastest guy', and, my gosh, he had a fabulous year in 2018 (well, except for those darned coaches!).

No doubt, if I forced myself to watch last year's games all over again, I'd now see that Borland never missed tackles, routinely shed blockers and closed up spaces or stuffed guys behind the line of scrimmage, and, my God--I'm sure I'd discover that he was a veritable nightmare for opposing offenses on passing downs, whether rushing the passer and racking up sacks or dropping back in coverage and blanketing receivers.

I'm sure all of that happened and I just missed it, just like I misspoke about this injury. But who cares about that stuff--those are just inconsequential considerations vs. zeroing in on my oversight. 

So, yeah, I've gotta hand it to you--fact is, I have to own up to making a minor mistake per misspeaking about his leg injury (even though I actually do know what his injury was), but still, hey, I admit that technicalities and minor details matter, whereas, geez, who cares about the big picture and how the guy played, right?

I mean, who cares about his actual performance on the field or any big picture analysis? Besides, to the extent you addressed that at all, well, when it comes those minor concerns, as your response suggests, Borland's lack of speed really doesn't matter, or else his failure to read plays, play in position or take on blockers--all that's just menial stuff.  

In fact, it's so minor that all Borland needs is a little bit of coaching then.. voila! 

Why, he'll probably be a Heisman candidate!

Hold my beer while I check Vegas for odds on that happening. 

Granted, I think Bill Davis was pretty bad, but... talk about making stuff up. 

Anyway, your post is priceless, Bobby. Nothing like missing the forest for the trees, or in this case, missing the performance for the injury report. Good thing you've focused on what matters most here and set me straight.

Why, have you ever thought about going into scouting, or maybe coaching LBs, that is, when you're not pouring over health records? 

Seriously though--I stand by my assessment--I seriously doubt that Borland is the best the Buckeyes have to offer at MLB. Despite that, I actually hope that I'm wrong and you're right--I sincerely hope the guy's great and truly "Tuff" in every respect and leads the D to new glory.

Whatever the case, I hope the best LBs get the most reps and may the best man win. 

chicagobuckeye

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kybuckfan's picture

Completely agree on Werner.  He will thrive in new system and can leverage his experience from last year.  His versatility is under-appreciated.  I also think Borland will benefit from new system- great tackler and instinctive.  

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Lighteyes's picture

Munford had a successful season and will once again protect the blind side of an Ohio State cornerback. 

Ryan Day's offense just keeps getting more and more innovative!

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Colin Hass-Hill's picture

You didn't hear? Damon Arnette returned for one more season with one condition: he's quarterback.

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

If what has been said is true of Brendon White moving to the hybrid Safety/LB spot I would not at all be surprised if Werner's snap count is severely diminished this coming season. Sounds to me we may take an LB off the field and substitute in the hybrid safety against spread teams. As for Borland, he will be needed when we play power teams but wont even be on the field on passing downs. I suspect both players see their snap counts shrink.

"You're the patron saint of the totally effed" - Hot Tub Time Machine

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Colin Hass-Hill's picture

Yep, I think Werner would be the odd man out if White became the hybrid linebacker/safety.

McGrind's picture

Said last year, it was worth a shot. I would give about 20% chance starting LB stay the same. Pete ‘comes from a nice family’...can’t get off blocks. And Tuf unless he gains speed simply can’t hang with modern offense schemes...he is a throwback to grinders time. I formations running up the gut. 

Justice delayed is justice denied....#FTP

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ScarletGray43157's picture

As for Borland, he will be needed when we play power teams but wont even be on the field on passing downs. 

Opponents will likely try to go tempo to trap him in the lineup. 

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

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Buckeye_bob's picture

Werner will start at the Will Spot, he is the best LB we have in coverage. He will also be bigger this year and stronger. This analysis  is priceless.

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IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

I take it you didnt watch the Purdue game where he tried to cover Rondale Moore. Werner can cover tight ends. Thats it.

"You're the patron saint of the totally effed" - Hot Tub Time Machine

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BuckeyeIn NY's picture

I still think Hilliard could be a beast inside, and would not be surprised at all (if fully healthy) if he  were to supplant Tuf.

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Buckeye_bob's picture

Hilliard gets lost running from the bench to the huddle, no danger of him playing much. No danger of him taking PT from anyone.

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osufan2002's picture

Please let it be Borland/Werner/Arnette.

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Brah Zhole's picture

Tuf ‘To Watch’ Borland 

‘occasionally got beat on the outside...’ is like saying I occasionally eat gabbagool...

gabbagool

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Turfgrad's picture

Clever, my little wordsmith!

"I think Alabama would beat Ohio State if they played next weekend!" Clay Travis Fox Sports Post Championship Show 1.12.2015.  Needs no explanation.

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letsgobucks's picture

Did Steele Chambers get moved from running back? I always see Crowley mentioned to compete but hardly ever Chambers.

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Colin Hass-Hill's picture

He's expected to play running back to begin his career. But I just didn't mention him here because he's not an early enrollee, so he won't be involved in spring practices.

whobdis's picture

I know Crowley gets mentioned the most but I really like Chambers at RB. It will not surprise me at all if hes the first RB to see the field as Crowley needs some time in the weight room

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Ohbucksclan20's picture

Agree I think chambers will have a better career here than Crowley. Although I think Crowley will have a good career here.

Go Bucks!

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dmiller2345's picture

I know Crowley gets mentioned the most but I really like Chambers at RB. It will not surprise me at all if hes the first RB to see the field as Crowley needs some time in the weight room

Are you saying that Chambers will see the field before Master Teague or are you saying of the two, Chambers and Crowley, Chambers will see the field first?

I don't know who will see the field first of the two, but I think Master Teague will be the backup RB behind Dobbins and McCall will be the 3rd down/receiving specialist back 

Urban Meyer, undefeated (7-0) VS ttun | Ryan Day, undefeated (2-0) vs ttun

*As always, In (Urban) Ryan Day I Trust! There is a plan, even if we cannot see it right now!

God, Family, Guns, Country, and Sports!

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wkfan's picture

Disagree with Brendon White....I think he will start, whether it is at a safety or a hybrid position.

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Hovenaut's picture

Yeah, I admit it...I pretty much just scrolled on down to the "Not Safe" section.

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countrybuckeye's picture

smart

“Save yourself and relax during every game. I recommend a fine bourbon.”

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BuckeyePat's picture

I wonder if Tate will keep the qb sp. . . . Shit, never mind 

47-3

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BucksHave7's picture

Wow. That is how awesome this team is going to be.

We are talking about the team that finished 3 in the final playoff ranking.  Gonna be a special year!!!!

BucksHave7

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buckslan's picture

I hope all the OSU players improve, but I'm really rooting for guys like Teradja Mitchell and Baron Browning to turn it up and become the players we think they can be.

Theres a lot the coaching staff can do with the back 7 on defense. If they want to play 3 linebackers they could have Harrison, Mitchell, and Browning. If they want to add the viper to the field they could have Harrison, Browning/Mitchell, White, and both Fuller and Proctor. If they wanna go full nickel, they could put Arnette, Okudah, and Wade on the field with the 3 aforementioned linebackers. There's a lot of options and that's a great thing.

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Gflbuck's picture

Very nice and fair summation.

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joshsummers02's picture

I think I would put Okudah in the SAFE category.  He had a few penalties called against him throughout the year, but he was mostly solid and seemed to improve late in the season.  He is also a great athlete.  I think by the end of the year he will be an All American and a first round draft pick.

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."  - Albert Einstein

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Bucks19's picture

He is totally in the safe category. Not even a question!

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countrybuckeye's picture

I expect other surprises during the Spring Game 

“Save yourself and relax during every game. I recommend a fine bourbon.”

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NHBuckeye's picture

Love this article.  Very well done.  Let them all compete and have that feeling of slight uncomfortableness.  Iron sharpens Iron.

Fields of Dreams

 

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soldierdad's picture

Werner’s time diminished, Borland off the field in passing downs.  The role of LB’s diminishes? Al Washington “Whaa.......”

The soldier is my son.  The school I gone to didn’t teach much grammar.  

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RBurgundy4's picture

Personally, I'd have listed Arnette as not safe, in addition to the guys already listed. We'll see what the new staff thinks. He's a keeper and contributor, but I'm not so sure he's one of the top 2 CB's on this team. Not sure at all.

Not sure doubt if I can stomach another season of both 20 and 32 at LB in 2019. If those two have not played their way out of a spot, I have no idea what it would actually take, short of skipping class or breaking the law/dong something really dumb on a social level. The mere thought irritates my innards all over again. They were just plain hard to watch last season.

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buckzilla1's picture

 or breaking the law/dong something really dumb 

You mean like killing someone with a trident?

The only true worry we should have about this 2019 team is this:

Why is Sevyn Banks wearing number 12?

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buckslan's picture

He's the most experienced cornerback. He's definitely not in any danger of losing a starting spot and he's not as bad as some make him out to be.

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buckeye1964's picture

as far as arnette, he's most experienced at getting beaten by receivers. and he's highly skilled at being called for penalties to avoid getting beaten.....so yea, he is the most experienced corner we have - and we do NOT need that kind of experience.

danny

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buckslan's picture

Hahaha.. downvoted for defending Arnette, classic. Hafley wanted Arnette to come back, I'll take his word for it.

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Chicago Connection's picture

I'm guessing Arnette is probably safe for spot playing because of his experience and skills, but that's sorta been the case his whole career. That said, I just don't see him as ever being an every down guy, so I'd be surprised if he didn't get a decent amount of playing time.

Still, I can't say I'd be disappointed if somebody was good enough to take all of his reps. 

chicagobuckeye

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Big Horn Buckeye's picture

What about Tyreke Johnson? Have they decided corner or safety. Haven’t heard his name mentioned...

Always and forever, Go Bucks!

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robinson819's picture

Corner. And no indication of him moving.

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3ydncloudofdust's picture

Idk. I’d have to say Okudah is safe. He really started to live up to his billing towards the end of the season. Have to think Hafley propels him even more. 

"You have to play with emotion, you can't let emotion play with you." - Ryan Day

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Dstacify's picture

Being a "starter" at WR on this team is more of a nominal thing given the heavy rotation we use at that position. I mean, look at how much Haskins distributed the ball around last year. I expect that rotation to continue this coming season seeing as it's worked and we have a lot of talent at our disposal at WR.

11 Strong.

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Louisvillebuckeye's picture

The defense seems almost impossible to predict with a new coaching staff in place on that side of the ball, a number of guys could step up this year.  A lot depends on who can adapt to a new scheme and adjust to getting out of their comfort zones while adjusting to a new staff.  My completely unreliable prediction is that the defense is motivated and performs at a high level because they all have something to prove.  

 "I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault."

Jack Tatum

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buckzilla1's picture

I think it's pretty safe to say that based on the over haul of the defensive staff that we may see some surprises in the pecking order this year. Some players may preform better in Hafley/Mattison's scheme then they did in Shiano/Grinch's scheme. Okudah comes to mind. Make no mistake about it, Werner and Borland will see their playing time deminished. I look for one of the unmentioned players to rise based upon this fact. My guess would be Hooker. Time will tell but I got a sneaking suspicion he is more like his brother then people realize and much like White last year just needs the chance to play. We shall see.

The only true worry we should have about this 2019 team is this:

Why is Sevyn Banks wearing number 12?

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Ohbucksclan20's picture

With a new defense, the majority of the starters should be on high alert.

Go Bucks!

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Chicago Connection's picture

Nobody should feel safe on that defense--or for that matter, on any position on any team. That said, relatively speaking...

Okudah's fairly safe, Werner's better than he's given credit for even if Browning should push him; and for God's sake, please sit Borland on ALL downs--he's neither fast enough or Tuff enough to play on a championship defense, and Mitchell would be a major upgrade. 

I'm also pretty confident that White will start because 1) he's damned good; and 2) he offers more rotational possibilities to confuse opposing offenses. 

Thing is, I'm guessing Mattison will deploy the "Viper" at times, and White's an ideal fit. But if White isn't starting then you insert him into e game, it telegraphs your strategy, whereas if he's already on the field, you can either roll him over to the viper position, or you can even use guys like Browning or Werner to slide over into a viper role because White actually has the size/skills to roll up and play outside LB.

Again, there's just a whole lot more you can do with White.

For the life of me, I'm not sure what the coaches saw in practice that kept White out of the lineup, since by all accounts White is a great teammate and hard worker. I dunno. Maybe he's just the proverbial "game player" and doesn't shine in practice for whatever reason. My guess is that Pryor and Wint didn't 'earn' their starting position so much as were 'next up' by seniority.

They definitely struggled in prime-time, although I hope they rise to the challenge of improving their game.

Anyway, I admit that I'm a big Brendan White fan, and while I'm definitely intrigued by Proctor, I want to see a whole lot more of White. The guy brings a much needed a combination of smarts, discipline, tackling ability and nastiness to a defense that seemed to be missing all of the above in 2018--especially the DBs. 

 

chicagobuckeye

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mmp15f's picture

Glad to see somebody else who doesn't think Borland should play at all. No defense could be elite with him as the starting Mike Linebacker. A lot of fans seem to think that his lack of speed was solely due to the achilles injury. I'm sure that didn't help, but he looked slow to me in 2017 as well; I vividly remember him not being able to cover Wisconsin's fullback out of the backfield in the B1G Championship Game.

It's also not like he's a beast between the tackles and only lacks speed; he looks okay, at best, between the tackles. He doesn't excel in any areas, but he does have deficiencies. Therefore, he doesn't bring much to the table.

I'm ready for Mitchell to step up

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Chicago Connection's picture

Ditto. I'm sure he's a great kid, good teammate and leader, and I'd love to say he"s a great player or even more than a third string level starter, but I just don't see it.

As always, I hope I'm wrong for the sake of the kid and the team, but may the best man win. My guess is that's Terajda Mitchell... or Browning... or even Gant.

chicagobuckeye

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mmp15f's picture

Exactly. If he's a great leader, that's awesome. The problem is that leadership, alone, shouldn't give somebody a starting position. 

In 2016, Joe Burger was a team captain and he didn't start because Worley, McMillan, and Baker were all better than him. I don't see why Borland can't continue to be a team captain without starting.

Assuming we stay in a 4-3 under, I'm predicting Harrison & Browning on the outside with Mitchell in the middle. Quite frankly, based on what I've seen, I even think Hilliard should be higher on the depth chart than Borland. Regardless, I have faith that Washington, Mattison, and Hafley will straighten out the linebacker situation

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Run_Fido_Run's picture

I expect Dobbins to have a big year in 2019, but he’s not safe . . . simply because he plays RB.

On the one hand, young RBs must learn the playbook, how to pass block, etc.; but on the other hand, it is more of an instinctual position that can be very “what have you done for me lately.” One or more of the RBs will get their chances early in 2019, no matter how much Dobbins begins the year as the “bell cow.” And if one of those rising pups starts producing at an elite level, any seniority will potentially fly right out the window. 

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sivaDavis's picture

I'd love to see Tyreke Johnson get a crack at that hybrid SAF/LB spot. But if we're being honest I know people might disagree but isn't that what everyone thinks Werner is anyways? He might thrive in that role. Outside of that I think a LB rotation of Harrison/Mitchell/Browning would be amazing for the team. Those are some dudes out there. I like Borland against the Wisconsin's and Iowa's of the world but not really anyone else. Mitchell seems to be a thumper, just needs to be able to be THE man of a defense. 

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

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NOBLUE's picture

unless Werner and Borland have gotten much much faster imo they will not start

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BbBnD's picture

Werner is fast. Athleticism wasn’t his problem. 

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RBurgundy4's picture

Werner is fast. Athleticism wasn’t his problem. 

Agreed. His athleticism is plenty good enough to contribute at a very high level. Tackling is the name of the game, tho, and he just really struggled with putting guys on the ground. Gotta tackle, not optional, and "being around the pile" counts for nothing. It was a real problem for PW last year. Borland, as well, if I'm being honest. Performs well in a phone booth, but when's the last time anyone saw an actual phone booth? [insert UM or Wisc joke here]. Certainly not from any team competing in the CFP.

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Buctor's picture

It's a new year.  There are many new coaches and a new head coach.  It would be foolish not to expect some surprises!  Regardless of which players move up to more time and the inverse, hope the team starts off hot in the fall then improves each week.

Beat everyone, in every sport, all the time!!!

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Bigfry's picture

Too bad Chicago you don’t know much about Tuf. He is tough as nails, playing on a partially healed Achilles, not KNEE. Most people can’t even walk on that kind of injury let alone run. I had a strained Achilles as an adult playing fast pitch softball back in the day. I was in pain for weeks and I have a high tolerance for pain. Werner is the one who was constantly out of position and took poor angles. Not sure where he can play, but it is not at outside backer. Annette should be beaten out at corner by Wade. He is horrible!!!!!!

Jack L Frysinger

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