Quarterback, Left Tackle and Weakside Linebacker Will Be This Year's Three Key Position Battles to Watch

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chirobuck's picture

What about the OLB, Booker, Harrison or a wild card?

 

^ best post ever ^

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The_shank's picture

Will most likely be competing at SAM with Booker. He played well at the end of last season.

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BuckeyeBen7.7's picture

I think that the vacated safety spot could be interesting, as there is no clear cut favorite. I would pick Pryor, but the position is far from his. As we saw with Webb in 2016, teams will repeatedly go after that spot if it is weak.

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GVerrilli92's picture

Surprised this wasn't mentioned, along with the two TE positions.

The Safety spot is particularly interesting because of how many blue-chip defensive backs we have in total. Isiah Pryor looks poised to step up and take Webb's spot, but what if he isn't a better all-around player than somebody like Okudah, Wade, Riep, or Williamson? Get the best 4 or 5 athletes out there in the defensive backfield, regardless of position, and coach em up.

Also at TE, Alexander is the massive loss that nobody is really talking about (even if it did open the door for Ruckert). His loss coupled with the '16 class of TEs having shown relatively nothing up to this point definitely raises cause for concern. I would love to see Berry become as good a blocker as he is ball-carrier, but even still the 2nd TE that is so often used in Urban's offense is MIA at this point. Farrell and Hausmann need to step up to avoid being passed over by Ruckert - which at this point may be inevitable.

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

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gobucks96's picture

Berry looked impressive in his limited role last year and Ruckert has talent out the Waazoo! All that and I did not even touch on Hausmann or Farrell! TE is stacked!

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gr8bucks's picture

If you go by playing time, including blow out games, the te position is without a man to start, much less back up. I wonder what happened to Hausmann, Myer was enamored with him as a frosh?

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JWBUCKEYES3's picture

Can't wait for the young players- Shaun Wade, Browning, and of course, Okudah to turn into stars at THE OSU. Just to name a few defensive players out of that loaded 2017 class...

Go Bucks

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GVerrilli92's picture

It really is time.

Just like in 2014, get those sophomores on the field and let them go play. They won't be here as Seniors, so do you want 2 years of them starting, or just 1?

And for all those dissenting opinions out there, the "you must think that every incoming freshman must start immediately and will be the best player in OSU history... blah, blah, blah." No, that's ridiculous.

To you I say, you obviously don't follow recruiting, because that 17 class was unbelievable.

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

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Codeezy's picture

It worked out well in 2014 too if I remember correctly. 

How long has that van been there?

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southalabamabuckeye's picture

There are a lot of positions to fill for the 2018 Buckeyes.  The QB and LT are so huge to the offense's success.  I hope every position is seamlessly filled and Ohio State thrives on both sides of the ball.  

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Buckeye Jack's picture

IMO, we're more than good at QB. Either Haskins or Burrow will rock. And both those QB's (passing) get rid of the ball fast. HUGE difference for any O-Line between 2.5 seconds of pass blocking and 3.5+ seconds of pass blocking. I think the O-Line will get very well "synched up"  by the 4th or 5th game. Sure hope Day honors his 2 year commitment. 

Zone6, with rotating WR's, will have 1000+ yards at all 3 WR positions this season

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The_shank's picture

I think Browning will be a phenomenal player on the outside but to say Hilliard's film does not inspire confidence is not right imo. I watched the majority of kickoff snaps from the latter part of the of the season and he constantly flashed, also take a look at last years spring game. I think the willl spot is Brownings to lose with Hilliard backing up at mike and Jones backing up at will. 

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Buck68's picture

agree on Browning physically... but it may take another year for his to master the D schemes to the 'instinctive' level.  And the jury's out on the signal-calling.

as for Hilliard... he could easily lope along this year ...or explode 'out of nowhere somewhere'.  ;-{)}

Buck68

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LuckyBuckE's picture

My question is:

Justin Hilliard the Curtis Grant of 2018?

Remember Hilliard was a 5star recruit... similar trajectory minus injuries.

My word is bond.

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The_shank's picture

Still two more years of eligibility. He could have had three but decided not to take a medical redshirt two years ago.

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DarrylJenks's picture

Think this will be the deepest our offensive line has been in awhile.  Would love to see...

LT -1. Prince 2. Bowen

LG -1. Myers/Davis 

C -1. Burrell 2. Taylor

RG -1. Knox 2. Myers/Davis

RT -1. Jordan 2. Bowen

Darr

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DefenceWinsChampionships's picture

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but if our optimal offensive line involves 4 players in different spots and 2 at entirely different positions then we are likely in for a rough beginning of the year. 

LT - Prince

LG - Jordan

C - Taylor

RG - Knox

RT - Bowen

This seems far more plausible as it involve no guard-to-tackle or guard-to-center conversions and allows for a little more cohesiveness along the line.

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SilverBullets4Life's picture

LT - Prince

LG - Jordan

C - Burrell/Davis/Myers

RG - Knox

RT - Bowen

MACTE VIRTUTE

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GVerrilli92's picture

I think the real question at this point is if Knox has proven himself as a starter, or if he was always just a gap-fill when Bowen went down. I think Knox played very well at points this season, but he lost a lot of momentum in that USC game and honestly got pushed around a little.

This is what we know: Prince is a starter, Jordan is a starter, and IMO Bowen is absolutely a starter (he was playing lights out up to his injury). The unfortunate reality: they all have OT bodies. So does Munford step up at one of the Tackle positions and keep those two inside? Or is Wyatt/Myers better at Guard then Munford is at Tackle, forcing Bowen or Jordan outside? 

My hot take: Wyatt Davis is going to be too good to keep off the field. Watching his HS film and interviews made him one of my favorite players from that '17 class. Also, I really wouldn't mess with a position flip for Prince, he's gone through some shit at RT - keep him there. And the great X-factor will be center - it can't be overstated. But I'm holding out hope that Price's endorsements of Taylor ring true. So my line prediction would be:

LT - Bowen - he had better pass pro stats than Jordan in his limited time

LG - Jordan - if it ain't broke, don't fix it

C - Taylor - good luck following the last two acts at center, jeez

RG - Davis - as I said before, been a fan of him since he committed

RT - Prince - see: Jordan, above

Second Line:

LT - Munford - I do think he's our 3rd best true Tackle, even if Jordan has the body for it

LG - Knox/Burrell/Myers - two positions, three players. Who's gonna win?

C - Matt Jones - feels like we rarely ever recruit true Centers, so there's gotta be a plan for him

RG - Knox/Burrell/Meyers - read above

RT - Pridgeon/Alabi - time for Pridgeon to shit or get off the pot, and it's time for the Alabi project to be completed

There's a lot of good competition there, and doesn't even include Wray and other freshman lineman that could be coming in this year. Good depth, good talent, just time to go win some spots.

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

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jthailey47's picture

I like what you're throwing out here. Only thing that I'd potentially change is throwing a RS on Matt Jones for this year. I really hope Billy Price was right about Taylor too. Obviously you take it with a grain of salt since Billy ultimately doesn't make those decisions, but I like the idea of the 5th year senior taking over on a line who will be looking for a leader. Then if the other reports are true about Burrell making the change to center would be pretty helpful for depth and might be the quickest/best way for him to challenge for playing time. If both those hold true I'd feel pretty safe in redshirting Jones and letting him learn for a bit. Let Jones and Burrell duke it out in the following year. 

Then again Jones might be the next Michael Jordan by coming in and taking the spot from the older guys by force. 

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buckeyeinWI's picture

I could see this..

Or Munford at RT, and Bowen back at RG.

Or Munford at LT, Prince staying at RT, and Bowen at RG.

going to be hard (IMHO) keeping Munford off the field, and probably the same with D. Knox...

great problem to have...

GO BUCKEYES!

15-2 is SWEET!

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buckslan's picture

Way too much movement. This is what I think our OL will look like, at least I hope so

LT - Michael Jordan

LG - Wyatt Davis

C - Brady Taylor

RG - Demetrius Knox

RT - Isaiah Prince

I'd feel very, very confident in that OL if Jordan holds up.

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RBurgundy4's picture

I still have high hopes for Keandre Jones and think that he has a lot of ability, but yeah, Vico, the KO cover team instantly improved when he was replaced. I hate like hell to type it, but that's exactly what happened. I also remember Worley having similar issues with over-aggression and undisciplined play when he was a pup and he turned into a productive player. I like Jones and hope he can learn from 2017. Kid is a hitter, no doubt.

#CalpoppyStrong

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Turfgrad's picture

Let the competition begin.  This will be fun!  Beat the Beavers!

"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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Chicago Connection's picture

As good and deep as 2017's D line was, am I the only one who thinks 2018's unit will be better barring injury?

The main reason I say this is that I think the ceiling is higher for guys who will be getting more playing time (Bosa, Young, Cooper, Jones), and ironically, it's because a bunch of great players are leaving.

We might lose a little in seniority or experience (not too much), but I'm not sure we'll lose much at all in depth with the current guys on the roster who are moving up the ranks plus the new guys coming in.

You know the names. This team will not lack for star-powered recruits who are eager and able to take the field for meaningful snaps.

To put it another way, lots of big name teams would be delighted to start our second or third team units. In short, there's an embarrassment of riches here, starting with their coach, Larry Johnson.

Bottom line: This will still be one of college football's deepest lines, if not THE deepest, and I fully expect it to be more disruptive than any line since 2014, and very likely it will be the best in the NCAA with an increase in sacks, tackles for loss, and turnovers.

chicagobuckeye

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GVerrilli92's picture

Bruh, we have three scholarship DEs on the roster right now. Let's chill on the deepest line in America superlative, we're one injury away from a true freshman having to play 30 snaps against TTUN.

That being said, we do have incredible star power at DE and a stable of capable DTs. Bosa and Young could be the most talented bookends in America (that superlative we have a chance at). I'm excited to see what Dremont Jones can do in an expanded role, and I can't wait to see if one of these incoming DTs can make a splash (paging Mr. Jackson and Mr. Togiai). Also I'm curious if BB Landers can become more than a change-up situational player and evolve into an every down DT.

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

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Chicago Connection's picture

True per being relatively thin but loaded on the ends, and still both strong and deep in the middle (Jones, Landers, Cornell, Jackson, Garrett, Cage, Hill, Hamilton, Barrow, Togiai--not half bad).

In an emergency, I guess Jones could move to the end, but you obviously don't want to get to that point, or next thing you're looking at adapting your schemes and forcing an LB or DT at the position .

I know that some DE recruits were probably intimidated by all of the DEs in front of them on OSU's roster (Hubbard, Lewis, Bosa, Young, Cooper, and even Holmes, who could move to the end), but when three of those guys leave for the NFL, and another one or two might leave next year, suddenly, there's a big opportunity looming to start as a sophomore--and maybe getting play time in '18 if there are injuries.

Granted, Micah Parsons, Brenton Cox, Jayson Oweh, and others found big-time landing spots, but who knows--Tyreke Smith might play time before any of them. He has to be feeling like he made the right choice in terms of opportunity, and some recruiters think he might have the biggest upside.

On a related note, at this point, I wonder if the Buckeyes would go back to pursuing Andrew Chatfield? I also wonder what the deal is with Leonard Taylor, who they once seemed to be high on? He's still available, although I don't know if that's just at technicality.

 

chicagobuckeye

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BrewinBuckFan's picture

I might be mis-remembering but I thought Urban had said that Burrow was actually slightly ahead of Haskins when he broke his hand and then Haskins progressed from there?  Obviously I want the best QB to play but it'd be pretty cool if he was from Ohio

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BrutusB's picture

He was but that's ancient history and irrelevant now.  JT being ahead of Cardale in Summer '14 didn't help him get the job in Summer '15.  Same would apply here.

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TnJoeBucks's picture

Don't forget JT also was coming back from a broken ankle. Most likely a factor in Cardale getting the nod.

Seek not to change the world. Seek rather to change your mind about the world.

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TigerSweat's picture

You have to remember that burrow had a full year head start on Haskins in the program. For Dwayne to be "neck and neck" with Joe last spring speaks volumes on his talent.

Urban Meyer 3 Jim Harbaugh 0

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buckzilla1's picture

LT Jordan then  Alibi

LG Knox  then Pridgeon then Meyers

C  Taylor then Burrell

RG Burrell then Davis

RT  Prince then Munford 

You protect your QB with your best lineman. Period. Jordan and Knox are the best. Taylor and Burrell have earned the trust and Burrell is the swiss army knife of the slobs. Expect big things this year.

Zach Smith just tweeted me! He said that he is outta beer and needs more. Anyone got a five spot?

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BrutusB's picture

I think you forget that Bowen is a person who exists.

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buckeyeinWI's picture

and D. Knox will have something to say about this too.

GO BUCKEYES!

15-2 is SWEET!

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Cincybuckeye's picture

He was even the hero of the Michigan game, turning in the best passing performance against the Wolverines of the past four years.

It's a bit sad that Dwayne's stat line of 6/7 for 94 yards is being argued as the best passing performance in four years against TTUN. Personally, I think JT's game in the Big House in 2015 was better. But, all the same, it speaks to how much better we need to be throwing the ball.

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mockjocks's picture

Even then, fans will remember his lack of discipline on kickoff duties, certainly against Penn State for what became Saquon Barkley's 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

I wondered if I was one of the few who saw how bad that was. I don't recall seeing much talk about it, and I decided to keep quiet lol. But it was bad. And He was hit or miss on kickoff coverage this year. I was HUGE on him in 2016, though. Still have hopes for him, but I think this 2018 LB crew coming in needs to produce not one, but 2 LBs who hit it big at Ohio State.

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bd2999's picture

I would probably vote for Haskins or Burrow, likely Haskins. Adding a more consistent passing game would be pretty awesome. Tate may have great feet and running ability but I am just not entirely buying in on the guy yet. Tons of talent and potential but just not all in on the guy. I feel the other two are more tested. Tate should get some snaps in games during blow outs.

The OL will be the thing to watch.

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BrutusB's picture

I didn't know LT was considered open - isn't Prince the pretty easy choice to slide over if Haskins win the job?

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GVerrilli92's picture

I think the general consensus (regardless of whether Haskins wins the job) is that Prince just got to the point where he could finish his plate, and that we shouldn't immediately throw more on said plate. He isn't the heir apparent at LT because that's where the best Tackle on the team plays. He needs to prove that he's the best Tackle on the team.

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

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letsgobucks's picture

"Isaiah Prince, who has looked all right as a starting right tackle for the past two seasons"

I thought Prince looked way better than "all right" this past year.  Also, Barkley may have been the most electric player with the ball in his hands. I look for Keandre Jones to have a better year and I wont write him off based off of that. Lastly, I thought Hiliard had a fantastic year on special teams. I'm not sure if he'll start or not but if we're basing guys chances of playing off of special teams, Hilliard will be in the mix as well..
 

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kjonesATX's picture

Oline should be interesting/fun to watch play out. I agree with many on here. This year could end up being our deepest Oline since Urban got here. Just got to find the 5 best and the spots on the line that they all fit best together.

Same really for LB. Losing Baker hurts, but the depth and talent left is tremendous. Who wins out those battles will have earned it.

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analyticalguy's picture

I think we're finally getting to where we'll actually have depth on the OL. It may take a while for things to gel, but by season's end, I expect them to be really good. My money's on the 2019 OL being even better.

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rockyincbus's picture

Two things about Prince.  One, some of you people have your head stuck up your arse if you don't realize how well Prince played for us last year, particularly down the stretch, destroying people in the run game.  Two, he is a natural RT, here and later when he heads off to the NFL.  To shuffle him off to LT would hurt two positions.

You've got barbecue back there?

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Crumb's picture

I'd be fine with any of those. 

I'd be fine with Burrow or Martell at QB too.

I'd be fine with Prince or Jordan at LT too.

I'd be fine with Hilliard or Harrison at OLB too. 

Dang, it feels good to be a Buckeye. 

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

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McGrind's picture

Yes, I will reserve my right to second guess any/every starting lineup. Play calls too! 

If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

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Crumb's picture

Don't we all?! Haha that's the one thing about being a fan that beats being a coach. 

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

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tcm1968's picture

Never been a big believer in moving guys all over the place on the OLine. Think you keep as many people in the same position or same side of the line as you can..

I think it will be Prince at LT, Jordan at RT, Matthew Jones at C, Knox at RG and then Bowen at RT. Bowen played RT in high school so it's a natural fit and Knox is better as a guard imo. Matthew Jones was the top rated center this past season and enrolled early. I know a lot of people will say Taylor or someone else at center but I'm putting my money on Matthew Jones. Assuming he wins the job gives you fantastic consistency having him there the next three or four seasons. Plus people need to remember center is like middle linebacker. Just because you can play OLB doesn't mean you can play MLB and just because you can play guard of tackle doesn't mean you can play center.

Other thing I'm still not sure about is Tuf as the starter at MLB. Seems that Browning got behind with that injury and never caught up. Tuf did a great job filling in and was a much better MLB then Worley ( better instincts and feel for the position) but as the season wore on in order to compensate for his problems in pass coverage and creating negative plays they chose to just keep him off the field. I just cant imagine we get to a point where our starting MLB plays like 50% of the snaps when a guy like Browning ( assuming he can run the defense) could play every down..

and agree to disagree about Prince.... he was FANTASTIC this past season.. to say he was "all right" is such a slight imo..

Go Bucks!

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Steelydan54's picture

Upon review I see no real weaknesses, only opportunities to excel. Those are the kind of problems that keep the Buckeyes in the national playoff picture. And we will see an upgrade at QB in 2018 despite the great career of JTB IV.  Just a question of what kind of offense Urban Co wants to run. Pass, Run or a bit of both. My hunch is that the starter will win the job based on “intangibles”, cuz that’s what makes great talent into a great leader and player. And it’s anyones guess who will rise too the top of that heap. 

Steelybuck54

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0H-10's picture

Just an associated drop of a very timely piece to remind us of how much better things are on the O Line these past few years! Thanks Ramzy!

o||||||o

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Buck68's picture

let's see here...

25 positions...

85 schollie players...

20 preferred walk-ons...

... equals how many "battles"?

Buck68

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buckslan's picture

Would be nice to have a starting trio of linebackers in Baron Browning(SAM), Justin Hilliard(MIKE) and Dante Booker/Malik Harrison(WILL) with Keandre Jones/Borland/Werner and the fantastic 2018 class backing up those guys. I think it could be very special if all those guys reach their potential.

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