I know, I know. Cart before the horse. But please bare with me here while I post my first forum topic that I truly think is going to happen. Here is why OSU will win at least one of the next two National Championships:
Justin Fields: This is an obvious choice for reason #1. Hear me out. Fields may not have quite the arm that Haskins had, but he is close. He seems like a very smart kid, and luckily although it was garbage time, he has D1 college football experience under his belt coming in. The thing that is going to put him over the top is his athletic ability. Where he will excel most is where Haskins couldn't. While Haskins was a capable runner, he smartly threw the ball away when he saw nothing. A guy like Fields takes those broken plays and turns them into gains. He is essentially a faster JT Barrett with a much better arm. Maturity and leadership will take time to develop which is why it might not happen year 1. But the schedule lines up nicely having some time for him and some new O-line pieces to mesh and by the end of the season the offense could be near unstoppable again. We have Fields for 2 years. Yurcich is the guy you want running a QB room, he has produced some top end QB's.
The defense: The defense last year has definitely given us all heart issues. The good news is that they were getting noticeably better as the season came to a close. We go into the offseason basically knowing who will be starting at safety. We also know what the top 3-4 guys at DB are going to give us, and it's exciting with the performances of Okudah and Wade late in the season to see what they are going to be able to do. But the biggest difference in the defense this year is going to be experience and coaching tied in with full unit integration. We know we are going to see a different style of play in the LB unit, which is going to help tremendously. Harrison came on strong as the year wore on, I expect Washington to be much better at motivating than what we saw with Davis. On the D-line we know it's stacked. But we are taking Johnson which is a saint in his own right and pairing him with Mattison who stresses technique and aggression. I think the biggest plus Mattison will bring is with Chase Young. He will help with the fundamentals to turn Chase from over-pursuing the QB to taking the right angles to turn into a pressure machine (as if he already wasn't). Pairing Johnson and Mattison together is almost unfair even if it is short lived. Then you tie in the fact that Hafley (if you aren't already impressed, just watch his press conference) and Mattison will be co-coordinating, they are going to have everyone at every level on the same page instead of each unit operating completely separately. I also like keeping the DB's and Safeties together as Hafley said they will do.
Schedule: As mentioned before the non-conference is a miss year for us not having a big marquee opponent due to the TCU series being nixed. They will have games that test them early (Kiffin and FAU to start is going to be interesting), then we turn around and have to take on Fickell. But these are manageable games that talent alone should take care of. The big questions in my opinion are the road trip to Nebraska, at Northwestern, then ending with PSU and at TTUN back to back. I like our chances of being able to survive the early tests while the offense settles in, by the end of the season they should be rolling. The big difference from last year to this year I think is going to be that the defense will at the very least be top 50. Possibly top 25. If that happens, the MD game doesn't happen.
I think the team is going to come out with a chip on its shoulder this year. A lot of people are hesitant to be scared of them because of Urban retiring and Day being unproven, along with a major defensive coaching tree change. I personally went through and watched every coach at their press conferences, and I think the changes will prove to be fruitful. All of them said something to the effect of coming to OSU was a decision based off of being around the right people in the right culture. There seems to be a ton of respect with the coaches and a great mix of young guys with veterans. I'm excited.