College football's annual preseason doesn't start until anonymous coaches scout opposing teams for media outlets.
Some quotes are undoubtedly conjured. It's not like coaches are wantonly handing over classified intel on opponents (on the record, anyway).
Still, reports from venerable institutions make for fun gossip. As such, here is what opposing coaches told Sports Illustrated about Ohio State in an article scouting SI's Top 25, in which the Buckeyes rank No. 3.
"To stop their offense you’ve got to stop the run, then limit their explosive plays in the passing game. [Quarterback] J.T. Barrett took a beating [as a junior]. If he gets back to where he was two years ago he could win the Heisman Trophy. He’s that talented."
"Their scheme is a bit of a mystery: Are they going to run packages that they’ve run before, or are they going to go all-in on [new coordinator] Kevin Wilson’s offense? The [5' 10", 214-pound sophomore] running back Mike Weber is really a good player. No disrespect to the guys that matriculated out, but Ohio State’s going to be fine. I’m not going to have a sympathy card sent to Urban [Meyer]."
"It’s coordinator Greg Schiano’s defense: They do a great job taking the ball away. They’re going to play man coverage with a free safety and plus-one you in the box. He was a little more multiple coverage-wise last year than I thought he would be, because he had the cats to play just man if he wanted to. Defensive end Sam Hubbard [a 6' 5", 265-pound junior] is a high-motor, high-energy guy. He’s got a great first step and really uses his hands well."
"The third phase is their secret sauce—they play really hard in the kicking game. I don’t think they get enough credit for that."
Sounds like Big Ten coaches have been doing their Eleven Warriors reading this offseason. Despite questions about offensive scheme and losing seven draft picks, the local roster will still be loaded in 2017.
Other observations of notable schools:
- No. 1 Alabama: "They've got some cats to replace."
- No. 2 Florida State: "The little receiver Nyqwan Murray [a 5' 11", 176-pound junior] can fly."
- No. 4 Oklahoma State: "They add some blitzes that give you trouble ... but nothing too complicated."
- No. 5 USC: "I would anticipate Sam Darnold dominating."
- No. 6 Oklahoma: "They have the best O-line in our conference, and it's not close."
- No. 8 Penn State: "They won't wow you with their talent in the front seven, but they're aggressive."
- No. 11 Michigan: "Harbaugh wants to beat you into the ground, and he's got a big, physical team."
- No. 12 Wisconsin: "They're really good up front on both sides of the ball."