11W Mailbag: What To Expect From Kevin Wilson's Offense, The Wide Receivers And Ohio State Secondary

By James Grega on August 31, 2017 at 9:30 am
Kevin Wilson

Ladies and gentleman, the wait is over. Ohio State football is back tonight. 

With the season starting, Eleven Warriors is opening up the floor (or in our case, the forum) so that our readers can ask any pressing questions they might have before the upcoming game. If you have a question, feel free to ask it during the week to have it answered in this space the day before the game. 

This week, the 11W Mailbag is running on game day with the season kicking off on a Thursday night. Without any further delay, let's get to your questions. 

Out of 6 rotating receivers, who do you feel will be the cream that rises to the top? - Browns88

I have been saying it since spring practice. Binjimen Victor has the ability to be an absolute stud and a future first-round draft pick. I love his potential, size and ability to go up for the football. The main concern with him is his lack of size, not in height, but weight and muscle mass. Victor is a supremely athletic but slim 6-foot-4, and one good hit over the middle from a safety could do some damage. That said, if I was J.T. Barrett, Victor would be the guy I would be looking to on big downs to go up and win some 50/50 balls. 

Who will lead the team in interceptions this season? Sacks? Receiving touchdowns? - Aphilly02

I expect a lot of teams to throw away from Denzel Ward as much as possible, so I am going to go with Damon Arnette. I think Kendall Sheffield could also be a candidate, but I believe Arnette will get slightly more playing time because of his previous experience in the back end of Ohio State's defense. 

As far as sacks go, I have a hard time not going with Tyquan Lewis. He has led the team two straight years in the sack category and I don't see him slowing down. Lewis isn't Joey Bosa, so he won't often be double-teamed, because that would open the door for too many other weapons on the defensive line. I think Lewis and Nick Bosa will be the top two in sacks for OSU this season. 

Receiving touchdowns, I will go with Victor again. He is a premier red zone target. I don't have an exact number for you, but I like my chances taking Victor to lead the team in touchdown catches. 

Which player/position are you most interested to watch after the endless offseason? - Huffdaddy

Without question, it is Barrett in Kevin Wilson's offense. His last two seasons have been underwhelming and I expect him to be a Heisman candidate come December. I am anxious to see how much Wilson and Ryan Day have improved his game, and if they can get Barrett back to his 2014 ways. 

I can't see them keeping a homerun threat like J.K. Dobbins on the bench, especially with all of the praise I've read coming from camp, is 15 carries realistic? - BUCKEYE3M

A month ago I would have called you crazy, but now I don't think 15 carries is that unrealistic. Urban Meyer wouldn't commit to the idea that Dobbins could possibly start the game against Indiana if Mike Weber isn't ready to go, and that makes me think Weber is not 100 percent. Fifteen might be a little high, but it is not out of the question. If Weber can't go for whatever reason, 15 is the perfect number for Dobbins. 

Give a ranking (1 - 100) on the WR corp this year and how they will perform as an overall unit by the end of the season. - Seattle Linga

With 100 being perfect, with zero mistakes, I will list them right now at around 60. This group has a lot of upside, but they have yet to prove they can make a significant impact in a game situation. With Wilson's influence, however, I expect them to improve as the season goes on. I'll say they finish the season around 85 on your scale. 

What do you make of Demario McCall not landing on the 2-deep at H-back, and being listed as the 3rd RB on the depth chart? - RunEddieRun1983

I don't make too much of it for a few reasons. For starters, McCall is still learning the H-back position, as he was not moved there until sometime during fall camp. It is hard to crack the two-deep at any position that is brand new to you. Dobbins is built more like a true running back and is probably a better fit as the No. 2 behind Weber anyway. Though he is behind K.J. Hill for now, I expect McCall to pass him at some point this season. He is too good to be kept on the bench. I think Hill is solid as well, but is more of a true wide receiver than a H-back. 

What is the ideal number of passing attempts for Barrett this game? - D1145fresh

Meyer and the Ohio State offense wants to be balanced, so I would say right around 25 pass attempts is what they will shoot for, with the ceiling being about 30. Wilson likes to throw the ball around, but has had success running the ball as well. I think Weber's health will factor into the number of throws, but I still expect the Buckeyes to run the ball to set up play action passes more often than straight drop back passes. 

Will the offense look greatly improved right out of the gate, or will there be an in-game adjustment period under Wilson/Day?Sightlygrain6

There are going to be some kinks to be worked out, and I think Ohio State will struggle at times on offense tonight. Ultimately, though, the Buckeye offense will hit its stride. In any game, especially this one, there are adjustments that will need to be made. Indiana head coach Tom Allen is a defensive coach and I expect him to have something unique prepared for his former boss. That said, I expect Wilson and Meyer will make the adjustments and Ohio State still wins by a few scores. 

At what score differential will we see some second-teamers on the field? - B44

It really all depends on the position and by how much Ohio State might be up by. For Meyer to be comfortable, I will say he won't start putting second team players in unless he has a four-score lead in the second half. I say that because there are enough new starters on this team where more reps can only help them. For example, if the Buckeyes open up a four-score lead late in the third quarter, I wouldn't be shocked to see Barrett, Billy Price, Jamarco Jones and others get pulled for their backups. At the same time, I would expect players like Branden Bowen to stay in for another series or two in order to get extra reps and experience. 

What do you think about our 3 CBs that will be in a rotation? I feel like there will be no fall off. – Ampd0ut

I think there will be some drop-off for the first game, but also think the trio of Ward, Arnette and Sheffield will get better as the season goes on. They will be tested by a veteran QB in Richard Lagow and a plethora of long, athletic wide receivers. I expect Lagow to get at least two touchdown passes in on this defense, but it won't be nearly enough to win the game. I think the three corners will be tested against the Hoosiers, but I believe we will also see one or more of them force a turnover at some point as well. 

Outside of Lagow on Indiana's offense, who will present the most problems for the Buckeyes? - Osu_killernuts

Even though he supposedly was beat out in practice for a starting job, I love the upside Nick Westbrook has at wide receiver for Indiana. He has a wide frame at 6-foot-3 and has top-end speed to go with it. Also keep an eye out for fellow wide receiver Simmie Cobbs, who stands an impressive 6-foot-4. Cobbs missed the 2016 season after suffering an injury in the season opener against Ball State. He is questionable to play in the 2017 opener against Ohio State due to off-field issues, but if he does play, he and Westbrook could be a tough duo to cover. 

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