Ohio State's Depth Has Improved But is Still Lacking in Certain Areas

By David Wertheim on May 4, 2019 at 7:15 am
Justin Fields

The Buckeyes added three transfers this offseason, and all of them have come on the offensive side of the ball. After losing Dwayne Haskins to the NFL draft, Ryan Day went out and got Justin Fields. Tate Martell left Columbus because of this, and Matt Baldwin followed suit, so Gunnar Hoak was brought in to provide more depth behind Fields.

On the offensive line, the Buckeyes lost four starters (except for Thayer Munford) on the offensive line, and Day snagged Jonah Jackson from Rutgers to provide at least a little bit more stability than they already had.

Still, though, the Buckeyes are relatively weak at those two spots. If Fields goes down, Hoak and Chris Chugunov are the next two options (and only two other scholarship quarterbacks) at the position. And neither has been all that inspiring during their college careers. Hoak threw for 167 yards this past season at Kentucky as a backup, and Chugunov hasn't thrown a pass since 2017 at West Virginia. 

If Fields goes down and cannot play, Ohio State's season is likely doomed, despite the addition of Hoak and the presence of Chugunov. While both players have some talent, there is a reason they started a combined three games (all Chugunov) in six years combined at their previous schools. There is no J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones to save the Buckeyes this time.

Up front, the Buckeyes will be breaking in four new offensive line starters. Two of them will be youngsters, with Josh Myers expected to be the center and Wyatt Davis at guard. Jackson will presumably handle the other guard spot, and Branden Bowen, Joshua Alabi or Nicholas Petit-Frere will man the other tackle spot.

The Buckeyes seem to have six or seven offensive linemen who are quality players and ready to play right now, but Myers has never started a collegiate game, and Davis has just a few starts under his belt. Munford is the only one who has started a full season for Ohio State. While Jackson, a two-year starter at right guard, brings a lift to this young, somewhat inexperienced line, any injuries could be an enormous problem for Ohio State.

Another position at which depth could be an issue is running back. J.K. Dobbins brings a veteran presence to the group, having been the starter in each of his two seasons in Columbus (albeit sharing time with Mike Weber both years), and Master Teague has been in the program for a year and shown flashes. Behind them, though, there isn't much. Brian Snead left the school after being suspended for virtually all of last season, and Marcus Crowley, despite being an early enrollee, is still just a freshman.

Steele Chambers will arrive on campus this summer, but he is more of an athlete still learning the position and will be well behind Crowley. Don't expect Chambers to see meaningful playing time on offense this year.

There is also Demario McCall, who has been moved around from running back to wide receiver to H-back and bounced back and forth between all three spots during his career. He is also currently injured, so who knows how productive he will be. This is likely his last chance as his career is close to wrapping up.

If Dobbins was to go down, Teague would be thrust in as the bell-cow back (like Dobbins probably will be to begin the season) and that would not be a great scenario for Ohio State.

So, it seems like the Buckeyes have a few depth issues on the offensive side of the ball. Ryan Day addressed a few of them in the offseason, but Ohio State is still an injury or two away at some spots from being in panic mode.

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