Debriefing: Ohio State Gets Curbstomped by Unbeatable Alabama

By David Wertheim on January 12, 2021 at 8:25 am
NPF and Coop
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing like writing a 2:00 a.m. article after watching your team get blasted.

Well, that's it.

I'm graduating in May and that game was officially the last college football for me at The Ohio State University.

My class (2017-21) is now the third straight four-year class to miss witnessing a national championship while on campus. Fun! 

The Short Story

Well the short story is that Ohio State was outmatched from the coaching staff on down to the players on the field. Tommy Togiai and Tyreke Smith missing the game significantly hurt an Ohio State pass rush that was non-existent for most of the year, and Trey Sermon departing after just one carry with a broken collarbone didn't really help matters either.

Oh, and Tuf Borland on Devonta Smith just isn't gonna work.

"Luckily," Smith missed a lot of the second half due to a hand injury, or else these numbers could be even worse.

Ohio State's 117th ranked passing defense played exactly to that ranking, as Mac Jones carved up a lifeless secondary all night. The Buckeyes offense did alright, but it just wasn't enough to hang with a Bama team that scored basically every time it touched the ball with little resistance. 

Was It Really That Bad?

I mean, this Bama team is the best team in college football. If Bama played anyone 10 times, I'd set the number of wins for them at 9.5, and for 99% of the teams they'd play, I'd take Bama OVER 9.5. 

So it's not entirely OSU's fault. They were probably the second best college football team this year. And they still got whooped by four touchdowns. 

Now, I'm not excusing Kerry Coombs and the poor job he did this season. It seemed as though every single Ohio State defensive back either didn't improve from last year or regressed. Elite DB's were Coombs' trademark for his first stint in Columbus. Round two hasn't exactly gone according to plan.

But Alabama was the best team in college football and had all these award winners for a reason. 

What Happens Now: Offense?

Justin Fields is gone, and that means the C.J. Stroud/Jack Miller/Kyle McCord era will officially begin in 2021. The Buckeyes will break in a new starter at running back as well, while Chris Olave seems to be out the door too. Josh Myers, Thayer Munford, and Wyatt Davis will all be gone along the offensive line, meaning the Buckeyes will have to replace at least seven starters on that side of the ball.

Stroud is likely the front-runner to start at quarterback, while the Buckeyes have to take a long look at TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams instead of Master Teague. They have to.

Several sophomores-to-be will partner with Jameson Williams and Garrett Wilson at receiver, while Paris Johnson Jr. and Matt Jones are early candidates to start on the offensive line, with Harry Miller likely getting a starting spot back as well after being usurped for the championship game. 

What Happens Now: Defense

 don't expect Ryan Day and Ohio State to make any significant changes. There have been rumors of a Greg Mattison retirement (although most believe those are unsubstantiated at this time). If Mattison does decide to hang them up, Ohio State could turn to a young coach to try and mesh with Coombs, similar to how Jeff Hafley worked with Mattison in 2019. 

Haskell Garrett and Jonathon Cooper are departing along the defensive line, and some other defensive tackles (Togiai, Jackson) could join them as well. Ohio State has some players who can fill in, but really need Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith to show up. It feels like we've been saying that for a while now, though.

The linebacking corps is in for a total overhaul as Tuf Borland, Pete Werner, Justin Hilliard, and Baron Browning are all on their way out the door. Teradja Mitchell along with Dallas Gant are probably the first two names to know.

Shaun Wade is likely the only departee in the secondary, as Marcus Williamson announced he will return next season. Lathan Ransom is an early name to watch as a young player who got on the field for a significant amount of snaps this season. Cameron Brown will also return from injury, providing a boost to a much-maligned secondary.

Lumping specialists in, the Buckeyes will now lose punter Drue Chrisman. Blake Haubeil has more eligibility but has not announced whether or not he will return next season. 

Final Thoughts

It has been another fun season here at Eleven Warriors and I am so thankful to have written about Ohio State football for four years while going to school in Columbus. How many people can say they have had the opportunities that I have?

Thank you to all of the readers and staff that makes this site such a great place to be. I hope you have enjoyed my mediocre writing. #VARSITY may not have gotten it done while I went here, but the moniker sticks. For now.

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