Skull Session: Examining the 2016 Buckeye Offense, How Ohio State Turned Torrance Gibson Into a Wide Receiver, and the Fierce Big Ten East

By D.J. Byrnes on July 28, 2016 at 4:59 am
Urban Meyer brought the suit and tie for the July 28th 2016 Skull Session.

I attended last night's Real Madrid–PSG banger in the Shoe. I didn't start an international incident, and my full report can be read over here.

 A LOOK AT BUCKEYE OFFENSE IN 2016. As an Ohio State fan who deals with Ohio State fans every day of my life, my tab on our pulse is we expect big things from J.T. Barrett in 2016.

Like everyone, I remember Barrett riding roughshod over his enemies after looking unprepared during an unforeseen home loss to Virginia Tech. According to the stats, though, Barrett only dominated in the running game.


That brings us to J.T. Barrett, who we recently ranked as the second-best running quarterback in college football behind only Houston’s Greg Ward. His raw totals took a hit last season as he shared the starting job with Cardale Jones, but in 2014 he was PFF’s top-graded rusher among QBs, doing most of his damage on designed running plays and forcing a very impressive 39 missed tackles. The Buckeyes have to replace Ezekiel Elliott with some unproven players at running back, but it’s a safe bet that the OSU running game will once again be strong this season.

The passing game is much more of a question mark, as Barrett has not had nearly the same success through the air as he has on the ground. He earned an average passing grade last season after performing marginally better than that in 2014, and he struggled the most on intermediate throws: On passes thrown 10 to 19 yards downfield, Barrett was just 12 of 25 for 211 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, earning a negative grade in that area of the field.

Moreover, the Buckeyes aren’t returning a single pass-catcher who earned an above-average or better receiving grade last season, and Elflein is the only lineman they return who had an above-average or better pass-blocking grade.

First of all, Noah Brown will be a star. You can put that in blood on the steps of the Harding Memorial and sign it with my name. 

Secondly, here are the four names J.T. Barrett mentioned as his favorite targets during a Tuesday interview with BTN Live: Brown, Corey Smith, Dontre Wilson, and Curtis Samuel.

I'm in a "wait and see" mode with Smith. At some point, guys are what they are. (This is why I would never get hired by an investment bank.) He has talent, but he's been too inconsistent for my liking.

Wilson, Dontre: See the paragraph above.

Even with Bri'onte Dunn out, I expect the Buckeyes to move Samuel around as much as possible because that guy has all the tools.

I think it's clear at this point the unit needs some young pups to show some bite. My money in that department still rides on K.J. Hill, who seems to be forgotten by people when discussing this issue.

 THE EVOLUTION OF TORRANCE GIBSON. Torrance Gibson signed with Ohio State in 2015 as a blue chip dual-threat quarterback out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Gibson made a temporary move to receiver that summer, which was thought to be the best way to see the field. It didn't change much, as he redshirted that fall as he struggled to adjust to the demands of college life.

It's a new year, but Gibson is still a wide receiver. So how did the Buckeyes convince a guy who loved to play quarterback his best move was to become a full-time receiver?


"Urban Meyer didn't promise me a thing. He told me to come in and compete, and I believe in my ability. So that was enough," Gibson told "He's doing a great job of developing those quarterbacks, and I could be the next one."


"(Gibson) was an exception," Meyer said. "When you talk about the elite, those are Braxton and Torrance, the elite elite. If they want a shot at quarterback, you absolutely get one.

"Braxton, it worked out. Torrance saw early on it was probably best (to move to receiver). And it's got to be more of a mutual thing. We don't force anybody to move."

Props to Gibson for seeing what Terrelle Pryor didn't until he washed out of the NFL as a quarterback and what Braxton didn't see until a season-ending shoulder surgery.

It's tough for any young man's ego to go from touching the ball every play to playing receiver, especially in a passing offense that's based on distribution like Meyer's. Still, I think Meyer's track record of getting receivers into the NFL is proven, and this move will work out for Gibson if his work ethic and willingness to block matches his athleticism.

That said, I still think we're a year away from the Torrance Gibson Show. Though I do expect him to drop some intriguing trailers throughout the season as well.

 THE B1G GOT MORE FIERCE. Kids, I remember the days when Big Ten football was the laughingstock of the country with division names like "Legends" and "Leaders" and mediocre football (outside of Ohio State, obvi) to match it.

Those days are gone. And despite it making it tougher for my favorite team to reach the playoffs, I couldn't be happier.


This kind of rabid culture, on the field and on the recruiting trail, isn’t departing the Big Ten East, at least until self-selection sets in. Even then, as all that history shows us, Ohio State and Michigan aren’t going to stop hating each other. The league likely isn’t going to stop orbiting around those two power rivals at the top.

But what’s different now from the league that Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler ran is that it doesn’t resemble a boxing match so much as a seven-team brawl. It’s taking place in a ring out East, the one people asked for when the league’s attempt to distribute that power was seen as manipulating and weak.

That’s not to say the West division doesn’t have some intrigue in all of this. Out there, recruiting battles can expect to centralize here in Chicagoland, where Northwestern resides, where Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz has long dominated and where Illinois’ Lovie Smith has a run as the Bears coach to advertise.

Iron sharpens iron, so I have no problem with Ohio State's division being stacked and the best teams being in its division. I enjoy the occasional blowout as much as the next man, but only because those are earned through grittier games.

I still don't think the East is on the same level with the SEC West, but if Michigan is half as good as its fans apparently think it will be this fall, I'll change my tune real quick.

And you don't know me if you didn't realize I was going to gratuitously drop one of my favorite clips from The Wire in here:

 BGSU GETS IT RIGHT. I cheer for all Ohio college teams, except when they're pimped into the Horseshoe Slaughterhouse or they're playing Toledo, which is my MAC flavor of choice.

So take a bow, Bowling Green. You earned this one.


That brings me to Bowling Green’s helmets that they’ll wear for Military Appreciation Day on September 10th against North Dakota, and these new lids are something special.

The helmets will be orange with a brown facemask with the side logos incorporating a camo Pattern and the BG logo in stars-and-stripes.

The center stripe is where things get really interesting, as printed in the stripe are the names of 111 Bowling Green State University students who have died in the line of duty. Helmets for the game will feature one of the 12 different stripes with different names on each one.

No way North Dakota is winning that game.

 PRICE ON A BRICK GOING UP IN DOWNTOWN COLUMBUS. The siren calling all wayward Ohioans home continues to sound, and if they don't act quick they're going to be paying through the nose for a simple two bedroom apartment in downtown Columbus.


Downtown Columbus is closing in on 8,000 residents, and is on track to hit 10,000 by 2018.

So apartment buildings continue to rise to meet the demand in the heart of the city. Yet even with all this new construction, and rents north of $1,500 a month, the Downtown apartment occupancy rate is 97 percent, according to a mid-year “State of Downtown Columbus” report released today by the Capital Crossroads and Discovery special-improvement districts.


People are willing to pay for it, too. According to the report, the average monthly rent of a high-end, one-bedroom apartment Downtown is $1,542; a two-bedroom apartment goes for $2,200.

If, like me, that's too rich for your blood... Columbus' east side is always hiring if your résumé pops.

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