Skull Session: NFL Scouts Stoked for Ohio State–Oklahoma, Marshon Lattimore's Comeback, and Field Position Will Be Key in Norman

By D.J. Byrnes on September 16, 2016 at 4:59 am
Chris Worley and Kerry Coombs discuss the September 16th 2016 Skull Session

Poor Austin Kendall, a one-time Ohio State fan, got gored by Buckeye Nation on the internet yesterday. The thing is, schematically, Ohio State's defense is basic. So is its offense.

It disguises and uses misdirection (like every offense and defense in the game) but it also has better trained and superior athletes. He didn't mean it as an insult. There's nothing complex about a buff dude punching your teeth down your throat.

But this poor fella — why is a true freshman backup on a studio show in the first place? — tried to put on for his dude, and he crossed the line saying Baker Mayfield would "light up" a defense yet to allow a touchdown.

In retrospect, he should've known Ohio State fans monitor every line of enemy communication as soon as game week commences. (In Michigan's case, wire-tapping is 365.) No way he was going to slip that one by us. Maybe in 1987 but not anymore.

Oh well. Sounds like an Oklahoma problem to me. 


How'd the founder of MENSA do against the institution that gave Urban Meyer his psychology degree? Serious question. I went to bed after the third quarter (Cinci threatening down 12-10) because I'll be 62 in December. Please forgive me.

 TALENT. College football is a great sport. Nobody is denying that. But as an Ohio State fan rarely does your team play another equally as talented.

However, this is what makes out-of-conference tilts like Saturday so fun. Though Oklahoma's recent recruiting efforts (more on those in a bit) pale in comparison to Ohio State's, it won't lack for potential NFL prospects.


Dane Brugler's Top Draft Prospects
JOE MIXON RB OU "Mixon has electric feet and sudden burst to eliminate pursuit angles, transferring his weight with ease in his cuts. He also has reliable receiving traits to run routes and gash defenses as a pass-catcher."
BAKER MAYFIELD QB OU "He is a high completion percentage passer (68.1 last year and 70-plus in both games in 2016), but his risky decision-making and overconfidence with his mobility leads to mistakes."
RAEKWON MCMILLAN MLB OSU "The former five-star recruit is quick to diagnose vs. the run to find the hole and square up ball-carriers, using his take-on power and strong wrap-up tackling skills to finish."
MALIK HOOKER S OSU "His confidence and route anticipation have been even more impressive, flashing all the necessary skills to blossom into a big-time safety prospect."
PAT ELFLEIN C OSU "Although he isn't a top-shelf athlete, he is quick off the ball and able to anchor at shallow depth, absorbing and redirecting rushers with strong hands and a stout base."
  • Other draft-eligible OSU prospects to watch: DE Sam Hubbard, CB Gareon Conley, CB Marshon Lattimore, DE Tyquan Lewis, QB J.T. Barrett, 
  • Other draft-eligible OU prospects: LT Orlando Brown, CB Jordan Thomas, FS Ahmad Thomas, SS Steven Parker, WR Dede Westbrook, and MLB Jordan Evans

And yes, it took Malik Hooker two games against middling teams to put himself on NFL radars. 

 SHON SHINES. Malik Hooker gets the most praise, and there's nothing wrong with that. But Marshon Lattimore put in work the first two games as well. And given his injury struggles, it's been a long time coming.


OSU’s coaches saw flashes of the talent those numbers predicted in his first preseason training camp, but only briefly when Lattimore suffered an injury to his left hamstring after only a few days. He tried to come back, probably too soon, and reinjured the hamstring, which caused him to miss all of the 2014 season after having surgery.


Last year, he made a few appearances in the early part of the schedule, shut it down after eight games and said he was hurt all season.


The hamstring problems began at Glenville and followed him to Columbus. Once it became clear this was a chronic condition, Ohio State monitored his every move on the practice field and in the weight room and the coaches held their breath he wouldn’t be lost for a third time.

I admit: I'm always skeptical of players with lengthy injury reports. Most people's bodies weren't built for football, and it's not like bones grow into lead over time. As such, I looked at anything Marshon could contribute as a bonus.

He's been a revelation.

Ohio State putting its No. 1 cornerback into the NFL would be nothing new. Putting two in the first two rounds would be something special. It could happen with Conley and Lattimore.

 THAT'S TRESSEL'S WARM GLASS OF MILK. Folks, I expect Ohio State's offense to score points in Norman (deep analysis, I know), but the defense will provide the backbreaking plays. 

Does that sound like Tresselball to you? Urban Meyer loves touchdowns, but he's not above Tresselizing a ranked opponent on the road.


Meyer has fielded some of the most consistently solid special teams units in the country. Ohio State ranked a surprisingly low 56th in Special Teams S&P+ last year, but the Buckeyes are ninth in the early going this year.

Cameron Johnston is averaging 51 yards when he gets the rare opportunity to punt, and Ohio State has owned kickoffs -- first in kick return success rate, 39th in kickoff success rate.

The combination of special teams and offensive and defensive efficiency has allowed the Buckeyes to control the field so far.

Against Bowling Green, their field position margin was plus-9.0 yards per possession (31.6 on offense, 22.6 on defense), and against Tulsa it was plus-8.6 (35.1-26.5).

Against Houston, Oklahoma dealt with a minus-6.1 margin.

Envision it now: Baker Mayfield, muzzled, for the most part, gets froggy in the third quarter and throws across his body on third and six inside his team's 35. 

So it is written, so it is done.

 AM I ALONE IN THIS? MAYBE SO. People say only the media complain about the length of games. I get it. As a people who get paid to watch sports, we're easy and ubiquitous people to kick.

But I contend at least a sizable portion of fans don't want to sit through four hours that include minutes of action and hours of ads. If you've thought games were getting longer, well, your rotting eyes aren't lying.


The average length of college football games has increased steadily since 2008. But after two years that produced the longest non-overtime games in the sport’s history, this season is on pace for yet another uptick. Through two weeks, the average game has lasted 3 hours and 26 minutes, according to Stats LLC, which is 15 minutes longer than the 1996 season, 20 minutes longer than the 2006 season and even four minutes longer than the record-breaking suffering of the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

By the time Saturday games are over, “I fully expect the next face you see is Joel Osteen starting his Sunday-morning sermon,” said SEC Network analyst Paul Finebaum.

via The Wall Street Journal

The NFL bestowed upon us the wretched "commercial, sequence, commercial" sequence we all hate to know, so this chart isn't good.

My take? It's time get rid of stopping the clock on every first down (unless Ohio State has the ball while trailing late in the fourth quarter) because it's only going to get more absurd when new television contracts come into play.

And yes, I know about the "DVR the game and wait an hour before starting" hustle. I invented that hustle. But some of us have real jobs and have to work Saturdays during Buckeye games. I am bound to the live feed.

 COME TO OKLAHOMA!!!!! Fans traveling to the game might want to pack some food because apparently, it's a food desert:

The use of the word "treated" slays me.

 THOSE WMDs. Off the cuff but on the record... FX: TV's most reliable network... Too late to switch from checkout with talkative cashier.. ND State puts FBS win streak on the line... Cleveland to rename road where Don King stomped a man dead to the "Don King Way."

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