Skull Session: Buckeyes' Breakout Stars, the 3-3-5 Mystified Baker Mayfield, and Ohio State's Medical Tent

By D.J. Byrnes on September 21, 2016 at 4:59 am
Parris Campbell sings Carmen Ohio for the September 21st 2016 Skull Sessioj

Bad news, folks: Urban Meyer won't meet with media Wednesday because he does what he wants. Us smallfolk will instead hear him, as scheduled, tomorrow on his call-in show at 12 p.m. ET.

J.T. Barrett, Jalyn Holmes, Cam Johnston, Jamarco Jones and Curtis Samuel will meet with local media emissaries at 6 p.m. ET on the indoor field of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center., a site I just heard about last week, will have the coverage.

 THEY'RE ALL GOOD PLAYERS. We had our suspicions over the summer. Ohio State may be young, but it will be good.

The "math" — whatever that may be — has been crunched, and it turns out there's some bite to the big-pawed puppies.


Curtis Samuel
The best player on Ohio State through three games – and our top-graded all-around running back – Samuel has lined up all over the field, including 73 snaps split wide, 64 in the backfield and another six taking direct snaps. He’s averaging 8.1 yards per carry while leading the team in receiving with 259 yards. Meyer is known for using running backs and slot receivers interchangeably and Samuel has been a perfect fit so far this season.


Marshon Lattimore
Targeting Lattimore has not gone well for opposing quarterbacks so far this season, as he’s allowed five catches on 10 targets, but he also has three interceptions and two other passes defensed. He’s allowed a passer rating of 275 on throws into his coverage and as we like to say around the office, quarterbacks would have a better passer rating if they just threw the ball in the dirt rather than targeting him ( Sam Monson).

Defensive line rotation
Perhaps the biggest question mark was replacing the production of DE Joey Bosa and DT Adolphus Washington up front, and it’s been a strong committee approach to this point. Hubbard has been solid while DE Tyquan Lewis has continued his strong play with the top pass rushing grade up front. Among the new names, defensive tackle Michael Hill has held the point in the running game, as his 81.4 grade against the run can attest. DT Dre’Mont Jones had his best game of the year against Oklahoma and DT Robert Landers has played well on his 20 or so snaps per game.

That article is recommended in full, but it can be summed up thusly: Everybody is good, even "backups" like Jerome Baker.

And I don't know what would scare me more as an opposing coach, Ohio State looking this good that early or that it achieved that result while playing far from perfect. Either way, it's a scary November trajectory.

It's also why the Buckeyes could theoretically lose to Wisconsin or Penn State and still make the playoffs as long as they put Michigan State and Michigan to the sword and win in Indianapolis.

Though it's not likely Paul Chryst or James Franklin outfox Meyer, it's soothing to know an October loss wouldn't be a death knell.

(Soapbox aside: Please don't tell me to "take it one game at a time," either. This may shock some people due to my wealth of football knowledge, but I'm not on the team nor involved in any of its preparation.)

 GET DUMPED THEN, BAKER. Big-balled Oklahoma freshman QB Austin Kendall watched Ohio State's whippings of Bowling Green and Tulsa and declared Ohio State's defense to be "very basic."

Schematically, he wasn't wrong. When the talent gap is that wide, there's no need to get fancy, especially with a trip to Oklahoma lurking in Week 3.

What Kendall perhaps didn't realize is Ohio State could deploy packages he hadn't seen on film. Packages aimed at stupefying Mayfield, thus robbing him of his ability to "light up" the defense.

If that were the case, well, he learned another hard lesson Saturday night.


The Sooner quarterback had some success throughout the game when connecting on quick reads and predetermined throws, but the change in formation allowed eight defenders to drop into coverage or “spy” the scramble, causing Mayfield to turn the ball over or suffer a sack.

Shoutout to Greg Schiano and Luke Fickell. That's a textbook example of putting your players in position to make a play. 

And that Baker pick gets more impressive every time I watch it, too. The one-handed pulldown, burst, and closing speed showed the shades of the high school running back he used to be. Hell, he looks like he could spell Mike Weber if Dante Booker gets his job back.

 WISE MOVE HERE. You don't truly understand the physical ramifications of football unless you play(ed) the sport, lived with somebody who did, or sat in the stands and watched a player defecate on himself after getting "jacked up."

It's always been weird to me how trainers diagnosed players right on the sidelines. I don't even like talking on the cellphone in front of my cats, let alone seeing a doctor in front of 100,000 fans and millions more on television.

Alabama solved this problem with a practical solution: A medical tent where players and trainers achieve privacy on the sidelines.

Ohio State followed suit.


The tent will allow a player to be evaluated away from the public eye, according Alexis Shaw, a spokesperson for the team’s sports medicine physicians.

“There’s no special equipment inside the tent,” Shaw said. “Players are just brought there for a private assessment before determining whether they will be put back on the field or taken out of the game.”

In the past, injured players were assessed on an open medical table in plain view of fans and television cameras. The goal of the tent is to allow for a more isolated and controlled environment while remaining conveniently close to the field.

The athletic department should be commended for acting on a solution as soon as one came to market.

 MILLENNIALS ON THE ATTACK. As a wise old Millennial (not one of these feral-ass young Millennials), I understand why people despise us. We're young, slipper rich, and we can't remember the 1980s.

But I have some bad news, America: While we've always been known for our prestigious and well-paid jobs, we're now ascending football's coaching hierarchy.

From's article on Drew Mehringer, Chris Ash's 28-year-old offensive coordinator at Rutgers who came with him from Ohio State:

That wasn't quite as embarrassing as what happened at a football camp earlier this year. After Mehringer ran some players through drills, an opposing head coach asked what he did for Rutgers.

"Uh, I'm the offensive coordinator," Mehringer replied.

It's hard to blame anyone for being confused. At just 28 years old, Mehringer is the youngest coordinator in the Power 5 this season, and he doesn't look all that much older than some of his players.

He's also part of a growing youth movement on coaching staffs around the country. When the 2016 season started, there were 15 coordinators under 35 in the Power 5. They're not old enough to be president of the United States, but they could be calling plays for your favorite team.

Rutgers only managed 13 points at Washington and opens conference play with Iowa, at Ohio State, and Michigan.

Say what you will about us powerful old Millennials, but we'll all be hoping he drops 50 on Michigan three weeks hence.

 HARBAUGH! Jim Harbaugh is a dysfunctional cyborg trapped in the body of a middle-aged suburban man, which makes him the perfect Michigan coach. (If you disagree, just wait until he's 0-4 against Ohio State as a coach.)

Yesterday, after declaring skim and 1% milk (the alleged choice of Urban Meyer) to be "candy-ass," Harbaugh posted this:

Damn, it's true: Fairlife Milk is delicious, and a post-workout glass of its chocolate milk will change your religious views.

But I know Fairlife bottles. And that bottle's seal is unbroken, which means that cup is either empty or it ain't filled with Fairlife nectar.

Real Fairlife disciples recognize real Fairlife disciples, and that's fraud behavior, bro.

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