Skull Session: Zone-6 Leads the Way, the Burrow-McCall Connection, and Underrated Jalyn Holmes

By D.J. Byrnes on April 20, 2018 at 4:59 am
Ben Victor points to the April 20th 2018 Skull Session

Ben Victor


It's Friday, which means it's legal to show up two hours late and walk into the office with an aura of swagger akin to the male American woodcock.

If I have no take on the Blue Jackets game it's because Jason offered me a "Loge Box" ticket and I am either dead and/or in jail. But do not cry for me, Columbus. The Jackets are the only thing that matter until Ohio State returns.


Word of the Day: Vesper.

 ZONE-6 LEADS THE WAY. Urban Meyer called his receivers a "clown show" when he arrived in Columbus. The receivers haven't dominated every snap since then and have been fairly criticized at times. They've also had some iconic moments.

This year's receiving corps could be Meyer's most talented from top to bottom. And that's a good thing with the departure of guys like J.T. Barrett, Billy Price, and Jamarco Jones. The WRs have filled the leadership void, according to strength sensei Mickey Marotti.

From Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated:

“We don’t right now,” he says. “But that’s O.K. We have Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin, and they are grown-ass men. I grabbed them, Johnnie Dixon, K.J. Hill and Austin Mack, and that group is gonna be the leaders of our team. In that group you have three fifth-year guys, a fourth-year guy and a third year guy.”

In previous years, leaders at one particular position of strength have helped set the tone for the Ohio State. In 2017, it was the defensive line—upperclassmen Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes now await their NFL draft fate. Another year it was the linebackers. Another year it was the O-line. 

Marotti can’t remember ever having a team where the wide receivers set the pace as a group of leaders. “And I’m not sure you ever want them to be just because of [the stereotypical wide receiver] personality. But these guys are gold elite people. They’re respected by their teammates, respected by the coaches. They’re respected by every support member in our building. Those are the guys.

If this translates into on-the-field production, I almost feel bad for opposing defenses. Almost. Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins know how to toss the ol' pigskin, and there's not going to be a defense in the country that wants to tackle Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins for four quarters.

By August I'm going to be calling for Meyer to forgo punting. It's the smart move, statistically!

 BURROW–GOAT CONNECTION. I swore fealty to Dwayne Haskins, and I plan to ride that wave even if it results in me moonlighting as a fan for another school. However, I can't ignore Joe Burrow throwing three touchdown passes to Demario McCall in the past two spring games.


Ohio State’s passing game still needs to prove that it can be effective in the intermediate-to-long range, challenging the defense vertically as well as horizontally. That’s been true really since the 2014 season. But McCall (along with Parris Campbell) brings a related capability — the ability to turn routine, high-percentage short passes into explosive plays.

So yeah, we can’t go overboard on the McCall hype train this offseason, but it seems clear that he’s carved out a big chunk of playing time with Parris Campbell.

By the way, that last play of the game? Burrow and McCall actually did something similar in last year’s spring game too:

Some quarterbacks and receivers have a preternatural connection. I'd like to see Burrow and McCall operate in a game situation—but if Burrow is the preferred quarterback of the greatest footballer in Ohio State history, well, it will personally be a gray lining after being wrong about the outcome of #QBgeddon2. 

Either way, let's hope McCall makes it through fall camp without injury. The man is a special talent. I realize the depth chart is stacked against him... but if healthy he will contribute. That's another ship I'm riding until death at the bottom of the sea.

 DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH. Every NFL team needs a versatile defensive end, and I continue to preach about Jalyn Holmes being exactly it. Some team is going to look smart drafting him. Will it be the Bengals or Browns? Probably not.


Most underrated
Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State: Holmes played outside for the Buckeyes, but I think his NFL future is in a three-man front, where he'd fit as a five-technique. He has the strength to play man-up if asked, but can also win off the edge of a tackle's pads when needed. In sub packages, his quickness will help bring interior pressure, as well. I expect him to be a starter in the near future.

I can always tell how much Buckeye tape scouts have watched by how their opinions align with mine. This guy watches a lot of film.

I also raised an eyebrow at this:

Most overrated
Da'Shawn Hand, Alabama: Hand was a second-team All-SEC pick as a senior, but he didn't make as many plays as scouts would like to see from a top-tier talent. If he wants to become a difference maker in the NFL, he'll need to explode off the snap and break down more quickly to make tackles. If he's picked in the mid-third or fourth round, Hand could be a solid rotational contributor as an end on a three-man line. Hand would need to pick up his playmaking skills to justify an earlier selection.

Hand, you'll recall, gave Michigan fans their greatest GIF win since the medium returned to prominence on this side of the millennium.

From my good friends at MGoBlog (circa August 2013):

DaShawn Hand as a five-star recruit in 2013

The kicker is Hand picked Alabama, where he won himself a couple of titles. Can't hate the decision, although Larry Johnson Sr. may have been able to improve his draft stock when he arrived in 2014.

 OSU FOLLOWS THE MONEY. Government spending on state universities is down across the midwest. To bridge the gap, Ohio State has shifted focus to out-of-state and international students willing to pay a tax for a degree (which I respect). 

The downside is it means less Ohioans are enrolling out of high school.

From Owen Daugherty and Matt Dorsey of The Lantern:

But Ohio State’s high admission standards, rising attendance costs, and increased selectivity are keeping talented high school students from Brumfield’s region and other areas across Ohio from attending the state’s flagship university.

Ohio State enrolls fewer students from Ohio’s Appalachian counties than it did a decade ago. It also enrolls fewer students from the 10 most populous counties combined.

The university’s in-state enrollment has remained stagnant over the past 10 years as Ohio State takes in a growing amount of out-of-state and international students.

Listen, prospective in-state students: Go to a branch (preferably Ohio State–Marion) for two years. It costs less and all the credits transfer. Or hell, just stay there all four years and reap the financial rewards. Your diploma looks EXACTLY like the one given to main campus students (I didn't believe it either).

 ZACH HARRISON COULD BE GOOD. If you're unfamiliar with 2019 five-star defensive end Zach Harrison of Olentangy Orange, you'll be able to identify him within the first three seconds of this video:

From @grantjones111:

That guy looks like he could contribute to Ohio State's defensive line this year. Please keep the future middle managers tasked with blocking him this fall in your vespers. What Harrison is about to do to them would be considered a bloodsport in 28 states.

 THOSE WMDs. Scientists working to bring back the wooly mammoth... The mobster who bought his #teen son a hockey team... Fake it until you make it: Meet the wolves of Instagram... Norwegian government asks #teens to quit having sex on roundabouts... Who killed Tolstoy?

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