Skull Session: Ohio State Football's Three-Year Outlook, Ranking Ryan Day, and J.K. Dobbins is Among the Best

By Kevin Harrish on June 13, 2019 at 4:59 am
Ryan Day is tossing some deep balls in today's Skull Session.

I hope you all have a fantastic day today, but you're not topping this guy's.

"Against the advice of nearly everyone" is truly the best way to live life.


Word of the Day: Bucolic.

 A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE. All longterm predictions about the future of Ohio State football are currently hilarious, because no matter what, they require a gigantic leap of faith.

You're either looking at a first-year head coach with a new quarterback and a totally retooled coaching staff and thinking "Yes, this is a consistent national title contender for the foreseeable future," or you're looking at an absolutely perennial powerhouse that has the two best recruiting classes in program history entering their second and third years and thinking, "This is a team that will certainly take a step back."

Either way, there's some level of absurdity.

So when ESPN does its three-year projections, which "examine offense-defense balance, recruiting performance, and potential coaching changes, dismissals and exciting new hires," Ohio State's rating should probably just be ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

But they have to do something, so they hedge the hell out of it and put the Buckeyes at the tail end of the elite teams.

From Adam Rittenberg of ESPN:

5. Ohio State Buckeyes

Future QB ranking: 7
Future offense ranking: 5
Future defense ranking: 7

Scouting the Buckeyes: Ohio State slips two spots from its 2018 ranking but easily could rise again. So much depends on two men -- first-year head coach Ryan Day and quarterback Justin Fields -- who have high ceilings but step into new roles. Day, previously the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator and QB coach, showed with Dwayne Haskins that Ohio State can develop quarterbacks that the NFL desires. He must do so again with Fields, ESPN’s top-rated recruit in the 2018 class (ahead of Trevor Lawrence) who transfers in from Georgia. Ohio State has enough to surround Fields, both right now -- running back J.K. Dobbins, receiver K.J. Hill, tight end Luke Farrell -- and in the future with decorated 2019 recruit Garrett Wilson and five-star 2020 commit Julian Fleming. The Buckeyes need two traditionally strong groups, offensive line and linebacker, to improve in 2019. After a down year, the defense reboots under new coordinators Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley. All-America candidate Chase Young returns at end, and there’s experience in the secondary. Day follows a coach in Urban Meyer who dominated the Big Ten and the recruiting trail. If Day becomes Ohio State’s version of Lincoln Riley, the Buckeyes will soon return to the CFP.

So basically, that's just a longwinded way to say, "We very much think Ohio State is going to be great, but we have very little to actually prove that to be the case."

Works for me.

 RANKING DAY. Y'all thought fairly and accurately projecting Ohio State's future success was hard, try fairly and accurately ranking Ryan Day as a head coach.

Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports ranked the Big Ten's head coaches this week – remember, it's subjective list season and folks love lists – and he had the most hilarious (and frankly, most understandable) rationale yet for why he ranked Day where he did.

10. OHIO ST. – Ryan Day: Day steps into an interesting situation. To paraphrase my colleague, Barton Simmons, Day is like a kid waking up on his 16th birthday to find a Bugatti in the driveway. We don't even know for sure if he can drive yet, but he's got a hell of a car to learn in. Clearly, Day is set up in the best possible situation, and while he's 3-0 as a head coach, Urban Meyer was still involved with the program. Now Day is on his own and it's time for him to put his stamp on things, and it's important to remember it's not always as easy as it might seem. People could have argued that Luke Fickell was in a good situation in 2011. He inherited a program from Jim Tressel that had gone 12-1 the season before and had won at least 10 games in every season since 2005. Fickell went 6-7 and was then replaced by Urban Meyer. As nice as Ohio State is, it's not a self-driving car.

I'm going to go ahead and strongly disagree that Luke Fickell inherited a "good situation" in 2011, but I see the point. Day isn't guaranteed success just because he got dealt a good hand.

The teenage driving comparison is pretty perfect. You wouldn't rank a 15-year-old the best driver in the family after he drove the car without crashing thrice with dad in the passenger seat. But with that imagery, it makes it all the more hilarious that Fornelli actually ranks Day ahead of four coaches who've actually done this before.

To be fair, I guess they've already proven to be bad, whereas Day hasn't proved anything either way.

 THE BELL COW. With all due respect to Master Teague III and his GOATness Demario McCall, J.K. Dobbins will be Ohio State's bell cow running back this season and figures to be one of the most vital parts of the Buckeye offense with a new quarterback, a retooled offensive line and new starters at receiver.

But don't get too excited! According to one writer, who ranked the top-10 college running backs (don't sleep on subjective list season, folks), Dobbins "might not be the best fit" for Ohio State's "new" offensive scheme.

From Paul Myerberg of USA TODAY:

9. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (Jr.)

Dobbins might be not the best fit for new Ohio State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich and his scheme, which at Oklahoma State was built around shiftier and more explosive backs with speed to hit and turn the corner. But Dobbins is steady and reliable — almost 2,500 yards during his first two years — and a safe bet to again crack 1,000 yards and earn all-conference honors.

Without even getting into the numerical rating, there are two gigantic problems here:

  1. Since when does Dobbins lack shiftiness, explosiveness and speed? He was the Nike+ Football Ratings Champion in 2016 with a 4.45 second 40-yard dash, 43.1-inch vertical leap, 4.09 second 20-yard shuttle, and it's not like he got drastically less athletic since then.
  2. The Buckeyes aren't running Mike Yurcich's offense, as he and Ryan Day have said repeatedly. They're going to run Ryan Day's offense, which Dobbins has played in his entire collegiate career.

 STILL GOT IT. As if we had any doubts, Ryan Day proved he can still sling it.

Day was at one of Ohio State's high school camps on Wednesday and the quarterbacks were having a bit of trouble finding the mark, so he stepped in to offer some assistance.

Apparently, Day's still got a rocket launcher and was slinging 40-yard bombs to the corner of the end zone. Maybe we should be worried about him bolting to the NFL for a different reason...

Day isn't the first new Big Ten coach to play football with high schoolers ahead of his debut season.

Who wore it better?

Who wore it better?

 THROWBACK THURSDAY. Hey, remember when Joey Bosa was a freshman and people were simultaneously talking about how absurdly good he was but that his high school brother was even better?

Those conversations felt hyperbolic at the time, yet here we are.

I hesitate to give this take too much praise, because like, what person on the planet was picking against the Bosa brothers, especially after Joey's freshman year? On the other, the fact that this isn't really even a bold take highlights the hilarity of the situation.

He looked at a sophomore in high school and thought "Yeah, he'll be an NFL player one day" and five years later I'm complaining that the #take wasn't bold enough.

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