Skull Session: How Ohio State Can Win the Title, an Anonymous Review of Michigan Football, and a Top-Five Pick in a Different Sport

By Kevin Harrish on June 30, 2021 at 4:59 am
Ryan Day is doing the Bosa shrug in today's skull session.

I'm back.

Regretfully, my honeymoon is now officially over and I must return to a life of publishing online words for your daily consumption. I assure you I'm every bit as sad about it as you are. But we'll get through it.

The west coast was delightful. I'm completely convinced that anybody who has ever disparaged Los Angeles has either never been there or is lying.

Word of the Day: Vamoose.

 IF... "What does my team need to do to win a national title this season?" is without doubt the simplest, most universal offseason question a fan ponders during the offseason.

And I have to tip the cap, because ESPN did the glaringly obvious thing and turned that question into #content during the driest of times.

Here's what they came up with for The Local Team.

If ... [insert QB battle royal winner] is ready. It's a common theme: While more FBS teams than normal return their starting QBs in 2021, last year's four CFP teams don't.

Just like Alabama and Clemson, Ohio State has its choice of blue-chippers for replacing star Justin Fields. C.J. Stroud (No. 2 pocket passer in the 2020 recruiting class) appeared to be the top dog in spring ball, yet Kyle McCord (No. 5 in 2021) and Jack Miller III (No. 14 in 2020) weren't far behind. Whoever wins the job will likely play at a high level, but how quickly? With a trip to Minnesota and a visit from Oregon in the first two weeks, the Buckeyes could be vulnerable if their QB play is less than immediately excellent.

If ... Kerry Coombs adjusts. Like many first-year coordinators, Coombs struggled with all of the covid uncertainty and less in-person prep time in 2020. He deployed quite a bit of soft zone coverage, either because his personnel couldn't play the tight man coverage Ohio State is accustomed to or because he just didn't want to. Either way, five of eight opponents posted a passer rating over 145. (No opponents topped 140 in 2019.)

Corners Sevyn Banks and Marcus Williamson are back, and youngsters Ryan Watts and Lejond Cavazos (plus a couple of star freshmen) could play roles. Coombs spoke of more aggression this spring, but Ohio State's coverage needs to be both more aggressive and better.

If ... the pass rush hits fifth gear again. The Ohio State pass rush was still good in 2020 -- the Buckeyes ranked fifth in pressure rate, and the top three ends (Jonathon Cooper, Tyreke Smith and Zach Harrison) were credited with 37 forced incompletions and interceptions. But they ranked just 66th in actual sack rate and 79th in havoc rate (TFLs, passes defensed and forced fumbles per play). Smith and Harrison are back, and the latest star recruit, Jack Sawyer, is on the way. Time to dominate again.

That all checks out, I guess, though I think I'd throw the linebackers up here before any of these positions with the top four players from last year now gone.

The quarterbacks room has two five-stars coached by Ryan Day who will be throwing to the best receivers in the country, Kerry Coombs has produced five first-round picks in the secondary, and Larry Johnson is an actual wizard who's been averaging a top-five pick every other year over the past six years.

I think everything's going to be fine.

 THE STATE OF THE NORTH. Nothing says "welcome back online" quite like reading an honest review of the Michigan football program from an anonymous college coach.

My only complaint is our Deep Throat was a little too polite.

“If you took the name Michigan off, most coaches in the country would be happy to have the success they’ve had, happy to have the players on that roster,” the coach said. “Most of us wish we could hit nine and 10 wins a year as a baseline. But they’re Michigan, so we all expect them to be better. ... They look undecided on offense, like there's too many cooks. No one thinks that's the exact offense Josh Gattis wants to be calling. The defense fell apart on them, and now they might go to a more NFL-style 3-4; that's gonna be really interesting to see. ... A smart way to look at this program is the quarterback position. When is the last time they've had game-changing QB play? They're overhauling the QB room because they know it's been a weak spot. They recruit really well, byt they still lack top-end speed Ohio State has. I don't think you could call anything they've done under Jim Harbaugh explosive. ...When you look at them from outside, you see a successful program pretty much everywhere but on the field against their true peers. That’s really what it boils down to. They don’t need a complete change, but they have to identify what separates their offensive scheme and their development from the programs they expect to beat. This is a good program. But they’re Michigan, so you can’t be unremarkable."

To be honest, that seems like a mighty generous review of a program that hasn't won anything of consequence in like a decade. And that's sad, given that it wasn't exactly a glowing review either.

Still, there were some creative liberties. 

"They recruit really well." Buddy, they currently have more commits ranked outside the top 500 than they do inside. And that whole "you see a successful program pretty much everywhere but on the field" looks like it was C/P'd straight from an MGoBlog thread.

But I am a huge fan of the general sentiment "this could be as good as it gets, so enjoy it," because I'm not sure I could imagine a more depressing thought if I were a Michigan fan.

 TOP-5 PICK U. Turns out, Ohio State's ability to crank out top-five picks isn't limited to football.

People forget, Ohio State is actually a women's hockey school (well, to be fair it's really a synchronized swimming school, but we'll roll with it).

 LEGENDARY PLAYERS, LEGENDARY UNIS. I'm saddened to report that Aaron Craft does not have any eligibility remaining, but that didn't stop him from playing a little dress-up in the crispiest iteration of Ohio State's vast throwback collection.

And E.T. ain't looking bad, either.

Or these fine fellows.

Let Carmen's Crew wear those threads for the TBT, you cowards. Give the people what they want.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Waggy" by blink-182.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. The sky thief... How North Korea almost pulled off a billion-dollar hack... How one friend can change the course of your life... a film-lover created his own Ghostbuster's car, and now he uses it as a hearse... Why horror films are going back to the 80s...

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