Buckeye Nation experienced an enormous BOOM on Thursday.
What was the BOOM, you ask? Tommy Eichenberg will return for a final season with the Buckeyes in 2023. Get ready for more grunts next fall.
Tommy Eichenberg will be back at Ohio State for the 2023 season. https://t.co/XOjqUJsCRV— Eleven Warriors (@11W) January 12, 2023
Let's have a good Friday, shall we?
THE ACHILLES HEEL. The term “Achilles heel” comes from the legend of the Greek hero Achilles, who was dipped in the River Styx by his mother, making him invulnerable everywhere except on his heel. Later in his life, he was killed by an arrow wound to that same heel.
But it gave us humans a pretty cool term for weakness(es), of which THE World Famous Ohio State University football team did not have many this past season. In fact, the Buckeyes had only one flaw, in my estimation: Allowing explosive plays.
This is old news – I know. But when Max Olson of The Athletic released his final standings for FBS stop rate in 2022, it was apparent Ohio State's Achilles heel was its failure defensively to keep teams from scoring via 30-, 40-, 50-, 60- and even 70-yard touchdowns.
In Jim Knowles' first year as “head coach of the defense,” the Buckeyes had the No. 14 total defense and No. 25 scoring defense in the country by allowing 321.5 yards and 21 points per contest to its opponents across 13 games this past season. Ohio State also finished within the top 10 of FBS stop rate, according to Olson.
*Reminder: Stop rate is a basic measurement of success: the percentage of a defense’s drives that end in punts, turnovers or a turnover on downs against FBS opponents.
To recap, Ohio State finished 14th in total defense and 25th in scoring defense but 10th in stop rate – which, honestly, could be seen as higher than 10th given the lack of drives against FBS competition the teams above them faced this past season.
What that confirms to me is that allowing explosive plays were killer toward the Buckeyes' three goals of beating Michigan, winning a Big Ten Championship and hoisting a national title trophy in Los Angeles, and that's a real shame.
Stopping the “explosives,” as Knowles calls them, will be priority numero uno for the Mad Scientist this offseason. If the Buckeyes don't show progress in that department early in 2023 – because remember, folks, Ohio State allowed some explosive plays to Arkansas State, Toledo and Wisconsin this past season – we could be in for another year where the defense fails to meet the level of the offense in yet another fall. And that would suck.
The good news is Knowles will have Eichenberg and Steele Chambers back, JT Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer and Mike Hall Jr. each in their third year with the program and plenty of other talented players back.
Let's see what you can do, Jimmy Sparks.
HEISMAN TIME, BABY. As I scoured the internet for Ohio State football content for today's Skull Session, I had several news articles regarding quarterback Kyle McCord continue to pop up in my searches.
|MICHAEL PENIX JR.
That's not unusual, per se. He and Devin Brown are about to enter a competition for the title of QB1 that will presumably last into fall camp. However, there was one headline I found to be at least somewhat strange.
As it stands in January, over seven months until the 2023 college football season will kick off in late August, McCord has the best odds of any Ohio State player to win the 2023 Heisman Trophy at +2000, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
I’ve defended McCord and said he is more than capable of being Ohio State's quarterback and would help the team go where they want to go. But there's a huge difference between that and being considered the Buckeyes’ most favorable Heisman candidate heading into 2023, especially when he hasn't won the starting job, and Marvin Harrison Jr. and 2022 Heisman watch list member TreVeyon Henderson will be back on the roster next fall.
I can't tell you what to do with your money or how to gamble, but I recommend steering clear of betting on McCord for now – not even one of those “it could happen” bets. Just let the competition between McCord and Brown play out and go from there.
Beyond McCord, Harrison (+4000), Henderson (+5000) and Brown (+6000) are all listed as potential Heisman candidates heading into 2023, according to several sportsbooks, including Caesars.
WHERE THEY RANK. Thursday marked the ninth anniversary of Ohio State's 42-20 win over Oregon in the national championship to win the inaugural CFP in 2014. It was the program's first title since 2002 and its eighth overall.
That 2014 team is remembered as one of the greats in Ohio State’s rich football history because it won the CFP by defeating mighty Alabama in the semifinals and Heisman winner Marcus Mariota and Oregon in the championship game – all with its third-string quarterback Cardale Jones under center.
But how good is that team compared to other champions of the past 15 years? ESPN's Bill Connelly offered his take by ranking the teams using his SP+ formula after Georgia's shellacking of TCU on Monday:
*Reminder: SP+ is a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency.
Now, also keep in mind that the SP+ rates a team for their body of work throughout the entire season and not only their performance in the national championship game. It was for that reason Ohio State's 2014 team is ranked lower than others, Connelly says:
For the most part, I think the list makes sense to the eye. All of these teams were deserving champions for the simple reason that they won the games they needed to win to become champs. But at the bottom of the list, Cam Newton and 2010 Auburn needed seven one-score victories to secure the crown; the Tigers weren't nearly as dominant as most champs, and 2014 Ohio State was a team that caught fire late in the season after losing by two touchdowns to a seven-win Virginia Tech team and laboring against a couple of other above-average-at-best opponents.
Connelly's first sentence is really all that Ohio State fans need to read. Would the 2014 Buckeyes hold up against the other championship teams from the past 15 years? Maybe!
The thing is, we'll only ever be able to hypothesize about whether or not Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and the boys would beat Trevor Lawrence and the 2018 Clemson team or Stetson Bennett and the 2022 Georgia team. We'll never know!
While ranking the title winners is good fun, all that matters is Ohio State won the championship in 2014, and nobody can ever take that away from them. That's special.
OH, HE’S FAST FAST. I watched Parris Campbell play a lot for Ohio State during my teenage years. He was really, really good. But one thing I always forget is how fast he was. Luckily, I will always have the trusty Big Ten Network to remind me of that.
Reaching 22 mph while running is something I could never dream of achieving. Like what? That doesn't make sense to me. That's superhuman behavior. But, hey, Parris is like that. He's built different.
It was good to see Campbell finally play a year of healthy football for the Colts in 2022-23. In 17 games (with 16 starts) for Indianapolis, he recorded career highs in targets (93), catches (63), yards (623) and touchdowns (three).
With the Colts holding a top-five pick in the draft, many are expecting them to choose a quarterback with their first-round selection. May I suggest Coleridge Bernard Stroud IV if he is still available? I think he could keep Campbell's numbers trending in the right direction, don't ya think?
SONG OF THE DAY. “Jimmy Sparks” by The Lumineers.
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