Skull Session: The Silver Bullets Are Back, Dan Orlovsky Praises C.J. Stroud and Ryan Day, Lorenzo and Sonny Styles Raise Awareness for Youth Homelessness

By Chase Brown on May 23, 2024 at 5:00 am
Sonny and Lorenzo Styles

Welcome to the Skull Session.

Can the Bucks stay HOT today?

Have a good Thursday.

 THE SILVER BULLETS ARE BACK. Ohio State has the best defense in America entering 2024, according to Bill Connelly of ESPN. That means the sentence “The Silver Bullets are back,” will have a new meaning this season, as it will no longer reference a years-long wait for dominant defense — rather, a months-long wait until almost the same unit that took the field last fall returns for another campaign with the Buckeyes.

GEORGIA 36.3 47.3 (2) 11.0 (5) 0.7 (4)
OHIO STATE 32.7 36.6 (20) 4.0 (1) 0.5 (20)
OREGON 30.8 48.0 (1) 17.2 (14) -0.2 (85)
TEXAS 29.5 45.4 (4) 16.0 (12) 0.5 (17)
ALABAMA 29.1 43.7 (7) 14.6 (8) 0.7 (2)
MICHIGAN 27.5 32.9 (32) 5.5 (3) 0.6 (7)
PENN STATE 26.8 36.1 (23) 9.3 (4) 0.4 (28)
OLE MISS 26.6 44.0 (6) 17.4 (15) 0.5 (26)
LSU 25.1 47.2 (3) 22.1 (35) -0.1 (83)
NOTRE DAME 24.0 39.1 (10) 15.1 (9) 0.2 (53)

Ohio State’s defense ranked No. 1 (4.0) in Connely's latest release of SP+, a “tempo and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency” the ESPN writer created in 2008. In addition to the defense, Connelly ranked the Buckeyes’ offense No. 20 (36.6) and their special teams No. 20 (0.5).

Ohio State was the No. 2 overall team behind Georgia and ahead of Oregon, Texas and Alabama.

Though their rankings did not change from Connelly's February release of SP+ (Ohio State was No. 2 overall with the No. 20 offense and No. 1 defense), the Buckeyes still improved in each metric. Three months ago, Ohio State's overall score was 30.1, while its adjusted scoring average was 35.9 on offense and 5.8 on defense. This time around, the Buckeyes possess scores of 32.7, 36.6 and 4.0.

Given Ohio State's lack of transfer portal additions in April and May, I'd imagine the Buckeyes will remain the second-best team behind Georgia whenever Connelly updates the SP+ this summer. And that's fine. Let the Bulldogs have their throne. But come December and January, the Buckeyes will take their place as Kings of College Football.

 PRAISE FOR COACH DAY. Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky gave Ohio State another recruiting pitch on Tuesday's episode of "The Pat McAfee Show."

When asked about an NFL rookie quarterback's communication skills during OTAs — and how much information a rookie can retain during the transition from college football to the professional league — Orlovsky said most youngsters have their fair share of challenges. However, that wasn’t the case for C.J. Stroud, Orlovsky said.

“C.J. had that year in part, at least in my belief, because of the way Ryan Day coaches those quarterbacks at Ohio State,” he explained. “They huddle. They have long play calls. C.J. had to make sure that there were different levels to his communication within the huddle. I think that was really a huge foundation for him and his success.”

Remember: I used the word another in the opening paragraph.

Orlovsky’s endorsement of Stroud — and to a larger extent, Day — comes four months after Stroud appeared on The Pat McAfee Show in January and called the Ohio State head coach “a world-renowned offensive coordinator.” Stroud added that Day expects his quarterbacks to be more prepared at the college level than most NFL signal callers.

“You have to know everything,” he said. “I even had more responsibilities in college than I do now in (the Houston Texans’) offense and in this scheme.”

In two seasons as Ohio State’s QB1, Stroud completed 69.3% of his passes for 8,123 yards, 85 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was a third-team All-American in 2021, a second-team All-American in 2022 and a Heisman Trophy finalist in both years.

As Houston’s starter in 2023, Stroud completed 63.9% of his passes for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns and five interceptions, leading the Texans to a 10-7 regular-season record, an AFC South title and an NFL Wild Card win over the Cleveland Browns. After the season, he was named the 2023 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Given Stroud’s immense talent and the Texans’ additions of All-Pro wide receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Joe Mixon — as well as former Ohio State tight end Cade Stover — the 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback seems poised for another great season in the Lone Star State. 

While how great his season will be remains to be seen, I consider it a blessing that Cleveland doesn’t face Houston in 2024. I cannot bear another Sunday afternoon of him carving up the Brownies en route to a blowout win. I cannot!

 STYLES BROTHERS GIVE BACK. In May 2023, Ohio State defensive back Lorenzo Styles Jr. and linebacker Sonny Styles raised over $5,000 for the Huckleberry House — a non-profit that supports at-risk and homeless youth in Central Ohio — through a “Sleep Out” at COSI in downtown Columbus. 

On May 31, the Styles brothers will participate in the event for the second consecutive year. This time around, Lorenzo and Sonny have set a fundraising goal of over $15,000.

From the Huckleberry House website:

We are Lorenzo and Sonny Styles, student-athletes who are honored to support the Huckleberry House Sleep Out Campaign. We had the opportunity to visit the Huckleberry House last year to see the great work they are doing in the community for homeless youth.  On the field, we are battling for a championship, but off the field, young people the same age as us, and in many cases even younger, are battling a far tougher opponent. On May 31, we are sleeping out at Field, Chase Plaza, to support the 2024 Huckleberry House Sleep Out Campaign and to show solidarity with the youth who battle homelessness on a daily basis.  This will be our second year participating in this event, and we ask that you please join Team Styles in this battle against youth homelessness by donating to the Sleep Out fundraising campaign.  

We both THANK YOU for taking the time to read this. Please know any contribution makes a difference. … All donations go directly to Huckleberry House & Huckleberry House is a U.S. tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization, and you will receive an email receipt from Huckleberry House for your donation.

Thank you, Lorenzo & Sonny

As of Thursday morning, Lorenzo and Sonny have raised over $10,000 toward their $15,000 goal. With one week until the Styles brothers participate in the event, I will call upon the Eleven Warriors community to help them reach (and hopefully surpass) that goal with donations to their fundraiser. Here are some statistics to look over as you consider contributing:

According to the Huckleberry House

  • 1 in 7 children will leave home before 18
  • 1 in 10 14 to 24-year-olds endure some form of homelessness each year
  • 1 in 20 young people are couch-surfing for shelter day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month
  • Over 50% of young people in shelters and on the streets report that their parents told them to leave or knew they would leave and didn’t care

I want to thank all who donate to this cause.

I also want to thank Lorenzo and Sonny for their continued efforts to end youth homelessness in Central Ohio. They get what I would call a “Cheers” and what Eleven Warriors editor Chris Lauderback would call some “hat tips.”

 SHE’S LIKE THAT. Former Ohio State women's soccer standout Emma Sears has been on an absolute tear to kick off the NWSL 2024 season.

Through nine games with Louisville Racing FC, Sears ranks in the top 10 of several categories, including successful dribbles, shots created, progressive carries and shots on target. She also scored the NWSL Goal of the Week in her team's recent 3-3 draw with the KC Current.

In recognition of her hard work, Louisville FC signed the Dublin, Ohio, native to a three-year contract extension on Wednesday. The deal includes upgraded terms and bonuses for the rookie attacker, who collected 25 goals and 15 assists across 85 appearances with the Buckeyes from 2019-23. 

“My rookie experience with Racing has been fantastic,” Sears said in a team press release. “I am thrilled to extend my contract with this great organization, working alongside incredible coaches, teammates and staff to achieve our goals as a team. I want to give a shoutout to all the fans for their amazing support — your enthusiasm drives us every day! Louisville is a special place, and I couldn’t be happier to call it home.”

Racing general manager Ryan Dell has been impressed with Sears to start the season, and he believes the former three-time All-Big Ten honoree will continue to thrive while wearing the team's lavender uniform.

“Emma has come into the NWSL and made an instant impact,” Dell said. “We are excited for her to continue to develop and grow in Louisville, and we’re thrilled to have her here as an important piece of what we’re building.”

You love to see it.

Cheers to Sears for her accomplishments thus far. May she continue to succeed in the NWSL— and if she does, hopefully we see her in the red, white and blue, too!

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Rubberband Man” - The Spinners.

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