Ohio State is finally finished with their non-conference schedule, finishing with a 4-0 perfect record. Ohio State beat a MAC, MWC, and FCS team at home while beating Pac-12 opponent California on the road. We take a look at what we learned and what to look for in conference play.
What we learned:
- Kenny Guiton is the best backup QB in college football and there are several teams around the country that would love to have him as a starter. Guiton has completed 68% of his passes, throwing for 13 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. Guiton also set Ohio State records by recording the longest play from scrimmage (90 yard TD to Devin Smith) against California and for most TD passes in a game (6) against Florida A&M. Guiton has done a terrific job with the option as well, setting up running lanes for his backs, while also rushing for 186 yards in a touchdown.
- Ohio State’s backfield is among the deepest in all of college football. The Buckeyes have 5 quality running backs now that all suspensions are over: Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith, Dontre Wilson, and Ezekiel Elliot. The Buckeyes are sixth nationally in rushing offense, averaging 311 yards per game.
- Bri’onte Dunn is absolutely buried on the depth chart. Dunn did not play against Florida A&M, even when Ohio State used 7 other running backs in the game.
- The Wide Receiver position is no longer is a position of weakness with this team, but rather a strength. Devin Smith is no longer one-dimensional and has shown that he has improved his route running. Brown and Smith both have the ability to make the big play or be a possession guy in the offense. Evan Spencer and Chris Fields have done a terrific job with their respective roles in the offense, and Fields’ play at the H-back position may cut into the playing time for some of the backup running backs.
- On the other hand, Ohio State’s linebacking unit is a huge weakness due to a great lack of depth at the position. Outside of Ryan Shazier, the Buckeyes have seen inconsistent play out of the linebacking position.
- As an entire defensive unit, the Ohio State defense is struggling with tackling. Missed tackles, especially off of quick screen passes and misdirection plays, are keeping the lethal offense off the field. The offense depends on rhythm and long drives caused by missed tackles are hurting the Buckeyes offensively.
- Don’t be fooled by box scores: the Buckeyes have a lot to work on if they want to be playing for a national title.
What to Watch For:
- Braxton Miller. Is it healthy? It he going to be as effective as usual? If ineffective, will Kenny Guiton take over as QB. Right now, Miller is the obvious starter, but if he struggles, there could be a controversy brewing.
- What role will Kenny Guiton have in the offense moving forward. Will there be a two-QB system? Will Kenny Guiton play some H-back, WR, or some other type of position (ex: Trick plays, 2 Pt conversion plays)?
- Will Jordan Hall remain as the main workhorse for Ohio State? How many carries/touches will each player get? Will Hall/Wilson steal playing time away from some of the receivers by playing the H-Back position
- Ohio State needs to generate a pass rush to help with the liabilities on defense. Which players will help Noah Spence and become a force in the front 7?
- Player to Watch: The other Corey Brown/Armani Reeves. Corey “Pitt” Brown has been a force on defense and is seeing time at the linebacking position as well, similar to the role Zach Boren played on defense last season. Armani Reeves has seen time as a backup defensive back and is also used a blitzer from the secondary. Watch out for these two to be “rover” playmakers for the Buckeyes
- The Buckeyes need to win games decisively. The Big Ten is weak and the Buckeyes will have to win big and continue their big starts in the first quarter, outscoring opponents 104-14 in the opening quarter.
- If the Buckeyes go 13-0, a ticket will be punched to Pasadena… but will that be enough to play a week later and earn a spot in the BCS Championship Game?