100 Things to Look Forward to This Buckeye Football Season: 70-61

Jamarco Jones J.T. Barrett Ohio State Football NFL Draft Buckeyes

I just realized that splitting up this 100 Things into 10 pieces means that I have to come up with 10 separate intros. Intros are not my favorite thing, and so sometimes I don’t put as much thought into them as I should. This intro, for instance, is probably going to be my worst one ever. But then I remember that I still have like six more after this. There is no telling how bad these can get.

Maybe my intro-writing skills will pick up after breakfast. Even if they do, however, this intro is pretty much already written, so I wouldn’t waste those skills on something that is already done. Maybe I can just knock out a bunch of intros after breakfast and then attach the pieces to them at a later date. That seems like a workable plan.

Anyway, I have now intro’d enough to move on to the next part of this piece.

What have we looked forward to so far?

100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71

And now we move to items 70-61…

70. Finding the next Curtis Samuel.
Zach Smith said in the spring that there wasn’t going to be a “next Curtis Samuel”, but that is a statement made out of a desire not to place unrealistic expectations on players who have yet to come close to that kind of projection. The fan base, however, should be anticipating greatness around every corner. After all, these are the same coaches who were super excited to land verbal commitments from every last one of these players. The names may change, but the expectations never will, and that’s a good thing.

69. Leaving no doubt against Michigan State.
Urban Meyer is 5-0 against Michigan and 3-2 against Michigan State, so you tell me who Ohio State’s real rival is. Aren’t you tired of these inexplicably-close games against the Spartans? The Buckeyes have outscored MSU 121-120 in the five meetings since Meyer took the job. Credit Mark Dantonio for building a very respectable program, but that doesn’t mean OSU should have only beaten the Spartans by one point last year, or lost to them in Columbus in 2015. It’s time to leave no doubt against Michigan State. In fact, it’s beyond time. Just because the Spartans wear green doesn’t mean they’re kryptonite.

68. Jamarco Jones proving he is one of the elite tackles in college football.
Football is always more entertaining to watch when your left tackle is a great player, and Jamarco Jones becoming a great player would be a boon for the Buckeyes. He was very good last year, and will only be better this year. One way for J.T. Barrett to gain confidence in his receivers would be to get enough time to actually throw to them. Jones will help that development greatly.

67. The Rushmen.
What’s not to love about four defensive ends playing together like every snap is a time trial? It’s fun to watch, but the group should have gotten to the quarterback more last year. They all know that and are focused on earning the attention they received freely a year ago. It will also be interesting to watch and see who else can break into the Rushmen lineup. It can’t just stay four players again because that’s no way to increase club membership. Tracy Sprinkle was supposed to be in there last year. Dre’Mont Jones might be in it this year. Then you still have young guys who want to get involved as well. There are a bunch of names here, and you could get a look at all of them throughout each game in 2017.

66. Seeing which freshman cornerback emerges first.
Here’s the thing, if Urban Meyer signs you to play cornerback at Ohio State, you must be pretty damn good. His first full class was 2013, and he signed two first-round corners in that class. Then came Marshon Lattimore in 2014. In 2015, it was Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette, with Ward already earning first-round projections. Arnette could join that group this fall. The 2016 class was the exception, as Wayne Davis has moved to safety, Rodjay Burns has moved to Louisville, and Kareem Felder never moved to Columbus. The 2017 class, however, looks to make up for 2016 in a big way. The numbers show us that we should be expecting at least one future star out of the freshman group, but there isn’t a reason why the Buckeyes can’t go 4-for-4 with Shaun Wade, Jeffrey Okudah, Marcus Williamson, and Amir Riep. It will be fun to see which of the four emerges first. Don’t get down on a later-bloomer (there are no “late bloomers” here), however. Keep in mind that it took Lattimore and Gareon Conley three years to earn a starting spot.

65. Watching Malik Barrow emerge like last year’s redshirt freshmen did.
The Buckeyes redshirted six freshman defensive linemen during the 2015 season, and three of them — Dre’Mont Jones, Davon Hamilton, and Robert Landers — all played a large role in the rotation up front last year. Don’t be surprised to see Malik Barrow follow a similar path this year after redshirting last season as a true freshman. Barrow had a very good spring, which built up his own confidence, as well as the confidence his teammates have in him. There are a lot of bodies at defensive tackle for the Buckeyes this year, but the competition will get the best out of everyone.

64. Watching Antonio Williams fight back for a spot.
Antonio Williams came into spring camp this year fighting to be Mike Weber’s backup. Slight injuries hurt him and saw him slip back to No. 4 on the depth chart. That’s pretty much the last place in the world a Buckeye running back should want to be. Because of this, watch to see how hard Williams fights on special teams during the games, and watch to see how hard he runs when he finally gets to carry the ball. Hungry running backs can make ticket prices (or cable subscriptions) seem affordable.

63. Wondering why J.T. Barrett isn’t carrying the ball as much as he has in the past.
Imagine a world where you relax under an awning made of bamboo and banana leaves. You are laying back on your lounge chair made of the same materials. Your drink — in a bamboo cup — is filled to the brim. You are fed grapes by the hand of another. While you look around at your backyard in Sandusky and wonder why you have this fascination with grapes and bamboo, you check out the box score from yesterday’s big win over Oklahoma and notice that J.T. Barrett only carried the ball six times. You hadn’t noticed it at the time, but looking back on the game you realize that, yeah, he really didn’t carry the ball much. You begin paying attention to this even more as the season goes on, and after a game later on in the year when Barrett carries the ball a season-high 14 times and Urban Meyer is asked, ‘Do you think J.T. carried the ball too much today’, you’ll know that the Buckeyes are hitting their groove on offense and this is going to be a pretty, pretty good season.

62. The Penn State game.
No, it’s not the Michigan State game. It’s not even the Michigan game. But it is Penn State, and there is some payback due here. Any time you feel like you lost on a “lucky shot”, you’re going to come out the next time to erase any doubts about supremacy. Penn State is going to come into this game possibly 6-0 and off of a win over Michigan one week earlier. They could be riding very high, which would make a win over the Nittany Lions even sweeter for the Buckeyes.

61. Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack out wide.
It is time to get some production out of the widouts, and Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack were two of the best in the 2016 class. Now as sophomores with experience, it is time to see what they can do. Keep in mind that it took Michael Thomas three years to be ready to contribute, but that doesn’t mean the same will hold true here. Victor closed strong last season, while Mack opened well early. The key now will be find the consistency that allows them both to be productive from the first game to the last game. It’s always exciting to see new playmakers emerge, and Mack and Victor could be two of those guys in 2017.