Looking forward is the best. It’s fun, it brings about great conversations, it keeps us from focusing on the mundanity of our everyday lives, and it’s the only way to fly.
We are already looking forward to so much this Buckeye football season, but there is still plenty more to come. We haven’t even gotten to the part about Kenny Guiton coming in as a mid-season hire to eventually save the day against Purdue in the Big Ten Championship Game!
This is going to be the craziest season ever.
So what else is there to look forward to?
I got you covered.
80. The J.T. Barrett you have been wanting to see, but better.
Remember how you used to feel about J.T. Barrett? He had the greatest season for a Buckeye quarterback in Ohio State history in 2014, but has never achieved that level of play since. Was it a lack of playmakers around him, or a lack of making plays himself? Regardless, gone are Tim Beck and Ed Warinner, who did very little for Barrett’s advancement. Enter Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, and a desire to punish defenses high, hard, and fast. And then every once in a while they’ll drop a 12-6 curve that will buckle a defense’s knees.
79. Kerry Coombs chasing Parris Campbell down the sideline on his first touchdown return.
Actually, this should read, “Parris Campbell chasing Kerry Coombs down the sideline…” because there’s no way Campbell returns a kickoff for a touchdown without Coombs getting to the end zone first. In fact, Coombs might be in the end zone waiting to celebrate with Campbell. Let’s just hope he lets Campbell cross the goal line first. The point here is that the Buckeyes should continue their positive ways with kick returns, which would be a huge help to an offense that may not actually need it.
78. All 5-feet-8 inches of Robert Landers blasting into the backfield.
Okay, that’s a low blow for a guy who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 283 pounds, but he’s clearly shorter than the guys he is lining up next to and in front of. Seeing a guy his size get underneath offensive linemen and get past them is pretty fun. He started out very well last year with seven tackles for loss in the Buckeyes’ first five games. Once conference play really got going, however, he only managed a half a tackle for loss over the final eight games. That’s a dramatic fall off, and I’m sure it’s one that has driven Landers for an entire offseason. How will he respond in 2017?
77. The strong safety battle.
This might be the most important position battle of the season, and there’s a decent chance that it may not end until 2018. This is going to be a case of a senior looking for his first real crack at the lineup (Erick Smith) versus an athletic sophomore who was in the two-deep last year (Jordan Fuller), and don’t forget to keep an eye on the true freshman who is the future of the position (Isaiah Pryor). Based on the way they played this spring, there is still plenty of room to grow.
76. “And back to receive the punt is Demario McCall…”
Back in the spring, Kerry Coombs said that if the Buckeyes were to play a game in April that Demario McCall would be the No. 1 punt returner. Any time the coaches can find a way to get the ball in McCall’s hands is a situation to look forward to. He returned three punts as a freshman last year, averaging just 4.7 yards per return. Until there is better blocking, however, the Buckeyes could have Barry Sanders back to return and it wouldn’t much matter. Still, McCall is a threat, and that’s what Ohio State needs.
75. Seeing a play on offense set up another play on offense – and both plays are successful.
I’m not talking about a play that works well going to the left, so they decide to run the same play to the right for a 3-yard gain on the very next snap. I’m talking about giving a defense purposeful looks in order to take advantage of them on later snaps. I’m talking about a plan of attack that isn’t dictated by a defense, but rather dictated to a defense.
74. Rashod Berry getting a sack and catching a touchdown pass in the same game.
We need to make this happen. With the depth issues at tight end, defensive end Rashod Berry could be getting some snaps there. If he is, why not get him some snaps at both defensive end and tight end in a game that gets out of control. I’m not asking for anything crazy here. Berry doesn’t need to kick any of the extra points. But it would be pretty cool if he did…
73. The continuance of Justin Hilliard’s spring.
Justin Hilliard came to Ohio State as a 5-star prospect, so the talent was always there. The health, however, was not. This spring was just about everything that the Buckeyes could have hoped for with Hilliard. He played well at middle linebacker behind Chris Worley and made it all the way through without any setbacks. It’s not just enough for Hilliard to stay healthy this season, though. They need him to continue the progression that he showed this spring. He was smart and instinctive during camp and didn’t look like he had lost the last two seasons to injury.
72. Jerome Baker vs. Baker Mayfield.
It’s Baker vs. Baker, and for once it’s not on the Food Network. Jerome Baker may not necessarily be spying Baker Mayfield when Oklahoma comes to town, but he’ll be mirroring him in many ways. You will be just as likely to find Baker defending the pass as blitzing the passer. On read plays, will Baker be able to keep Mayfield contained? If Mayfield gets the best of this matchup, the Buckeyes are going to have a difficult time winning this one. Jerome Baker can do a ton of different things on the football field, and he’ll show every last one of them against Mayfield and the Sooners.
71. The offensive line carrying the team on the road.
Remember how the offensive line collapsed on the road at Penn State last season? So do the Buckeyes. The goal this year is to avoid such an outing. In fact, it’s not enough just to avoid it. They want to have the polar opposite reaction on the road. They want to dominate and force a defense to quit. When would a good time be for these desires to be realized, you ask? Well, Ohio State heads to Ann Arbor on November 25 and there will be plays where the Buckeye offensive line has to make a dent in the Michigan defensive line if OSU is going to win. Remember the fourth-and-1 from last season in overtime that J.T. Barrett got easily? That was because of the offensive line. They still need to do it for an entire game, however, and also do it on the road against a difficult opponent.