Ohio State Football To Do List — LB Coach Bill Davis

Ohio State Football Buckeyes Tuf Borland Linebacker


Ohio State linebackers coach Bill Davis has lost starters Chris Worley and Jerome Baker from last season. The Buckeyes return three players with starting experience in fifth-year senior Dante Booker, redshirt sophomore Tuf Borland, and junior Malik Harrison. Booker is out this spring following shoulder surgery, but Borland and Harrison are expected to be heavily involved throughout camp.

While those two may be the betting favorites to land starting jobs, there is still another job waiting to be won, as well as a two-deep to set. Nobody has secured a starting gig yet, but Urban Meyer will want Davis to have a pretty good idea of the three starters that will be on the field for the Ohio State football team this season.

In order to help figure that out, we have crafted a to-do list for Davis that he can either have or ignore. We’re nothing if not insultingly helpful, after all.

1. Find a home for Baron Browning.

Last season, Bill Davis put Baron Browning at middle linebacker as a true freshman. His thought process for doing so was that it would be easier to teach him other spots down the road if he started out by learning the middle. In the one practice that we saw this spring, Browning was no longer in the middle, having moved to one of the outside linebacker spots. At 6-foot-3 and 238 pounds, he has the size to play any of the three linebacker positions for the Buckeyes. Davis will need to decide which carries more weight — putting Baron Browning at his best position or putting him where Ohio State needs him most. If the Buckeyes’ need matches up with Browning’s optimal destination, then there could be something special brewing for the OSU linebackers.

2. Figure out how many guys will be rotating.

A year ago, the Buckeyes started out with Jerome Baker, Chris Worley, and Dante Booker as the starters. Worley eventually gave way to Tuf Borland in the middle, and Booker’s time got cut considerably due to injury. Those three healthy linebackers — along with Malik Harrison — rotated quite a bit. This has now become something that Ohio State football will look to continue. With the amount of talent the Buckeyes’ have at the position, if players can play, they’ll be doing no good on the sideline. Injuries have also been a factor several times at linebacker for OSU, so a rotation of some sort — or at least liberal substitution patterns — would make sense here. The Buckeyes have prominent names at all three linebacker spots looking to finally make an impact. This is going to be a very busy spring for Bill Davis.

3. Decide if Tuf Borland is the man in the middle.

Because of the inconsistencies at linebacker last year for the Buckeyes — as well as his own play in practice, Tuf Borland was thrust into the lineup at middle linebacker as a redshirt freshman. There were many more ballyhooed players at the position, but it was Borland who helped to calm things down for the Ohio State defense. He wasn’t flawless, but what redshirt freshman is? Now, Bill Davis will have to determine if Borland is the answer in the middle. The experience he received a year ago will be invaluable, but the position group as a whole has to play better than it did a year ago, and no single linebacker is immune to that charge.

4. Instill the needed on-field discipline to not lose to Iowa.

This may simply be a product of the starting trio of Jerome Baker, Dante Booker, and Chris Worley a year ago, but too often last season the Buckeye linebackers were treated like yo-yos by quarterbacks. Things got better when Tuf Borland came in full time and Worley moved outside, but it still has to be a concern for Bill Davis. Discipline and keys are going to be important this spring. There is no room for freelancing on a defense that has as much man-responsibility as this one does. There are enough linebackers on the Ohio State football roster that Davis shouldn’t have to defer to any elder statesmen. The three best and most-consistent players must play, and then you figure out where to put them once you determine who those three are.

5. Get enough reps for all of the contenders.

Do you understand how many Big Ten teams would sacrifice a living version of their mascot for Ohio State linebackers like Justin Hilliard, Pete Werner, and Keandre Jones? Those three haven’t even been mentioned here yet, but they should be. Jones was actually with the ones on the first day of camp at the Will. Hilliard and Werner were with Baron Browning on the second unit. Any of the top six could be good enough to start, but the only way to know that for sure is to get them each enough reps in spring practice to form a strong opinion. This will also aid in sizing up the rotation mentioned above.

To Do — Tight Ends | To Do — Running Backs | To Do – Offensive Line | To Do – Cornerbacks | To Do — Quarterbacks | To Do — Defensive Line | To Do — Safeties


2 Responses

  1. Gerd, when Day checks in with you ( like Grinch *surely* has by now? ) – remind him that being friends with Urbs only gets one so far. That seat is warm.

    1. His seat isn’t warm at all, it was one year.. relax. The linebackers played much better later in the season. Some OSU fans are way too critical at times.

Comments are closed.