I am pretty tapped out on introductions for this series. The most I can mange right now is to mention Ohio State football for SEO purposes.
Please don’t let my lack of enthusiasm for writing introductions about Ohio State football reduce your enthusiasm for the Ohio State football season to come.
I imagine if I was a used car salesman, I’d be pretty terrible after my third or fourth sale. Although they at least get to give their spiel to new people over and over again. I have to give my spiel about Ohio State football to the same people over and over again, so I at least feel some obligation to change it up.
Clearly, however, I don’t even feel an obligation to actually introduce the subject at hand. Perhaps if I did that, things would be easier. Instead, I’ll just keep looking for ways to avoid introducing the topic during my intros, which should continue to make me hate doing them.
So let’s get started.
What have we looked forward to so far about Ohio State football?
Let us begin…again.
50. Seeing Parris Campbell come into his own finally.
I am personally looking forward to this one. Parris Campbell almost started his Ohio State career in a Michael Wileyan manner as a redshirt freshman at Virginia Tech in 2015, but he dropped a slant pass that would have been a sure touchdown. He told me last year that he still has dreams about that drop and that it continues to drive him. It has now driven him to be Ohio State’s No. 1 H-back, which is the premier receiver position in this offense when it is well manned.
49. The landmine game at Iowa.
Nobody goes to Iowa and expects everything to go perfectly. Just ask Jim Harbaugh. Michigan went to Iowa last year ranked No. 2 in the nation and favored by 21.5 points over the Hawkeyes. They fell to Iowa 14-13, which was their fourth-straight loss in Iowa City. The Buckeyes have only been to Iowa twice since the 2004 debacle, winning both meetings. The game at Iowa this year comes one week after Ohio State hosts Penn State, so the Buckeyes are going to be ripe for a letdown. The Hawkeyes will be coming off of a home game against Minnesota.
48. A deep threat that is more of a threat to the defense than the offense.
Remember when a deep ball didn’t end up in second-and-10 for the Buckeyes? It was a long time ago. This year you can look forward to the results being something better, like another first-and-10, or even six points. (Dare to dream!) Who will be that deep threat? That’s a discussion for the entirety of August and the final week of July. The Buckeyes focused on the deep ball all spring long, so the results are expected to be apparent this season.
47. Jalyn Holmes never starting a game for the Buckeyes but becoming a millionaire by June.
At this point I don’t even want Jalyn Holmes starting a game this year just so that can be part of his trivia legacy. When he is drafted in the first couple of days of next year’s NFL Draft, they can talk about what he does well and what he needs to get better at. And then they’ll add, “And did you know that he never started a single game for the Buckeyes?” And then NFL Network host and Michigan grad Rich Eisen will mumble something under his breath and everybody else on the set will laugh and laugh and laugh.
46. Denzel Ward becoming a leader.
You don’t crank out first-round draft picks like Ohio State does at cornerback without those players becoming leaders along the way. This year is Denzel Ward’s turn to lead a unit that is replacing two fantastic leaders in Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley. The task for Ward, however, is a little bit greater than past cornerbacks. There isn’t a lot of experience returning, and there are five brand new guys to show the way. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Ward has been up to the task to this point and has shown no signs of the responsibilities being too big for him.
45. Isaiah Prince proving that he is on his way to being one of the Big Ten’s best.
If Ohio State is going to win a national title, this might be a must. You can go ahead and put me in the camp of people who think Isaiah Prince wasn’t as bad as he looked against Michigan and Penn State. He got zero help against the Nittany Lions despite clearly needing some. He started as a true sophomore last season, which is a rarity for the Buckeyes. That should give you a pretty good idea of the talent that he possesses. Pat Elflein didn’t start until his third season on campus. Same for Jamarco Jones. It can take time to be good enough to be great.
44. Marcus Baugh getting three catches a game.
I know three catches per game doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a number that is rare for Buckeye tight ends to hit. Marcus Baugh was right around two catches per game last year, which is where Jeff Heuerman and Jake Stoneburner have also been in the past. Last year, Ed Warinner said that being the guy who called the plays and coached the tight end position would be a positive for his position’s production. Baugh responded with 24 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns. What can he do in his second season as a starter and with a new offensive coordinator who also happens to coach the tight ends? Expect even better numbers in 2017.
43. Dre’Mont Jones becoming a backfield monster.
There weren’t many better redshirt freshman defensive tackles in the nation than Dre’Mont Jones last season. The problem, however, is that he only had four tackles for loss. The good news is that three of those TFLs came in the Buckeyes’ final four games. This year, you should go ahead and ramp up your expectations because there are some big plans for Jones. They want him on the field on passing situations this season, which he pretty much wasn’t allowed to do last season due to the Rushmen package. Now, however, he could end up being part of that package, which will be very interesting to watch.
42. Chris Worley on the hunt.
Chris Worley has been one of the hardest hitters on the Ohio State defense since he arrived. He has rarely gotten to show that, however, as he has been stashed away from the ball out wide for the entirety of his career. Now as the Buckeyes’ middle linebacker, he’ll be around the football more often than not. He will also be sent on more blitzes than ever before, and he’ll be bringing that hard hitting to the quarterbacks who will be trying to avoid him. It should be pretty fun.
41. Seeing if Jonathon Cooper can get into the rotation.
The Rushmen is a pretty exclusive club. It’s basically the Skull & Bones of football. Heck, the only reason Nick Bosa was allowed in last year is because he was a legacy. Defensive end Jonathon Cooper wasn’t good enough to get into the rotation last year, but he was too good to sit. This year, Larry Johnson is trying to get him into the rotation. He may have to pull a few strings, but since he’s the Grand Poobah of the Rushmen, he’s got a lot of sway on these matters. Cooper has all the ability a growing defensive end needs. The opportunities, however, are going to be difficult to come by. The great thing about the Rushmen is that when you are accepted, the hazing actually gets done on the quarterback, so it’s totally safe for members.