It’s sad to me that there are only 30 things left to look forward to this Buckeye football season.
This year of looking forward has just flown by.
It wasn’t too long ago that the preseason looking forward magazines were just hitting the shelves. And now here we are with the looking forward season almost over.
What a year it has already been. And there is still a little more to come.
30. Seeing if Chase Young can get into the rotation.
I mean, if Chase Young can get into the rotation as a true freshman, then you may as well just change his name to Chase Bosa. Young was arguably the best defensive end in the 2017 class, and has only increased the expectations upon his arrival this summer. Larry Johnson has already said he isn’t worried about finding a spot for Young. If he’s good enough to play, the spot will find him.
29. Watching Keandre Jones prepare himself like Jerome Baker did a year ago.
There was no room for Jerome Baker on the field last season, so he focused on making his fellow linebackers better and being ready if his number was called. Then Dante Booker went down and Baker switched linebacker positions and the rest is emphatic history. There is no room for Keandre Jones on the field this season, but he is focused on past examples that only happened because players were prepared. Jones will prepare each week as if he is going to play, and if he is finally called upon at some point this season, expect him to produce very well.
28. An offensive line with depth.
Urban Meyer said there are seven names competing for the open right guard spot. There have been seasons at Ohio State this decade with just seven offensive linemen who were capable of playing at this point. While not each of those seven right guard candidates are capable right now of being solid starters, there are other names at other spots on the offensive line who will contribute to a deep group of linemen for Greg Studrawa to mix and match.
27. Tyquan Lewis quietly being great once again.
Tyquan Lewis has led the Buckeyes in sacks each of the last two seasons. He was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year last season with just 29 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and eight sacks. The numbers may not be what you’d usually see from the best defensive lineman in a conference, but that speaks to the respect the conference coaches have for his overall game. After all, they are the ones who are having to find ways to game plan against him. You may as well expect Lewis to lead the Buckeyes in sacks again in 2017, but I’m not exactly sure how quiet his season will actually be.
26. Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann becoming Heuerman and Vannett 2.0.
Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett never put up big numbers as Buckeyes, but they were two of the most complete and consistent players on offense as veterans. Now, redshirt freshmen Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann are competing to be the backup to senior Marcus Baugh at tight end. Baugh is currently in a walking boot for a minor foot situation. Still, it has been a banged-up spring and summer for Baugh, so whoever ends up the backup behind him could just as quickly become the starter. The expectations are high for both players, just as they were for Vannett and Heuerman.
25. Malik Harrison not giving up so easily.
There’s a reason the staff is so excited about sophomore Sam linebacker Malik Harrison, though you may not get to see it right away. Harrison will start out camp a little slowly as he comes back from spring shoulder surgery. Prior to his injury, Urban Meyer said Harrison would be competing with Dante Booker for the starting spot at walk-out linebacker. Booker has already had a whale of a head-start, and it is only going to get bigger until Harrison is full go a couple of weeks into camp. From that point, it might take a couple more weeks to see if Harrison is truly going to push Booker. Even if there is still plenty of separation as the season gets under way, do not expect Harrison to just accept his lot and pack it in.
24. H-backs running free.
I’m telling you, every time I saw an H-back run a route in practice this past spring, there were defensive backs trying to catch up with them. That can’t all be the defense’s failings, right? There are going to be route combinations that cause defensive breakdowns this season, and the guys running down the middle of the field or taking a wide turn on wheel routes are going to be the beneficiaries. Get ready for it. It’s coming.
23. Seeing if Isaiah Pryor can show up early.
On Monday, Urban Meyer went over the guys who were competing for the open boundary safety position, and he only mentioned Erick Smith and Jordan Fuller. That’s not really a surprise, but it will be interesting to see if freshman Isaiah Pryor can get involved and sort of sneak in from the back.
22. Trust placed in a kicker?
For the first time in possibly three years, Urban Meyer sounded confident when talking about kicker Sean Nuernberger. Meyer said Nuernberger had a great summer, and this was after labeling him just “okay” during the spring. The job will still have to be won, but Meyer didn’t seem to think Nuernberger would have any issues doing so. It was as upbeat as I’ve seen Meyer about the place-kicking this early in a very long time.
21. The Best in the America vs. Trace McSorley’s prayers.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley had a lot of prayers answered by his wide receivers last season. The Nittany Lions lose the talented Chris Godwin, but they still have plenty of receiver talent returning. I wouldn’t expect McSorley to stop throwing up 50/50 balls this season, especially when you consider how effective they were for him last year. When he throws a ball up for grabs this season, the Ohio State secondary will be looking to earn their self-given nickname of “The Best in America.” If the Ohio State secondary snuffs those prayers, then it is going to be very difficult for Penn State to come into Columbus and get a win.