Football

The Biggest Holes To Fill On Offense This Spring

Spring football kicks off at Ohio State on Tuesday, and when it does it’s going to be the start of a new era for the Buckeyes.

The team will begin the process of identifying replacements for a number of long-time stars, including all-Americans and school and conference record-holders.

Urban Meyer’s program has always maintained a “next man up” mantra, meaning that whenever a starter comes down with an injury or a mild case of graduation, the next guy in line steps up.

The expectation is that there won’t be a noticeable drop off, although sometimes that’s easier said than done.

This is the easier side of the ball to break down. OSU was fortunate to get running back Mike Weber and wide receivers Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin back. Any of them could have jumped to the NFL Draft, but none did. That means the backs and receivers return more or less intact.

Here’s a look at the positions where the Buckeyes have the biggest shoes to fill. Some have obvious replacements, while other spots will have to be settled during spring and perhaps even fall camp.

Brady Taylor Ohio State Football Buckeyes
Brady Taylor and Joe Burrow will both be fighting for starting jobs this spring.

Center: As the second consecutive Buckeye center to win the Rimington Award as the nation’s best player at that position, Billy Price’s graduation leaves a huge hole in the middle of the line.

This figures to be a battle between fifth-year senior Brady Taylor, who backed up Price last fall, and redshirt junior Matt Burrell, who has spent most of his career at guard. Burrell has reportedly moved over to center this spring to try to win Price’s old job.

Both players are veterans who have been around the program long enough that they should be able to handle the added responsibilities of the position, but it will be a tall order for whoever wins the job to continue the Buckeyes’ run of Rimington Awards.

Offensive Tackle: A first-team all-conference left tackle, Jamarco Jones was a solid, consistent protector of J.T. Barrett’s blind side.

Isaiah Prince, who played right tackle in 2017, is slated to move across the line to replace Jones. Redshirt freshman Thayer Munford is probably the early favorite to grab the RT job, although Josh Alabi, who backed up Jones last fall, is another possibility. The Bucks could also slide a starting guard like Michael Jordan or Branden Bowen outside.

Tackle is not a spot that you can hide so-so production. The good news for Greg Studrawa is that the Buckeyes have options here, but one of those players will have to step up to make this question mark officially go away.

Dwayne Haskins is hoping to get the thumbs up to be the replacement for J.T. Barrett.

Quarterback: Despite all the grumbling about how he may or may not have held the OSU offense back, Barrett finished his career as the OSU record holder in most passing, scoring, and total offense categories. He also erased Drew Brees’ name from several spots in the conference record books as well. This is not exactly “how will the Buckeyes possibly find someone to do everything Joe Bauserman did?”

The OSU fanbase seems fairly confident that they know who will replace Barrett. Dwayne Haskins has already been the hero of The Game, and has the physical tools to push the Buckeye passing game downfield in a way it hasn’t gone since the playoff run of 2014.

Joe Burrow, who may have been ahead of Haskins before suffering a hand injury last fall, is another legitimate contender to grab the starting job.

Redshirt freshman Tate Martell was a standout on the scout team in 2017, drawing rave reviews from both teammates and coaches for his speed and elusiveness. He figures to get onto the field one way or another this season.

Rashod Berry will try to keep the rest of the TE competition at arm’s length.

Tight End: Marcus Baugh put up big numbers by the historically-low standards of Ohio State tight ends. He had 52 catches for 573 yards and seven touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons combined, including the game-winning touchdown in the comeback over Penn State in 2017.

This year the battle to replace him will come down to a four-man race. Rashod Berry is seemingly the favorite to grab the starting job after he recorded 100 yards and two touchdowns receiving, including a highlight reel play where he broke four tackles to score from 38 yards out against UNLV.

Redshirt sophomore Luke Farrell was listed as a co-backup along with Berry in 2017. He returns along with fellow redshirt sophomore Jake Hausmann. Both came in as 4-star prospects, but neither has made much of an impact in the passing game thusfar.

The wild card is true freshman Jeremy Ruckert, who comes in with an impressive recruiting profile and eye-popping film. However, he won’t enroll until this summer, and could take a year of development in the weight room before he can contend for the starting job.

 

4 Responses

  1. Cobbling together a solid offensive line is job one. Assuming that happens, I’d love to see a TE be given the merest chance to catch and run, rather than play as if his jersey number should begin with a “6”. OSU has frittered away real chances for proven quantities at TE to produce in the recent past. Maybe this is the year?

  2. I just want to know which Kevin Wilson we get in 2018. The one who coached at Indiana or what we saw last year? Give me the Indiana version and we will all be having a lot of fun in 2018.

    Go Bucks!

  3. OL is everything. We have not recruited top notch OT in the last couple of cycles prior to 2018, and it will show until Petit Frere is ready.

  4. Nothing much concerns me about the offense. The defense is more concerning to me with linebacker and safety. But for me the biggest concern on offense is left tackle. I requires a special player to play left tackle against good pass rushers. Who is going to play RT? You know the guards are going to be fine and Burrel is not going to get beat out by Taylor who couldn’t break through in his four years here. If the line comes together solid then its all going to work. This will be a special year if that happens.

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