Being the Elite
Urban Meyer said this spring that the Ohio State receivers were good last year, but this year they need to be elite. With every contributor returning from last season, if the group does not show improvement this season, that would be a gigantic disappointment.
As a group, the Buckeyes’ top six receivers combined for nearly 200 receptions, 2,800 yards, and 29 touchdowns last season. Those are good numbers, but they could be better. Specifically, receivers coach Zach Smith wants to see more big plays from a group that had eight receptions of 50 or more yards, which was twice as many as anybody else in the Big Ten.
“For us, we just need to be more consistent,” Smith said. “We need to make big plays when plays present themselves in big games. We did that at times, it just wasn’t as consistent as we wanted it to be. That’s really what it is. We had a good year, just not an elite year, so that’s where we’re at. Just in the throw game, in the run game, and in every aspect of our game, we just need to take another step.”
As you would expect, his players have received the message.
“I feel like we have a little bit to work on still,” said junior receiver Binjimen Victor. “We’re still coming together as a group, as one. We just have to make that next step by making the plays, being efficient, and working on the little things.”
The Best Player Plays, Period
In the fight for a starting job, all a player can hope for is a fair shot.
With three quarterbacks vying to be The Guy for the Buckeyes this year, that fair shot carries a lot of weight with it.
As Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins, and Tate Martell all compete to be the starter, they do so with the belief that the best man will win. That’s why when people doubt Martell, who is the youngest of the three, he is whole heart with the idea that the job will be won by the best quarterback, and not just the one with the most experience.
“I would hope the coaches pick the best player out of the three, regardless of who it is,” Martell said. “I hope the coaches pick the best player out of the three of us. That’s what you should do regardless, for any team. If you want to win a national championship, you’ve got to have the best player out there.”
What You See Is What You Get
It has been said that coaching at a college football powerhouse is better than coaching in the NFL because instead of signing one first-round draft pick per year, you can sign 25.
In a couple years’ time, a pretty imposing depth chart can be built. That’s what co-defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has learned in his first few months on the job.
“What you see is you see big speed,” Grinch said. “I think that’s the one thing you see. I’ve had an opportunity to coach in the SEC, I’ve had the opportunity to coach in the Pac-12. The elite programs, they don’t just have speed, they have big speed.
“And in a place like Ohio State, we have big speed backed up by big speed. That’s the main thing that you see and feel when you’re at practice, is you have to put the pads on and they look right and they fly around a little bit. So it’s a fun group to watch on film.”
The Ohio State H-backs were credited with 12 rushes last season, but a few of those were simply backwards passes. The year before, with Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson, the Buckeyes finished with 113 rushes.
In fact, the 2017 season produced the fewest number of H-back rushes since the 2012 season when Urban Meyer was still searching for his next Percy Harvin.
Given the effectiveness of Parris Campbell with the ball in his hands, and the move of Demario McCall to H-back from running back, Meyer wants to see those carry numbers increase this season for the H-backs.
“Yeah, of course. You’d like to have — Parris probably could,” he said. “We didn’t maybe give him enough carries because he certainly can run the ball. But the H-back you’d like to have a little more carries than he had.”
Finding those carries may be a challenge, but Meyer likes the guys who could be doing the job.
“Well, there are two running backs, two very good running backs,” he said. “Antonio [Williams] is doing a nice job as well. But the H-back, K.J. [Hill] is not practicing because of his shoulder. He’ll be fine by the time summer rolls around. Parris is a known weapon. Demario is having a pretty good spring too.”
When you have six receivers do you really have none? Six is too many. Period. One of the biggest factors in a passing game is timing and that kind of timing just can’t be developed rotating six receivers. I believe this is why OSU hasn’t developed any go-to WR’s in recent years and is a big reason (not the only reason) why the passing game has been so frustratingly inconsistent and under-productive.
I also wonder why Urby can’t seem to make up his mind on what style he wants out of a QB. Pro-style? Dual-threat? We always seem to have one of each and, right now, are looking at three of each for next year. How do you replace one for the other in the middle of a game if that becomes necessary? Two different styles, two different skill-sets, two different philosophies…I just don’t get that. The good news is that there is more talent at QB than any time in OSU history. I just wish we had a consistent philosophy to go with it.
The 2014 six-man rotation of Devin Smith, Corey Smith, Michael Thomas, Evan Spencer, Jalin Marshall, and Dontre Wilson worked very well. I think the key is to have elite receivers.
Gerd… come one man. No one in their right mind being honest would call that 2014 WR corps a true “6 man rotation”. It was a four man rotation as Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson were barely factors. It was not a 6 man rotation in earnest like we had last year and will likely have this year. It should be four tops. I really think we would have benefited from some guys going pro at WR (clearing up some space and dropping some weight).
Don’t tell Zach Smith or Urban Meyer that. The rotation was there. Both Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson had more catches than Spencer, and Wilson missed five games. Devin Smith only had 1 more catch per game than Corey Smith. Those catches would have probably been even if Corey had caught the ones he should have and Devin didn’t catch the ones he shouldn’t have. LOL. Wilson’s injury allowed for a larger role for Jalin Marshall though. It was a great four at the end of the season, for sure.
I really hope I am wrong on Martell…I just see him as our version of Tate Forcier. It’s just hard for QBs of his size to excel. That said, he has a reputation for winning so we’ll see
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