5 Things To Watch For On The Ohio State Offense

Ohio State Fall Practice 2 2017

Ohio State held its third practice of the fall on Sunday, although like the first two, it was still closed to the media.

The team has a day off on Monday, and will be back at it Tuesday.

The school has said that it will have an update sometime on Monday about when practices may reopen to reporters.

However, the first game is now less than four weeks away, so there’s not much time for the team – and everyone else – to figure out the answers to a few big questions about this year’s Buckeyes.

Here’s a list of five things that will be interesting to watch for once we get a chance to see the team in person.

The offensive tackle spots

Coming into fall camp, it seemed likely that sophomore Thayer Munford will open the season as the starting left tackle, while senior Isaiah Prince returns as the starting right tackle.

For much of the spring, the opposite was expected – that Prince would flip to the left side of the line to protect Dwayne Haskins’ blind side, and that Munford would slide in on the right side.

However, Prince wasn’t totally comfortable making that switch in the spring. At the time, the coaching staff seemed inclined to keep him at RT to ensure that one of the spots was going to be in great shape.

Munford struggled some during the Spring Game. His level of improvement will be one of the biggest things that determines just how good this year’s offense will be.

The center position

Fifth-year senior Brady Taylor came out of spring ball as the presumed number one on the depth chart, but it sounded like redshirt freshman Josh Myers was not far behind.

If the coaching staff thinks the two are basically interchangeable, they might want to play the younger guy to give them more returning experience in 2019 and beyond.

Then, there’s Michael Jordan, who started at left guard the last two years. He worked out at center this summer, and was rumored to be another possible starter at the position.

At Big Ten Media Days, Urban Meyer downplayed that, saying that he just wanted to make sure there were four players on the roster who were comfortable snapping the ball. Taylor, Myers, and true freshman Matthew Jones are the other three. Redshirt junior Matthew Burrell was supposed to be the fourth, but he transferred after spring practice.

Dwayne Haskins in charge

For the first time since 2013, Ohio State enters a season without J.T. Barrett at the top of the quarterback depth chart.

Dwayne Haskins is now the more or less unquestioned starter, a transition which brings big questions about how it will change the Buckeyes’ offense and their team leadership.

For now, everyone is saying the right things about Haskins, both on the field and off.

How will he look throwing to his receivers? Will we see any indication that he has assumed Barrett’s old spot as the vocal leader on that side of the ball?

We probably won’t know for sure how the change will impact the 2018 Buckeyes until they face some adversity, either against TCU or at Penn State in late September.

The wide receivers

The position group at the center of the storm in Columbus this summer is also one of the biggest looming question marks for the fall.

Ohio State’s wide receivers have consistently been considered somewhere between inconsistent and disappointing since Michael Thomas departed for the NFL.

With the change to Haskins, and the assumption that will mean more frequent and more accurate downfield passing, this was supposed to be the year that #Zone6 finally broke out.

That’s easy to say in the spring and even during informal summer workouts.

But now guys like Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and K.J. Hill will get to start doing it against some very talented defensive backs in practice.

It will be interesting to see whether there’s a noticeable difference in the passing game during the limited looks that we get before the season kicks off for real.

The true freshmen

The Buckeyes’ 2018 recruiting class ranked not only as one of the best in the nation, but also one of the best in school history. For a program with as long and storied a history as OSU, that really says something.

Thanks to the new rule that allows players to see action in four games and still take a redshirt season, we should see virtually all of the freshmen at some point this fall.

However, between spring practice and interviews at Big Ten Media Days, it sounds like four of the true freshmen on offense are already starting to turn heads.

It’s going to be interesting to see where they stand now that the season is just weeks away.

Quarterback Matthew Baldwin drew a surprising amount of praise at Big Ten Media Days from both Urban Meyer and Parris Campbell.

He’s likely still not 100 percent healthy following a knee injury at the end of his senior season of high school, but it will be fascinating to get our first real glimpse at what all the talk has been about.

Running back Master Teague enrolled early and was impressive during the spring. That might give him a leg up on fellow freshman RB Brian Snead to be the third back behind J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber.

It will be interesting to see how the two freshmen look when they’re on the field at the same time. There’s a pretty good chance one of them will be the next Buckeye 1,000-yard rusher after Weber and Dobbins head to the NFL.

Tight end Jeremy Ruckert is another player who was the subject of some glowing early scouting reports at Big Ten Media Days. Campbell raved about not only how strong Ruckert’s hands were, but how big they were as well.

He told a story about watching Ruckert do a drill where he repeatedly caught passes one-handed.

Ruckert did not enroll early, so we still haven’t gotten our first look at him as a Buckeye. He could be a game-changing weapon for the Ohio State offense in the coming years.

Finally, there is offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, the highest-ranked player in the Buckeyes’ 2018 recruiting class. “Nick,” as his teammates and coaches call him to avoid pronouncing his last name, possesses a rare combination of size and quickness. He’s a little undersized for a Big Ten lineman right now, at 288 lbs, but could be an absolute star in the coming years.

Meyer’s face lit up when someone asked about Petit-Frere at Big Ten Media Days, and he quickly said that he expected the freshman to be in the rotation on the offensive line this year. That’s usually an indication that big things are ahead.

2 Responses


    That unit has to be ready and firing on all cylinders by opening day. They won’t have the luxury of JT Barrett’s legs to bail them out for half a season this year. If they come out slow like they have every year under Urban Meyer the potential is there to get ugly in a hurry, especially with a quarterback with no legs or real experience with RPO.

    Oregon State and TCU, if Urban isn’t on the sideline will smell blood in the water already and they’ll sell there souls to get after to force mistakes from Dwayne Haskins.

    Wouldn’t be a surprise if that offensive line isn’t ready to go to see 50 or more rushes from the tailbacks to open the season.

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