Ohio State mailbag: Talking Buckeye opponents, injuries and position battles
I’ve always wanted to do a mailbag and have never had the opportunity, but that ends today with the first installment of what will become a regular feature.
With Ohio State fall camp in full swing and media day now in the books, what better time to take questions about schedules, position battles, injuries and more?
Let’s get to it!
— Go_bucks26 (@go_bucks26) August 15, 2016
Right now, it doesn’t seem like it. Urban Meyer said that Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel are close enough, but players like Zeke with that complete skill set don’t come around too often. The player I think has the best chance of replicating what Elliott did blocking-wise isn’t even on campus yet — four-star class of 2017 commit J.K. Dobbins. So that’s something to look forward to. For now, I think the others will do a more than capable job of blocking — Meyer wouldn’t let them on the field if they didn’t — but it’s going to be hard for anyone to truly replicate Elliott’s skill set.
— Mike Beard (@seedub80) August 15, 2016
I might not be the person to ask since I thought there was no way the staff would redshirt him last year (my reasoning: it’s not like he’s staying for five years anyway). I do think he’ll be more involved this season and show why he was so highly recruited. As easy as Braxton Miller made it look, the transition from quarterback to wide receiver can be difficult, especially while battling expectations and homesickness. I’d also recommend checking out this story from Birm on how Torrance managed to turn things around when he was thinking about leaving.
— Shuff (@kshuff92) August 15, 2016
I’m not sure this qualifies as going out on a limb, but I think it’s always a wise move for teams to be wary of games at Penn State. It’s such a unique environment from the location to the stadium to the fact that it will be a night game and a white out, and that can be unnerving. I also happen to think people are underrating the Nits this year. Christian Hackenberg is a talented quarterback but never seemed to fit in James Franklin’s system. If the offensive line isn’t a complete tire fire, I think Saquon Barkley will help them do some damage this year.
— Brian Hunter (@U2hunter) August 15, 2016
I’ve been president of the Malik Hooker fan club ever since I wrote this story on him when he was in high school, and I’ve got another story coming Thursday on how his development has played out. Based on everything I’ve heard from players and coaches, he seems like a lock to be one of the starting safeties. I’m thinking we see Damon Webb opposite him, but I’m not ready to count out Erick Smith in the long term.
@rmginn no one likes injuries. Who will replace the two mentioned yesterday? Who's #2 QB?
— Jessica (@Buckeyetxgirl) August 16, 2016
Although neither were projected to start, the losses of offensive tackle Malcolm Pridgeon and defensive end Darius Slade will still be felt because you always want depth in the trenches. Pridgeon’s injury will reduce the margin of error at offensive tackle with no experienced players there to back up Jamarco Jones and Isaiah Prince. I was pretty high on Slade coming into this season but if there’s a silver lining for OSU fans it’s that his absence could end up giving more reps to true freshmen Nick Bosa and Jonathon Cooper.
As far as the backup quarterback, I’ve always been a big believer in Joe Burrow and think people are underrating him when they bring Dwayne Haskins in the picture. I think Burrow will be the next starter at Ohio State no matter how long Barrett stays and no matter who else comes in at that position, and I think he has a chance to be an All-Big ten selection and possibly even a national award contender playing in Meyer’s offense.
@rmginn where do I find this "mailbag" to listen/read? …who will our kickoff returner be this year? Curtis/Dontre again? Or new guys?
— Wilburr (@Willeke___) August 16, 2016
Those two seem to be the frontrunners — especially Dontre, who is also the top guy on punt returns as of now. If anything gets shaken up, I’m thinking it will be because of Demario McCall, who is explosive to the point that he may be able to show he could and should return kicks as a true freshman.
This question is the first time it’s hit me that those are two playoff teams from last year on the road. My brain says Oklahoma but I’m going to go with my gut and say Michigan State will be tougher. For whatever reason (being a really good coach, maybe?), Mark Dantonio seems to give Ohio State fits. This schedule is the toughest Ohio State has faced under Meyer, and there’s a chance the underclassman-heavy team hits a wall in the second-to-last game of the regular season. It also doesn’t help that it comes one week before what might end up being the most anticipated regular season game of the Meyer era at OSU.
Thanks for the questions everyone!