Ohio State football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Buckeyes, best players and season prediction.
What You Need To Know About The Ohio State Offense
For an offense that couldn’t seem to get going on a consistent basis, it did an awfully strong job of getting the ground game going and putting points on the board – 35.7 points per game isn’t that bad. But it wasn’t quite able to find its stride, and now the offensive coaching minds are going to try quickening up the pace. This isn’t going to be a hurry-up/spread thing like Oregon, but it should be a bit faster.
It all starts with J.T. Barrett as the conductor of the fun. The veteran quarterback has the job all to himself now, but will he get any help? All the top receivers are gone and Ezekiel Elliott is now a Dallas Cowboy. He’s going to have to make everyone around him better.
Fortunately for Barrett and the Buckeyes, the line should be fantastic with Pat Elflein and Billy Price two of the nation’s top interior blockers. With a good rotation of young backs – along with the mobility of Barrett – the offense will work.
Biggest Key To The Ohio State Offense
The receiving corps has to rise up in a hurry. Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Braxton Miller are all gone – the accounted for 17 of the 19 touchdown catches. It’s Ohio State, so there are more than enough talented young prospects waiting to show what they can do, but it’s all going to be a work in progress.
Curtis Samuel appears to be the one given as the top veteran, but the chances will be there throughout the fall for others like Parris Campbell, Austin Mack and Torrance Gibson to become stars. For last year’s 100th-best passing attack, the production has to come.
What You Need To Know About The Ohio State Defense
It’s going to be as fast and athletic as ever. Yeah, it lost Joey Bosa, and Joshua Perry, and Darron Lee, and Vonn Bell, and Eli Apple, and Tyvis Powell, and defensive coordinator Chris Ash, but overall, the Buckeye D might be even better statistically.
Of course the experience isn’t going to be there out of the box, and losing a slew of top 100 NFL Draft picks hurts even if you’re Ohio State, but bringing in Greg Schiano to coach up the defense – to go along with Luke Fickell – is a massive, underappreciated-on-a-national-scale win.
The line won’t skip a beat – oh, by the way, both starting tackles are gone, too – with Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard terrors on the outside and Nick Bosa ready to be the Next Bosa Up as a possible superstar.
Raekwon McMillan is an All-America-caliber linebacker to work around, while the rebuilt secondary is full of potential killers – Malik Hooker is going to be a sensational safety. The back seven will be fantastic.
Biggest Key To The Ohio State Defense
Let the defensive ends be the defensive ends. As good as Joey Bosa was, he was worth more last year as a big name everyone had to worry about. His 2015 went beyond mere statistics, but he wasn’t the force he was in 2014. However, he allowed everyone else the freedom to step up and shine, and Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard did just that as the team’s leading sackers.
All the personnel losses in the back and at tackle won’t matter too much if the pass rush continues to be outstanding, and that means Lewis, Hubbard, Nick Bosa, and others in the rotation have to camp out in the backfield and keep the pressure on. That’s not going to be a problem with this coaching staff.
Ohio State Will Be Far Better If …
The running game always works – and the coaching staff sticks with it. As great as Urban Meyer is, sometimes his offensive gameplan gets a little bit too cute. That happened in the 2013 Big Ten Championship loss to Michigan State – despite running for 273 yards, the O stopped pounding in key situations – and it happened in the loss to the Spartans last year, too, leading to the Ezekiel Elliott rant.
Go with the ground game, stick with the ground game, and don’t let up from the ground game.
Against MSU last season, Ohio State ran a season-low 29 times for 86 yards – the only time all season the offense was under 100-yards rushing. In the only loss of 2014, the Buckeyes ran for a season-low 108 yards against Virginia Tech. In the 2014 Orange Bowl loss to Clemson – the only defeat other than the Big Ten title game – the Buckeyes were under 200 yards for just the second time all year.
Best Ohio State Offensive Player
QB J.T. Barrett, Jr. – Ohio State quarterbacks under Urban Meyer haven’t really been in the Heisman race. Braxton Miller certainly deserved it, and Barrett should’ve at least been more of a thought in 2014.
This year, if everything goes according to plan, Barrett might be in the mix as the ring-leader and star of a rebuilding attack. If OSU comes up with a big year and gets into playoff contention, offensively, it’ll all be because of Barrett. As an all-around playmaker, runner, and leader, he might be college football’s MVP.
Best Ohio State Defensive Player
LB Raekwon McMillan, Jr. – The Buckeyes lost Joshua Perry and Darron Lee from the outside, but the team’s best NFL linebacker might have been in the middle. McMillan was built for the position with the size and range to eat up everything as the quarterback of the front seven. He’s the star now, and while there might be more than enough talent and athleticism around him, this will be his defense.
Key Player To A Successful Season
RB/WR Curtis Samuel, Jr. – No one’s really worried about the receiving corps that loses three top targets and the starting tight end, and there isn’t that much of a concern over the running game potentially dropping off too much without Zeke. It would be nice, though, if the receivers could explode and do even more than Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller were able to. Samuel is the most experienced of the returning lot and has to become a true No. 1 target at times.
The Ohio State Season Will Be A Success If …
It ends in the College Football Playoff. How strange would it be that the best Ohio State team of the last three years didn’t get into the CFP? Last year’s squad didn’t get it done, but this year – even with all the talent losses – there’s no reason to expect a massive drop-off. Go 12-1, win the Big Ten championship, get to the CFP. It’s that easy.
Sept. 17 at Oklahoma – Of course the Big Ten rivalry games are bigger, but the Michigan showdown is in Columbus, and there’s room for one miss – like at Wisconsin, at Penn State or even at Michigan State. However, lose in Norman, and there’s no margin for error the rest of the way. Beat the Sooners on the road, and even if OSU finishes 11-1 and doesn’t get to the Big Ten title game, it could get into the CFP as an at-large team.
2015 Ohio State Fun Stats
– Sacks: Ohio State 38 for 217 yards – Opponents 19 for 101 yards
– Rushing Yards Per Game: Ohio State 245.2 – Opponents 126.8
– Third Quarter Scoring: Ohio State 125 – Opponents 34
2016 Ohio State Season Prediction
What’s going to happen to Ohio State this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …