Ohio State Buckeyes Spring Practice Questions
The Ohio State Buckeyes spring practice kicks off on March 7th, having to once again fill in some massive talent holes. What are the five things that have to be answered this spring?
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Daily 5: Ohio State Buckeyes Spring Questions
5. Will the assistant coaching changes matter?
Defensively, no. Greg Schiano is a terrific defensive coordinator who can handle the duties all by himself without an issue. Luke Fickell might have been a mainstay of the Buckeye coaching staff, but if there’s a drop-off or a problem, it won’t be because of Schiano.
The offensive side is where this gets interesting, with former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson taking over the coordinator duties. Forgetting how it all ended in Bloomington, his offenses were terrific – especially at running the ball with next-level backs – and he was also the offensive coordinator when the Oklahoma offense was rocking and rolling in the mid-to-late 2000s.
The O will be effective no matter what, but with Wilson at the helm, along with quarterback coach Ryan Day coming in …
4. Can J.T. Barrett be more of a downfield passer?
Unfortunately for Barrett, everyone remembers what you do last. In Ohio State’s last three games, Barrett had to deal with a jacked up Michigan State defense, a Michigan D that was among the best in the nation, and a national championship Clemson team on a mission.
Before that, he was excellent, efficient, and consistent, but there was a whole lot of dinking and dunking, averaging 6.7 yards per throw for a passing attack that averaged 7.6 yards per try in 2015 and 9.1 in 2014. Now it’s up to Barrett and the coaching staff to figure out this spring how to stretch the field a little more.
3. How do you replace Curtis Samuel?
The jack-of-all-trades H-Back, Samuel finished third on the team with 771 yards and eight scores – averaging eight yards per pop – and caught 74 passes for 865 yards and seven touchdowns. He was creative, explosive, and a difference-maker of a weapon who might be the one guy the Buckeyes can’t easily find a quick replacement for.
Demario McCall might be more of a running back than a receiver, but he’s an ultra-quick option in the Samuel mold, with the explosiveness to hit the home run every time he touches the ball. He’ll get the first shot at the gig.
2. Will the Buckeyes be able to instantly reload the secondary again?
Not really, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be great again. You don’t just lose all that NFL talent and move on. Or if you’re Ohio State, do you?
Ohio State lost Eli Apple and Vonn Bell last year, and it’s about to give away Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, and Gareon Conley early in this draft. Urban Meyer has created a talent factory, but how does the nation’s seventh-best pass defense replace Pro Bowl caliber defensive backs with more Pro Bowl caliber defensive backs?
Damon Webb is the lone returning starters, and he’s a good one at one of the safety spots after finishing fifth on the team with 57 stops. Denzel Ward appears to be the next star up at one of the corners – he made 23 tackles with nine broken up passes – and then it’ll be a fight for the other jobs.
1. What do the Buckeyes need to do this spring to make it a third College Football Playoff trip in four years?
Fill in the gaps. For anyone else – except for Alabama – losing what Ohio State does would be a killer. However, the defensive line should be the best in the country, Barrett might be the best player in the Big Ten, the offensive line is going to be fantastic, Mike Weber is a terrific back, and years of great recruiting will create several excellent position battles.
The Buckeyes need to find kickers, a middle linebacker has to emerge in place of Raekwon McMillan, and a good backup rotation has to form behind Weber, but Meyer will be tinkering this spring. The athletes are there, the coaching is there, and the expectations are there.
Business as usual.