The Ohio State Buckeyes are less than two weeks away from the beginning of their 2017 College Football Regular Season. Here are five things you should know before the squad begins their journey to make it back to the College Football Playoff.
1. It’s Mike Weber’s Time to Shine in the Backfield
Mike Weber rushed for over 1,000 yards as a redshirt freshman and he’s primed for a huge season as “the guy” in the backfield for the Bucks.
There’s no doubt that Weber wasn’t relied on heavily in crunch time last season. Weber rushed only 24 times on third down and was handed the ball 34 times in the fourth quarter in the 2016 campaign. Both are low figures, especially considering his total of 182 rushing attempts for the year. It should also be mentioned that Weber had zero rushing touchdowns on 3rd down, fourth down or in the 4th quarter.
Doubters of Weber will mention his hamstring injury that’s kept him off the practice field and the emergence of J.K. Dobbins (the freshman running back has been nothing short of spectacular so far according to sources, players and coaches). However, it’s not wise to be a prisoner of the moment.
Mike Weber knows experience is important. Admittedly he said he “Was just out there running around” in the opener against Bowling Green a year ago. A year of experience should go a long way for Weber, who led the Scarlet and Gray in rushing this past season.
Weber’s a tough guy from Detroit, Michigan and it’s no fluke he averaged six yards per carry in his first season as a Buckeye.
In 2016 Weber averaged exactly 14 rushing attempts per game. With a year of experience under his belt and the departure of Curtis Samuel to the National Football League, expect that figure to be closer to 20 or so in 2017.
2. Same Quarterback, New Coaches on the Offensive Side of the Ball
An appearance in the College Football Playoff was overshadowed by an offense that couldn’t get out of a late-season rut. Buckeyes’ starting quarterback J.T. Barrett struggled in the final three games which came against Michigan State, Michigan and Clemson. In those three contests combined, Barrett averaged 112 passing yards per game and 3.9 yards per attempt while throwing only one touchdown and three interceptions.
It’s difficult not to get excited when looking at the resume of the new hires though…
Ryan Day‘s resume highlights include coaching NFL QBs under Chip Kelly with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers and a connection to Urban Meyer as a graduate assistant to the current Ohio State Head Coach back when he was coaching the Florida Gators in 2005. Day is currently listed as the Co-Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach.
Kevin Wilson‘s had plenty of experience making Big Ten offenses gain national recognition. He’s the Offensive Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach.
Only time will tell how explosive this offense will be. The ingredients for a successful offense have been assembled though. There’s no doubting that.
3. With Plenty Of Wide Receiver Departures, It’s Not Crystal Clear Which WR Will Break Out In 2017
Curtis Samuel, Noah Brown and Dontre Wilson combined for 1,619 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns on 133 catches during the 2016 season. What do they all have in common? NONE OF THEM WILL BE IN A BUCKEYE UNIFORM IN 2017.
The only sure thing we know for now is that Parris Campbell will start at the H-Back position formerly held by Curtis Samuel.
After that it’s hard to figure out who’s going to get a good amount of touches other than tight end Marcus Baugh.
K.J. Hill, Terry McClaurin and Binjimen Victor are some other receivers to keep an eye on, but the only certainty right now is it’s likely a wide-open competition that will take care of itself on the field for the most part.
4. The Defensive Line Is The Ultimate Hype Train
The defensive line of the Ohio State Buckeyes has all of its starters returning in 2017.
Not to mention, Nick Bosa, younger brother of NFL stud Joey Bosa, isn’t even a starter at the moment.
Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano also believes this is the best D Line he’s ever coached.
5. The Ohio State Secondary Could Be Reminiscent of Last Season’s Bunch
Remember last year when the secondary was a question mark for the Buckeyes entering the season? So much for those prognostications.
Ohio State’s secondary will be fine. We’ll find out who the studs are as the season progresses. Let’s not forget that Schiano is arguably one of the best, if not the best, defensive coordinators in the country.
With a lights-out defensive line up front, it’s hard to imagine the OSU secondary not reaping the benefits on the back end in 2017.