"I think he's living up to what we thought he would be...he's probably a little bit more than what we were told he was."
- Urban Meyer on Vonn Bell, via ESPN.com's Austin Ward
One of the first times that casual Ohio State fans probably remember hearing Vonn Bell's name was the first week of January 2014. It was during that week that Bell was named one of Ohio State's starting safeties for the Orange Bowl against Clemson, thanks to some reshuffling in the secondary. Bell, a former five-star recruit, did his best to make a name for himself at the college level in that game, pulling off one of the most athletic plays of the season with a ridiculous goal-line interception of Tigers QB Tajh Boyd.
It's the other goal line that has Bell concerned this season. Per ESPN's Austin Ward, Bell has declared his desire to "touch the paint" more often: that is, to score a few more touchdowns. He's found the end zone twice already this season, with a scoop-and-score against Hawaii in Week 2 and a pick-six last week against Minnesota, but he's hungry for more. Bell has apparently even taken to asking for offensive snaps in practice (and is maybe holding out hope for a snap or two in-game) in order to boost his chances of finding paydirt.
Urban Meyer, for one, has no plans to line Bell up on offense any time soon. Referring to the current situation, Meyer said (via Ward) that "we have a plethora [of options on offense] right now, and that would just create a little more of a nightmare for me." Speaking of nightmares, Illinois QB Wes Lunt will be the man tasked with throwing away from Bell and the rest of the talented Ohio State secondary this weekend. Best of luck to him.
"Be very good at what you do and have enough wrinkles each week...That's what we spend all this time doing. What are we good at? Let's make sure we do it."
- Urban Meyer, via Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com
After Week 1, in which Braxton Miller showed off just how electric he could be as an H-back, most of the smoke surrounding the various ways the Buckeyes might use him in the offense have turned out to be just that: smoke. That's not to say he hasn't contributed -- his 55 touches for 543 yards have been nothing to sneeze out, and he still gets to go deep on occasion, as we saw last week against Minnesota.
There's little doubt that we haven't yet seen all of the ways that Miller, the human equivalent of a Swiss Army knife, can or will be used by Urban Meyer. Save for a single pop pass, we haven't seen Miller throw the ball, which remains an option given his healthy shoulder and his two-time B1G Player of the Year chops. When he has taken snaps under center, the play-calls have been pretty milquetoast read-option stuff. But are the other Buckeyes concerned about the predictability of what happens when Miller takes a snap? Not exactly.
"We've got the confidence," left guard Billy Price told Cleveland.com's Doug Lesmerises. "We'll let you know where it's going and we'll just line up and go play." That attitude has worked so far against a schedule devoid of top-25 opponents, but the all-world defenses of Michigan and potential playoff opponents like Alabama loom large on the horizon. The Buckeyes may need Miller to be more than what he's been if they want to continue to find success.
"Nine games into the season, Campbell is still looking to register his first career catch for the Buckeyes."
- David Regimbal, Bleacher Report
It's no secret that the Buckeyes have been plagued by bad luck in the wide receiver corps this season. Noah Brown, who was pegged as one of the team's breakout players for the season, was lost to a broken leg before the first game. Corey Smith, a solid role player on Ohio State's championship team, went down for the year during an ugly game against Indiana. Various other would-be contributors have battled injuries all year, limiting guys like Dontre Wilson and Johnnie Dixon immensely.
Parris Campbell a redshirt freshman receiver, has fought the two-headed monster of injuries and play-related benchings since the season began. Bleacher Report's David Regimbal calls to mind his first target of the year, "when Campbell broke free on a post route...it would have been a 39-yard touchdown, had Campbell hauled it in, but the pass bounced off his hands to the Lane Stadium turf." It was a devastating moment for the young receiver, one that saw his leash become extra-short before an MCL injury sidelined him for a few more weeks.
But Campbell is healthy enough to play this week, and that could be a good thing for the Buckeyes. Michael Thomas has been predictably excellent all year, but there are an awful lot of question marks behind him. Jalin Marshall is explosive, but hasn't dominated opposing defenses. Braxton Miller can hurt other teams in a number of ways, but can also be hurt -- a scary moment last week saw him come off the field after his head bounced off the turf, and the Buckeyes are another serious injury away from being perilously thin at receiver. If Campbell can get over his yips, he might be the piece that Urban Meyer needs to get the offense humming again.
STICK TO SPORTS:
- Dubai has ordered 20 jetpacks for its firefighters, because reasons.
- Do you want to read about a baby polar bear at the Columbus Zoo? Of course you do.
- Veterans' Day was this week, so here's a letter from Kurt Vonnegut detailing his experiences as a WWII PoW in Dresden.
- Drew Magary on Guy Fieri's new line of red wine is appointment reading.
- A weird story about Sigourney Weaver and The Great Gatsby.