"FSU players and coaches give [Maurice] Clarett a standing ovation. Coach Jimbo Fisher tells the team Clarett delivered one of the most "real" talks he has heard in 28 years in the game."
Former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett spoke to the Florida State University football team recently, discussing what it means to be a real man, and helping the players learn from his own mistakes. Rittenberg notes that Clarett has spoken at many other universities, and in many cases keeps in touch with the players that he speaks to, most notably Trevone Boykin.
It's good to see Clarett continue to contribute to the game off the field. Many times people don't recover from the types of things he had done and went through. Clarett often discusses how to be the best man possible, and exploring who the athletes surround themselves with, as well as being aware as to why certain people might try to be in your life, such as a family member that might show up out of nowhere, or friends. Perhaps the greatest takeaway from it all is when Rittenberg mentions the fact that Clarett does not use notes or video when speaking to athletes, and just delivers a straightforward and honest message, one that will resonate with guys that he might see himself in.
"But here's something Ohio State has that Nebraska didn't while building its dynasty: A completely new landscape in which to chase championships, thanks to the College Football Playoff."
Landis discusses how current Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez draws comparisons of the current Ohio State Buckeyes to the dominant Nebraska Cornhuskers teams from the 90s which most notably included the 1994-95 repeat champions. With a big time coach, Urban Meyer for Ohio State, and Tom Osborne for Nebraska, as well as stud players, and a lot of money in the program.
But the bigger picture drawn here for the Buckeyes is that their test might just be tougher than Nebraska's as well as prior champions. Landis explains, as I did here, Ohio State must go through a seemingly tougher task. Prior to the playoff, teams would play a conference championship game, and a bowl game to follow a month or more later. Now, on top of that conference championship game, the Buckeyes must play their bowl game as the semifinal, and then turn around 11 days or so later and play for a national title. The shorter turnaround makes it tougher, assuming that your opposition will stay on top of their game better as opposed to taking over a month off. One thing that did go in Ohio State's favor though under the playoff system (and a huge one at that), was that they didn't have to be a team ranked in the top two to contend for a title.
"There has never been a bigger AP Top 25 preseason favorite than Ohio State. Ever. Roll that around in your mind for a second. That's historic. That's monumental. That also might be folly."
Ohio State undoubtedly has the target square on their backs. Dodd acknowledges this, along with other factors for the possible failure of Ohio State under their expectations, like injuries, players becoming complacent, facing an upset, and the fact that preseason No. 1 teams hardly ever win the title. While this might be true, some teams compared to this Ohio State squad might not be exactly fair.
When discussing upsets, Dodd mentions a 2006 Notre Dame team that lost in week 3 to Michigan, and never recovered. That team would make for a great comparison, but they went 9-2 the year before. Not 14-1 and a national championship. Dodd also mentions injuries, which sure, could derail any team. But this team has the potential to have the most first round draft picks of all time, and it didn't exactly hurt them last season at arguably the most important position on the field. We could come up with a million reasons for this team to fail, but we would have a much easier time coming up with reasons why they would succeed.
"Suddenly the hulked-up [Sam] Hubbard looked more like Joey Bosa and played with that same speed and energy, so Ohio State simply moved him to that spot as a protege for its star pass-rusher."
Much talk prior to the start of the Buckeyes season and a quest for a repeat has been about the quarterback situation, but has somewhat shifted to that of defensive end Joey Bosa as he will be suspended for the opening game against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. One name being mentioned is that of one Sam Hubbard. He originally came to Ohio State as a safety/athlete, but the coaches had worked him in at linebacker during his redshirt freshman year.
After his arrival on campus, Hubbard continued to hit the weights, and eventually got his 6-foot-5 frame up to 265 pounds, and continued to possess the speed he had played with before the weight, which prompted coaches to put him at defensive end, since he began to mirror Joey Bosa. Make no mistake, the loss of Bosa is big, and the spot in that specific game is a huge one to fill, but Hubbard has all of the physical tools, and will be surrounded by other experienced players. The benefit in Bosa is that he could change the game on any given play. We have yet to see what Hubbard is capable of at that position considering he has had four of them in the past year, but good things should be expected out of this kid.
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