The first game of the season is in the books, as Ohio State stomped Virginia Tech following a strong second half where Buckeye fans were treated to what Braxton Miller could do from the H-back position. The 42-21 win over the Hokies was a nice start to the year, and now the Buckeyes return home to host Hawaii.
Now Ohio State gets a boost as they return four players from a one-game suspension, including Joey Bosa, Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith, and Dontre Wilson.
The answer at quarterback finally became known. Cardale Jones made his first regular season start of his Ohio State career, and will likely make his first ever start at Ohio Stadium on this Saturday. The depth chart still has Jones and Barrett listed with the "OR" in between their names, so it's always possible we could see J.T. Barrett out there as well. It really comes down to the team's preparation, but expect 12 Gauge to be the one manning the offense for the majority of the season.
At running back, Ezekiel Elliott continues to be listed as the starter. That won't change this season unless something drastic changes, like an injury. Backing him up this week is still Bri'onte Dunn and then Warren Ball. Both saw snaps against Virginia Tech, but Dunn fumbled on his first carry of the night. It looks like the staff is willing to give the talented back another shot though. Elliott finished with over 100 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown against the Hokies and will likely see an increase in carries this Saturday against the Rainbow Warriors.
The wide receiver spot is interesting. Michael Thomas is still your unquestioned starter at one of the wide receiver spots with Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon listed as the two other starters. Jalin Marshall is the backup to Campbell, while Dontre Wilson backs up Dixon. It's worth noting that both players were H-backs last season, but have moved to receiver since the emergence of Braxton Miller and the solid play from Curtis Samuel.
H-back is another spot that is stealing some headlines. Braxton Miller was the starter with an OR seperating him and Curtis Samuel. Both shined in the win over Virginia Tech. Miller had two sensational touchdowns while Samuel made an expert diving catch in the endzone for one of his own. Now, Miller is listed as the stand alone starter, with Samuel as the backup.
The tight end spot is firmly locked down by Nick Vannett, with Marcus Baugh listed as the backup once again. Both tight ends saw plenty of snaps, but both weren't really used all that much in the passing game. Against a defense like Virginia Tech, that might have been a decision to keep an extra blocker against a strong defensive line. Against Hawaii, I'd expect some more throws to go to the tight ends, if only slightly more.
The offensive line stays the same up front, with Taylor Decker, Billy Price, Jacoby Boren, Pat Elflein, and Chase Farris (from left to right). No surprise there, as their job wasn't easy against Virginia Tech's 'Bear' front. They should regain their composure and improve their play against Hawaii.
Switching to defense, Joey Bosa finally returns from his suspension and takes over his old spot at defensive end. Sam Hubbard is listed as an OR with Bosa, and after a solid performance from Hubbard, expect him to see some potential rotation time. Especially to keep Bosa's legs fresh. Tyquan Lewis is still slotted in at the other defensive end spot with Darius Slade as his backup. In the middle, Adolphus Washington continues to anchor the defensive line alongside Tommy Schutt. Both did a nice job of containing the Hokies running game for the most part on Monday night and should have no trouble against the Rainbow Warriors. The backups at tackle include Donovan Munger OR Tracy Sprinkle and Joel Hale OR Michael Hill.
The linebackers continue to terrify opposing teams as one of the most talented spots on Ohio State's roster, which is saying something (seriously, did you see the quarterback and H-back position?). Joshua Perry stays at weak outside linebacker, with Raekwon McMillan in at middle linebacker, and Darron Lee finishing at strong outside linebacker.
At cornerback things stay the same, as Gareon Conley and Eli Apple man the outside edges with Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore OR Denzel Ward listed as the backups. For safeties, the starters are still Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell. Erick Smith is listed as the backup to Bell, while Cam Burrows is under Powell.
Some controversy at special teams spilling over from Monday night. As everyone knows by now, Ezekiel Elliott was back to receive punts against the Hokies, despite the running back not being listed on the depth chart anywhere but running back. Instead, Braxton Miller (with Curtis Samuel as the backup) was the player supposed to be returning punts. After Elliott fumbled a punt return, the outcry became even louder. This week, Jalin Marshall enters the fold as the only starter at punt returner.
Jack Willoughby and Sean Nuernberger are still listed as starters with OR in between them for place kicking. Willoughby, however, was the kicker that trotted out for all of the extra points (6-of-6) and also attempted the only field goal of the night from a little over 40 yards, which he missed. Cameron Johnston, the starting punter, didn't have a lot of work to do on Monday night, which might have contributed to his rusty start on his few punts - though one of them was a really well-placed ball that ended with a gigantic hit from Parris Campbell. The kick returners are still listed as Curtis Samuel and Warren Ball, both of which were actually out there in those spots as expected.