“He could still do so much more at receiver. He’s at a point where he’s excellent at what we want him to do. We don’t line him up outside much. He doesn’t face much press. That’s stuff he’s going to have to do in the NFL.”
– Ohio State WR coach Zach Smith via Pete Thamel, Sports Illustrated
With the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl just hours away, Ohio State’s fate in their pursuit for another national championship will be determined by the time the New Year rolls around.
In addition to the Buckeyes’ championship bid, there are a few other fates that are still yet to be determined. Most notably: whether Curtis Samuel will stay in Columbus, Ohio or enter the NFL Draft.
Pete Thamel of SI.com, looked into this quandary and found out that some college coordinators compared Samuel to Waldo — in the sense that you have no idea where he is on the field at any given time — while players confirmed that, yes, Samuel is a freak athlete. On the NFL level, Thamel sifted through a source to uncover that Samuel, who is one of the more dynamic players on the OSU offense, would be a top 60 pick in the draft.
The Buckeye coaching staff believes in Samuel and his playmaking ability, as Thamel quoted wide receivers coach Zach Smith in the above attribution. However, with Samuel’s skillset, some teams may have to adapt to him rather than the other way around.
Samuel isn’t the only Buckeye that could be on the move. Thamel broke down the possible members of the team that could make the leap to the professional level. Breakout seasons for Malik Hooker, Raekwon McMillan and Billy Price open up the possibility that another mass exodus could be happening this offseason for Urban Meyer and the Bucks.
Only time will tell, but Thamel gives some pretty good insight on what could happen with the Buckeyes after this College Football Playoff run comes to a close.
“Both of us want the ball in their hands in big-time situations and big games. And both of us have won a lot of football games with those two guys.”
– Ohio State OC Ed Warinner, via David Wharton, Los Angeles Times
Keeping up with the theme of the Fiesta Bowl, Los Angeles Times reporter David Wharton wrote up an account of DeShaun Watson and J.T. Barrett, and their self-fulfilling prophecy of meeting in a playoff game. Both were counselors at a passing camp a couple years again, and as fate would have it, the Tigers and Buckeyes both have an elite QB in the arsenal in their showdown.
Both quarterbacks have bullet points on a football resume that many just dream about. Watson has been a Heisman Trophy finalist twice, and has been to the championship game; Barrett has been one of the premier QBs in the Big Ten since he came to Columbus, and has a championship ring of his own.
In big game situations, both QBs have shined. Clemson survived close scares this season behind Watson, while the Buckeyes went with Barrett on a 4th-and-1 play against Michigan that ultimately saved OSU’s national championship ambitions.
It will be a quarterback duel in the desert in a playoff game – just like Watson and Barrett drew up two years ago.
“I was just disappointed with the way I played against the team up north and just decided to get back to work and work as hard as I could. It was just simple, little mistakes that got me beat — hands, feet.”
– Isaiah Prince on preparation for the Fiesta Bowl via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch
Bowl preparation is important; playoff preparation is a necessity. That’s why offensive lineman Isaiah Prince has been putting in the work to become better in Ohio State’s biggest game of the year.
Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch broke down how Prince has become a better player through practice and mental focus. Against Penn State and Michigan, who are both New Year’s Six bowl game participants, Prince allowed a combined 21 quarterback pressures, according to Rabinowitz’s article. Both of those games were one-score contests, making every play important.
Going into the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Prince has worked on the places where he was getting beat –– hands and feet — and has put the PSU and UM games behind him in preparation to take on All-American Clemson defenseman Christian Wilkins.
In the article, Kirk Herbstreit weighed in on the upside of Prince, while fellow teammate Billy Price weighed in on fighting through the struggles to become a key player in the Ohio State offense.
Tomorrow, we’ll see the improvements made by Prince.
“[Barrett] is capable of having a good game, if his really young weapons show up at the wide receiver position and at tight end,”
— SB Nation Radio
On the airwaves, the talk is all about the playoffs. SB Nation has you covered with a short breakdown of the Peach Bowl, as well as insights on the Fiesta Bowl. If you wanted to hear about the Buckeyes, listen at the 8:28 mark, featuring Land-Grant Holy Land Edior-in-Chief Luke Zimmermann.
Other topics touched on included bowl games that barely filled stadiums and Washington’s chance to pull off the upset of Alabama.
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