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Ohio State's 2016 offense is not a cause for concern

Plus, Cardale Jones exceeds expectations at Ohio State's pro day, and men's volleyball knocks off a top-ranked opponent.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

"We’re a young team, a talented team that has a lot of growth and room to get better. I love the energy, love the hunger and the attitude. It’s fun to be around them."

-Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

Despite losing well over half of last year’s starters on offense, including many who played on Ohio State’s 2014 national championship team, offensive coordinator Ed Warinner is not overly concerned about the offensive side of the ball in the upcoming season. With stars like running back Ezekiel Elliott leaving Ohio State early for the NFL, along with three starting offensive lineman and a standout receiver--several of whom are projected first-round picks--there are numerous gaps to fill on the offensive side of the ball.

However, the Buckeyes return quarterback J.T. Barrett for his junior season, with Barrett able to fully participate in spring practice after being in a boot with a broken ankle last year. Barrett went 11-1 as a starter in his redshirt freshman season following Braxton Miller’s season-ending shoulder injury in 2014. Barrett took over the starting role full-time after spending last season splitting time with Cardale Jones.

Also returning on offense are left guard Billy Price and right guard Pat Elflein, the latter of whom will be moving to center for his senior season with the Buckeyes. The two have started every game together since 2014, when, like this year, there were a majority of new starters on the line for the Buckeyes. In the backfield, head coach Urban Meyer has indicated that the starting running back position is senior Bri’onte Dunn’s to lose.

It is likely that tight end Marcus Baugh will get the starting job this season with the graduation of Nick Vannett. However, uncertainty remains at the receiver spot, with both Noah Brown and Corey Smith sustaining broken legs over the course of last season and remaining sidelined for spring practice.

The offense was able to pick up last year toward the end of the season, with Warinner calling plays from the press box, where he will return this year. While who the playmakers will be remains uncertain, the Buckeyes will aim to move back to the up-tempo offense that won them a national title.

"You don’t need a lot of film to see the skillset he has. And one of the first things that really comes through is his love for the game. What you have to find out is if he’s willing to learn what he doesn’t know."

-AFC assistant coach, via Austin Ward, ESPN

It would seem that former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones’s stock has gone up significantly since the weekend’s pro day in Columbus. Widely considered one of the "mystery men" of this year’s draft, questions had remained for Jones following the NFL Combine last month after he pulled out with an injured hamstring. While few doubted the throwing abilities that quickly earned Jones the byname "12 Gauge," there was doubt as to Jones’s work ethic and ability to fine-tune his rocket arm. Combined with the drastic difference in performance between the 2014 postseason and the start of the 2015 regular season, it was difficult to determine how Jones’s ability would translate to the NFL.

Jones opted to return to Ohio State for his junior season and a certain three-way battle for the starting quarterback spot last year in a move that took many by surprise. The downside was that, after returning, Jones’s draft stock plummeted from a potential first-round pick down to No. 140 after being benched in favor of Barrett midway through the season.

Jones’s confidence has never been a cause for concern, and he continued to demonstrate his leadership ability on the field during his pro day. Jones earned his first start in the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin with a week’s notice following J.T. Barrett’s broken ankle against Michigan and managed to lead the Buckeyes to a 59-0 victory. He was similarly cool throwing during the combine, doing all that could be reasonably expected of an NFL-level quarterback.

While Jones was certainly not the premiere player at the pro day, in a draft class with first-round talent like Elliott and Joey Bosa, his mystery was draw enough to bring scouts to watch, and he may have done enough to impress them into a draft pick.

In a shocking upset, the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes men’s volleyball team defeated the top-ranked Long Beach State 49ers on the west coast in a tightly-contested five-set match. With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 17-3 on the season, and have extended their win-streak to nine, including six wins over ranked teams. It was a quick turnaround for the Buckeyes, who began the season 1-3 before going on a seven-match win streak that lasted through early February. During the current, nine-win streak, Ohio State has won 27-of-32 sets played. The win is the first over a No. 1-ranked team for the Buckeyes since a 1998 victory over Pepperdine.

After losing the first set 24-26, the Buckeyes rallied to win the next set by a score of 25-21 before going down again in the third set 15-21. Ohio State won the fourth set 25-21 to tie up the match again before a last-set victory of 15-13.

The Buckeyes had previously defeated No. 14 UC-Irvine in four sets in their first matchup in California. With the two wins, three Buckeyes were named to the Asics Invitational all-tournament team, including the MVP, outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen, who was dominant on offense against both Long Beach State and UC-Irvine.

Ohio State will head to State College to take on No. 6 Penn State this weekend as a continuation of its month-long road trip, and is scheduled for several away matches in Indiana before returning to Columbus in April. The Buckeyes are currently on top of their league’s standings, and are the top attacking squad statistically in the NCAA.