We’re coming down the homestretch of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ regular season. After flattening Michigan State on Saturday, Urban Meyer spoke to the media on Monday, as the Scarlet and Gray prepare for their final home game of the season.
Illinois is the focus on the gridiron, but Meyer spoke about a wide range of topics—ranging from the pitfalls of not recruiting quarterbacks every year, to the senior class, to personnel stepping up and making plays.
Let’s look back and breakdown the four biggest points from that Monday presser.
“You have to have one every year. That's setting yourself up for disaster if something goes on down the road. So you always have plan A, B, C and D. And we do.”
Recruiting is a wild ride. At one moment you have a recruit, the next, you don’t. With top-tier schools chasing top-tier talent, you need to have a backup plan just in case.
Meyer never came out and said names, but he made the point clear: you need to have a quarterback in every recruiting class.
Right now, Ohio State has a commit in four-star QB Emory Jones. However, the recruitment of Jones has been a wild one, as Alabama has a real shot at flipping the commit from the Buckeyes. As rumors picked up of a potential flip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., Ohio State recently offered another top QB in the 2018 recruiting cycle.
With what Meyer said on Monday, it appears that OSU will in some form or fashion have a QB in their ‘18 class. Who that QB will be remains to be seen. On the bright side, though, Ohio State will have one of the top classes in next year’s recruiting class, regardless of who comes into Columbus as the pass-slinger.
“We're very close to this group of seniors...it's very well documented the respect and love we have for these guys because it's the first time we've had a couple of fifth-year seniors who have decided to stay throughout their journey, and we're going to treat them right. And best way to treat them right is go win this game”
On Saturday, 19 members of this Buckeye team will be recognized on Senior Day. It’s hard to believe, but guys like Jamarco Jones and Tyquan Lewis will be playing in The Shoe for the last time.
J.T. Barrett is also on the Senior Day recognition list—even though I’m pretty sure he’s been the OSU quarterback since like 1998. In his span as Buckeye QB, he broke many records, and guided OSU into the position to be in two College Football Playoffs.
Additionally, there are some members of the team that have a classification of being fifth year members. Marcus Baugh, Michael Hill, Billy Price, Tracy Sprinkle, and Chris Worley are those guys—and it’s not too often you have this many players staying with the program for so long.
Ohio State is on the warpath, searching for their third trip to the playoffs. To get there, winning out is now a necessity, and they’ll need some help along the way. Meyer shouldn’t have too much trouble pulling out a win against Illinois, especially after seeing what this squad did to Michigan State a couple days ago.
Those seniors don’t get Michigan at home this season, but winning (and keeping) the Illibuck in Columbus isn’t too bad of a way to end a career at home.
“Their defensive line is really good.”
...but, even though Ohio State is the heavy favorite at home—they are a 30-plus point favorite—they still have to play the game. Remember, a few weeks back, OSU was favored over Iowa, and that didn’t really end well for the Buckeyes.
Illinois is a weird team. Their defense can hold their own, however, the team hasn’t won any games in the conference this season, and haven’t won a game since Week 2. In the last four losses, though, the winning team didn’t break 30 points. When the Wisconsin Badgers went up against Illinois on Oct. 28, they struggled to breakaway from the Illini, and managed to only win 24-10.
Historically, Illinois has given Ohio State some real scares. In the 2002 championship season, the Buckeyes were dragged into overtime against Illinois; in 2007, the Illini beat the Buckeyes in Columbus, sending the college football season into a deeper tailspin.
This season, the team from Champaign, Illi., has forced 16 turnovers, and recovered nine of them. They are one of the best fumble recovery teams in the Big Ten—so don’t be surprised if they get a recovery against OSU courtesy of a bad read-option.
“He's one of our most productive players on the team. Even when you see him not making a tackle he's usually creating enough chaos that someone else makes it. He's a stud. I love that kid.”
Tuf Borland has the name of an elite linebacker. Against MSU, his 11 recorded tackles backed that hypothesis.
Meyer mentioned how productive the redshirt freshman has been for this team. Last week, the linebacker duo of Dante Booker and Jerome Baker were out with injuries, but Borland stepped up and made plays. Depth was a real concern on this OSU defense entering last Saturday’s game, but Borland and Malik Harrison filled the voids.
Meyer said that he wanted to give the seniors a win in their last game inside Ohio Stadium. The play of Borland, if everyone else is still hurt in the land of LBs, may be a big factor to OSU getting that win. Illinois’ offense has had trouble moving the ball down field—and they haven’t gone up against a team like the Buckeyes.
But, back to Borland: If he’s been creating chaos for opposing offenses this early in his career, just imagine what he’ll be able to do at this point next season. He’s a name Buckeye nation should remember.