“I don’t think I’ll ever go back now. It just — it messed me up completely. And I talked to him so many times just prior to that. He’s not upset or anything so I guess they didn’t really treat him bad, but it just hurt me to se a guy like him go.”
Time may heal all wounds, but right now D’Angelo Russell is not happy with Ohio State’s decision to fire Thad Matta in early June. The offseason has already been tumultuous for Russell, who, after two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, was traded to the Brooklyn Nets last month. The news is not something that new head coach Chris Holtmann can be happy to hear as he has the task of turning around an Ohio State basketball program that has missed the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons.
While it’s hard to imagine that the absence of Russell around the program would have any sort of major impact on what Holtmann is trying to do in Columbus, especially with Russell only spending a year with the Buckeyes, the presence of the talented guard certainly wouldn’t hurt. It’s possible that Holtmann and Russell haven’t had a chance to speak yet, and Russell’s tune might change once he sees what Holtmann is trying to accomplish with the Buckeyes.
Still, it’s not a good look for the program when one of their recent stars comes out and takes such a strong stance in how their coaching change was handled. Holtmann made it clear at his introductory press conference that he was intent on welcoming former players of all generations into the program. Looks like he’s got some work to do on at least one former Buckeye.
“Last year, Ohio State was tasked with replacing 12 players — including five first-rounders — who were selected in the 2016 NFL draft. Though the Buckeyes won’t have to deal with the large quantity of losses this year, they will once again be forced to identify new starters at seven different positions.”
With great success comes great responsibility, and for Ohio State the responsibility is trying to identify seven new starters this year. In April, Ohio State lost three defensive backs, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Gareon Conley, in the first round of the draft. Curtis Samuel, Raekwon McMillan, Pat Elflein, and Noah Brown followed over the next two days. While Urban Meyer and his staff don’t have as big of a job in replacing key players as they did following the 2015 season, they still have to make the right moves to keep Ohio State in the thick of the national title race.
Two of the positions which Ohio State needs to fill are pretty easy to identify the replacements for. McMillan’s linebacker position will likely see Chris Worley move from strongside outside linebacker to middle linebacker, with Dante Booker entering the starting lineup to take over Worley’s position. At center, it is already known that Billy Price will move to center to give Ohio State the veteran leadership that Elflein gave the offensive line last year.
The other five positions that Ohio State must fill aren’t quite as clear, with a number of players in the mix to become the starters. With three spots open in the defensive backfield, there are five cornerbacks who will try and replace Lattimore and Conley. Denzel Ward is a favorite to grab one of those open slots with the play he exhibited on the field last year. The other position is a toss-up between Damon Arnette, Kendall Sheffield, Shaun Wade, and Jeffrey Okudah. At safety, Erick Smith and Jordan Fuller will compete to try and fill Malik Hooker’s vacated safety spot.
The picture at a couple positions on the offensive side of the football is just as cloudy. Samuel was Ohio State’s best offensive threat last year, and now Demario McCall, Parris Campbell, and K.J. Hill are all likely to see some time at the position, with Campbell and McCall probably seeing the lion’s share of the opportunities. Hill is also in the mix to replace Noah Brown at wide receiver, along with a laundry list of candidates who are itching to try and bolster Ohio State’s passing attack.
“You don’t want to rush, but you want to go fast. It’s learning how to play within yourself at a reasonable tempo.”
A return to faster tempo sounds like it is in the works for Ohio State’s offense under Kevin Wilson. Tom Herman was able to find success as an offensive coordinator with the up-tempo offense that he employed in his short tenure in Columbus. In the two years since Herman’s departure to take the head coaching position at Houston, Ohio State hasn’t consistently utilized the type of tempo that was successful under the former OC. Last year the problems with the offense ran deeper than just their pace when on the field, and even with those issues, Ohio State found themselves in the College Football Playoff.
Now Buckeye fans are salivating at what new offensive coordinator Wilson will bring to the table in terms of tempo. Ohio State won’t rival what Chip Kelly did in terms of tempo during his time at Oregon, but what Buckeye fans will see is an improvement from what they saw last year.
Wilson plans to employ an up-tempo offense that will get opposing defenses on their heels, and test their endurance. It will be interesting to see if Wilson’s style of play will be the difference and allow Ohio State to achieve the same type of success they found with Herman running the show.
STICK TO SPORTS
- The opening day of the Ohio State Fair was marred by tragedy.
- A new barbecue restaurant is opening in the Brewery District next month.
- Red-light cameras aren’t making a return to Columbus.
- A promising hire for the third installment of True Detective.
- Adrian Beltre was ejected last night for moving the on-deck circle.