“It makes everyone better. It makes everyone in the room better. It makes our team better. It makes you more accountable in everything you do as far as in the meeting room and on and off the field because you have other guys who are pushing you. It’s a close group, though, and they enjoy pushing one another. That’s what we’re looking for.”
- Tony Alford via Ryan Ginn, Land of 10
J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber are returning as leaders on this Ohio State team. Dobbins rushed for over 1,000 yards last season as a true freshman, and Weber did the same two years ago. This is the first time that the Buckeyes have had two 1,000-yard rushers on the roster at the same time under Urban Meyer. Carlos Hyde was gone by the time Ezekiel Elliott was hitting his stride and Weber wasn’t a factor until Elliott left.
But now they have two bonafide stars in the backfield and it’s paying off both on the field and off of it. With young players like Brian Snead and Master Teague coming into their first season, Dobbins and Weber have been teachers in the meeting rooms. And down the line, when Teague and Snead are ready to take over, they’ll have plenty of experience in terms of learning how the game works.
“Dwayne is a young guy that came in against our rivals and did a heck of a job. You go back and watch that again, he came in on the first drive and took us down the field and scored on that first drive against that defense. So he’s got a great release, he’s got good size and he’s a mobile-enough quarterback. It is going to change how we attack defenses.”
- Urban Meyer via Bill Landis, Cleveland.com
Since the decision came from Joe Burrow to transfer from Ohio State, the reins have been fully handed to Dwayne Haskins and that continued when Urban Meyer addressed the media, acknowledging that Haskins would have the first crack at starting this season. Meyer mentioned that Haskins ability has proven itself in a big-game situation already, like against Michigan when the Buckeyes were down when J.T. Barrett exited the game. Haskins will now have the chance to lead the offense as a starter and although Tate Martell is still on the roster as the backup, it’s clear the coaching staff has given Haskins the green light.
Haskins arrival as the starter should allow new looks on offense to open up this season, as he’s a different quarterback than Barrett was. Haskins is a pocket passer who isn’t incredibly mobile - though he did show he can get out of bind if need be - but he has an extremely gifted arm, and that should open things up in the passing game where Barrett could not.
“Since then, other first-year starters have struggled, most notably right tackle Isaiah Prince against Penn State, Michigan and Clemson in the 2016 season. With a few first-year starters in 2018, it’s totally reasonable to think there will be some rough patches along the way.”
- Ryan Ginn, Land of 10
An always important position is on the offensive line. The offense goes as the offensive line goes, and Ohio State is in an interesting position with a lot of mixed experience entering the 2018 season. From left to right on the line it looks like the lineup will be Thayer Munford at left tackle, Michael Jordan at left guard, Brady Taylor at center, Demetrius Knox at right guard and Prince at right tackle. There’s plenty of experience coming from Michael Jordan and Isaiah Prince, and Knox filled in for the injured Branden Bowen last season towards the end of the year. Munford and Taylor will be brand new faces in terms of starting, so what does it mean for the Buckeyes?
It’s probably going to follow a similar path as previous seasons. Normally Ohio State’s offensive line struggles in the beginning of the year, and by the end of the year makes a very solid unit - enough for a playoff run. But Dwayne Haskins could help make a difference as well with his arm in speeding up the process of getting guys ready with how quickly he can release the ball.
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