Ohio State has played six games this season, dominating in each and every one of them. With a well deserved off day this weekend, the Buckeyes have six more games on the regular season horizon, and the schedule only gets increasingly tougher.
It has been a collective effort to get the Scarlet and Gray to this point, and there are a bunch of guys who deserve recognition for Ryan Day’s 6-0 start in 2019. Let’s take a look at the players who got the team to where they are, and some of the top plays of the first half of the season.
Offensive Player of the Year: J.K. Dobbins
J.K. Dobbins came into 2019 with a mission to erase what he called a failure of a season a year ago. He has already done that and more in the first half, with 826 yards on a 7.1 yard-per-carry average and seven total touchdowns. The junior running back has been a staple of the Buckeyes’ offense, and is the cog that keeps everything else moving as he looks to continue to put up monster numbers in the second half.
Defensive Player of the Year: Chase Young
This is really a no brainer, as the junior edge rusher is not only the best player at Ohio State, but likely the best defensive player in the entire country. Chase Young is an absolute freak, already with 8.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in half a season — and that is without having to play in the fourth quarter or even the second half of almost every game. A defensive player has not won the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997, and if anyone has a chance to break that streak, its the man they call The Predator.
Most Improved: Pete Werner
Have to give credit where credit is due. Pete Werner caught a lot of flack last season as one of the struggling members of a very bad Ohio State linebackers unit. The junior LB has been a new man this season, thanks likely to an improved defensive scheme, and has been so good that he’s been able to keep last year’s breakout player in Brendon White off the field. Werner has 22 total tackles, with four for a loss — including this big hit against Nebraska.
Biggest Addition: Justin Fields
Another no-brainer. Where would Ohio State be without Justin Fields? The quarterback outlook after the departure of Dwayne Haskins was very much a question mark, but the transfer of Fields from Georgia to the Buckeyes put those questions to rest. Fields has been awesome in Columbus, even better than his tremendous hype coming in, and is already ahead of where many believed him to be at this point in his career. With 1,298 yards passing, 283 yards rushing, 26 total touchdowns and just one interception, Justin Fields is the real deal.
Best Freshman: Garrett Wilson
What a season the freshman is having. While only having 10 catches thus far, he has still managed to rack up over 100 yards and three touchdowns — not to mention some impressive work in the return game on special teams. Ohio State is deep at wide receiver, so time is hard to come by, especially for underclassmen. However, Wilson has been able to establish himself as a reliable target for Fields, and should have an even bigger role on the offense moving forward.
Best Master: Teague
Just wanted an excuse to shout out to the other Ohio State running back dominating this season. The Buckeyes came into the season without a clear No. 2 behind Dobbins, but have quickly found a clear answer in Master Teague. The redshirt freshman has been fantastic when Dobbins needs a breather, racking up 416 yards (6.3 YPC) and three touchdowns so far. It would not be surprising for Teague to see even more time in the second half of the season, and not just in garbage time.
Best Offensive Play:
With so much offensive firepower at Ohio State this season, it is almost too hard to pick just one play — so I didn't! There are a ton of moments to choose from, but these two touchdowns really stood out. Binjimen Victor’s impressive catch at the back of the end zone on a perfect throw from Fields was crazy, as was Dobbins pin-balling off seven different Indiana defenders before barreling into the end zone on a long TD run.
Best Defensive Play:
They say it’s better to be lucky than good. Luckily for Ohio State, sometimes you get to be both. Jeff Okudah was in the right place at the right time, able to make an outstanding interception on his back after a tipped ball from the Nebraska receiver for his second pick of the night. The Silver Bullets have been lockdown this season, with no shortage of highlight plays on defense. With 13 takeaways and 28 sacks on the year, take your pick at what was your favorite defensive play of the first half.
Best Special Teams Play:
What can’t Chris Olave do? The blocked punt against Indiana was his second blocked punt in two straight Big Ten games, dating back to his breakout game against Michigan last season when he blocked his first. Outside of his offensive prowess, totaling 249 yards and four touchdowns this season, Olave is a valuable member of an Ohio State special teams unit that has been getting after it this year.
Best Play That Didn’t Count:
The call: lame. The play: not lame. Jordan Fuller out-skilled Michigan State’s entire offense on this crazy interception return for a touchdown. However, after a questionable flag on the return, the points would come off the board. The pick still stood, as Fuller came away with his second of the season in what has been a great start to his senior year.
Best Play Design:
Everything about this play was fantastic. A designed QB keeper on third and 10? Why not!? The blocking was excellent. The execution was perfect. Just an all-around awesome play design by Ryan Day in a big spot on the road.
Best Touchdown Celebration:
College football doesn’t afford you the same luxuries as the NFL when it comes to touchdown celebrations, but Garrett Wilson and K.J. Hill got together for a discrete one as the Buckeyes robbed the Cornhuskers blind in Lincoln. Ski masks on.