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Ohio State players led the way with most mid-season All-American honors

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Four publications put out mid-season all-americans today, and the Buckeyes had the most of any team in the country.

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NCAA Football: Michigan State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“No. 4 Ohio State placed a total of five players on the first and second teams, most of any school. Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young and cornerback Jeff Okudah were first-team selections.”

-Ralph D. Russo, Associated Press

The Ohio State Buckeyes are arguably the best team in the country, and the college football world has apparently taken note. Now, halfway into the NCAA season, media members have had plenty of time to see this year’s Buckeyes in action, and are recognizing that some of this current crop of SU stars are amongst the best of the best.

The Associated Press gave five spots to Buckeyes in their first and second All-American teams; the most in the country. Chase Young and Jeff Okudah made it on the first team, with J.K. Dobbins, Wyatt Davis and Jordan Fuller landing on the second.

The Athletic put four total Buckeyes on their list, with Davis, Young and Okudah making first team and Dobbins slotting in on the second team. The three first teamers was the most in the nation.

CBS was the least kind to the Buckeyes, with only two members making it, Chase Young and Jordan Fuller. But Young was one of only four unanimous selections by the CBS staff, a high honor it’s in own right.

Finally, Pro Football Focus is sipping the Buckeye juice the most, with four first team All-Americans, one second team, and one third team for six total. Thayer Munford was the new name on this list. That’s good for the most first-team players and most overall selections.

PFF’s Cam Mellor said about Davis, “The Buckeyes are certainly in the running for the best overall team this season and Davis is a key cog on their offensive line that allows their offense to fire on all cylinders... He’s blocking against stout competition and winning the vast majority of those reps.”

Young was one of just seven players to make all four lists as a first team choice, joining former OSU man Joe Burrow, Jonathan Taylor, Chuba Hubbard, Penei Sewell, Zack Baun and Max Duffy. Okudah made three of the four lists, with CBS being the only hold out, while Davis and Fuller made it on two of the four first-teams. Across all four lists, OSU the was the most consistently honored, which you can take to mean that the Buckeyes are the most talented team in the country. No arguments here.

Cardale Jones is going to Washington DC to join Dwayne Haskins in playing football... just not for the same team. The OSU national champion Jones will be the quarterback for the XFL’s DC Defenders. The XFL decided to pick eight QB’s they thought were the best and assign each one to the eight teams to have a more level playing field to start the season.

Here in Ohio we know what Jones can do, leading the Buckeyes to the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship. He was drafted in to the NFL by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. After that, he bounced around to the Chargers and the Seahawks for the next couple years, before finally being cut by the Seahawks last month. But Jones will get another chance to show what he can do as one of the new faces of the XFL starting in 2020.

The XFL Draft is taking place in phases. After each team got their assigned QB, they did 10 rounds of skill players, 10 rounds of offensive linemen, are currently doing 10 rounds of the defensive front-seven, will do 10 rounds of defensive backs, and end it with a 30-round open draft of any position tomorrow.

For the Defenders, they didn’t take another QB in the skill position draft until the ninth round, showing a measure of trust in Jones as their guy.

Jones isn’t the only former OSU player that is hoping to restart his career in the XFL. The DC Defenders also decided to reunite Jones with his 2015 right tackle in Chase Farris by drafting the former Buckeye tackle in the ninth round of the offensive line phase.

Defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle — who last suited up for OSU in 2017 — was drafted in the fifth round of the front seven phase by, you guessed it, the DC Defenders. Looks like they are trying to recreate the OSU championship team out in the nation’s capital, and honestly who can blame them?

Seems to be working for the New Orleans Saints at least. Doran Grant, Christian Bryant and Damon Webb are also hoping to be drafted into the XFL later today or tomorrow as the draft continues.

“Everything we think about, we think about explosives, because our whole philosophy is, we want to make you drive the length of the field. If you can drive on us the length of the field and then put it in the end zone against us in the red zone, nice job. Then we’ve got to figure out why and we’ve got to adjust some things.”

- Jeff Hafley, via’s Nathan Baird

The Ohio State Buckeyes have almost always had a good offense. That was true last season, and it is definitely true this season. The biggest difference that has OSU looking like the best team in the country is the defensive turnaround from 2018. The Silver Bullets are finally back, flying to the ball and generally being one the stingiest defenses around.

Last year was quite different, as any OSU fan can tell you. The defense overall wasn’t bad, but any given play could — and unfortunately often would — go for 50+ yards and a touchdown.

By every factor of ten yards, OSU was one of the worst schools in the FBS in terms of chunk plays allowed. Per, they gave up 213 plays of ten yards or more, good for 120th out of 130. They were 95th in 20+, 118th in 30+, 119th in 40+, and the list just goes on and on. They were tied dead last in plays allowed over 80+ yards, and not only were they tied for dead last in 90+ as well, they are one of only eleven schools that even gave up a 90+ yard play, and one of three to give up multiple. Let that sink in. One hundred and nineteen schools didn’t even give up a single 90+ yard play, OSU gave up two.

This year has been much better; I mean there wasn’t much room to go but up after all. But that doesn’t diminish OSU’s almost complete 180° turnaround in that regard. They are tied for 12th in 10+ yard plays, fifth in 20+, first in 30+, and the list goes on, but this time in a positive way. They have yet to give up any play over sixty yards, a far cry from the eight last year.

There have been a lot of factors that have contributed to this flip on defense. The most commonly cited one has been OSU’s “simplified” scheme that lets the defense’s superior athleticism make plays. Too often last year, we saw opposing players catching the ball and nearly the entire defense had their backs turned to the offense. Not anymore.

In addition, the simplified scheme allows the players to have a better grasp of where everyone is, and therefore has led to surer takedowns and more gang-tackling. Both Jordan Fuller and Ryan Day spoke to this concept on Monday.

Fuller said, “Our tackling’s gotten better — our pursuit to the ball. We don’t feel we’re making the one-on-one tackle so much. With other guys surrounding the ball you feel you can take your shot.”

Day agreed saying, “You can play with a little bit more confidence knowing maybe you’re not on an island, you have guys that are coming with you, swarming to the ball, and I think that’s helped.”

Whatever the reason, the results have been clear, and new defensive coordinators Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison are certainly making their money’s worth so far. OSU hasn’t really gone up against explosive offenses yet (and still won’t versus a dismal unit in Northwestern), but at least they aren’t letting the little guys run free anymore, and that’s all that we can ask for right now.

We will see how it holds up against the best offenses in the nation, but at the midway point in the season there’s a lot to be confident in.

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