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Two of the Ohio State championship coaches reunite in Texas

Tom Herman and Chris Ash will try to recapture the 2014 magic deep in the heart of Texas.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

“Texas hired former Rutgers football coach Chris Ash as its defensive coordinator Tuesday as Tom Herman rebuilds his staff after a 7-5 regular season that fell well short of expectations.”

- Tom Vertuno, The Associated Press

As it turns out, Texas was not back. Despite what people thought following a strong 2018 where the Longhorns went 10-4 and had great wins over Oklahoma and then No. 5 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Hope was strong in Austin. Head coach Tom Herman looked like the offensive genius that got Ohio State a national championship and made Houston look like a powerhouse. Sam Ehlinger was coming back after a strong 2018 campaign and was a preseason Heisman watch-list guy.

This year even started out alright. They dropped an early game to LSU, but LSU was on their way to becoming the No. 1 team in the nation, and the game was the start of Joe Burrow’s dominating Heisman campaign. That’s a loss that only got more acceptable, especially considering that it was decided by only one score. Then they absorbed another close loss against rival OU — another top-tier team with yet another Heisman candidate in Jalen Hurts. Two losses aren’t ideal, but those two losses aren’t terrible.

But, after that the wheels started to fall off. A close shave against Kansas then led to a rough defeat at the hands oft TCU, which was followed up with disastrous losses against Iowa State and Baylor. The team that many thought would contend for a Big 12 title finished sixth (technically tied for third with three other teams. but had a worse overall record than two of the others, and lost head-to-head to the third) in the conference and ended the regular season unranked.

Suddenly, the golden boy Herman was beginning to look a bit rusted. The offense was still pretty solid (17th in points per game), but the defense was abysmal (68th in opponent’s points per game), including some of the worst tackling that you’ll ever see on a football field. It was clear that a change was needed. That change came in the form of canning defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and hiring recently fired Rutgers head coach Chris Ash.

Despite the ups and recent downs for Herman since leaving the OSU nest, it’s been even worse for Ash. His head coaching stint at Rutgers ended up at a dismal 8-32 that included a 1-11 season and a mid-season firing this year. Now, the two coaches that saw a lot of success together are joining back up for another ride., with both of them having a lot to prove.

For Herman, he needs to prove that he can consistently win in a Power Five conference and that 2018 wasn’t a fluke. For Ash, he needs to prove that Rutgers is just a really really bad program, and that doesn’t need the multiple All-Americans that he had during his OSU days to be successful.

Some people are just better suited for a coordinator job than a head coaching one. Herman is going to have to hope that’s the case with Ash, or both of them will be out of Texas sooner rather than later.

“Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young and cornerback Jeff Okudah each reached consensus All-American status on Tuesday when they were named first-team All-Americans by the Sporting News.”

- Dan Hope, Eleven Warriors

The Ohio State Buckeyes continue to pile up awards as Chase Young and Jeff Okudah officially reached consensus All-American status this week. The rules for consensus All-Americans are pretty simple; players don’t actually need to get first team All-American from all five of the chosen “selectors” (Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, Walter Camp Football Foundation and Sporting News), they just need to hit three of the five.

So far, three of the selectors have released their lists, with Okudah and Young appearing on all three so far. Young is a lock for all five lists, and Okudah has a good shot at it as well, but isn’t as much of a sure thing. Guard Wyatt Davis also has a chance at the consensus title. He’s on the first team for two of the three so far (the AP and Sporting News) and therefore just needs to make one more list by the AFCA or FWAA, which release Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

LSU also has two so far with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, but have two more players that are likely to reach consensus status in Grant Delpit and Derek Stingley Jr.

Wisconsin has two with Jonathan Taylor and Tyler Biadasz with Zack Baun being an outside chance at a third. Georgia is the final team with a chance at the top spot, with Andrew Thomas already achieving the honor and Rodrigo Blankenship and J.R. Reed needing two and one more spot apiece.

It’s hard to argue with most of list, even though the homer in me wanted J.K. Dobbins to make it. He is likely to make the first team list for the FWAA at least, but Dobbins’ season deserves more recognition. He had more yards per touch then either Taylor or Chuba Hubbard, and had more touchdowns than Hubbard did. He also plays in a much stronger defensive conference than Hubbard.

Finally, for my last argument, I’ll say Dobbins had his best games against his best opponents. In his games against currently ranked teams (Wisconsin x 2, Penn State, Cincinnati and Michigan) he averaged 168.68 yards and 2.2 touchdowns on the ground. His worst game by far was against Miami of Ohio, where he only got eight carries. Taylor averaged 145.8 yards with and one touchdown rushing in his ranked games (Ohio State x 2, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota), with Taylor’s worst performance coming against Ohio State the first time around.

Not saying Dobbins was definitely better than Hubbard or Taylor, but there is certainly a case to be made, one that should’ve seen Dobbins make consensus All-American.

“When it comes to concern over Justin Fieldsknee, there doesn’t appear to be much if any on the part of his head coach.”

- John Taylor, NBCSports

While the second half of the Big Ten Championship game was a glorious smackdown, it can’t be forgotten that the first half was a huge struggle. Justin Fields was getting beat up, and it was easy to see that he wasn’t 100 percent. He absorbed five sacks in the game and wasn’t the running force that we have seen all season.

Fields first suffered the injury against Penn State, an MCL strain that only got worse after being forced to leave during the third quarter of the Michigan game. He came out against Wisconsin with a knee brace, and, as recently as Saturday’s Heisman Trophy ceremony, admitted that he still feels soreness in the knee and is continuing to rehab.

Luckily, there are still 11 more days to go until the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson, and OSU head coach Ryan Day is confident that the knee will be 100 percent by then.

Physioworks says Grade 1 and 2 strains take about six weeks to fully heal, which would match up perfectly with Fields’ timeline. Of course, those six weeks usually don’t involve taking extra hits and playing football.

Fields will need to be at his best to beat the extremely talented Clemson Tigers and deliver OSU their first playoff win since the 2014 seasn. At the very least, he’ll need to have the bulkier brace off to have the mobility that made him a dual-threat Heisman contender in the first place.

Quick Hits:

  • Stacy Elliot, the father of former OSU star Ezekiel Elliott, will face 21 charges from the Ohio Department of Agriculture and other organizations for letting a serval cat escape. Elliot does not have the proper licenses to own a serval — which is more akin to a cheetah than a regular house cat — and also failed to notify anyone of it’s escape.
  • Although it had been teased in recent weeks, on Tuesday Ohio State reveald the team’s Fiesta Bowl uniforms, which feature a similar look to the one’s worn during the 2014 National Championship game against Oregon, including grey shoulder stripes, a staple of the Tresell era.

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