“As stated above, Malik Harrison is the only player who has a definitive starting role.”
-David Wertheim, Eleven Warriors
Ohio State has had a rich history of capable and productive linebackers. From Randy Gradishar to Chris Spielman to AJ Hawk and James Laurinaitis to recent stars like Raekwon McMillan. There is a rich history that cannot be denied that Ohio State has prided itself on throughout the history of the program.
However, last season it was the worst unit on the team. Missed tackles in the open field, blown assignments and failure to put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks put the secondary in a tough position and too much pressure on the defensive line. Especially with the loss of Nick Bosa to injury and the added responsibility to Chase Young, the lack of quality linebacker play made it easy for opponents to put up points.
Since the retirement of Urban Meyer, new head coach Ryan Day did almost a clean sweep of the defense. He promoted defensive line coach Larry Johnson (for good reason) but parted ways with linebackers coach Bill Davis after just two seasons and hired Al Washington away from that team up north. Davis has since taken a job on Kliff Kingbury’s staff as the linebackers coach for the Arizona Cardinals.
So how exactly will the linebacking core look? Well for starters, Malik Harrison. Harrison was the bright spot between the linebackers with 81 total tackles and 55 solo. He also had 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He will be in the starting group for sure but that leaves Tuf Borland, Pete Werner, Baron Browning and Teradja Mitchell fighting for the other two spots. Browning is a former five star who has been hampered by injuries but you can fully expect him to play a pivotal role in the defense if he can stay on the field.
Luckily, Ohio State is returning all of their linebackers so you can expect a jump in quality of play and production. Malik Harrison and Baron Browning need to step up and be the go to guys for Al Washington and the rest of the defensive coaching staff.
“How did Day do? Given the circumstances that came with a coaching suspension last season and Urban Meyer’s post-season retirement, the Buckeyes could not have done any better this winter”
After Ryan Day took over, some coaching changes were expected. The problem that a lot of Buckeye fans were worried about was if he would go a little too far or not do enough. It is a fine line between making the right decisions and making one too many that people do not like. So what exactly did Day do?
He hired the high powered offense guru Mike Yurcich which was a great hire for a new quarterback with the skill and potential of Justin Fields. He brought in Al Washington to coach the linebackers and also Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley on the defensive side. Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano was sent packing and interim receivers coach Brian Hartline became the permanent receivers coach. All of these moves were well received by the Buckeyes fan base with a particular warm response to the promotions of Johnson and Hartline.
Then, the Buckeyes landed the highest quarterback recruit since Terrelle Pryor in the transfer of Justin Fields from Georgia. Fields will be on the Heisman short list come September and with quarterback minds like Day and Yurcich behind him and experienced receivers like KJ Hill and Austin Mack. They also just landed grad transfer Jonah Jackson from Rutgers who will likely be a starting fixture on the line.
All in all, most would agree that this was about as good as the winter could have gone when you lose a coach of the Urban Meyer pedigree. Day has done a great job of setting up the future of the Buckeyes in time for spring practice and for the future.
“The numbers strongly indicate that the Ohio State men’s basketball team doesn’t have much chance trying to simply outscore visiting Iowa on Tuesday night.”
-Adam Jardy, Columbus Dispatch
The Buckeyes and Chris Holtmann have had an up and down season. That season could use a huge win against Iowa on Tuesday night. The Hawkeyes are averaging a Big Ten best 80.4 points per game and have failed to score at least 70 points in just five contests this season.
With scorers like Tyler Cook, Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp, the Hawkeyes are built for scoring. They are second in the Big Ten in assists at 16.1 per game, meaning they can get the ball to the scorer on a consistent basis.
For Ohio State, they have struggled on offense. Graduate transfer Keyshawn Woods averaged 12.5 points per game his sophomore year and 11.9 points last season at Wake Forest and was expected to pick up some of the scoring slack, but he is only at 6.5 points per game and 29 percent from three point land, both career lows.
With this lack of offensive production, the Buckeyes have to get back to the defensive play they had early in the season that helped propel them to a 12-1 start.
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