“It’s kind of like being a Troy Polamalu. You are a safety but you are down playing at five yards. I have to make the run fits and fill the run gaps. But at the same time, you have to play like a deep half or a deep third (in coverage). You have to be able to play both.”
Ohio State safety Brendon White on playing the Bullet position via Steve Helwagen, Bucknuts
Even though he played for less than half the season, Brendon White certainly made an impact at safety last year. It all started when Jordan Fuller was ejected for targeting in the first half against Nebraska, which forced White into action. All the sophomore safety did was record 13 tackles in the 36-31 win over the Cornhuskers. Following his performance against Nebraska, White recorded at least five tackles in each of the last five games. White not only hauled in the first interception of his college career against Michigan, but he was also named Rose Bowl defensive MVP in the 28-23 win over Washington.
After his performance in 2018, it would have been easy to imagine White getting the nod opposite Fuller at safety in 2019, but Ryan Day and Ohio State’s new defensive coaching staff has even bigger plans for White. Co-defensive coordinators Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley are planning on using a linebacker/safety hybrid this year, and White seems tailor-made for the position.
With playing a hybrid position, White has even more responsibilities, as he not only has to be at the top of his game against the pass, but he also has to be at his best against the run. Even though Hafley and Mattison have thrown a lot at White in a short amount of time, the son of former Ohio State captain William White has been putting in the work necessary to be successful.
What has helped White and the rest of the defense adjust to how the new coaching staff operates is the players have been allowed to just play football and be athletes. Last year Ohio State’s defense struggled for most of the year because they were being tasked with too much and not being allowed to let their natural abilities shine. With White at the forefront of a new era on defense for the Buckeyes, expect the Silver Bullets to get back to their dominant ways sooner rather than later.
“Oh yeah, we’re still fighting it, there’s no question with Thayer being out this spring again, that’s another blow to the guys. But the good news is that those young kids get a ton of reps, and that’s what have this spring is a chance to get those guys as many repetitions as they can to get better. Then we’ll get Thayer back in the fall and move forward.”
Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa during spring practices on offensive tackle Thayer Munford via Spencer Holbrook, Letterman Row
One of the biggest questions for head coach Ryan Day as he heads into his first full season as Ohio State head coach, is what will the offensive line look like? While Day and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa got a good look at what they had to work with during spring practices, the one certainty on the offensive line didn’t take any reps. Left tackle Thayer Munford was dealing with some injuries from last season, which led to him sitting out spring practices to give him time to recover since he’ll be leaned on heavily in 2019.
Ohio State will be tasked with replacing four starters from last year’s offensive line, which means they’ll have to make the most of a pretty thin depth chart. Some of the pressure will be eased by the presence of graduate transfer Jonah Jackson, who will likely fill the hole at left guard. But aside from Munford and Jackson, the rest of the Ohio State offensive line has limited experience.
Even though it would have been nice to have Munford taking reps during spring practice, the absence of the junior on the field allowed for more reps for some of the younger offensive linemen. The offensive lineman who was tested even more during spring practices with the absence of Munford was Joshua Alabi, who served as Munford’s backup last year. While Alabi isn’t projected to be one of the starters on the offensive line this year, he does give Ohio State plenty of versatility if they have to deal with injuries or ineffective play.
There might be a few growing pains early on for the Ohio State as they adjust to not only having Munford back on the line, but also with the introduction of Jackson at left guard, it wouldn’t be wise to expect any chemistry issues to last too long. For Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins to find success this season, expect the Buckeyes to lean on Munford early and often, as there is no question he will be the anchor of Ohio State’s offensive line this season.
ESPN BYLINE NO. 1: The Ifs List! How many "ifs" does it take to turn your team into a title contender?— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) June 27, 2019
Alabama and Clemson: not many!
Nebraska: actually, don't click on this, Husker fanshttps://t.co/kaTQa6E7k4
After years of churning out amazing work for SB Nation, Bill Connelly couldn’t resist the lures of moving to ESPN any longer. While all of us here at LGHL are sad to see him move on and will miss his college football presence, we have no doubts that he’ll continue to bless the public with his amazing work and insights.
Connelly took a look at some of this year’s college football national title contenders, and ranks them by the number of “ifs”. The less “ifs” a team has, the better the shot they have heading into this season at winning the national title. Alabama and Clemson look to be on another collision course in the College Football Playoff, as they on have two “ifs” according to Connelly, while Ohio State is in the next tier with three “ifs”.
The biggest question for Ohio State revolves around the quarterback position. There is no question that Georgia transfer Justin Fields has the talent to lead Ohio State into the College Football Playoff, but he didn’t get to show much of it last year, as he spent the season behind Jake Fromm in Athens. The Buckeyes will also have to be careful with Fields, as they can’t afford to lose him to injury since there is very little depth behind Fields at quarterback.
Ohio State will be a serious national title contender in 2019 if they are able to get their running game firing again. 2018 was an odd year for the Buckeye rushing attack, as J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber struggled to find a rhythm, but they didn’t have to do as much with the success that Dwayne Haskins and the Ohio State passing game found. The Buckeyes can’t count on Fields to have quite the level of success as Haskins, especially early on, which is why Dobbins will have to return to what he showed on the field for Ohio State in 2017.
The final “if” Connelly has targeted Ohio State with is pretty obvious. If the Buckeyes suffer fewer catastrophes on defense, they’ll find themselves in the national title hunt. Allowing big plays is an area the Buckeyes will have to cut down on, after allowing 39 plays of 30-plus yards last year. The defense of Ohio State can’t get much worse than it did last year, and it’s hard to see the Buckeyes reverting back to 2018, especially with a new defensive coaching staff to pump some fresh blood into the program.
If Ohio State can get on the right side of those three areas, it’s gonna to be hard to keep the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff. Ohio State has +900 odds to win the national title, which is fourth-best in the country, only behind Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia. Even though Ryan Day has a lot on his plate in his first season as head coach at Ohio State, he certainly has a lot to work with, and should be able to lead the Buckeyes to another Big Ten title at the very least.
STICK TO SPORTS
- Comfest will take place this weekend in Goodale Park.
- Satori Ramen Bar will open up in the North Market on Sunday.
- Ohio’s 10.5 cent gas tax increase will go into effect around the state on Monday.
- Looking to stay cool this summer? Check out these 10 splashpads around Columbus.
- With Independence Day just a week away, it’s time to start planning where you’re going to be watching fireworks around Central Ohio.