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I Got 5 on it: Savor this season of Ohio State Football

We don’t know what this Buckeye team is, but it’s going to be fun to find out.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JUL 18 Big Ten Football Media Days Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“The seasons pass, the years will roll”

The older you get, the more this low-key morbid line from Carmen Ohio rings true.

Where does the time go?

It feels like just yesterday that Urban Meyer was singing Carmen after Ohio State’s 56-10 win over Miami, Ohio in 2012. Meyer brought a new style to Ohio State football; one that ended up being a wild ride with lots of highs, a few bad lows, and some weird moments in between. But —as always— the seasons pass, and tomorrow that memory will be almost seven years old. It’s the Ryan Day era now, and only time —and the seasons passing— will determine how we view him.

Ohio State Buckeyes v Miami Redhawks 9-1-2012

This is the most fired up I’ve been for an Ohio State season since 2014, and easily the most in my four years of writing I Got 5 on it. I don’t know what the hell this year’s team is, but I do know that it’s not The Grind, it doesn’t involve Bill Davis and Greg Schiano, and it’s not the circus of piss poor decision-making during the Summer of 2018.

College Football comes and goes faster than any other sport. It’s here in September, and gone by the first week of January. The wait between seasons is agonizing. Somehow time keeps moving forward. No matter what happens this year, I’m gonna savor this one, because I think it could end up being pretty special.

Only time will tell what the 2019 Ohio State Buckeyes’ story is. No matter what happens, the seasons pass, and time is damn sure gonna roll. With that said, let’s get into five things I’m thinking as the Buckeyes open 2019 against Florida Atlantic.


The invisible position group

An actual, definitely not photoshopped image of Ohio State’s defense last season.

That image is a perfect representation of how I’ve felt about the defense since 2017. Without naming names, the linebackers have been rough the last two years, and the hope is that the coaching additions of Greg Mattison and Al Washington can help right the ship. For what it’s worth, both have been pretty effusive in praising the talent in the group, while noting that Tuf Borland, Peter Werner, and Malik Harrison are still first in line for the majority of snaps. While that makes me nauseous —sans for Harrison— it can’t possibly get worse than it was last year.

It makes me feel (somewhat) better that Mattison said the defense will move away from its base three-linebacker set against spread teams, which [checks schedule] is basically everyone. That means the new “bullet” position is going to feature more Brendon White or Jahsen Wint, which is good news.

The linebackers are bar none the thing I’m paying the most attention to tomorrow. Say what you want about Lane Kiffin, but he’s smart enough to recognize what a weakness this was for Ohio State last season, and this’ll be a great first test to see how much they’ve improved.


What could have been

I can’t lie; I’m a little bummed we don’t get to see what Kiffin/Meyer II would have looked like. Remember this?

And then this?

ICY!


J.K. returns to form

J.K. Dobbins took a noticeable step back last season, and he isn’t shying away from it. From all indications, he had a great offseason. Getting the 2017 —or improved— version of Dobbins would be huge for the development of Justin Fields, and blows the ceiling open on what this offense can be. I’m on record expecting a huge year from him, and can’t wait to see more of this:


The five freshmen/under-the-radar players we’re going to be talking about after the game

  1. Josh Proctor, SAF
  2. Garrett Wilson, WR
  3. Javonte Jean-Baptiste, DE
  4. Zach Harrison, DE
  5. Marcus Crowly, RB

#1

I think I’m contractually obligated to mention Justin Fields in this column, and I figured I’d wait until the end to do it. What does the offense look like with him at the helm? How much will the lack of depth at QB prevent Day from running him? Also, we know he’s a great runner, but can he be a great passer?

Day went above and beyond not showering Fields with too much praise this off-season. Whether that was to keep his confidence from getting too high (yup), or to keep up with the charade that was the “quarterback competition” (also yup), the coaching staff has done a good job in keeping expectations from getting out of hand.

What we do know is Day’s track record with quarterbacks. He helped JT Barrett reclaim his confidence in en route to a monster 2017 —HELLO PENN STATE 4TH QUARTER— and tutored Dwayne Haskins into destroying every single-season Ohio State/Big Ten passing record in his only season as a starter. With a talent like Fields to work with, I’m betting he goes three for three.