Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: Which unexpected Ohio State player will have the biggest impact on the Rose Bowl?
Jami’s Take: Marvin Harrison Jr.
With key Buckeye players on both sides of the ball sitting out the Rose Bowl as they prepare to head off to the NFL, we can expect to see some newer faces making a big impact on the game.
But one in particular has the potential to have a big breakout moment: true freshman Marvin Harrison Jr.
The Buckeyes’ offense under freshman standout CJ Stroud is mostly pass-based, though there is a healthy balance of run game in there. But with star receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson — who combined for 135 catches, 1,994 yards, and 25 touchdowns this season — both sitting out to protect against an injury that could impact their time in the NFL, Stroud will need someone to throw to.
The obvious choice will be sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He was the team’s leading receiver this season, with 80 catches for 1,259 yards and 6 touchdowns, and he is a force of consistency and reliability for the Buckeyes.
But he can’t operate alone, which provides an opening for someone else to shine. Stroud will have sophomore Julian Fleming and Harrison on the outside. This is their opportunity to step up, a passing of the torch.
Look to Harrison to be ready to receive it.
Harrison is the son of that Marvin Harrison, the Pro Football Hall of Famer. It’s in his blood. The receiver has shown flashes of potential throughout the season, but with 5 catches for 68 yards, he hasn’t really had the chance to show us the full scale of his talent.
The Rose Bowl is that chance.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said Harrison has been “off the charts” in practices over the last month leading up to the Rose Bowl, competing as well as any of the team’s other receivers. Now, he’ll get to show off on a major stage by coming in clutch on the outside for the Buckeyes.
Harrison, who has already earned the confidence of his teammates, is a terrific runner. He has great hands and is extremely agile on his feet. Expect this to be a huge asset against an extremely talented Utah defense.
And at 6-foot-3, the receiver’s size will also be an asset.
Look to Smith-Njigba to step up into a leadership role, but if Harrison steps up as a major impact player on the outside, the Buckeyes will have what it takes to fend off a great defensive team in Utah.
Matt’s Take: Cade Stover
I initially was going with Emeka Egbuka for some of the same reasons that Jami went with Harrison. But, in an effort to vary our takes, I am going to go to the other side of the ball. We were all a bit surprised when we heard that former defensive end turned tight end Cade Stover was practicing exclusively at linebacker ahead of the Rose Bowl.
Any fan who has been paying attention to Ohio State this season knows that Al Washington’s crew has been weak at best. Another offensive player turned LB — Steele Chambers — has been the most reliable and productive member of the corps this season, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Obviously he’s incredibly athletic, but after a full season, I think the thing that made me apprehensive about having him on the field early in the season is exactly why he’s had so much success. Due to his years as a running back, he was not saddled with all of the junk that has apparently been weighing down the veteran linebackers. It just seemed that Chambers was the only linebacker who was playing instinctively all season.
Of course, he’s not been perfect this season, but he has been pretty great, given his inexperience at the position at the collegiate level. That is why I feel like Stover might have a great game this afternoon. The TE turned LB is listed at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds and while those numbers might have changed from the start of the year, Stover is a dude of substantive size; and against a power-run game, having someone in the middle of the defense of that stature could very well have a big impact.
Now we don’t really know how much he is going to play, but we do know that Cody Simon has apparently not been a part of the practices that the media has been allowed to watch this week, so they are down one major contributor. The speculation is that Stover has been practicing at the Sam linebacker position, which hasn’t been a part of OSU’s defensive plans much this season as the bullet has replaced it.
Therefore, if Kerry Coombs, Matt Barnes, and the defensive staff are going with a more traditional 4-3 scheme against the run-heavy Utes, there is reason to believe that Stover could get a lot of playing time alongside starters Chamber and Tommy Eichenberg. So, if that happens, I’m hoping that Stover has double digit-tackles shutting down Utah’s three-headed running back monster.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: Marvin Harrison Jr.
Matt: Cade Stover