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Irrational Overreactions(?): Ohio State needs to work out safeties at corner during off week

Also, losing Clark Phillips III is the worst recruit hit under Ryan Day.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ohio State fans live in the extremes, whether good or bad. As they say, we have no chill. So, I am going to give voice to those passionate opinions by running through my completely level-headed, not-at-all over-the-top, 100% unbiased takeaways from Saturday’s 49-20 win over the Michigan State Spartans.

This offense is so good, I don’t know if even I can come up with an with something that rises to the level of an overreaction, let alone irrational

I don’t want this column to come off as exceedingly negative, because the other two points this week are not going to be fun. But at this point, I’m struggling to come up with some bombastic hot take about the Buckeye offense that isn’t thoroughly and completely justified.

C.J. Stoud is the Heisman Trophy frontrunner: Yep, that checks out.

Egbuka, Harrison, Fleming are the best wide receiver trio in Ohio State history: I mean, I think that’s fair, and they will only get better when Jaxon Smith-Njigba returns.

This offense is better than the 2019 LSU offense (which was led by Ohio State legend Joe Burrow): Do it for a full season, and I will entertain it.

TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams are the best running back duo in the country: Certainly worthy of conversation.

Stroud is the best quarterback in Ohio State history: I don’t know that I’d go that far just yet, but I think it is in the realm of possibility.

Ohio State should be the No. 1 team in the country: I 100% believe this one.

Unless I start saying crazy stuff like “This offense would put up 45 on the ‘85 Bears,” or “Stroud is actually the ill-begotten son of Zeus and a human woman named Alcmene,” I don’t know if it’s possible to overstate just how good this unit is. They are simply the best offense in the country and the best collection of talent that I have ever seen in scarlet and gray.

A handful of OSU safeties need to get some reps at corner during the off week

There is nothing irrational or overreactionarry about this one, but I’m including it here anyway. Even if Jordan Hancock is 100% and ready to rejoin the cornerback rotation for the Iowa game in two weeks, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, safeties coach Perry Eliano, and cornerback coach Tim Walton need to find some safeties to get as many reps at corner as possible.

For whatever reason, the cornerbacks are the one aspect of the OSU defense that has not seen significant improvement in Knowles’ first season. The position group was pretty bad last year, but they are even worse in 2022, and I’m not quite sure how that’s possible. Part of that is probably because there are only six scholarship corners on the roster, part of that is probably because the top three CBs have dealt with injuries already this season, and part of it is probably that none of them seem to know how to play the ball when in coverage.

All season, it seems like the corners have been in decent position more often than not, but when it actually comes time to either knock down — or preferably intercept — the ball, they turn into toddlers who are still developing their full range of motor skills, all too often leading to either a huge reception or a pass interference call.

I am hopeful that Denzel Burke and Cameron Brown can get some rest and heal up for the second half of the season, and that the extra time will help them improve, but at this point, this team is way too good to count on that. The coaches need to take advantage of the extremely well-timed off week and work on contingency plans.

We know that Cam Martinez and Tanner McCalister have cross-trained at corner already this season, but where’s the harm in giving them 50% of their reps over the next couple of weeks at CB?

Hell, throw Kye Stokes and Xavier Johnson in that mix as well. Stokes has looked good at multiple safety positions this season and Johnson has already played corner in his career. We also know that the coaches aren’t shy about having the former walk-on play multiple positions, as he’s already gotten time at both wide receiver and running back this season.

I have no idea if any of those four guys — or any other members of the OSU roster — can actually help at corner, but getting them some extra reps there when they have the time certainly can’t hurt; at this point, sub-par cornerback play could be the only thing standing between the Buckeyes and a national championship.

Clark Phillips Is the Biggest Recruiting Loss of the Ryan Day and Urban Meyer Eras

This column is admittedly about irrational overreactions (it’s literally in the headline), so I’m not going to go back and do any research to see if there are any other decommitments that could contend for this title, but I feel pretty comfortable in saying that losing Clark Phillips III on the first day of the early signing period in December 2019 is the biggest recruiting miss of the Ryan Day era and perhaps even Urban Meyer’s, if you through his tenure in as well.

Phillips committed to Ohio State in June 2019, but after the Buckeyes became the No. 1 defense in the country that fall, OSU’s defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley took the head coaching job at Boston College. Once rumors of that move began to trickle out, Phillips decided to change his pledge and play a little closer to his California home.

While Phillips — at No. 34 nationally — might not be the highest-rated prospect that the Buckeyes have lost out on in the post-Tressel era, looking at how poorly recruiting has gone at the cornerback position ever since, this one sticks out as down-right awful to me.

While it is quite possible that even Clark would have been ruined by the previous defensive coaching regime, as of Utah’s game against UCLA this afternoon, the junior now has five interceptions on the season, including two pick-sixes:

I believe firmly in the butterfly effect in sports, so there’s no way to know if Buckeye Clark Phillips would have been the same player that we’ve seen from Ute Clark Phillips, but losing out on him in the 2020 recruiting class has had a significant impact on the OSU secondary, and it has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad impact.

Who knows how having Phillips in 2020 and 2021 would have impacted the Buckeye defense, but I feel very confident that the new coaching staff would have found a way to get the most out of his incredible talent, and that could have made a world of difference for this year’s team.