My sincere best wishes to all of you for a Happy New Year in 2023. Although the Ohio State football season ended in a painful manner, I could not be happier with the effort the Ohio State coaching staff and players gave on Dec. 31 in the Peach Bowl versus the favored Georgia Bulldogs. On our latest Silver Bullets Podcast, Michael Citro and I reviewed the game, and there were opportunities to win by Ohio State that just were not seized.
It is against this backdrop that I am going to offer up Three Desired 2023 Resolutions For Ohio State Football. Festivus has come and gone until next December, so this will not be under the guise of The Airing Of Grievances — more like healthy resolutions that could be of benefit for the Ohio State program as the work for the 2023 season earnestly begins.
- Find a healthy medium for the Ohio State defense
Ohio State was able to survive on the road at Maryland on Nov. 19, but everything came crashing down against “That Team Up North” on Nov. 26 with five big scoring plays being the primary culprit in the decisive 45-23 loss. Against Georgia, with Ohio State holding a 38-27 lead in the 4th quarter, the Buckeyes gave up a one-play, 76-yard touchdown pass that swung the momentum towards the Bulldogs in only 10 seconds.
What I am suggesting for the “healthy medium” is that Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles prefers an aggressive, attacking defense that is susceptible to big plays. Perhaps the “healthy medium” is to reduce the number of times the secondary has no safety help, like what happened in the Michigan and Georgia games. Perhaps the “healthy medium” can be to play with two safeties back, and force the opposition to go the length of the field.
Yes, points may still be scored, but it should take minutes off the clock, not seconds. And that leads me to my second resolution...
2. Ryan Day as more of the CEO
This is a concept that many Ohio State fans have been clamoring for, but here is where I am going to tie this back into my first resolution. Yes, Ryan Day giving up play calling duties is a huge step for the offense, but how I would hope this could work would allow for Day to become more involved on the defensive side of the ball.
Please understand that what I am advocating for is Ryan Day to be able to spend more time in the defensive meetings and game plan sessions, and have the headset on during a game to approve or veto the defensive calls in a game. Here is where Ryan Day could say to Jim Knowles, “Let’s make sure we have our two safeties back” before the team takes the field for a defensive series.
Ryan Day will, and should, always have his hands involved in the offensive game plan. To not have Day involved would be detrimental to Ohio State offensively, as he has gained a well-deserved reputation for quarterback development. A point of reference is Alabama’s Nick Saban. Saban has a defensive coordinator, is heavily involved in coaching the Alabama secondary, and involved in the defensive game plan formation — as defense is Saban’s strong suit — but is not calling the defensive plays for the Crimson Tide.
My belief is that Ohio State is going to promote internally, with Justin Frye and Brian Hartline likely to take on more of the offensive game plan formation responsibilities during game week, and Day having that headset interaction with whomever is in the coaches’ box about what he would like to do or see when the offense is on the field. And that leads me to my third resolution...
3. More player substitution in 2023
Kyle McCord and Devin Brown will be competing for the starting quarterback position in 2023, and neither of them have played a great deal. As a matter of fact, McCord actually threw more passes in 2021 as a true freshman (38) than as a sophomore (20). Yes, that is because McCord started versus Akron in 2021 when C.J. Stroud needed to rest his ailing shoulder, but the reality is McCord is largely untested. Devin Brown’s 2022 statistics show him with zero passes attempted, but four handoffs.
Here is where Ryan Day is doing himself, and the offensive players, no favors. Going into the 2021 season, Day lamented how none of the quarterbacks had thrown a pass, and how it was going to be challenging. Yet when given ample opportunities to have McCord and/or Brown in-game opportunities in 2022 when Ohio State was decisively leading in games (Arkansas State, Toledo, Wisconsin, Rutgers, at Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana), Day squandered them, limiting them to handoffs.
This resolution is not limited to only the quarterback position. In today’s college football reality, where players can leave and enter the transfer portal with no notice, it is incumbent upon coaching staffs to try to get players as much deserved playing time as possible, if only to try to maintain some semblance of roster management.
Think of it is this way. After next season, McCord will be eligible for the 2024 NFL Draft. Other players, such as wide receivers Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Julian Fleming, will also be eligible for the 2024 NFL Draft. Wouldn’t it make sense for Ohio State to play backup wide receivers such as Kaleb Brown (one reception as a freshman in 2022), Kyion Grayes (one reception as a freshman in 2022), or Kojo Antwi more in 2023 with the backup quarterbacks, considering they will be the likely starters in 2024?
The same for the backups at offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, secondary, etc. The transfer portal has made it essential that backups get involved more than ever, especially when the coaches who recruited them out of high school are promising them ample playing time and abundant NIL funds. Here’s to seeing more players on the field for Ohio State than we have over the last couple of seasons.
Those are just three desired resolutions I have for Ohio State as we get ready for the 2023 season. As always, let me know what you think, and Go Bucks!