Sports Today: Ohio State football has to decide what it wants offense to be

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 9:56 AM

Ohio State’s Urban Meyer watches the action against Indiana on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. David Jablonski/Staff
Staff Writer
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer watches the action against Indiana on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

Have you heard the one about how Ohio State football can’t do offense anymore? 

Of course you have because if you’re reading this, you’re on the internet, and there is nowhere on the web without someone’s take on how Urban Meyer’s famous attack has broken down. 

I found this one from Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel particularly useful as it confirms (albeit through mostly anonymous sourcing) my belief Meyer’s offense has gone stale since he got to Columbus and so far little influence from Kevin Wilson can be found. 

Ross Fulton of BuckeyeGrove.com explains that aside from curiously going away from a running game that was working, a “foundational problem” is “the passing game is not built off the running game.” 

(Sorry to everyone who just had a brief bout with Tresselball PTSD.) 

Ian Boyd, who was ahead of the curve in pointing out some of Ohio State’s fatal flaws last season, also had an informative piece for SB Nation about how Oklahoma kept the Ohio State defense off balance all night with a smart play-action scheme (including, gasp, a fullback) and a quarterback who simply balled out. 

SPORTS TODAY: Anthony Grant hits it big with newest Flyers commit 

Ohio State hasn’t had either of those things in a big game very often since Tom Herman left after the national championship season of 2014. 

Truth be told, the Buckeyes are still at the same crossroads they were two years ago. They must decide if they want to commit to being a spread-run option team or a power run/deep play-action pass unit. 

They were the former while thrashing mostly inferior competition in 2012, ’13 and most of ’14 until J.T. Barrett got hurt. They were the latter in the postseason when Cardale Jones replaced him. 

One philosophy fits Barrett best while the other is more suited to Jones, Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins. 

I believe the rest of the personnel is fine either way, though lack of tight ends or a fullback or H-back is a big problem. (That’s a recruiting error.) Having two reliable tight ends was a major key to the success regardless of who was at quarterback in ’14, a luxury they haven’t enjoyed since. 

If Meyer wants to stick with the option — I don’t think he does, to be honest, but I am certain he doesn’t want to bench Barrett — he has to modernize it because teams caught up to his version of that a long time ago. It was harder to tell because of the brilliance of Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and the offensive line of 2012 and ’13, but the offense has had issues from the beginning of Meyer’s time in Columbus. 

He has admitted on multiple occasions the “spread option” part wasn’t really big during Miller time. Instead they relied more on called quarterback runs, which Meyer equates to single-wing football and rely on different blocking schemes than his most basic spread run game does. 

I believe after Miller and Barrett had season-ending injuries in the same year, he realized his offense really is a quarterback killer. 

The spread-option guys have denied that from the start, but it’s always been obvious they were wrong. Tim Tebow was beaten up by the end of his time at Florida, too. 

Also the way Jones stood back there and flung it against multiple marquee programs was surely a great recruiting tool both for the guys who throw it and the ones who catch it. 

Meyer sticking with Jones to start 2015 points strongly to what he wants the offense to be in the grand scheme of things, but Jones was inconsistent and didn’t get much help from the players around him or Herman’s replacements in the offensive braintrust, so they went back to Barrett eventually. 

RELATED: Braxton Miller’s greatest hits from Wayne to Ohio State to Houston

That made sense in the short term because Barrett was much more productive running a few plays tailored to his strengths when he would replace Jones, who was undercut from the start when Meyer showed he was willing to bench him at literally the first sign of trouble against Virginia Tech in ’15. 

So the decision to go with the Barrett band-aid is still reverberating today as the offense has struggled and a popular fifth-year quarterback is the subject of much criticism. 

Classmate Billy Price came to Barrett’s defense Tuesday night, making some strong points about the quarterback’s experience and intangibles. 

Ohio State center Billy Price went to bat for fellow senior J.T. Barrett after the QB has come under fire for his role in the struggles of the Buckeye offense.

Assuming the majority of the team feels this way — probable but not certain given the age gap between fifth-year seniors like Price and Barrett and all those freshmen and sophomores — this is further proof the best way forward is to shape an offense around what Barrett can do. 

Regardless of who is playing quarterback, the offense must change, but the necessary adjustments vary. 

Benching Barrett would mean they face two variables (new offense, new quarterback) instead of one (new offense, same quarterback), and the latter is probably a larger gamble than they need to take. 

The worst thing about the present is they are stuck in between offenses and the quarterback they are using is only good at half of it. 

If they switch QBs but leave the scheme generally the same, that will still be true. 

In the long run, the best bet is to leave the option behind. Meyer knows this, which is why he recruited throwing quarterbacks like Burrow and Haskins, but he has hedged with Tate Martell. 

READ MORE at Marcus Hartman’s “Cus Words Blog

He’s got a tough decision now, but I also still believe he’s got the right guy to help him make if if he just trusts Kevin Wilson to do the job he was hired to do. 

They’ve compromised the running game in trying to fix the pass, a net loss in productivity that’s anything but necessary given the players at their disposal. 

One way or another, that has to change if the Buckeyes want to get back on course now or in the future — no matter who is playing quarterback. 

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Dru Brown could make run at Heisman; Mike Gundy appears on SportsCenter

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 2:00 AM

Dru Brown-Oklahoma State-Oklahoma State football-quarterback-transfer

Welcome to the Friday edition of our Oklahoma State DieHards morning roundup, where we take you through the biggest headlines around Oklahoma State athletics.

Dru Brown could make run at Heisman

Incoming graduate transfer Dru Brown hasn’t even won the starting job at Oklahoma State. Yet DieHards’ Oliver Connolly lists the former Hawaii quarterback as a potential Heisman candidate in his first Heisman Hype team of the 2018 offseason.

From Connolly:

There’s a chance Brown will be more effective than [Mason] Rudolph. He’s a true dual-threat; Rudolph was a statue. Brown’s legs will help open up the passing game, not only on designed runs, but shifting in the pocket to create whatever throwing angle is necessary.

Connolly believes Brown can thrive in the Oklahoma State offense, because of his mobility. He’ll have to beat out blue-chip freshman Spencer Sanders and 2017 backup Taylor Cornelius for the Cowboys’ starting gig.

Mike Gundy appears on SportsCenter

If there are two things Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy is known for, it’s his team’s potent offenses and his signature mullet. During a SportsCenter interview with Barry Melrose, which you can watch here, Gundy said he might be switching up his hairstyle soon.

Gundy and Melrose discussed hair, parenting and play-by-play crew curses during the segment. In other words, Gundy seems to be taking well to the offseason as spring football approaches.

Other headlines from the athletic department:

  • Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Chris Beard gave major props to Oklahoma State students for showing up to the Cowboys-Red Raiders game on Wednesday.
  • Baseball hosts Marist at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, 3 p.m ET on Saturday and 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
  • Men’s basketball players Trey Reeves and Mitchell Solomon earned Academic All-Big 12 honors, the conference announced on Thursday.
  • Softball split its doubleheader at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Thursday. The Cowgirls beat Wisconsin 3-2 before losing 4-2 to Oregon State. Oklahoma State faces Oregon (1 p.m. ET) and Mississippi State (6 p.m. ET) on Friday and UC Davis (12:30 p.m. ET) on Sunday.
  • Women’s basketball plays its final road game of the regular season at West Virginia at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday.
  • Men’s basketball is at Texas for a 2 p.m. ET tipoff on Saturday. The game will be televised on the Longhorn Network.

What they’re saying on Twitter

Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens

Incoming wide receiver CJ Moore

Oklahoma State baseball

Miss a recent edition of the morning roundup? Check out our previous editions.

The post Dru Brown could make run at Heisman; Mike Gundy appears on SportsCenter appeared first on Diehards.

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Ohio State recruiting: Latest news on Buckeyes’ 2019 class

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 2:00 AM

Ohio State is just getting started with the 2019 recruiting class, but the Buckeyes are hot on the trail of many of the nation’s top prospects. The Buckeyes have only one commitment in the class to date, but plenty of top prospects have been visiting and staying in communication with Ohio State’s coaches. Here’s what to know about Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting:

Latest news for Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class

Ohio State football’s 2019 class

Ohio State has just one commitment in the 2019 recruiting class, coming from longtime pledge  Doug Nester from Huntington (W.Va.) Spring Valley. Nester has been committed to Ohio State since Aug. 5, 2017.

  • Doug Nester, 4 stars, Huntington (W.Va.) Spring Valley

Where Ohio State’s 2019 class ranks

Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class ranks No. 39 in the  247Sports composite team rankings. Of course, with just one commitment in the class, the Buckeyes are hard-pressed to rank very high in the team rankings at the moment. The good news is that they have the top-ranked class in the country among teams that have only commit. Nester is ranked as the No. 52 player overall and the No. 8 tackle in 2019.

Position breakdown of the Buckeyes’ 2018 class

QB: 0/1-2

RB: 0/1-2

TE: 0/1

WR: 0/3-5

OL: 1/5-6

DL: 0/3-4

LB: 0/1-3

DB: 0/3-4

Ohio State’s target number for recruits remains extremely flexible with nearly a year until National Signing Day in 2019. The Buckeyes also don’t have a clear idea yet of their projected scholarship numbers for the 2019 class without knowing which players could leave the program between the start of spring football and the start of the 2018 season. There’s plenty of time for these projected numbers to change and adapt.

Geographic breakdown of the class

West Virginia: 1 (Nester)

Top uncommitted Ohio State targets

Ohio State’s target board is just beginning to sort out, and there’s plenty of time for things to change. Here are some early looks at what you could expect out of the list of top prospects moving forward:

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Ohio State-Indiana basketball: Game time, TV channel, how to watch online (February 23, 2018)

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 2:00 AM

Ohio State and Indiana close out their respective regular seasons on Friday, Feb. 23 at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. No. 16 Ohio State is looking to keep its Big Ten title chances alive with a victory in the team’s second meeting of the season with the Hoosiers.

Find the game time, TV and streaming information and more below.

Ohio State-Indiana basketball: Game time, details

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Date: Friday, February 23, 2018

Place: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.

What channel is Ohio State-Indiana on?

Ohio State-Indiana will be airing on Fox Sports 1.

How can I watch Ohio State-Indiana online?

Indiana-Ohio State will be streaming on the Fox Sports Go app.

What’s at stake for Ohio State and Indiana?

Ohio State’s Big Ten title chances aren’t great after the team lost back-to-back games to Penn State and Michigan. But the Buckeyes can still claim a co-regular season title in Chris Holtmann’s first season. Ohio State needs to beat Indiana on Friday and have Michigan State lose at Wisconsin on Sunday to share the 2018 conference crown. Ohio State would finish 15-3 and be the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament (due to a head-to-head win over Michigan State) in this scenario.

Indiana, meanwhile, is looking to finish with a 9-9 mark in the Big Ten in Archie Miller’s initial campaign with the Hoosiers. Indiana is a likely candidate for the NIT, and a win against the Buckeyes would help the team’s postseason seeding.

Ohio State-Indiana basketball preview

Ohio State’s last two trips away from Columbus have not been kind to the Buckeyes. The program’s conference title hopes took a huge hit as the team suffered a Feb. 15 loss at Penn State and then a loss at Michigan just three days later. If Ohio State wants any part of the Big Ten title, it’ll have to leave Bloomington with a victory. The Buckeyes got back on the winning side of things Tuesday night, running away from Rutgers in the second half for a 79-52 win.

“They are good. They have a lot of weapons and they all seem to be playing their roles. Jae’Sean Tate is a monster. He gets to the rim and makes big plays for them,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said after the game. “They have Bates-Diop who can do a lot of things. Then they have some guys around them that really enjoy playing the roles that they hav, and they have good shooters on the perimeter. They are a very difficult team to get ready for and they are very good defensively, so they don’t have any weaknesses there. They’re a good basketball team.”

Ohio State beat Indiana handily, 71-56, on Jan. 30. The Hoosiers have been playing some better basketball since that game, however. Indiana won four straight games before falling at Nebraska on Tuesday night. At 16-13, Indiana is two wins away from matching its total from last season.

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Arkansas baseball vs. Cal Poly: Preview, TV, how to watch (February 23, 2018)

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 2:00 AM

Just because you may not have heard of Cal Poly doesn’t mean the Mustangs aren’t a worthy adversary for the Arkansas baseball team.

California Polytechnic State, for those official. Cal Poly to most. The Mustangs play in the Big West Conference, a league known for its baseball more than anything. Cal State-Fullerton and Long Beach State are usual powers. Cal Poly, however, actually finished second in the conference last season. Second in a league that had two schools inside the top 15 in the country.

It isn’t going to be easy for Arkansas, even as the Diamond Hogs are ranked in the top 5 in the country. Cal Poly was picked third behind those two powers in the preseason poll.

Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn will attempt to tame the Mustangs with preseason All-America Blaine Knight. The junior right-hander had five innings of no-hit ball with four strikeouts and two walks in the season opener against Bucknell.

The Arkansas bats have been hottest, though. The Razorbacks are first in the nation in runs per game (12.5), third in slugging (.613) second in on-base percentage (.497) and tops in home runs per game (2.5).

Don’t expect Arkansas to quite keep up with those paces this weekend. Cal Poly isn’t Bucknell. But do expect the Razorbacks to leave California with a winning record.

Arkansas baseball vs. Cal Poly series information

Arkansas and Cal Poly play just once, the opener for both in the Tony Gwynn Classic.

  • Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 — 4 p.m. ET from San Diego, Calif.

How can I watch?

The game is available on Cox Sports Television.

Who is calling the Arkansas game?

Brett Dolan has the TV play-by-play with Troy Eklund as analyst. Scott Inman has the call on radio.

Next up

The Tony Gwynn Classic continues Saturday and Sunday. Arkansas plays San Diego after Cal Poly and San Diego State in the finale before returning to Fayetteville.

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