On March 10th, Ohio State began spring practice, and had fifteen spring football practices available before the conclusion of spring practice on April 18th in Ohio Stadium. Over the next few weeks, I will rank the top ten questions facing Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer and his coaching staff as the Buckeyes retake the football field after concluding the 2014 season as the national champions.
These articles will be submitted from areas of lowest concern to
highest concern. While Ohio State returns the overwhelming majority of
its 2014 team, and welcomes in a highly-touted recruiting class, it will
be important for Coach Meyer to convey to his team that complacency
within the player ranks could derail any hopes of the Buckeyes repeating
as national champions in 2015.
Two practices in, with the week of March 15th-March 22nd off as the
players can enjoy the Ohio State spring break period. After March 22nd,
Ohio State has thirteen remaining practices, including the April 18th
spring game, to evaluate where the football program stands before fall
Up until this point in the series, my questions and focus has been
upon emerging players at backup positions, a clear testament to Ohio
State’s depth across the board. From here on out, these questions will
focus upon position areas where Ohio State has lost a player(s) to
graduation or eligibility, which is why I have ranked these position
groups higher in terms of importance.
5. Right Offensive Tackle
Key Players/Contributors Lost: Darryl Baldwin (eligibility); Kyle Dodson (injury); Antonio Underwood (eligibility)
Key Players/Contributors Returning: Chase Farris (Redshirt Senior),
Jamarco Jones (Sophomore), Marcelys Jones (Sophomore), Evan Lisle
(Redshirt Sophomore), Brady Taylor (Redshirt Freshman), Kyle Trout
(Redshirt Freshman), Grant Schmidt (Freshman).
What a difference a year makes.
At the conclusion of spring practice in 2014, I had major concerns
about the Ohio State offensive line, having replaced four starters.
Unfortunately, my concerns were legitimized when Ohio State lost to
Virginia Tech in the second game of the 2014 season, casting major
questions about Ohio State being able to rally from the loss and still
qualify for the College Football Playoff. (I won’t bore you with the
rest, because I know you are still basking in the glow of the events of January 12, 2015).
From left to right, Ohio State returns starters in Taylor Decker,
Billy Price, Jacoby Boren, and Pat Elflein. The lone starting position
that is up for grabs is at right offensive tackle, which has been
vacated with the departure of Darryl Baldwin.
Baldwin was a converted defensive lineman who earned the starting
right offensive tackle position last fall. It would not be surprising
to see Baldwin selected in the later rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft,
especially after Ohio State’s offensive line was the primary reason for
the dominant offensive performances by the Buckeyes down the stretch
run of the season.
With one spot open, and so many players waiting in the wings, how will this all shake out?
After the first two practices,
Chase Farris was getting the starting nod at the right offensive tackle
spot. Like Baldwin, Farris has been converted from defensive line, and
has battled for a starting position along the offensive line over the
last three seasons.
The position will not be won without a fight. Jamarco Jones, a
heavily recruited offensive lineman from the 2014 recruiting class, has
been mentioned as a possible contender. It is entirely possible that
this battle will go on beyond spring practice, and into fall camp.
While Ohio State has an abundance of talent in the wings, and even
more reinforcements arriving this summer with recruits from the 2015
class, a word of caution to Ohio State fans. While there are players on
the depth chart, and reinforcements on the way with the 2015 recruiting
class set to arrive this summer, keep in mind that Ohio State’s
offensive line will undergo a metamorphosis next spring in 2016 similar to the beginning of
the 2014 season, with multiple starters departing. It will be in the
coaching staff’s best interests to play as many offensive linemen as
possible during the 2015 season to avoid starting out 2016 like Ohio
State did versus Virginia Tech in 2014.