Countdown Until THE GAME 2018

Friday, September 23, 2016

After The First Quarter Of 2016, Where Does Ohio State Stand?

Three games into the 2016 college football season, and even though the bye week seems to have arrived early for the Ohio State Buckeyes, the first quarter has come and gone.  Only nine regular season games remain in the season, with the Buckeyes in the conversation as a possible College Football Playoff participant.

As stated up above, there is still lots of football to be played.  Many a college football season has gone awry after a promising start, so it will be up to Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer and his assistant coaches to keep the players intently focused upon finishing strongly.

Below are some random thoughts as to what I have seen so far from the Buckeyes.  As always, please feel free to hit me up on Twitter @ChipMinnich to let me know your thoughts...

Biggest Surprise So Far, Position Group:  The performance of the Ohio State secondary.  If you had told me that Ohio State would lose three starters from its 2015 team, and be able to perform as well as they have so far in 2016, I would have been highly skeptical.  It is still relatively early in 2016, but the pick-six touchdown returns by true freshman Rodjay Burns in the latter portion of the season opener versus Bowling Green, plus the crucial interceptions by Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker versus Tulsa in game two, are tremendously reassuring heading into B1G play.

Biggest Surprise So Far, Player:  PK Tyler Durbin.  What can you say about a walk-on who has been 23-23 on PATs and 3-3 on FGs three games into the season?  I believe Durbin has the PK job for the duration of the 2016 season, no matter if Sean Nuernberger comes back healthy.

Withholding Judgment:  The Ohio State defensive line.  This position group has long been a concern of mine going into the 2016 season, and losing Tracy Sprinkle in game one versus Bowling Green only exacerbated those concerns heading into B1G play.  The emergence of players such as Dre'Mont Jones, Robert Landers, and DaVon Hamilton have been reassuring to this point, and the defensive line played well against Oklahoma's running game, but the true tests will arrive when power running teams such as Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Michigan State are going to line up against the Buckeyes.

Early Freshman Of The Year:  Offensive guard Michael Jordan.  There are many freshmen and redshirt freshmen who have contributed to Ohio State's 3-0 start in 2016, and it is entirely possible that other players could emerge, but I have to give the nod to Michael Jordan at this point.  Jordan became the first starter on the Ohio State offensive line since the legendary Orlando Pace did the same back in 1994.  Yes, I know that Mike Weber is the starting tailback - I am going to go with a true freshman for this evaluation.

Send Out The Search Party:  It's not entirely his fault, as he is battling injury, but WR Corey Smith has been a non-factor so far this season.  Best hopes and wishes for Smith to finish up his final season strongly.

Please Clean Up...The penalties.  Ohio State has begun the 2016 season with an alarming penalty rate.  So far, the penalties have not hurt the Buckeyes, but these are the kind of mistakes that can be impactful as the stakes get higher later into the season.

Please Cut Down On...Running QB J.T. Barrett as much as the coaching staff has so far this season.  Barrett has added 159 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, but the visions of Barrett sustaining the season-ending injury versus That Team Up North in 2014 are difficult to shake.  Fewer carries by Barrett will help keep me calm.

The Most Impressive Play So Far...How can I pick anything except this reception from Noah Brown versus Oklahoma?

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