After opening the season with a 42-24 victory over the Virginia Tech Hookies, it quickly became evident – this team has the ability to live up to their incredibly hype. Sure, it was just one game, but there was still plenty to take away from Urban Meyer‘s first trip to Lane Stadium.
1. Cardale Jones at QB1 Completes OSU
The biggest conversation leading up to the start of the college football season was “which Heisman-quality player will start at QB for OSU?” As many debated whether it would be J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones, it seemed most of us forgot why Jones was the perfect man for the job.
With a rushing attack led by Ezekiel Elliott and new versatile toy Braxton Miller (more on him later), the ability for Jones to stretch the field with potent pass catchers such as Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall ensures that Ohio State can play any type of offense needed to win. While Barrett is a better pure runner than Jones, it is the latter’s prowess in the passing game that adds a completely new dimension to this offense.
As we saw Monday night, there will be chances for Barrett, but the size and pocket abilities of Jones are too great to pass up. Just ask star Hookie cornerback Kendall Fuller, who Jones and company left looking more lost than the pope at Bonnaroo.
2. Braxton Miller is the X-Factor
Look, there isn’t much left to be said about Miller. Despite the uncertainty as to how this position switch would work out, the former Heisman candidate looked like the best player on the field Monday. I mean, just look at these.
Miller’s performance made an stellar offense even greater, which is hardly fair. That’s like saying, somehow, that Jennifer Lawrence could get any cooler.
No defense can properly plan for OSU, let alone Miller. He can catch the ball, run the ball and even throw the ball. He’s pretty much exactly what Tebow-truthers think the former Meyer product is on the field. Assuming he stays healthy, Miller has the opportunity to be the most explosive player in college football this year.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of Miller is that on nights like last night when Elliott and the running game were kept (somewhat) at bay despite an 80-yarder, Miller’s presence continues to blow open Ed Warriner‘s playbook. Again, there is no one way to stop this offense, and Miller is one of the main reasons for that.
Side note: That spin move is the greatest in-game spin of all-time. Agreed?
3. Don’t Sleep on the OSU Linebackers
The absence of Joey Bosa due to suspension was evident from time to time on outside carries by the Hookies Monday night. However, Raekwon McMillan and his fellow linebackers reminded folks that they are not to be forgotten.
Many expected Virginia Tech tight ends Ryan Malleck and Bucky Hodges to play a key role in attacking the Buckeyes on defense. Instead, Malleck had just 48 yards on four catches while Hodges finished the night completely shut out.
Luke Fickell‘s linebackers were sensational on the night, against the pass as well as the run. When Fickell and company dialed up a blitz, McMillan and company were in the backfield before Michael Brewer could start going through his reads. It was a strong showing by the blood-thirsty backers.
4. Man Coverage Will Be The Talk of OSU’s Secondary All Season
While the Buckeyes only allowed 192 yards through the air, there were times when the team’s secondary was caught sleeping in man coverage. Whether it was the 51-yard touchdown from Brewer to Sam Rogers or the 36-yarder to Isaiah Ford, Ohio State corners were caught a few times with their eyes in the backfield.
It’s an issue that will undoubtedly be addressed before the Buckeyes play Hawaii, but nonetheless it was one of the few issues that were prevalent throughout the season opener.
5. The Only Team Who Can Beat OSU is OSU
The scariest aspect of Ohio State’s season-opening victory is that the Buckeyes didn’t even play their best game. The offensive line has room for improvement, Cardale wasn’t his sharpest, Elliott and the run-game wasn’t used to its full potential and there were more turnovers (three) than can be accepted.
What does that mean? It just means that the Buckeyes can be even better than their dominant victory. And that, for the rest of college football, is rather unsettling.
Urban Meyer knows how good his team can be, and he knows the only team that can beat the Buckeyes is Ohio State. If this team plays smart, disciplined football as they did throughout the college football playoffs, there isn’t a team in
the NFC South college football that can stop them.
6. Be Careful What You Wish For
Amiright, Michael Brewer?
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