Ohio State Football Report February 4th, 2023
With recruiting leading the headlines this week and how immersive we have to get as far as that goes I wanted to see what some of the new guys have on film before jumping into the muddled world of rankings, stars, and NIL money. Here are some guys who are going to make noise for Ohio State football.
The Ole Miss transfer shows some flashes of brilliance. He’s fast and hard hitting and has a ton of potential. He had 37 tackles and broke up five passes for Ole Miss in 2022 and looks to be an immediate starter at Ohio State in a secondary that is in need.
The only 5-star recruit in the Big Ten this year is not surprisingly a wide receiver that has come to be a Buckeye and follow the elite play of wide receivers Ohio State has had for a long time now. Another reason for more trust in Coach Hartline in getting guys this talented to Ohio State. Also, Give OSUOverload on YouTube a follow, this person comes up with awesome Buckeye highlights all the time!
Return of the Animal
I know I mentioned this last week, but this is a big get for Ohio State. They see the next Brian Hartline in James Laurinaitis. The only difference is that Hartline was such an unknown that his expectations were unknown too. Laurinaitis though, the expectations for him are huge. Whether that’s fair or not, they’re huge. He’s going to do for linebackers and the defense what Hartline did for wide receivers and the offense.
While that is a lot of pressure for the man in only his second year as any sort of coach, I think it’s fair, and I think 33 will relish the challenge and rise to the occasion. His resume is ridiculously good. He was a three-time all-American, a four-time Big Ten Champion, 4-0 in The Game, two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the leading tackler in franchise history for the Rams, and was a great analyst broadcasting on the Big Ten Network. If anyone can make a smooth transition to coaching it’s Laurinaitis.
Another interesting factor to his return, and this is just pure speculation by me, is just how much of the coaching will Jim Knowles do for the linebackers? He is the official linebackers coach after all. There may be rules or systems in place to prevent this, (if so, excuse me) but I see Laurinaitis being the unofficial linebackers coach and Jim Knowles devoting his time to the big picture of the defense. This makes James Laurinaitis a good addition for Ohio State football.
I love the idea of this because Jim Knowles will be all in on his feast or famine defense. I’ve been a vocal critic of Coach Knowles and his defense, and how it closed out the 2022 season. I hope this is just another step toward them becoming his dominant Silver Bullets and I end up eating a helping of crow and sing his praises, and go on for years about how wrong I was.
This already complex and overwhelming part of college football has just gotten crazier due to NIL. And some eye popping things came to the front for Buckeye Nation to see this week that may have caused folks concern. It certainly did for me! Here is a quote from Ohio State football’s assistant athletic director of player personnel, Mark Pantoni, gave me pause:
“Definitely a new mindset of how we’re gonna have to approach things during this time,” Pantoni said. “So obviously, (we’ll recruit) way more heavy in Ohio, in the Midwest. And then regionally, we’re going to do our best as we’ve always have, but we may have to pull out of recruiting some guys nationally quicker than we have if we know right away, the NIL is going to be a main factor in their recruitments. It’s just probably not something we’re going to want to end up being able to compete with by choice as well. You know, is that something we want to bring into the locker room as well? So, those are the conversations we have, you know, in this day.”
I don’t like that we aren’t following the example of the conference that is leading the way in NIL and has led the nation in national titles. I guess time will tell, and despite getting the only five-star in the conference and only one of 39 in the nation, Ryan Day got seven players in the top 100 which was tied for fifth best in the country which is where the Buckeyes recruiting class landed for 2023. Coach Day seems to be keeping Ohio State football in the top five where it belongs.
Ohio State and the Big Ten seem to be going a different route with NIL in that they making it happen for players AFTER they have gotten to Ohio State and have a established themselves. The better a player plays for Ohio State the more deals he signs and that makes a good kind of sense. It is a little bit of a worry that the Buckeyes and the conference could fall behind the rest of football, but it’s good to see that they are working on this area, just in a different way.
Time will tell if this way works out or works better for the Buckeyes and the Big Ten. It’s been one reason the team to the north has landed so many good transfers the past two years and one reason Blake Corum chose to return for a senior season and a reason that Buckeye great C.J. Stroud had a tough decision to make about his professional career. Joel Klatt breaks it all down really well in the videos below.
Driving the Offense
Buckeyes everywhere thought with his promotion, Coach Hartline would be the new play caller for Ohio State. Ryan Day has said not so fast. Hartline will call the plays in spring football and Day will make a decision after that. Eleven Warriors’ Dan Hope covers that well here. Day’s caution is warranted but I believe the faith in Hartline is warranted and he’ll be the play caller come September.
A few great Buckeyes will be out for Spring Football due to injury. Running backs Evan Pryor and TreVeyon Henderson, Wide receivers Julian Fleming and Emeka Egbuka, and linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. The good news about these guys being out is that other than Pryor they have the experience that this shouldn’t hurt them as they heal and prepare for another season of Ohio State football in 2023.
Gene Smith’s Staying
“I’m not interested in that commissioner’s job,” Ohio State’s Athletic Director said in an interview. “People keep asking me that and I’m like, ‘Why?’” Gene Smith is a good guy who I think would have made a better commissioner than he has athletic director. I’ve been a critic of his but also know that any program could do a lot worse as far as an athletic director goes. Gene Smith will work hard at everything going on. Agree or disagree with his decisions, he works hard for Ohio State football.
Buckeyes Everywhere Still Call B.S.
“I made a lot of calls after the game. I felt like it was targeting. In the moment, and when things are moving fast and you can’t see the replay, it’s very hard to see,” Coach Day said. “The hard thing for me is to see and understand that and have our medical staff let us know that he was knocked unconscious, and that’s why we’re not going to put him back in the game. Yet the flag gets picked up for targeting.”
I can’t understand people who argue that this was an okay and legal play. I don’t hold this against Georgia. Yes it was a dirty hit, but the defender was just desperately trying to save a touchdown and stop a guy who had been beating him like a rug all night. The Bulldogs just took the huge call that bounced their way like anyone else would.
But this isn’t like J.T.’s first down or the pass interference the defender committed on Chris Gamble. There is no argument here that this was an okay play. It’s not even close. To deny that it was targeting is to deny what your own eyes see and to deny reality. It’s that simple.
Finally, as big as that call was, the four point swing it caused, knocking out the most valuable player in Ohio State football if not all of college football, and stopping the Buckeye offense from throwing it all over Georgia, it doesn’t exonerate the defense from giving up a two touchdown lead in the 4th quarter. The Buckeyes still should have won that game despite that awful call. But it was still an incorrect game changer.
Old School Game of the Week
2017 Ohio State vs. Penn State
I’ve had the honor of being inside Ohio Stadium for about 50 games and this was probably the best game that wasn’t a win over that team up north I ever saw in person. It was one of the best games for Ohio State football.
Saquon Barkley started the game hot but was quickly shut down by the Buckeyes after two big plays. His 100-yard kick return and 36-yard touchdown run made it look like a long day was ahead in the Shoe but other than those two plays Barkley was held to eight yards on 20 rushes. On the flip side, J.T. Barrett had one of the best games of his career. He was 33 of 39 for 328 yards and four touchdowns with 17 carries for 95 yards for 423 total yards as the Buckeyes came back from down 18 twice to win 39-38.
Check out last week’s report to make sure you’re all caught up on your Ohio State football news and content.
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