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tBBC Spring Look at the Position Battles

Discussion in 'News' started by Brandon Zimmerman, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. Spring Look at the Position Battles
    Brandon Zimmerman
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


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    Going into the 2016 season, there are numerous position battles the Ohio State fan base is keeping a close eye on. On offense, who is going to take over for one of the greatest Ohio State running backs of all-time, Ezekiel Elliott? Which young wide receivers will step up and take one of the three vacant starting positions? What three offensive linemen will be given the opportunity to give this new offense the time it needs?

    Amazingly, the losses on the defensive side of the ball may be even worse than the offense after losing potentially four first round draft picks. The defensive line takes a major hit by losing Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington. The linebacker core will now be led by Raekwon McMillan who will be playing alongside two new outside backers. In the secondary, the Silver Bullets will be forced to replace three starters which is not ideal with Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners looking down the barrel.

    Throughout February and March, I took a look at how I thought the Ohio State depth chart would shape up going into next season. We are now heading into the final week of spring practice, so let’s take a look at how some of these position battles are shaping up.



    RUNNING BACK

    At running back, I predicted that Curtis Samuel would be the one tasked with filling Elliott’s shoes. I am still not entirely convinced Samuel is completely out of the running but missing spring practice has given Mike Weber and Bri’onte Dunn a chance to show the staff what they can give the team.

    Samuel looks more and more likely to begin the year as the starting H-back where Urban Meyer hopes to use him in that traditional Percy Harvin role of catching passes and occasionally playing running back. Meyer has said he hopes Dunn takes control of the starting position but it sounds like Weber is the one to beat here. Dunn has to be feeling

    [​IMG]
    Weber looks to take control of the starting job.


    the pressure with Weber and true freshman Antonio Williams looking very good.

    I still think, barring injuries, there is zero chance Williams has his redshirt pulled this year but he has looked impressive early in his college career. Saturday’s spring game will be huge in how the initial fall depth chart shakes out. I think Weber has the edge right now.



    WIDE RECEIVER

    The wide receiver position is still up in the air. Almost all the players who are competing for the starting jobs are not participating in spring practice which has led to a lot of the younger guys receiving a chance to showcase their talents. In my prediction, I had Noah Brown, Corey Smith, and Dontre Wilson receiving the starting nods. I am still pretty confident Brown and Smith will start but Wilson is going to be in a dogfight with Samuel for that H-back spot if he doesn’t play running back.

    The biggest winners to come out of spring practice are Torrance Gibson and Austin Mack. The former quarterback, Gibson, is the tall, lanky, speedy receiver teams covet on the outside. In February, I had him as number two on the depth chart behind Brown and I am still confident in this prediction. He has been praised at times but is still very raw.

    Mack is one of many true freshmen to enroll early into the program and he had an amazing spring practice. As Joe and Claire discussed earlier this week, Mack was the first freshman to lose his black stripe. I predicted Mack would be third string behind Smith and K.J. Hill but I think he has jumped the injured Hill and is sitting firmly on the second team heading into fall camp.



    OFFENSIVE LINE

    There are three vacant offensive line spots up for grabs. When I wrote about the line, I thought the biggest question mark was who will start at the guard spot opposite Bill Price. My guess was that Demetrius Knox and Matt Burrell would be in a dogfight for this spot with Knox coming out on top. Now, I’m not too sure what will happen. Lately, true freshman Michael Jordan has been running with the first team offense but I wonder how much of that is psychological warfare implemented by Meyer and his staff to get Knox and Burrell going.

    At the tackle positions, it appears as though Isaiah Prince and Jamarco Jones have these starting jobs on lock-down but it will be interesting to see if that changes at all when Malcolm Pridgeon arrives on campus. I think the way it looks right now, if Knox and Burrell don’t wake up it will be Jones sliding inside to guard and Pridgeon and Prince starting at tackle.



    DEFENSIVE LINE

    The defensive line is relatively healthy for spring practice. The biggest missing piece is Tyquan Lewis who is recovering from surgery. With Lewis being out, Jaylin Holmes has been getting all the reps with the first team defense. As I wrote in February, I think Lewis and Sam Hubbard have the starting defensive end spots nailed down barring an unfortunate event. The biggest question mark is going to be at defensive tackle. Tracey Sprinkle and Michael Hill have been getting a majority of the snaps but things will get interesting when Nick Bosa arrives on campus. Will they move him inside or will he stay at defensive end?

    [​IMG]
    True Freshman Nick Bosa is a wildcard along the defensive line.


    I still believe Bosa will be moved inside and will battle with Jashon Cornell for one of the open tackle spots. I completely left Sprinkle off of my two-deep but after two years of hearing his name and ignoring him, I think it is time I wake up and pay attention to his abilities. I think a dominant showing against a patchwork offensive line on Saturday will firmly move him to a starting spot.







    LINEBACKER

    Bad news; Darron Lee and Joshua Perry are gone. Good news; McMillan is back. Anytime you lose two starters the caliber of Lee and Perry it is going to sting a little but all hope is not lost because Meyer and his staff have loaded up on blue-chip linebackers. The question is, who will step up? In February, I predicted Jerome Baker and Dante Booker would be the next starters.

    Booker looks like he will be the starter from day one of fall practice. He has been receiving all of the first team reps and is going to be an exciting young player. On the other side, Chris Worley is receiving all of the first team reps and Baker has been unable to jump him on the depth chart. I am very intrigued by Baker at linebacker but the more and more I read about spring practice, the more I think Worley will be the starter this year.



    SECONDARY

    As I stated in March, this is the toughest position to predict. There are numerous injuries to players competing for starting jobs and Ohio State recruits their defensive backs to be versatile enough to play anywhere. This made it hard to predict what would happen but I went with Conley and Webb at corner back. At safety, I predicted Lattimore would be moved back there and start alongside Erick Smith.

    Now that spring practice is almost over, I was half right. A corner back was moved to safety but it was Webb getting a lot of first team reps and Lattimore starting opposite of Conley. At the other safety position, Malik Hooker seems to have a stranglehold on the starting job. It will be interesting to see what happens with Hooker and Webb when Smith returns from injury. My guess right now is Smith comes in at safety in the nickel package and slides Webb down to nickel.

    The post Spring Look at the Position Battles appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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