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Hi Nathan, “Should we be concerned that there aren’t any real burners on this year’s team like Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson last year? It seems we didn’t have people that were open for more than five yards or more like those guys used to be. I’ve seen a lot of good throws and catches from wide receivers that weren’t really wide. A little worried because we don’t have the speed there anymore and with an aggressive defense the passing game is going to be tough.” — Vlad from Los Angeles
Hi Vlad, Nah, OSU is good at speed. Ryan Day was asked to identify the team’s fastest player on Thursday’s radio show, and for offense he named Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. He said they all ran in the high 22/low 23 miles per hour range.
Now, I’m not going to question those numbers, and I don’t know the context in which they were recorded. But according to Sporting News, the fastest speed in the NFL by a skill position player in 2020 was former Purdue running back Raheem Mostert’s 23.09 miles per hour. Mostert has also raced on some track, so it makes sense that he would exhibit elite top speed.
So if you believe Day’s numbers, OSU has more than enough speed. However, that is not the only factor in the separation in the line. Winning the first step, the balance, the manual struggle to get off the break: all are crucial to achieving an early separation from a defensive back. Those are also things where veteran receivers will often be more polished than first-year or second-year guys.
Notre Dame kept dropping eight guys in coverage, which is another reason receivers weren’t as open as they have been in the past. Day said Thursday that he’s becoming more content running the ball when teams do that, which could eventually force them to put more defenders in the box. Then some of those passing lanes will open up.
Hi Nathan, “At what level do you think an offense like Day’s should be the aggressor when settling? Or is it better to be malleable and adjust to what the defense does? The Notre Dame game felt like the 2020 B1G title game against Northwestern. It took forever to set up the run in an effort to bring in the safeties and the downfield pass was non-existent. A Notre Dame fan asked me why TreVeyon Henderson didn’t start. I told him he did start, he just didn’t get any carries. I guess there are times when you have to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Thoughts?” — Seth Shaner
Hi Seth, I agree with your comparison to the 2020 Big Ten championship game. I thought so myself as the Notre Dame game was unfolding. I couldn’t understand why Day didn’t run the ball more. At times, he looked like he’d quickly get out of the run after a save, but he’s less likely to back off the pass.
Do you know who else had that? The post-Saturday night version of Day. He acknowledged Thursday that she could have asked for a heavier approach given the circumstances.
“There are certain teams that will play us in fall eight and put two tall safeties in there,” Day said. “And when that happens, we have to run the football.
“…When that happens, we can’t let our pride and ego get in the way. And we have to do what we have to do to win the game. And a big part of that is me right here.”
Now as it stands it’s an argument that Ohio State’s offense is better off if CJ Stroud isn’t scanning an opposing secondary for vulnerabilities and putting the ball in the hands of Jaxon Smith-Njigba. It must, and I can’t stress it enough, be an elite passing team to win a national championship. Unless you have a Georgia 2021 defense, you need to be able to score points in clusters against the best teams in the country.
Day built an offensive identity by recruiting Heisman Trophy-level quarterbacks and filling the receiving room with elite talent. But this offensive line with Henderson and Miyan Williams can obviously be very productive as well. The next time OSU gets that look, I’d expect to see a more malleable approach (nice word, by the way).
Hi Nathan, “About five minutes of today’s pod talking about how Georgia and Alabama are just better than the No. 3 team in the nation. It’s hard not to feel like we should pack the season with talk like that.
“So I guess my question is a big picture. Is this what college football will be like for the foreseeable future with a slow march toward inevitability? And up to the OSU level, what needs to change to think at that higher level? — Ryan from Greensboro, North Carolina
Hi Ryan, First of all, thanks for listening to Buckeye Talk. Second, those conversations try to assess the big picture from little or no information.
A year ago, Georgia opened with a 10-3 win over Clemson and didn’t look like it had the offense to contend for the national championship. A lot happened over the next 14 weeks, including the Bulldogs figuring out how to finish their title.
Ohio State opened the No. 2 season in the AP Top 25 and still received first-place votes last week. No one is treating the show like chopped liver. However, you can’t think of the top level, because Alabama has blocked it. The only way to gain entry is through a confetti shower in a playoff game against the Crimson Tide. Even then, go back and do it again a year later like Alabama does. Then do it again.
On the other hand, Ohio State beating Notre Dame the way they did arguably should boost confidence in their national championship chances. Consider the reaction if you had won 38-35. It looks like a team that still has too many flaws defensively to challenge the SEC’s best. Instead, the defensive tone is set now, and the offense may be a long way from finding the right team again.
We live in the era of the Super Team. LSU 2019 and Alabama 2020 featured untouchable offenses. Last season, Georgia’s overwhelming defense swept it away. So when OSU comes to those teams, it can’t come with obvious flaws.
Alabama and Georgia look more “full” after a week, but that’s only a week.
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