Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette

 
Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
OHIO STATE 2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW

                   Buckeyes
          looking for explosive year

Thursday, August 31, 2017
Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
2 Thursday, August 31, 2017                                        OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                                       Delaware Gazette

A championship season or just close?
Ohio State has talent to           around.
                                     After OSU was shut out 31-0
                                                                       injured last season, was the No.
                                                                       1 kicker in 2014 but lost his job
win a national title but           by Clemson in a College Foot-       to a walk-on in 2015. Punter
                                   ball Playoff semifinal, it took     Drue Chrisman was a highly
there are no guarantees            less than two weeks before it       rated recruit but has never been
                                   had a new offensive coor-                 in a college game.
                                   dinator and a new quar-
FIVE REASONS OHIO STATE COULD      terbacks coach.                             3. Michigan is over-
WIN IT ALL                                                                   due against Ohio State.
                                     5. Bigger, stronger,                      The last time Ohio
  1. J.T. Barrett turns the        faster, older.                            State went into the
quarterback clock back to            OSU got to the College                  Michigan game as a clear
2014.                              Football Playoff with a                   favorite and lost was
  Remember the school-record       very young team last sea-    Jim          21 years ago when the
34 touchdown passes? Remem-        son. The ones who came       Naveau       Wolverines stunned the
ber the two overtime touch-        back are a year more         Lima News    Buckeyes 13-9 in Ohio
downs at Penn State? Remem-        mature physically and        Sports       Stadium in 1996.
ber him being fifth in the Heis-   mentally.
man Trophy voting? If Barrett                                                   4. Youthful secondary.
plays like he did in 2014, OSU       FIVE REASONS OHIO STATE              Replacing three starting
could win it all.                  MIGHT MIGHT MISS THE PLAYOFFS       defensive backs might not be
                                                                       as easy as OSU made it look
   2. The defensive line is as        1. The offensive struggles       in 2016. Especially when the
good as expected.                  could continue.                     three it has to replace this year
   Best defensive line in the         Maybe 2014 J.T. Barrett is       all were first-round NFL draft
country is a label Ohio State      gone and he’s not coming back.      choices.
has heard. If the Buckeyes front   Maybe the receivers will never
line earns it, they could find     live up to their recruiting hype.     5. Something no one is
themselves in Atlanta on Jan. 8.   Maybe Mike Weber still doesn’t      thinking about.
                                   have breakaway speed. Maybe           No one saw a loss to a Penn
 3. No letdowns. No injuries.      the lack of offensive line depth    State team that started its sea-
No freak plays.                    will catch up with the Buckeyes.    son 2-2 coming when the Nit-
 Pay attention. Stay healthy.                                          tany Lions beat Ohio State last
Don’t get field goals blocked.       2. The kicking game               season.                             Ohio State’s Damon Arnette (3) and Denzel Ward (12) celebrate after Arnette’s
 4. Urban isn’t messing              Sean Nuernberger, who was                                             interception against Northwestern last season in Ohio Stadium.

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Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
Delaware Gazette                                                      OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                          Thursday, August 31, 2017           3

OSU pitches success, future to recruits
By Jim Naveau                           Success on the field and in
jnaveau@limanews.com                 getting players to the NFL obvi-
                                     ously has a lot to do with it.
   COLUMBUS – Ohio State’s              Meyer is a magnetic, some
2018 recruiting class is ranked      would say charismatic personal-
No. 1 in the country and its         ity. Recruiting coordinator Mark
2017 freshmen were ranked No.        Pantoni directs a 10-person staff
2.                                   which relentlessly identifies,
   Next year’s recruiting class      evaluates and pursues the top
               has two 5-star        recruits and gets the Ohio State
               recruits and 12       brand out there, including post-
               4-stars so far and    ing as many as 500 items a week
               this year’s class     on social media.
               had two 5-stars          And they all emphasize what
               and 17 4-stars.       Ohio State can do for an athlete
                  In Urban Mey-      once his playing days are over.
Martell        er’s six years as        Here’s what some of the top
               OSU’s head coach,     recruits in the 2017 recruiting
               he has had only       class said convinced them Ohio
               one recruiting        State was the place for them.
               class ranked lower       Jeffrey Okudah, a 5-star cor-
               than No. 5 in the     nerback from Texas, said, “What
               country.              sold me was the plan they had
                  So, how do         set out for me after football. Not
               the Buckeyes do       many schools go into that much
               it? What started      detail. That really sold me and
Okudah
               this tidal wave of    my family.
               incoming talent,         “They were pretty close to                                                                                                   Don Speck/The Lima News
               beginning with        my family. They did a really         Ohio State freshman Brendon White (80) works against Shaun Wade (24) in Ohio State’s spring game. White has since
                                                                          switched to safety from wide receiver and wears number 25.
               the all-world class   good job of recruiting everyone
               of 2013, which        around me. And I knew in my
               included players      head I wanted to compete with        spot.’ They knew we knew we’d            Martell said he felt a connec-      parents love him.
               like Joey Bosa,       the best players in the country.     have to come in and work for it       tion with Meyer. “I think we             “What sold me was he told me
               Ezekiel Elliott,      From the start, that always          from Day 1,” he said.                 both have a passion for football       he would help me get a job after
               Vonn Bell, Darron     caught my eye.                         Tate Martell, a 4-star quar-        that is second to none. It just felt   football or if I get hurt he would
Wade           Lee, Eli Apple,          “The one thing I liked about      terback from Las Vegas, said, “I      like a perfect fit for me,” he said.   help me get a great job. If they
               Billy Price and       Ohio State’s coaching staff was      knew this was the place for me           Shaun Wade, a 4-star corner-        didn’t have anybody go to the
Tyquan Lewis? And what has           the honesty. They never said         as soon as I got offered. This is     back from Florida, said, “He           NFL I would still be here,” Wade
kept it going?                       anything like, ‘We’ll give you a     where I wanted to be.”                (Meyer) does a great job. My           said.

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Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
4 Thursday, August 31, 2017                                             OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                                                Delaware Gazette

Offense still needs playmakers
By Jim Naveau                                       “We’ve had guys get open, we’ve had
jnaveau@limanews.com                             guys not get open. The quarterback
                                                 doesn’t make a great throw, the offensive
   COLUMBUS – The search for play-               line doesn’t protect. Call it the perfect
makers at wide receiver is now into its          storm,” he said.
second year at Ohio State.                          A perfect storm that produced far from
   Ohio State’s best receiver last season        perfect results and might have played
was running back Curtis Samuel and the           a big role in a coaching shake-up that
deep ball was absent from the Buckeyes’          saw Kevin Wilson replace Ed Warinner
offense in most games.                           as offensive coordinator and Ryan Day
   There were only four receptions of            get the quarterbacks coach job that Tim
more than 40 yards by OSU players last           Beck had last season.
season – a 79-yard catch against Bowling            Those changes came not long after
Green and a 75-yarder against Nebraska           Ohio State threw for 86 yards, 124 yards
by Curtis Samuel, a 47-yard catch by             and 127 yards and only one touchdown
K.J. Hill against Bowling Green and a            in its last three games a year ago against
43-yarder by Dontre Wilson against Wis-          Michigan State, Michigan and Clemson.                                                                              Photos by Don Speck/The Lima News
consin.                                             Here’s a look at the Buckeyes’ top         In a scene seen often last year, Ohio State missed connections in the passing game. Here Terry McLaurin
   It’s not like Ohio State hasn’t tried to      receivers, their credentials and their pro-   just misses a throw from J.T. Barrett at Michigan State late last season.
address the issue. All six of the players        duction so far:
expected to get most of the playing time            Johnnie Dixon: He was a 4-star recruit       Parris Campbell: The Akron St.
at wide receiver this season were nation-        and the No. 9-ranked wide receiver            Vincent-St. Mary graduate was a 4-star
ally ranked 4-star recruits and so were          nationally when he signed with Ohio           recruit who was ranked No. 23 nationally
the top receivers in this year’s freshman        State in 2014. Knee problems have lim-        among wide receivers in 2014. All 13 of
class.                                           ited him to seven catches in his career,      his career catches came last season. He
   So what are the problems? Why                 six of them last season.                      will be used mostly as an H-back this
haven’t the Buckeyes been able to hit big           Dixon, a fourth-year junior, considered    season.
plays in the passing game?                       quitting football after the Fiesta Bowl,        K.J. Hill: He was a 4-star recruit who
   Some people blame quarterback J.T.            but stayed and was a standout in the          was the No. 17 wide receiver nationally
Barrett. Others say it’s the receivers.          spring game.                                  in the 2015 recruiting class. He caught
Receivers coach Zach Smith says it’s a              Binjimen Victor: He was a 4-star           18 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown
combination of a lot of things.                  recruit and the No. 13-ranked receiver        last season.
   “It’s not looking for a deep ball guy, it’s   nationally when he signed with OSU in           Terry McLaurin: He was a 4-star                   Binjimen Victor, shown going up for a pass against
                                                                                                                                                   Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal last
looking for the offense to complete deep         2016. He had 4 catches for 64 yards and       recruit and was ranked No. 35 nationally            season, could be a receiver who provides much-
balls and execute them,” Smith said.             a touchdown last season.                      as a receiver in 2014. All 11 of his career         needed big plays in the passing game for Ohio
                                                                                                                                                   State this season.

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Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
Delaware Gazette                                                               OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                               Thursday, August 31, 2017          5

                                                                                                                                                          Parris Campbell (21) warms up before an Ohio
                                                                                                                                                          State game last season. He is being counted on
                                                                                                                                                          to be productive in the role Curtis Samuel had in
                                                                                                                                                          OSU’s offense did at H-back last season.

                                                                                                                                                          Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett avoids the
                                                                                                                                                          tackle of Indiana’s Marcus Oliver during a game
                                                                                                                                                          last season. Barrett hopes to go out with a big
                                                                                                                                                          senior year after appearing to struggle at times
                                                                                                                                                          last season.

                                                                                                                                                          catches were last season.
                                                                                                                                                             Austin Mack: He was a 4-star recruit in
                                                                                                                                                          2016. He was the No. 11 receiver nation-
                                                                                                                                                          ally in his class. He caught two passes
                                                                                                                                                          last season and played on special teams.
                                                                                                                                                             Jaylen Harris and Trevon Grimes: The
                                                                                                                                                          two incoming freshmen were both 4-sar
                                                                                                                                                          recruits. Grimes, who had ACL surgery
                                                                                                                                                          as a senior in high school, was ranked
Ohio State running back Mike Weber (25) fights for yardage in the Buckeyes’ game at Oklahoma. OSU is looking for more big plays from Weber, too.          No. 6 nationally and Harris was No. 28.

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Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
6 Thursday, August 31, 2017                                                OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                                                   Delaware Gazette

Worley can play anywhere
By Jim Naveau
jnaveau@limanews.com

   COLUMBUS – Ohio State middle line-
backer Chris Worley has a new position
this season, which is not really a new
story.
   Actually, it’s an old story that goes all
the way back to when he first arrived at
OSU four years ago.
   The fifth-year senior from Cleveland
Glenville started out practicing half the
time with the linebackers and half the
time with the safeties in his first training
camp as part of OSU’s outstanding 2013
recruiting class. Since then, he’s played
all three linebacker positions in Ohio
State’s defense.
   Last year Worley had 70 tackles, 4.5
tackles for losses and an interception in
his first year as a starter.
   He nearly became a starter two years
before that when he battled future first-
round draft choice Darron Lee for a spot
in the lineup right down to just before the
2014 season opener. Lee kept the job for
two years, but Worley’s teammates insist-
ed there was not much, if any difference
between the starter and the back-up.
   When Raekwon McMillan decided to
leave OSU after his junior season to enter
the NFL draft, Worley was on the move
again.
   Worley, who once described himself as
“crazy confident” doesn’t expect any dif-
ficulties getting used to his new position
   “It might sound crazy but it’s not that
much of a transition,” he said. “I’m not
where I need to be in my opinion, but I’m
not too far off.”
   Probably the next most-asked ques-
tion after that is if he has the size to play
middle linebacker at around 230 pounds.
Once again, he says that will be no prob-
lem.
   “I’m about the same size (as last year).                                                                                                                                         Don Speck/The Lima News
There is not too much bulking up you can        Ohio State’s Chris Worley (35) makes an interception in the end zone to stop Michigan State’s attempt for a two-point conversion last season in East Lansing,
                                                Mich.
Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
Delaware Gazette                                                              OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                              Thursday, August 31, 2017      7

do. Fifteen pounds is not going to change
much. It’s really not about size,” Worley
said.
   Jerome Baker and Worley are return-
ing starters at linebacker. But in Worley’s
mind, OSU has three returnees at that
position because Baker’s chance to start
came after starter Dante Booker suffered
a strained medial collateral ligament in
last year’s opener and eventually was red-
shirted.
   “We do have to replace Raekwon but
technically we have three starting line-
backers back from last year,” Worley said.
   He described Booker as “one of the
fiercest competitors I’ve ever been
around.”
   “Every year when Coach (Luke) Fickell
was here we’d all go over to his house in
the summer as a linebackers group. Me
and Book would be at his house all day.
We were in the pool wrestling. We were
playing half court basketball. We’re going
to compete until one of us taps out or one
of us wins or there is no more time left.”
   Ohio State’s linebackers have a defen-
sive line in front of them that is being
described as one of the best in the coun-
try.
   If there is a question about OSU’s        Ohio State’s defense celebrates after stopping Indiana on a fourth-and-goal situation last season in a game at Ohio Stadium.
defense, it is if it will be able to replace
starters at three of the four positions in
the defensive backfield for a second sea-
son in a row.
   Cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and
Gareon Conley and safety Malik Hooker
were all NFL first-round draft choices this
year.
   Two players seem to have clinched
starting spots – returning starter at safety
Damon Webb and cornerback Denzel
Ward. Transfer Kendall Sheffield, Damon
Arnette and freshman Jeffrey Okudah are
competing for the other cornerback spot.
And Jordan Fuller and Erick Smith are
in the running for the start at the other
safety position.
   “We have a bunch of older guys return-
ing and a lot of young guys who are com-
ing in who look like they’re destined to be
great,” Worley said. “So it’s like once we
can figure out the middle part of our team
and figure out what type of people they
are, it’s just going to build up.”
                                                                                                                                     Ohio State linebackers Chris Worley (35) left and Jerome Baker (17)
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @   Defensive lineman Robert Landers (bottom) and Dre’Mont Jones sack Rutgers
Lima_Naveau.                                                                                                                         combine to sack Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight last season in
                                                      quarterback Chris Laviano during a game last season.                           Ohio Stadium.
Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
8 Thursday, August 31, 2017                                           OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                                               Delaware Gazette

OSU defensive line wants to be best
By Jim Naveau
jnaveau@limanews.com
                                    four standout defensive ends –
                                    Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes,
                                    Nick Bosa and Lewis.
   COLUMBUS – It didn’t get            Hubbard and Holmes were
the attention of his spread         honorable mention All-Big Ten
offense. It wasn’t attached to a    last season and Bosa had five
memorable image, like saying        sacks as a freshman in a season
he wanted assistant coaches         in which he was brought along
who coached like their hair was     slowly after ACL surgery his
on fire.                            senior year of high school.
   But very soon after Urban           “We’ll be as good as anybody
Meyer was hired as Ohio State’s     in America at defensive end,”
football coach in 2011, he said     Meyer said during spring prac-
one of the most important ele-      tice.
ments in building a great foot-        The interior line is good and
ball team was having a strong       deep, too, with players like
defensive line.                     Dre’Mont Jones, Robert Land-
   Seven years later, Ohio State    ers and Tracy Sprinkle, a starter
has a defensive line so talented    until he suffered a season-end-
and so deep that it has been        ing torn patellar tendor injury
called the best in college foot-    in the first quarter of last year’s
ball.                               opener against Bowling Green.
   It is a label both the players   Michael Hill eventually could
and Meyer have embraced.            join them if he returns from a
   “We definitely care about that   suspension.
because who wouldn’t want to           It wasn’t just players that
be known as the best defensive      Meyer recruited to build this
line, not only this year but in     impressive front line of the
history,” defensive end Tyquan      Buckeyes’ defense. Since 2014,
Lewis said.                         the line has been coached by
   Lewis, the 2016 Big Ten          Larry Johnson who, like his
Defensive Lineman of the            current defensive line, has also
Year, surprised some people by      been called the best in the coun-
returning for his senior year       try at what he does.
instead of going into the NFL          He has coached seven first-
draft.                              round NFL draft picks at OSU                                                                                                           Don Speck/The Lima News
   That decision gave Ohio State    and Penn State and eight of his       Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis (59) prepares to hit Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano during a game last season at
                                                                          Ohio Stadium.

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Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
Delaware Gazette                                                            OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                           Thursday, August 31, 2017           9

                                                                                                                             players have been named Big           If Ohio State is going to be
                                                                                                                             Ten Defensive Lineman of the       the best defensive line in the
                                                                                                                             Year.                              country, sacking the quar-
                                                                                                                                Ohio State defensive coordi-    terback is probably the area
                                                                                                                             nator Greg Schiano gives the       where it needs to show the
                                                                                                                             defensive line and Johnson         most improvement.
                                                                                                                             high grades.                          OSU’s 28 sacks last season
                                                                                                                                “The defensive line is really   ranked seventh in the Big Ten
                                                                                                                             good. I think we have the          and 58th nationally. Lewis led
                                                                                                                             best defensive line coach in       the Buckeyes with eight and
                                                                                                                             America in Larry Johnson.          Bosa’s five were second.
                                                                                                                             He knows how to keep them             Those 28 sacks were the
                                                                                                                             all involved. We should never      lowest total during Meyer’s
                                                                                                                             have a tired defensive lineman     five seasons at OSU an 17
                                                                                                                             out there if, God willing, we      short of the highest total of
                                                                                                                             stay healthy,” Schiano said.       his tenure, 45 in 2014. That
                                                                                                                                Despite all the talk about      was two short of the school
                                                                                                                             being the best, Ohio State’s       record of 47.
Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa (97) puts his hands up Tyquan Lewis, the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, rushes    linemen say they won’t get            Schiano offered the theory
to try to knock down a pass by Michigan quarterback Wilton Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson during a College Football
Speight during a game last season at Ohio Stadium.         Playoff semifinal game last season.
                                                                                                                             caught up in it.                   during a Fox.com interview
                                                                                                                                “We talk about it in the        earlier this year that Ohio
                                                                                                                             meeting room and it’s more         State emphasized disrupting
                                                                                                                             of a motivation thing than         the pass rather than hitting
                                                                                                                             hyping up our heads. Coach J       the quarterback last season as
                                                                                                                             (Johnson) says if that’s what      a possible explanation for the
                                                                                                                             they’re going to say about us      low sack numbers.
                                                                                                                             then we’ve got to work and            Johnson said during spring
                                                                                                                             actually achieve it,” Hubbard      practice that his defensive
                                                                                                                             said.                              linemen just needed to be
                                                                                                                                Holmes said, “You want          quicker once the ball was
                                                                                                                             praise. I’d be lying to you if I   snapped to pump up the sacks
                                                                                                                             said I didn’t care. But at the     numbers.
                                                                                                                             end of the day you have to            “What you saw is that we
                                                                                                                             know that’s just preseason         weren’t taking that first step
                                                                                                                             stuff. At the end of the day       fast enough across the line
                                                                                                                             you want the postseason            of scrimmage. At the end of
                                                                                                                             awards and you don’t really        the day we have to get the
                                                                                                                             care about the preseason stuff.    quarterback on his back. We
                                                                                                                                “I feel like we’ve been keep-   have to rev up our pass rush,”
                                                                                                                             ing a real humble mind and         Johnson said.
                                                                                                                             working to push to be better,”
                                                                                                                                                                Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on
Ohio State defensive linemen Jalyn Holmes (11) and Dre’Mont Jones (86) put pressure on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield   he said.                           Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.
during a game in Norman, Okla. last season.

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Buckeyes looking for explosive year - Thursday, August 31, 2017 - Delaware Gazette
10 Thursday, August 31, 2017                                                                  OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                                          Delaware Gazette

 2016 OHIO STATE                                                      PRESEASON AP TOP 25
 LEADERS                                                                The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press preseason college football poll,
                                                                      with first-place votes in parentheses, 2016 records, total points based on
 PASSING                                                              25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and
 J.T. Barrett.............................................. 2555      2016 final ranking:
 Joe Burrow............................................... 226
 RUSHING                                                                                           Record           Pts          Prv
 Mike Weber.............................................1096          1. Alabama (52)              14-1             1513         2
 J.T. Barrett................................................ 845     2. Ohio St. (3)              11-2             1414         6
 Curtis Samuel........................................... 771         3. Florida St. (4)           10-3             1396         8
 Demario McCall........................................270            4. Southern Cal (2)          10-3             1325         3
 RECEIVING                                                            5. Clemson                   14-1             1201         1
 Curtis Samuel.......................................... 865          6. Penn St.                  11-3             1196         7
 Noah Brown............................................. 402          7. Oklahoma                  11-2             1170         5
 Dontre Wilson...........................................352          8. Washington                12-2             1150         4
 Marcus Baugh.......................................... 269           9. Wisconsin                 11-3             926          9
 K.J. Hill..................................................... 262   10. Oklahoma St.             10-3             889          11
 TACKLES                                                              11. Michigan                 10-3             881          10
 Raekwon McMillan....................................102              12. Auburn                   8-5              880          24
 Jerome Baker..............................................83         13. LSU                      8-4              784          13
 Malik Hooker............................................... 74       14. Stanford                 10-3             695          12
 Chris Worley................................................70       15. Georgia                  8-5              690          -
 Damon Webb...............................................57          16. Louisville               9-4              629          21

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        W
 Dre’Mont Jones...........................................42          17. Florida                  9-4              624          14
 Sam Hubbard............................................. 46          18. Miami                    9-4              492          20
 TACKLES FOR LOSSES
 Jerome Baker.............................................9.5
                                                                      19. South Florida
                                                                      20. Kansas St.
                                                                                                   11-2
                                                                                                   9-4
                                                                                                                    327
                                                                                                                    317
                                                                                                                                 19
                                                                                                                                 -                                                 740-965-1313
 Jalyn Holmes.............................................8.5         21. Virginia Tech            10-4             240          16                           488 W CHERRY ST | SUNBURY, OH 43074                       M
                                                                      22. West Virginia            10-3             207          18                                 misombrerosunbury.com
 Sam Hubbard.............................................8.0
 Raekwon McMillan..................................... 7.0            23. Texas                    5-7              173          -                                                                                      A
 Nick Bosa................................................... 7.0     24. Washington St.           8-5              133          -
                                                                      25. Tennessee                9-4              114          22
 INTERCEPTIONS
 Malik Hooker.................................................7                                                                                                                                                         Tu
 Marshon Lattimore.......................................4              Others receiving votes: TCU 98, Utah 85, Notre Dame 65, Boise St. 37, NC
                                                                      State 26, Northwestern 25, Pittsburgh 23, Oregon 21, Houston 19, Colorado
 Gareon Conley..............................................4
 Jerome Baker................................................2        18, UCLA 9, San Diego St. 9, BYU 5, BYU 4, Nebraska 4, Tulsa 4, Kentucky 3,
                                                                      Texas A&M 3, Michigan St. 1.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        W
 Rodjay Burns................................................. 1
 Chris Worley.................................................. 1
 Damon Webb................................................. 1                                                                                                                                                          T
 Damon Arnette............................................. 1          OHIO STATE                             Sept. 30 – at Rutgers, TBA
                                                                                                              Oct. 7 – Maryland, 3:30 or 4 p.m.
 SACKS
 Tyquan Lewis.................................................8        SCHEDULE                               Oct. 14 – at Nebraska, TBA
                                                                                                              Oct. 28—Penn State, 3:30 p.m.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fr
                                                                                                                                                              Weekly Specials
 Nick Bosa......................................................5      Aug. 31 – at Indiana, 8 p.m.
 FIELD GOALS                                                                                                  Nov. 4 – at Iowa, TBA
                                                                       Sept. 9 – Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.          Nov 11 – Michigan State, TBA
 Tyler Durbin...........................................17/22          Sept. 16 – Army, 4:30 p.m.             Nov. 18 – Illinois,740-965-1313
 PUNTING                                                                                                                         TBA
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 Cameron Johnston..................................46.7                                                        48825
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Delaware Gazette                                                              OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW                                                     Thursday, August 31, 2017              11

Playoff forecasts start with ‘Bama
By Jim Naveau
                                                   defensive backs who were first-round NFL
                                                   draft choices, they could be contenders.
                                                                                              back, but coach Bob Stoops, running backs
                                                                                              Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine and wide            WASHINGTON
jnaveau@limanews.com                                                                                     receiver Dede Westbrook are all      The Huskies have quite a bit of talent back
                                                   USC                                                     gone.                              from last year’s playoff semifinalist team
   Chances are good that a lot of people           The Trojans finished last season on                                                        and a schedule that might not be overly
predicted three of the four teams who              a nine-game winning streak behind                                                          challenging until November.
eventualy got into the College Football            redshirt freshman Sam Darnold.
Playoff last season.
   It wasn’t going out on a limb to predict that
the two teams in the 2015 championship             FLORIDA STATE
game, Alabama and Clemson, would return            If Florida State’s offensive line,
for another round. And it wasn’t a surprise        which allowed 36 sacks
to see the 2014 champion, Ohio State, there        last season, plays a little
either.                                            better, quarterback                                                                                                                    AP Photo
   The only surprise in the semifinals was         Deondre Francois,                                                                                                  Alabama coach Nick Saban
Washington. So, will this year bring any           running back Cam                                                                                                   works with his players
unanticipated playoff teams? Or will it belong     Akers and others                                                                                                     during NCAA college
                                                   will put points on the                                                                                                   football practice
to the tried and true powers of the college
                                                   scoreboard.                                                                                                                earlier this month
game again?                                                                                                                                                                     in Tuscaloosa,
   It would not be a shock to see the four                                                                                                                                        Ala.
College Football Playoff semifinalists come        CLEMSON
from this list of eight teams: Alabama, Ohio       The big question,
State, USC, Florida State, Clemson, Penn           obviously, is who will
State, Oklahoma and Washington, who                replace Deshaun Watson at
have all been near the top of the preseason        quarterback. But, as Ohio
national rankings.                                 State learned, the Tigers can
                                                   play a little defense, too.

ALABAMA
Quarterback Jalen Hurt is a year older and a       PENN STATE
season more experienced. The defense has           Quarterback Trace McSorley,
two returning starters at every level — line,      running back Saquon Barkley
linebackers and defensive backfield. The Tide      and a good receivers group
came within seconds of winning Nick Saban’s        make the Nittany Lions one of
fifth national championship last season.           the most explosive offensive
                                                   teams in college football.

OHIO STATE
If the Buckeyes restore the deep pass to           OKLAHOMA
their offense and find replacements for three      Quarterback Baker Mayfield is

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12 Thursday, August 31, 2017                OHIO STATE FOOTBALL PREVIEW             Delaware Gazette

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