No matter how talented Ohio State may be on offense at the skill positions, without a solid offensive line providing protection none of it will matter. The Buckeyes lose four starters on the offensive line, returning just one, so this spring the focus on the offense should be starting up front.
“We’re not really worried about who we lost,” sophomore Pat Elflein said to The Columbus Dispatch. “We’re just worried about who we’ve got now. We’re just focused on getting better every day. We definitely have some big shoes to fill, but we’re capable of it.”
To recap, Ohio State is losing Jack Mewhort, Marcus Hall, Corey Linsley and Andrew Norwell to the NFL. They return junior Taylor Decker, who is moving from right tackle to left tackle. Ohio State will not be lacking in potential on the offensive line though. Ohio State just recruited four four-star offensive linemen in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals.com, and the Class of 2012 that is coming in to their own now also included three four-star recruits, including Decker. The offensive line has the individual talent to be one of the top units in the Big Ten, one that helps separate Ohio State from most of the rest of the conference, but as was put on display by Michigan State and Clemson in Ohio State’s two-game season-ending losing streak, it is far from being a dominant force that could compete for a championship.
Last season saw Ohio State give up 22 sacks, which was in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten and a stat that is relatively common for a team with a quarterback who can make plays happen with his feet. But quarterback Braxton Miller has been roughed up in his time in Columbus. The Orange Bowl resulted in a lingering injury that sees Miller limited at best this spring as he rehabs following surgery on his throwing shoulder. If keeping Miller healthy is the biggest key to success this season for Ohio State, then consider the offensive line the key master (or are they the gate keepers?).
Finding an identity as a unit on the offensive line will be critical for Ohio State. That begins now.
There has been no shortage of videos and stories about walk-ons at various college football programs receiving scholarships by surprise. It is an annual tradition around college football during the offseason, and the fun and pure joy of the moment never gets old.
The Kansas Jayhawks took the game to a whole new level, and a whole new playing field this weekend.
Kansas took its football team out on Friday night to enjoy a Major League Baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians. During the course of the game, four walk-on players — defensive end Mazin Aqi, offensive lineman Beau Lawrence, punter Cole Moos, and running back Reese Randall — were shown sitting next to each other on the video screen in Kauffman Stadium. As they were shown on the screen, a message popped up congratulating them on being awarded a scholarship.
Video of the players soaking in the moment and realizing they had just had their lives changed was captured by the Royals.
It sure beats the heck out of a stadium proposal.
The college football season officially gets underway this week, but Tom Herman has another week to make some decisions about the starting quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. If he had to make that call right now, Shane Buechele would be getting the starting nod in Austin.
“I’ve said over and over again that if we played a game tomorrow Shane Buechele would start,” Herman told reporters on Saturday, seemingly a bit frustrated with the question once again being asked, according to The Dallas Morning News. “We’ll get a depth chart to make it Facebook official, I guess. Is that what we’ve got to do?”
It is expected Herman will make a decision on his starting quarterback within the next week ahead of Texas’ season opener at home against Maryland of the Big Ten. Buechele was the full-time starter for the Longhorns last season, but a new coach taking over at a program tends to wipe the slate clean to start from scratch. Buechele has faced his stiffest competition for the job from freshman Sam Ehlinger, who enrolled in January and was able to work with the team in the spring.
Whatever his decision ends up being, Herman has not been overly optimistic about his offense. Instead, Herman has been praising the defense as the key to the upcoming season. For a team that allowed 448.3 yards per game last season to rank seventh in the Big 12 in total defense, and 31.5 points per game (8th in the Big 12 ahead of only Kansas and Texas Tech), Herman is either suggesting the defense has taken some strides in practices this year or the offense really does have a long way to go.
It should probably not come as a great surprise Texas may be better off on defense, given the brief Charlie Strong tenure. Strong was always known more for his defense so the seeds for a reputable defense may have been planted in Austin prior to Herman’s hiring. Now it is up to Herman to get the offense in gear.
The focus in Miami’s preseason camp has been on the budding battle to be the starting quarterback but Mark Richt might have bigger concerns after an injury to another star offensive player.
The Hurricanes head coach confirmed to reporters on Saturday that receiver Ahmmon Richards missed the practice after he pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Safe to say that’s not the kind of injury you want a burner like that to suffer right before the season starts.
The Palm Beach Post reports that senior Braxton Berrios stepped up in Richards’ absence during the scrimmage with six catches for 107 yards but things figure to be a little different against real opposing defenses this fall if his running mate can’t go full blast down the field like he potentially could.
Richards averaged 19 yards a catch last season and racked up nearly 1,000 yards through the air as a true freshman. He was expected to play a pivotal role in an offense that is breaking in a new signal-caller but, given the tricky nature of hamstring pulls and wide receivers, it could be a few weeks into the year before he trots out onto the field for the ‘Canes.
John Franklin III has had a ton written about him for a player going on his fourth program in five years but here’s a little more.
The quarterback-turned-wide receiver recently gave an interview to Matthew DeFranks of the Florida Sun Sentinel on his decision to transfer to Florida Atlantic for his senior season and seemed to lob a subtle shot at his former coaching staff at Auburn while doing so.
The not “having too much fun” line will probably draw most of the attention but don’t discount the issue Franklin has with playing every snap. While he arrived on the Plains as a signal-caller, he gave way to Sean White as the starter last year and was moved all over the field in a variety of packages. This spring he changed positions to wide receiver full time as a result but decided to transfer before catching passes for the Tigers.
The former ‘Last Chance U’ star will now head to Boca to play for former coach Clint Trickett with the Owls. It’s not super clear what exact role he will have in the offense but hopefully for Franklin he can have a little more “fun” this season along the way.