Nick Vannett

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Ohio State players think they would have given Alabama better fight than Spartans

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A year after being upset by eventual national champion Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, Alabama dismantled Big Ten champion Michigan State in this year’s playoff en route to a national championship victory over Clemson. Alabama’s 38-0 blowout of Michigan State sent a rather loud message confirming Alabama was still a mighty force to reckon with. It also suggested Alabama had grown and improved from their initial playoff experience a year ago. There were some who felt Michigan State may have been deserving of a spot in the College Football Playoff based off overall body of work, but even some of those people would suggest the Spartans were not the best team in the Big Ten.

Despite losing at home to Michigan State late in the season, an argument could have been made Ohio State was the best team in the conference in 2015. The Buckeyes suffered a last-second loss in Columbus to Michigan State, opening the door for the Spartans to advance to the Big Ten Championship game, where it put together a masterful late touchdown drive to edge previously unbeaten Iowa in a defensive battle. Ohio State had to settle for knocking around rival Michigan in the first meeting between Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. The Buckeyes went on to the Fiesta Bowl to face Notre Dame in the New Years Six line-up, but not without regrets for not defending its national title belt in the fatal four-way of the playoff. As Michigan State was blown away by Alabama, some Buckeyes could not help but think they would have had a better shot at giving Alabama a good fight once again.

I think we would have definitely done a better job,” Ohio State defensive back Tyvis Powell said this week during Senior Bowl preparations in Mobile, Alabama (via Al.com). “I was shocked [Michigan State] didn’t score a point. It is what it is. It was very disappointing. But, Alabama, it was their year. I guess everybody has their year and it was their time to win.”

So what would have happened if the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide would have squared off one more time in this season’s playoff?

“I didn’t get to watch much film on them, but I know it would have been a hell of a game,” Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett said. “(Alabama) might have done a little better this year than they were last year. And I think the way we played in the last couple of games, we could have played against any team in the country. I know it would have been another war like it was the year before. So it would have been interesting to see.”

It sure would have been interesting to see. Maybe next year?

Urban on suspensions: ‘Get going. Move forward’

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The announcements of the suspensions of four Ohio State football players — possibly related to marijuana and/or academics — dropped roughly three hours or so prior to Urban Meyer‘s turn at the microphone for Big Ten Media Days.

Not surprisingly, that particular topic dominated a good portion of the media Q&A with the head coach of the defending national champion Buckeyes.  Also not surprisingly, Meyer delved into very few details as to what led to the punitive measures.

“A violation of team policies.  That’s as far as I’ll go,” Meyer responded when the first query on a specific reason for the suspensions was tossed his way.  Meyer also acknowledged that he’s “known about the suspensions for a little while.”

The suspensions will be owned by junior defensive end Joey Bosa, sophomore H-back Jalin Marshall, senior wide receiver Corey Smith and junior H-back Dontre Wilson, who will all miss the opener because of the sanctions.  Meyer very powerfully intimated that the temporary losses should not be used as a crutch by his football team, mainly because he and his staff have collected the kind of depth that can withstand the impact of losing a player or players.

“The university, the athletic department has the policies that we expect and that I 100-percent fully support,” the coach said. “Whether it’s a sprained ankle or [other] stuff, you try to create a culture where a team knows how to move forward and not concern yourself.  When we lost Braxton [Miller] 10 days before the first game [of the 2014 season], you lose J.T. [Barrett] a week before the Big Ten championship game, you push forward.  We’re pushing forward.

“The comment I did make, we are playing an extremely talented team [in the opener vs. Virginia Tech in Blacksburg], very well-coached team on the road in a tough environment.  However, we have recruited very well.  So, get going.  Move forward.”

When pressed by a Tech beat writer regarding his greatest concern for an impact stemming from the suspensions, Meyer responded, “Off the get-go, arguably one of the best defensive players in the United States of America [Bosa] won’t play in that game, so that’s the one.”

Meyer did, though, attempt to mitigate the loss of Bosa by… referring back to the depth that’s been accumulated at the wide receiver and H-back positions before finally circling back to “the big defensive end.”

“I think if we stay healthy throughout training camp, and continue to improve,” Meyer began, before rattling off a sizable portion of his skill-position depth chart, “and [projected H-back/wide receiver] Braxton and then we have [wide receiver] Noah Brown, we have [wide receiver] Michael Thomas, you have [tight end] Nick Vannett,  you have [wide receiver] Johnny Dixon, [wide receiver] Terry McLaurin and [wide receiver] Parris Campbell, [running back-turned-H-back] Curtis Samuel, you know, we’ve recruited pretty good.  Now we have to get them ready to go play and I’ll know more as we get going.

“But I’m not overly concerned at that spot [defensive end].  Obviously when you lose the big defensive end, that everyone knows where he’s at, that is [still] a concern.”

In other words, Meyer wants to hear no excuses.  And he wants his players to know there are no excuses at their disposal, and that it’s very much next man up for the opener — just as it was when the Buckeyes lost two starting quarterbacks in its run to the title.