Embed from Getty Images Ryan Day whined, he whined about calls against his team. He whined because of missed calls. That is a first for an Ohio State head football coach, even the last head coach (Urban Meyer) did not bemoan officials after a loss. A loss that has become somewhat routine now. Ohio State vs Clemson in the College Football Playoffs.
The Clemson Tigers, the team that gave Woody Hayes his last loss, Urban Meyer his worst loss and now Ryan Day his first loss. The Ohio State Buckeyes looked strong to start the game. In fact the Buckeyes would stake claim to a 16-0 start.
Missed opportunities would ultimately cost Ohio State victory. Buckeye running back J.K. Dobbins ran for 141 yards on six carries, including a powerful 68-yard touchdown run, yet Dobbins dropped two go ahead touchdown passes on consecutive possessions inside the red zone leading to field goals.
Momentum shifted to Clemson when a controversial targeting call was made. Yet, that did not decide the outcome of this contest. Clemson had not scored and was struggling to move the ball. After the targeting call, Clemson scored 29 points.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who wasn’t 100% with a brace on the left knee he injured against Michigan , threw two interceptions after throwing only one all year. The second pickoff was the back breaker. On a designed play, Fields was running a scramble play the wideout went in the opposite direction. The miscommunication resulted in a interception in the end zone to end the game.
Ohio State went 13–0 and made its first playoff run since 2016, Ohio State will be just fine. Sure players will leave for the NFL, that is nothing new. Still a loss on the national stage stings.
Perhaps, Ohio State should focus on avoiding Clemson. The Tigers are a very good team and football program. Or at least wait to play them for the National Championship.
Embed from Getty Images Projected to be Ohio State’s next great cornerback from the time he arrived in Columbus, Ohio in 2017, Jeffrey Okudah has seen steady increase in playing time over the course of his first two seasons as a Buckeye. This season Okudah will be the focal point of the secondary.
Out of Texas, Okudah was ranked as the No. 8 overall prospect and the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the recruiting class of 2017. Okudah earned playing time in Ohio State’s cornerback rotation as a true freshman in 2017. The then freshman appeared in all 14 of the Buckeyes games and played on defensive snaps in 10 of them, all the while also being a regular on the special teams units.
Jeffrey Okudah made one start in the secondary in 2018, but gained more playing time as the season went on. Okudah had 32 total tackles with 8 pass breakups. Jeffery battled through inconsistent play and issues with penalties to become a solid dependable player.
Jeffery Okudah will enter the 2019 season as the starting outside cornerback. At 6′ 1″ he is blessed with excellent length and speed, making steady improvement should make Jeffrey one of the Big Ten’s best defensive backs.
Last season the Buckeyes defense was plagued by mistakes. The secondary drew the second most penalties in the Big Ten. That will need to be cleaned up this season. It would greatly help Ohio State if Jeffrey Okudah were to blossom into the consistent shutdown cornerback they believe he can be.
Embed from Getty Images Wide receiver Pairs Campbell was the Ohio State Buckeyes heart and soul. A loud voice of leadership in the Buckeye locker room as well as standout performances on the field. Campbell, did it all. Now he is heading for the NFL draft. Leaving Ohio State with a void to fill.
90 receptions along with 1,063 receiving yards, Campbell also lead Ohio State with 12 touch downs. In Ohio State fashion it is “next man up.” But, given the rather large shoes to fill who has an opportunity to be that next man?
Wide receiver KJ Hill, who was thought to also declare for the NFL draft chose to return to the Buckeyes. Perhaps the most sure-handed of the Ohio State receivers he will have the first chance to nail down the spot. Hill though is not as fast as Campbell.
Ohio State is getting ready to open spring practice with a new head coach, new defensive coaches and a new quarterback in Justin Fields. That is a lot of new all at one time. Ohio State certainly would have benefited if Paris Campbell returned to the program.
A closer look at KJ Hill reveals, he is perhaps the best route runner of all the Buckeye receivers. His precision and sharp cuts help shake would be defenders.
It is Hill’s intangibles, that can make up for his lack of speed. Hill is certainly no slow-poke. But Campbell, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.31 at the NFL Combine. KJ Hill is almost a full step behind Campbell.
It is something to watch in spring practice. Quarterback Justin Fields will be looking for a receiver he can trust who either is or will become a go-to player. It is a safe bet as long as the new signal caller picks up the Ohio State playbook he will find where the player in space will be.
KJ Hill should emerge as that player.