The Ohio State Buckeyes look quite a bit different in 2019. New coach. New quarterback. Significant changes in offensive and defensive personnel.
It doesn’t matter. The Buckeyes are still a juggernaut.
Ryan Day’s club in Columbus showed themselves last Saturday to be just as potent as Urban Meyer’s teams of recent memory.
The Buckeyes posted 28 points on Florida Atlantic in 15 minutes before cruising to a 45-21 victory over the Owls.
Georgia transfer Justin Fields looked fantastic in the win, posting more than 300 yards of total offense. Fields may lack the pocket-passing prowess of his predecessor, Dwayne Haskins. Nevertheless, Fields demonstrated himself to be a mobile attack unit in week 1, capable of devastating any defense in college football in the air and on the ground.
Some in Buckeye Nation expressed concern that Florida Atlantic was able to “win” the last three quarters of last Saturday’s contest but I chalk it up primarily to their inexperience. On both sides of the ball, Ohio State returns just a handful of starters. No program has lost more first-round defensive picks in the past five years than Ohio State. As a result, Ohio State has particularly young units at linebacker and along the defensive front. Despite this, Ohio State’s defense played well, holding Florida Atlantic to just 228 offensive yards. Linebacker Malik Harrison and safety Jordan Fuller are the Buckeyes’ top returning defenders and appear ready to lead this young unit to an impressive 2019 campaign.
In addition, the Buckeyes have a relatively inexperienced offensive line protecting Fields, led by left tackle Thayer Munford. As expected, this unit is laden with blue chip talent like sophomore guard Wyatt Davis and sophomore center Josh Myers, who are a pair of 300-plus pound road graders. For the most part, this unit played well, opening holes for Fields (61 rushing yards) and returning 1,000-yard ball carrier J.K. Dobbins (91 yards).
Besides the versatilte Dobbins, Fields’ supporting offensive cast includes the likes of steady pass catcher K.J. Hill and speedburners Binjimen Victor and Chris Olave. Cincinnati’s struggles replacing the injured James Wiggins at safety could certainly come back to bite them in their contest with the Buckeyes.
Cincinnati is in for a difficult contest with a Buckeyes team that has many new faces but the same old talent and resolve.