Baver covers Buckeye Football for Pencilstorm. Follow @baverbuckeyebag
Colin: You seemed downright giddy about new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson after the spring game. What are you seeing that has you so excited?
Baver: We saw screen passes that were actually executed the way screens are supposed to be executed, saw a passing game that had all the parts in sync with one another, and actually saw pass catchers running crossing patterns. The coaches pretty much abandoned the crossing patterns late last year, so that was a nice site. Yeah, it was just a spring game, but Kevin Wilson is just what the doctor ordered for this offense. The Buckeye offense struggled mightily against every good defense they faced last year, and after the 31-0 beat down by Clemson, Urban finally got the wake up call and sent two offensive coaches packing. And Kevin Wilson was there for the taking. Now, Wilson is working with 4 and 5-star guys instead of the 3-star guys he had at Indiana. Yeah….I am giddy as can be.
Colin: The million dollar question. JT Barrett will go down statistically as the greatest QB in Ohio State history. By far. Is he any good?
Baver: As of right now, I think he’s far better than most OSU fans think he is. But I get it….even when he had time to throw last year, he often missed WR’s badly. The 2nd qtr play against Michigan when Barrett launched the ball way over a wide-open Curtis Samuel comes to mind. It was a simple throw, and Samuel would have likely taken that one 94 yards to the house…and Barrett air-mailed it. But JT is a gamer. 5 OT drives that he has led as a Buckeye….the results? 5 touchdowns. He’s the guy you want with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. This year, I still don’t expect him to throw the ball as well as he did in ’14, but I expect him to look a lot better with the tutoring he has gotten and will get from Kevin Wilson and new QB coach Ryan Day.
Colin: How can we seriously expect a breakout performance from any WR or TE? Who do you expect to break out and what will the numbers look like?
Baver: Maybe it wasn’t too bold of a call, but I had Curtis Samuel as the most likely offensive player to breakout a year ago at this time, followed by Noah Brown. (click here to read that story) They both had breakout seasons last year, to different extents. I don’t see a TE making big noise, but I think the new hybrid, Parris Campbell, is your breakout guy this year. We saw glimpses of what Parris is capable of last year on kick returns, and I think it all comes together for him this year, on returns, rushes and as a pass catcher. Numbers? I don’t think you’ll see 700+/800+ rushing/receiving yards like Samuel did, but I think you could potentially see 400+ and 700+, respectively.
Colin: Is Mike Weber a world class back like top 5 programs come to expect? What recent Ohio State starting RB is he better than?
Baver: Not sure if it’s fair to ask what recent Buckeye RB he is better than, with Weber having only one season in the books so far. I thought he was a solid back last year and felt he should have been used more down the stretch. Urban is singing Weber’s praises this summer, and he was 4th on Ohio State’s 40-yard dash board in June. Weber has also showed up as a 1st rounder in some 2018 NFL mock drafts. World-class? Not sure. Ezekiel level? No. But I think Weber is in for a big year if he stays healthy.
Colin: Can this OL dominate if we have trouble throwing the ball downfield or could we see a repeat of MSU, Michigan and Clemson against a stout D?
Baver: OL is my biggest concern on offense. They probably should have fired a trio of Buckeye offensive coaches, instead of just a pair, as Greg Studrawa ain’t gettin’ it done. And I can’t imagine that OSU couldn’t find an elite O-line coach that would be worlds better than Stud. Obviously Isaiah Prince has to make huge strides after Pro Football Focus graded him out as the worst pass-blocking O-lineman in the FBS last season, allowing 45 QB pressures. I think you’ll see better results as a whole in ’17 with Kevin Wilson being more involved with the Slobs, but I am still taking a wait and see approach.