Ohio State mailbag: How do the Buckeyes compare to top teams?

Have Ohio State football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every  Wednesday  for the  Land of 10 Ohio State mailbag to talk all things Buckeyes. This week, we’ll discuss how good Ohio State really is, wide receiver depth and Demario McCall.

Let’s get started!

Right to the point … I like it. Though it’s a simple question, it has a bit of a complicated answer (at least in my version). As Ohio State fans have repeatedly pointed out to me, the last three games have come against Army, UNLV and Rutgers. As such, a healthy dose of skepticism is probably required. However, most of the reactions I’ve seen have skipped straight to cynicism. Here’s the thing, though: Bad teams don’t usually win 56-0 against Power 5 teams with the backups in for half the game. And Ohio State has shown a more varied offense, better accuracy from J.T. Barrett and some improvements from wide receivers.

I don’t think anyone can look at what Alabama and Clemson have done in recent weeks and think the Buckeyes are there yet. If that’s the bar, Ohio State is short of it and may stay that way all season. But to me, there’s no reason to look at the growth from Oklahoma to Rutgers and think this team can’t become a Big Ten champion and playoff team. There’s work left to be done, but it’s also clear that the Buckeyes are making progress.

I know this is the opposite of what most people think, but I feel good about the Buckeyes’ chances against Penn State but less so about Michigan right now. Trace McSorley doesn’t scare me (just look at the Iowa game), and the current recipe to beat Ohio State’s defense is through the air. I’m pretty impressed with Michigan’s defense, however, and not entirely convinced the Buckeyes will be able to avoid their weird tendency to go crazy conservative against top defenses. We’ll see, though. Overall, what I said above applies here, too. This team is showing signs of being a conference champion and playoff contender but isn’t all the way there yet.

I’ve been beating the drum for Binjimen Victor to be a more prominent red-zone threat for a while now. He offers some things that few else can, and I think the more experience he gets, the better he’ll be. He’s already showing really good signs with impressive touchdown catches in each of the last two weeks.

As far as Johnnie Dixon goes, I’m a fan but I’m not sure his role would be clearly defined in either category. I see him more as a receiver who can do a lot of different things but may not end up as the go-to in either department. He did show against Rutgers that he can haul in the deep ball, so that was encouraging.

He’s pretty good! I made the case on Saturday that he should get some meaningful snaps so Ohio State can see what he can do with the first team and against first-team defenses. Apparently Urban Meyer isn’t quite there yet as McCall continues to fight through a groin injury.

“He’s still not 100 percent,” Meyer said in his postgame press conference. “He’s got more in the tank than what I saw. That one where he broke away, usually he’s out. We’re still fighting through that thing. But he’s doing a good job trying to fight through it.”

As much as I’d love to say yes, I don’t think I can. I believe the only former high school quarterbacks on the team, other than the actual quarterbacks, are safety Brendon White — who only played at that spot occasionally — and punter Drue Chrisman, who never played again after having Tommy John surgery after his freshman season. So while the Terps are thin at quarterback, they’re not  that thin.

I disagree, but that’s mostly because — as referenced above — Maryland is already on its third quarterback this season. The win against Texas was good, but the Longhorns aren’t great. There’s a 38-10 loss to Central Florida on the resume, which isn’t ideal no matter how good the Knights might actually be. And I’m not buying the win against Minnesota as a good one. The Gophers are a bad team with a good record (and that second part is going to change pretty soon). Maryland is on the right track for sure, but matching up with Ohio State is a massive challenge even before spotting them some quarterback injuries.

Before I answer, I’ll just add that in another tweet Zach specified that he was referring to kickoffs. Sean Nuernberger never kicked off in his Ohio State career, even when he handled field goals as a freshman in 2014. (That job went to a walk-on, too.) I guess that tells you all you need to know about what Meyer thinks of Blake Haubeil’s execution thus far, but I think such criticism has been a bit harsh. Was it bad enough for him to justifiably be replaced? I have my doubts, but I guess we’ll see what happens on Saturday.

I’m not overly optimistic on that front. Ohio State has a ton of wide receivers with more experience and having two healthy running backs might put receiver targets at even more of a premium. Whether he deserves to be out there more often is another issue entirely, but I think recent history has shown it’s really hard for freshman wide receivers to see meaningful time at Ohio State.

Well, last year Ohio State replaced 16 starters, went 11-1 in the regular season and made the College Football Playoff, so that was pretty good. Also, I’m not sure Alabama’s quarterbacks have ever been good before Jalen Hurts. It was more that they were the same level of average and it was enough to get the job done with those running backs and that defense. It’s a credit to Clemson, though, that Kelly Bryant has so seamlessly replaced Deshaun Watson. But Ohio State has had three defensive backs drafted in back-to-back years, so it’s not like the Buckeyes aren’t replacing talent themselves.

As a seventh-grader in Louisiana who had no dog in that fight … yes.

Have a question about Ohio State football? Tweet us @Landof10OSU and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Ohio State football mailbags   here.

The post Ohio State mailbag: How do the Buckeyes compare to top teams? appeared first on Land of 10.

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