Big Ten Preview: Meyer’s departure gives a fresh new Day in Columbus

There was a bit of a stir in Buckeyeland when Jim Harbaugh made his comments about Urban Meyer at Big Ten Media Days.

“Urban Meyer’s had a winning record. Really phenomenal record everywhere he’s been, but also, controversy follows everywhere he’s been.”

Jim Harbaugh on Urban Meyer

Harbaugh backed his statement the following day, saying he didn’t believe what he said was a “bombshell”. Controversy followed Urban Meyer in his two most successful stops, Florida and Ohio State. At Florida, he was constantly criticized for the high arrest rate among his players. Of course, he was heavily scrutinized for his handling, or mishandling of the Zach Smith case last offseason.

Nonetheless, Meyer is gone now, retired and working for FOX Sports. That throws 40-year old former offensive coordinator Ryan Day into the fray. The Chip Kelly protege has never held a head coaching position at any level, but is now the leader of one of college football’s most recognizable brands.

Who They Lose

Ohio State had never really seen a one-year quarterback like Dwayne Haskins, a guy who wound up breaking a lot of Big Ten records, including most passing yards in a season and most passing touchdowns in a season. Trying to replace that will be awfully hard. The Buckeyes also have to replace holes in the receiving core, running game and offensive line.

Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer

Defensively, the departures were not nearly as hard-hitting. Nick Bosa was hurt a month into a season and never returned, which gave others opportunities to get game reps. Defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones and cornerback Kendall Sheffield also made the jump to the NFL.

Who They Return/Gain

Justin Fields came to the Buckeyes from Georgia as Fields knew that he wasn’t going to beat out Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm. Fields brings a running threat back into the Buckeyes offense at quarterback. JK Dobbins also looks to rebound from a down sophomore season, barely cracking the 1,000-yard mark after rushing for over 1,400 yards as a true freshman.

Jack Westerheide/The Lantern

Defensively, the Buckeyes looked to be much improved after allowing 404 yards per game last season. Ohio State returns their top 5 tacklers from last season as well as Chase Young, a defensive end who is one of the top two defensive ends in the country, along with Iowa’s AJ Epenesa.

Toughest Game

It has been 8 years since Michigan has defeated Ohio State on the gridiron. Michigan believes this is the best chance they’ve had to beat Ohio State since then and many of their off-season moves were angled on accomplishing that. So I think it might be Ohio State’s toughest game…just maybe.

The Ceiling

The Pundits hit the nail on the head and Justin Fields sets the college football world ablaze and ends up in New York as a Heisman finalist. Ohio state’s defense is vastly improved and Chase Young racks up 12+ sacks on the season and possibly becomes the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Ohio State keeps the streak against Michigan and finally return to the playoff.

Ceiling: 13-0, Big Ten Champions, College Football Playoff Qualifier

The Floor

Justin Fields struggles mightily with the spotlight, not having played serious game action in over two years. Ryan Day struggles with the trial by fire season he has in year one as head coach and the defense does not improve from 2018. Michigan finally ends the streak as well.

Floor: 9-3, Bowl Game in Tampa or Orlando

The Bottom Line

This Ohio State team may not look like your grandfather’s Ohio State under Woody Hayes but it holds similarities. The run game looks to be punishing and controlling and the ability to have a dominating defense. It’s hard for the offense to be as one-dimensional as it was for a time last season. But, with a running quarterback like Justin Fields leading the charge, it will open up the run game.

Defensively, Ohio State has the skill and experience to be one of the best defenses in the nation, returning key secondary members such as safeties Jordan Fuller and Brendon White and linebackers Tuf Borland and Malik Harrison. The emergence of Chase Young will also play a pivotal role. This could be a fun season in Columbus.

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