3 positions to watch when the Buckeyes face Nebraska
Well, after all this waiting, it’s finally here. We finally get to see what these Ohio State Buckeyes bring to the table in the 2020 college football season. First up: Nebraska. And while that may not get the competitive juices flowing for most Buckeyes fans, there’s still a lot to learn about this Ohio State team, and that means there are a lot of players and position groups to analyze come Saturday.
Here are three positions we need to keep an eye on — other than safety, which I think we all agree is probably the biggest unknown right now — when the Buckeyes face off against the Cornhuskers:
Honorable mention: Backup quarterback
I threw this one here because it’s possible that a backup could see some mop-up action this weekend, and it will be interesting to see who that will be. While Kentucky-transfer Gunnar Hoak is a Buckeyes legacy and a senior, he’s really just a placeholder until one of the truly elite, talented freshman QBs is ready to take the reins. Who will it be — C.J. Stroud or Jack Miller? These kids are going to have to get some reps just in case — God forbid — Justin Fields gets hurt or sick. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the chance if OSU gets a big lead.
No. 3: Running back
Who will get the most carries? Master Teague or Trey Sermon? Teague was a great backup last season to J.K. Dobbins and should be fully healthy after his Achilles injury in the spring. Sermon was a good backup at Oklahoma before transferring. One will probably emerge as the dominant carrier, but I’ve also heard that we shouldn’t sleep on redshirt freshman Steele Chambers. He could be the next great Buckeyes’ back.
No. 2: Defensive end
It’s been years since Ohio State fans have had to worry about this position. With the Bosa brothers, and then Chase Young, there’s been a once-in-a-generation type talent in this role for a long while. So who is it this year? Sophomore Zack Harrison and junior Tyreke Smith seem to be the most likely. Smith has battled the injury bug the last few years, and Harrison has been saddled with the unreal expectations of following Young, so we’ll see how each handles his new role.
No. 1: Defensive tackle
Rivals in the B1G are now pointing to this position as an Ohio State weakness, as Penn State and Michigan both think they can run on the Buckeyes this year — and they may be right. The truth is, we just don’t know. What we do know is that this position took a hit when senior Haskell Garrett was shot in the face during an off-campus incident Aug. 30. Sophomore Taron Vincent has battled continual shoulder injuries and also probably won’t be available for a few weeks. Suddenly, what was once seen as a position of depth has become a bit of a concern. Luckily, junior Tommy Togiai is a star, while senior Antwuan Jackson will be more than capable. But if there are injuries? Then that could be a problem. It will be interesting to see who else develops in this spot.
Of course, I’m not sure there will be a lot of opportunity for the Buckeyes to stop the run in Game 1 against the Huskers. That may have to come the following week against Penn State. Still, the D-line will need to get some reps in before they travel to Happy Valley.