Ohio State-Florida Atlantic matchups


By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com



the 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes hit field for the start of the game at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University September 1st 2018 Photos by Don Speck

the 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes hit field for the start of the game at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University September 1st 2018 Photos by Don Speck


QUARTERBACKS

Justin Fields, a former 5-star recruit who transferred from Georgia, won the competition to be Ohio State’s starter over Chris Chugunov and Gunnar Hoak in what probably wasn’t as much of a battle as coach Ryan Day insisted it was. Fields has a strong arm and OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson says Fields is as fast as any quarterback he has coached.

Chris Robinson, an Oklahoma transfer, passed for 2,540 yards and 12 touchdowns but also threw 12 interceptions last fall in his first season as Florida Atlantic’s starting quarterback.

Advantage: Ohio State

RUNNING BACKS

J.K. Dobbins could challenge Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor for the Big Ten rushing title this year now that he won’t be sharing the No. 1 running back role with Mike Weber. Demario McCall will be his back-up but another back might emerge because McCall is a little on the small side and has to prove he can run inside.

Malcolm Davidson and James Charles, who combined for five carries last season, are the most experienced running backs for FAU. Alabama transfer B.J. Emmons could also be a contender for playing time.

Advantage: Ohio State

RECEIVERS

With K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, Chris Olave, C.J. Saunders and freshman Garrett Wilson, Ohio State can go six deep at receiver. Tight ends Luke Farrell, Rashod Berry and Jeremy Ruckert will also get catches.

Hill led the team with 70 catches last season and considered leaving for the NFL draft before deciding he needed another year of college football. Victor showed flashes of brilliance, like an amazing catch and run for a touchdown against Penn State, but needs more consistency. Or maybe more opportunities.

Tight end Harrison Bryant (45 catches, 662 yards, 4 TDs last season), who was first-team All-Conference USA, might be the Owls’ best receiver. Slot receiver Willie Wright had 45 catches in 2018.

Advantage: Ohio State

OFFENSIVE LINE:

Ohio State has to replace four of last year’s offensive line starters, with only left tackle Thayer Munford back from 2018. Branden Bowen (RT), Wyatt Davis (RG), Josh Myers (C) and Jonah Jackson (LG) are the other likely starters. The Buckeyes might have more depth at this position than they did a year ago with 5-star recruits like Nicholas Petit-Frere and Harry Miller and veterans like Gavin Cupp in back-up roles.

Tackle Brandon Walton, a first-team All-Conference USA selection last season, is Florida Atlantic’s leader on the offensive line.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE LINE

Defensive end Chase Young (10.5 sacks) leads OSU’s front four. Jonathon Cooper, the other defensive end, might be questionable against Florida Atlantic because of an unspecified leg injury, possibly a sprain. OSU is deep at the inside positions on the defensive line but is still looking for someone who can do the kind of things Dre’Mont Jones did last season.

Defense was not a strength for FAU in 2018 when it allowed 32 points and 427 yards a game. Tim Bonner, a 225-pound defensive end, had three sacks last season. The other end, Leighton McCarthy, is undersized at 205 pounds.

Advantage: Ohio State

LINEBACKERS

OSU’s linebackers, along with the defensive backfield, were the target of much criticism last season when opposing offenses had 38 plays that gained 30 yards or more. Returning starters Tuf Borland, Malik Harrison and Pete Werner probably will start again this year. But if the defensive struggles continue, some new faces could get on the field.

For Florida Atlantic, Rashad Smith was the team leader in tackles with 86 and also led the team in interceptions with four.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Damon Arnette is a returning starter at cornerback, and so is safety Jordan Fuller. Ohio State ranked No. 86 nationally in passing yards allowed in 2018. Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade were highly rated recruits and now in their third year in the program could be ready for breakout seasons. Brendon White, who emerged as one of the Buckeyes’ best safeties last year has been moved to a newly created hybrid linebacker/defensive back position.

Cornerback James Pierre, who had 55 tackles last season, is the leader of FAU’s defensive backfield.

Advantage: Ohio State

SPECIAL TEAMS

OSU kicker Blake Haubeil was 10 of 13 on field goals last season. Punter Drue Chrisman averaged 43.2 yards per kick and is one of the best in the country at that position.

FAU kicker Vladi Rivas was 10 of 17 last season and punter Sebastian Riella averaged 38.1 yards.

Advantage: Ohio State

https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/08/web1_Ohio-State-logo.jpg
the 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes hit field for the start of the game at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University September 1st 2018 Photos by Don Speck
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/08/web1_Pregame-OSU.jpgthe 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes hit field for the start of the game at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University September 1st 2018 Photos by Don Speck

By Jim Naveau

jnaveau@limanews.com

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.

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