2023 OSU Offense Breakdown

August 31, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Andy Billman and Tony Camino Discuss The 2023 Buckeyes Offense

Buckeyes Offense


Andy –

I can’t remember the last time there were so many questions at the quarterback position heading into the season with national championship expectations, but here we are.  Buckle up. 

That was a strange, quiet quarterback competition without much detail given over the summer, with Kyle McCord emerging as the starter with Devin Brown appearing at some point.

Neither player stood out throughout training camp.  That has been made clear by coach Ryan Day and journalists.  What has also been made clear is that McCord and Brown have elite weapons to help out, which will be discussed below, and will help ease anxiety.  There is a split on expectations for both, in particular, McCord on the throws he will be making on Saturday against the Hoosiers and throughout the season.

From what I can tell, Brown is the better athlete and has the higher ceiling on talent, but they have more trust in McCord right now. 

The quarterback discussion will be loud and continuous throughout the fall until one is selected as the full-time starter. 

McCord should be fine, I don’t he’s going to jump off the screen for Ohio State fans for electric throws, and he is not a mobile quarterback that makes big runs for first downs.  McCord does have touch and can make the deep throw, which is good enough for now.

Tony –

For the first time in a little while, there isn’t a clear-cut starter heading into Buckeye camp. While Ohio State consistently has multiple players capable of starting, they tend to establish a clear starter after every season. Despite Quinn Ewers being signed in 2021, it was quite evident that CJ Stroud was going to remain the starter.

Although this lack of clarity has caused fans to panic, both Kyle McCord and Devin Brown are highly talented quarterbacks who will excel in this high-powered offense. Both four-star recruits, Brown ranked fifth among QBs in the 2022 class, and McCord ranked eighth in the 2021 class. They remain among the better quarterbacks in the nation, stepping into perhaps the most QB-friendly situation in college football.

McCord was named the “starter” for week one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the first three games against Indiana, Youngstown State, and Western Kentucky are used as an extension of training camp to continue the competition. McCord is older and currently viewed as more polished, but Brown undoubtedly possesses greater athletic potential. If Brown performs well over the first three weeks and appears comfortable, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him starting eventually. Either way, with the tremendous talent at receiver, this offense can thrive with either of these two quarterbacks.

Running Backs

Tony –

Both Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson showed plenty of flashes during the 2022 season. Williams graded at 91.1 in the run game, averaging 6.4 yards per attempt, and led the team with a 38.1 breakaway percentage. Henderson graded slightly lower with fewer carries, ending with a 78.7 run grade and 5.4 yards per attempt.

These two are expected to carry most of the workload again, albeit behind a newer, potentially weaker offensive line. The offensive line is experiencing significant turnover, and I anticipate that this might impact the running backs’ production this year. Backup tight end Mitch Rossi was outstanding as the run-blocking tight end last year, and his absence will be felt. I don’t anticipate the run game performing poorly, but it doesn’t seem like a year in which Ohio State can rely on the run to open up the offense as they have in some previous years.

Other backups in the room, such as Dallas Hayden and Chip Trayanum, were efficient in limited snaps last year, averaging 5.0 and 6.1 yards per attempt, respectively. The depth of this group is present, and the talent at the top is undeniable. Williams and Henderson need to improve their performance in the passing game, as neither excelled as receivers nor in pass blocking. If the offensive line can replicate the level of performance from a year ago, Henderson and Williams possess the talent to put up impressive numbers.

Andy –

There is a lot of hype about TreVeyon Henderson returning, and we do have to remember at the beginning of 2022, Henderson was not only one of the best running backs in the country but a possible Heisman candidate.

Then, an injury to his foot changed everything last year, and he only rushed for 571 and six touchdowns. There is a lot of hype about how good Henderson looks this summer, and if true, watch out, as he can carry this Buckeye team alone to multiple wins.

Miyan Williams brings more experience to the position and shows flashes of being a top-end running back.  There is more talent in the running back room that can come off the bench, watch for Dallas Hayden as well, and Chip Trayanum is another name to remember.

Henderson is the better running back between him and Williams, and if Henderson stays healthy, he has a chance to have an exceptional season even with the wide receiver talent.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Andy –

Marvin Harrison Jr. alone would make the wide receivers elite for the Buckeyes in 2023.  Add Emeka Egbuka, and not only do you have an elite 2023 college wide receiver room, Ohio State has what is projected by NFL scouts to be the top two wide receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft. WOW!

Harrison and Egbuka take a lot of pressure off of McCord and Brown, they can simply throw the ball up in the air to either player, and they are going to make plays. 

Harrison is one of the best wide receivers I have ever seen play at Ohio State, and that is saying a lot with all of the talent that has come through Columbus.  He truthfully has a chance to win the Heisman in 2023. 

Egbuka compliments him well and will take the load off of Harrison in certain situations and games.  What a luxury.

Julian Fleming can also play at a big-time level as a senior, and another name to remember is Jayden Ballard, who has been hyped for a possible breakout season. 

The wide receiver room is loaded. Defenses beware. 

TE Cade Stover is another player getting talked about in the press of having a “breakout season”.  Stover was thought of as a run-blocking tight end, but expectations at the end of 2022 have brought the possibility of Stover getting more opportunities to catch the ball.  In a different offense, I think Stover would get more opportunities, but with depth at receiver, he is not going to have eye-catching statistics.

Stover is a name to remember, as I do think you will hear his name called more this season.

Tony –

Undoubtedly, the wide receiver corps stands out as the strength of this offense, brimming with future NFL talent. Leading the group is Marvin Harrison Jr., fresh from a season where he earned a remarkable 90.2 offensive grade while averaging an incredible 3.18 yards per route run. With his potential to become a top-five pick and his generational talent, he significantly eases the quarterback’s job.

Following Harrison, the unit still boasts elite first-round NFL potential. Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming, both former five-star recruits, had solid seasons the previous year. Egbuka achieved a grade of 83.1 while averaging 3.01 yards per route run, and Fleming’s numbers suffered slightly while playing alongside them. Egbuka predominantly handles the slot duties, leaving Harrison with the outside routes, which impacts Fleming’s production. However, his talent remains evident, making him arguably the most talented WR3 in the nation.

Should these three not suffice, the backups offer experience with Xavier Johnson and an array of young four and five-star talents like Carnell Tate. Jayden Ballard received only 9 targets last year but displayed excellent performance on those opportunities. He’s poised to see more snaps, especially if an injury occurs.

The starting tight end, Cade Stover, is set to return after an average 2022 season. Stover might not dazzle as a receiving weapon, but he brings a substantial frame and experience that should complement the talent in the offense. The depth behind him lacks significant experience, so expectations for substantial production from Ohio State’s tight ends this year should be tempered.

Offensive Line 

Tony –

By far, the most significant turnover on the team comes at the offensive line position, with the departure of Dawand Jones, Luke Wypler, and Paris Johnson Jr., all of whom had excellent seasons in 2022. The return of guards Donovan Jackson and Matthew Jones is crucial for the run game and the offensive line as a whole. Both were manageable in pass protection last year but excelled in the run game, which is their primary strength.

The center position is likely to be taken by redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman, a former four-star recruit from Wisconsin. He’s known to be a good athlete capable of moving around the line, and he is expected to be a solid and capable starter at the very least.

The main concern regarding this offensive line centers around the tackles and pass protection in general. Josh Simmons, who transferred from San Diego State, is set to start at left tackle. Simmons displayed moments of promise in pass protection last year, performing well against Arizona, Toledo, and Air Force. However, for every high point, there were possibly twice as many low moments. Some games saw significant struggles in pass protection, and his run game grades were consistently below par.

On the opposite side of Simmons, the Buckeyes are fielding Josh Fryar at right tackle. Fryar had a challenging year in the previous season, earning an overall grade of 58.8. His recent performance against Michigan, where he played 62 snaps at right guard and graded at 46.0, was particularly underwhelming. Although his extended start at right tackle looked promising, there’s optimism that a full year at his natural position will contribute to an improved performance.

The offensive line presents several uncertainties, with no clear standout as a pass blocker at this point. While the group undeniably possesses talent, there’s a lack of proven pass blockers, which isn’t ideal for a new quarterback. Developing this aspect is pivotal to ensuring a successful season for the Buckeyes.

Andy –

There was a lot of concern heading into the season with the talent leaving Columbus, but I always thought that was overblown as the Buckeyes have great depth and talent at the offensive line, which has proven itself over the summer. 

Josh Fryer will be the starting right tackle, transfer Josh Simmons will be the starting left tackle, and the new starting center will be Vic Cutler.  Starting guards Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones are back and both are considered all-big ten collabre talent.

I know Tony has more concerns than I do at this point, and yes, they are not a line that has played together, so there is a learning curve when it comes to familiarity.  But all five starters have experience, no freshmen are starting so inexperience playing college ball is not a concern, and I do believe that the line will figure itself out quickly and I actually believe the offensive line will become a strength of this team by the end of the season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

If you're a fan of Cleveland sports and want to stay up-to-date with the latest news, scores, and insights on your favorite teams, signing up for the Cleveland sports newsletter is a no-brainer.

Copyright © 2024 Believe In The Land

threads icon