Coach Urban Meyer’s future at Ohio State might be in doubt, but the talent level on the field for the Buckeyes certainly isn’t a question.
Meyer was put on paid leave Aug. 1 — two days before preseason practice opened — while the university investigates his handling of domestic abuse allegations against fired assistant coach Zach Smith.
Ohio State says it hopes to finish the probe within the week, which would give the Buckeyes a couple of weeks to get used to the new normal before they open Sept. 1 against Oregon State. Coaches and players have been off-limits for interviews, so progress reports have been hard to come by.
But this we know: The Buckeyes have a new starting quarterback, and the Dwayne Haskins Jr. era at Ohio State will start with the same sky-high expectations typical in Columbus.
It helps that he is surrounded by a deep, experienced wide receiver corps and a tandem of running backs that might be the best in the nation.
Here are some things to watch with the Buckeyes this season:
That new QB
The major obstacle to Haskins becoming Ohio State’s next starting quarterback was erased when Joe Burrow decided to transfer to LSU after spring practice rather than battle for the job in fall camp.
Haskins — who already secured his place in Buckeyes lore by winning last year’s Michigan game — takes the keys from four-year starter J.T. Barrett.
The redshirt sophomore is a pass-first, pro-style QB with a rifle arm who brimmed with poise when he spelled the injured Barrett and led Ohio State to a come-from-behind win over Michigan in November.
“He has a little different way of doing it, but he’s earning the respect of our players and our staff,” Meyer said last month.
Redshirt freshman Tate Martell moves into the backup role.
Bosa’s swan song
Defensive end Nick Bosa is looking for the kind of monster year that will keep his NFL Draft stock high.
Following his brother Joey, now a star with the Los Angeles Chargers, Nick is one of the top defensive linemen in the country going into his junior year. He’ll be a first-round draft pick just like his brother, unless something drastic happens.
Part of a ridiculously deep defensive line last year, Bosa didn’t get as many snaps as he would have liked, finishing with 34 tackles and 8ﾽ sacks. With less depth this season, he’ll be on the field more.
Any college coach would be thrilled to have just one of the two running backs who will be featured in the Buckeyes backfield.
J.K. Dobbins rushed for 1,400 yards a freshman last year on the heels of a 1,000-yard freshman season turned in by Mike Weber in 2017.
Weber was hampered by a hamstring injury for a chunk of last season, which gave Dobbins most of the carries and the chance to shine.
Barrett ate up a lot of the carries that normally would have gone to running backs. With him gone, the workload for the Dobbins-Weber tandem will increase.
Lots of receivers
All six top pass-catchers from last season return and any one of them could have a huge year with Haskins throwing.
Seniors Parris Campbell — last season’s top receiver with 584 yards — and Terry McLaurin are captains and team leaders. Senior Johnnie Dixon and junior Binjimen Victor combined for 15 touchdown receptions.
“We’re going to add to our game vertically,” Campbell said at Big Ten Media Days last month. “We already have an established running game with J.K. and Mike. I think it’s going to be hard for defenses to contain us.”
Sept. 15 at TCU, Sept. 29 at Penn State and Nov. 24 vs. Michigan.
At home Sept. 1 against Oregon State. If the Buckeyes can put aside the distractions, and Haskins performs as expected, they could be a contender for the College Football Playoff after finishing just out of the top four last year.
- No. 5 Ohio State 77, Oregon State 31: Buckeyes bring the thunder during stormy season opener, piling up 721 yards of offense
- College football: Season's here for No. 5 Ohio State, but Urban Meyer's not
- Ohio State trustee resigns, calls Urban Meyer's penalty too light
- Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins making it look easy so far
- Ohio State: Star defensive lineman Nick Bosa will not return this season
- Ohio State: Highly touted receiver Binjimen Victor picks perfect time for breakout game
- Ohio State: Urban Meyer devotes weekly news conference to suspension, trying to repair damage to program
- Ohio State trustees deliberate Urban Meyer's coaching future (UPDATED)
- Ohio State: OSU trustees to meet Wednesday to discuss Urban Meyer's future
- That scrutinized bit of Urban Meyer's OSU contract may be new norm
- Urban Meyer suspended 3 games
- Ohio State football: Open records experts say Urban Meyer may have broken the law if he deleted old texts
- Jim Ingraham: For THE Ohio State University, Urban Meyer is obviously too big to fail
- By keeping it in the family, Urban Meyer tarnishes legacy
- Urban Meyer: Followed protocol for 2015 abuse allegations (UPDATED)
- Jim Ingraham: Ohio State's Urban Meyer just might be fumbling his career away
- Paul Newberry: It's tough to believe a 'control freak' like Urban Meyer didn't know
- Ohio State closing practice to media in wake of Urban Meyer investigation
- Ohio State's Meyer put on leave, investigation opened (UPDATED)
- Ex-Ohio State star Brian Hartline promoted after shakeup
- Ohio State's Urban Meyer explains decision to fire assistant coach
- Ohio State fires receivers coach Zach Smith after domestic charge
- Elyria's Tracy Sprinkle has put in the work and overcome more than his share of adversity to make it to the threshold of the NFL
- Ohio State Spring Game: QBs make pitch for starting job; North Ridgeville's Demario McCall has big day
- Ohio State: Buckeyes dominate Darnold, USC in Cotton Bowl victory
- BrownsZone: Elyria grad Tracy Sprinkle shows his stuff at Ohio State pro day
- College football: It's Ohio State vs. Southern Cal ... without the roses
- Ohio State: Buckeyes will have to replace lots of key players next year