Which Buckeyes doing best on football mid-terms?


Jim Naveau - [email protected]



COLUMBUS — From offense to defense to even the weather, the first six games of Ohio State’s season have offered quite a few high points and memorable moments. A quick look at who and what has stood out so far for the Buckeyes:

Offensive player of the half year: In the last two games, J.T. Barrett’s passing statistics have not been great, but there is no question who is the most important player on OSU’s roster. He broke Braxton Miller’s school record for touchdowns responsible for last week with 88 in only 23 starts.

Defensive player of the half year: There are several players deserving of this award, but defensive end Tyquan Lewis (4 sacks, 5.5 tackles for losses) stands out. His production shows that leading OSU in sacks last season was much more than just a product of Joey Bosa being double teamed.

Offensive play of the half year: No surprise here. It’s Noah Brown’s wrap-around catch for a touchdown against Oklahoma, where he pinned the ball to the defender’s back and held on for a touchdown. You’ll be seeing it replayed all year and probably beyond.

Defensive play of the half year: An argument could be made for Malik Hooker’s interception against Bowling Green, where he tipped it to himself, then controlled it. But that came in a game Ohio State won by 67 points.

Maybe the play which best combined importance and impressiveness was the group sack of Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook on the final play of Saturday night’s 30-23 Ohio State win in overtime. He was surrounded by Buckeyes.

Most impressive opponent: Wisconsin. Going into the season, Oklahoma would have been predicted to earn this title. But the Badgers, unlike the Sooners, play both defense and offense.

Biggest unanswered question: It’s the wide receivers. Other questions were more prominent in the preseason and some of those have been answered.

But when it comes to the receivers, the big question is if Urban Meyer is rotating several players in and out of games because there is a lot of depth there or is it because no one other than Noah Brown has stepped up and grabbed a starting position.

Wide receivers have accounted for 45 percent of OSU’s catches this season. In the 2014 national championship season, 62 percent of the catches were by wideouts.

Biggest answered question: The defensive backfield. Ohio State knew what it had with its only returning starter, cornerback Gareon Conley. What it didn’t know, and what

looked like a potentially dangerous situation, was replacing three players in the secondary who left early for the NFL with three first-time starters.

But safety Malik Hooker (4 interceptions) and cornerback Marshon Lattimore (3 interceptions) and Conley (2 interceptions) all look like their future might include playing on Sundays.

Biggest surprise: The first week of the season Urban Meyer joked he didn’t know walk-on kicker Tyler Durbin’s name. Or maybe he wasn’t kidding.

The senior, who never played football until last year, has become one of the most accurate kickers in the Big Ten (8 for 8 on field goals) and handled kickoffs after being given the kicker’s job when Sean Nuernberger was injured.

It’s been a long time since anyone asked if Nuernberger is over his injury. The job belongs to Durbin.

Top redshirt freshman: Now we know why the recruiting battle between Ohio State and Michigan to sign Mike Weber was so intense.

Weber, who originally committed to Michigan before flipping to Ohio State before national signing day in 2015, missed all of last season because of a torn meniscus. He has not shown the breakaway speed of Ezekiel Elliott yet, but that is about the only negative that can be found. He has 612 yards rushing, which is second in the Big Ten.

Top true freshman: Defensive end Nick Bosa has made this a tough call with three sacks and five tackles for losses in less than full time duty because he is still recovering from ACL surgery last November.

Ordinarily, offensive guard Michael Jordan would be a runaway winner for starting from day one at a position where freshmen rarely do that. But Bosa’s dominance (8 of his first 13 tackles were behind the line of scrimmage) tips the scales his way.

Best weather delay: There have been two and a third one was narrowly averted at Wisconsin last Saturday night, but the one that pushed the kickoff of the game at Oklahoma back 90 minutes is the clear winner.

It had quite a lightning show, strong winds and ominous black clouds, which had people from Ohio watching the Oklahoma natives to see if those clouds had tornado potential.

Jim Naveau

[email protected]

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