Ohio State football: Predicting the 2014 offensive depth chart

Quarterback: Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones

Insight: Braxton Miller’s health is going to be more crucial than ever this season for the Ohio State football team.

Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett each took a lot of first team reps this spring with Miller nursing an injury, and neither looked very impressive.  Both men lack the consistency that the Buckeyes had in backup quarterback Kenny Guiton last season.  That said, Jones has emerged as the clear favorite to back up Braxton this season, and he will need to put in work to improve before the season kicks off, because with Braxton Miller’s fight-for-every-yard mentality, Jones very well may be called upon in high pressure situations this season.

ohio state football

Ezekiel Elliot

Running back: Ezekiel Elliot, Rod Smith, Bri’onte Dunn

Insight: Ezekiel Elliot entered spring camp as the favorite to replace Carlos Hyde as the starting running back.  He performed extremely well when called upon as a freshman, and contains a good combination of speed and power.

Rod Smith and Bri’onte Dunn are currently locked up in a battle to back up Elliot.  That is a close battle, and Dunn may be the more talented back, but I believe Smith will win the battle because of his experience and hard working mentality.

This will be more of a running back by committee approach than in years past, with Elliot still young and so many good options out of the backfield.

H-Back: Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall

Wide receiver: Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Johnnie Dixon

Wide receiver: Corey Smith, Michael Thomas, Jeff Greene

Insight: Receiver is a position of much interest this year.  This is one the most most talented groups of receivers the Buckeyes have ever had at their disposal.

I have switched up the depth chart a little since my position previews to better reflect how Ohio State will spread the field.  Dontre Wilson has solidified his starting position in the slot, which has to be very exciting news for any Buckeyes fan.  Devin Smith is a sure thing to start at wideout on one side, but another battle continues for the last starting receiver opposite him.

This battle is wide open and consists of a few players, but I believe Corey Smith just has too much talent and athleticism to let it slip away from him.  Evan Spencer will be a key guy to keep an eye on, as he is returning from injury.  The young guys, Jalin Marshall and Johnnie Dixon, should be exciting to watch progress this year, and look for 6-foot-7 Jeff Greene in the red zone.  This is a very exciting group of receivers, and they should help solidify Ohio State as one of the best offenses in the nation.

Tight end: Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett

Insight: The excitement continues at tight end.  Heuerman proved to be a very good option at tight end last season, and now young and athletic Nick Vannett gets added to the mix.  This duo of tight ends combined with the Buckeyes receivers should set up nicely for Braxton Miller to make a run at the Heisman trophy this season.

Left tackle: Taylor Decker, Kyle Dodson

Left guard: Joel Hale, Antonio Underwood

Center: Chad Lindsay, Jacoby Boren

Right guard: Pat Elfein, Tommy Brown

Right tackle: Darryl Baldwin, Evan Lisle

Insight: Taylor Decker is the only returning starter of this unit, but this should not be a weak point for the Buckeyes.

Lindsay is a transfer from Alabama, so you know he can play in the trenches.  Elfein and Baldwin also have the size and athleticism to block anybody in the Big Ten.

The big battle on the offensive line is a right guard.  Head coach Urban Meyer has taken much interest in this particular position battle.  The favorites to win the job are Joel Hale and Antonio Underwood.  Many think Underwood will win the job, but I believe there is no way Hale does not start.  He voluntarily switched from the defensive line to the offensive line this season because he saw it as an opportunity to help the Buckeyes at a position of real need.  That kind of leadership cannot be overlooked.  That, and he has also made the transition flawlessly and looks as if he was born to play the position.

It is a young and inexperienced line this year, but it will do its job and keep Braxton healthy.

  • OSU Phi

    It’s surprising you didn’t mention either running back Curtis Samuel or offensive lineman Billy Price. They may be freshmen, but there’s been talk of Samuel pressing Rod Smith to back-up Zeke Elliott and apparently, Price is in the battle for that left guard position.

    Urban Meyer has said he made a mistake last year by not playing more of his talented freshmen – a mistake he’s not going to repeat in 2014. And this group of freshmen look just as impressive as last year’s crop.

    Meyer has been absolutely gushing over Samuel and he’s already earned the respect of some of the veteran players as well. He should see the field at least a little bit this season.

    Price is known as the strongest young man on the roster – as a (redshirt) freshman! Betcha he’s gonna see some playing time, too.

    The offensive line is a major concern going in to this season. As much talent as there seems to be, they are very inexperienced as a group. It could take some time before they really gel as a unit.

    Look for that crafty ol’ coach, Frank Beamer, to give the o-line fits in the second game on the schedule vs Virginia Tech. By the time they reach the meat of the schedule though, they should be ok.

    A suitable back-up for Braxton Miller is another cause for concern. Apparently, if Miller should go down for any length of time (heaven forbid!), they might move redshirt freshman H-back, Jalin Marshall over to quarterback (the position he played in high school) That’s how much of a drop-off there is on the depth chart after Braxton.

    Everywhere else this year’s offense is totally stacked. There is justifiable excitement surrounding the tight ends, the running backs and the H-backs. The wide receivers have potential as well.

    If the Buckeyes can get that green O-line up to speed and keep Braxton Miller healthy – the sky’s the limit!