COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State football has finished its last week of preseason practice, and it’s finally game week as the Buckeyes get ready to take on Indiana on Thursday.
Here are some key takeaways from interviews with players and coaches during the past week:
Bowen wins the big one
The most-watched battle of fall camp finally has been settled. Offensive lineman Branden Bowen emerged to win the starting spot at right guard, which had been vacated by Billy Price’s move to center. He did so by beating out Demetrius Knox, Malcolm Pridgeon and Matthew Burrell, three players who were beaten out by a freshman last season for the left guard role.
Bowen has been getting praise throughout fall camp from head coach Urban Meyer. Ohio State’s decision to give the backup tackle reps at guard in a tightly contested battle showed he was a legitimate contender. With less than a week until the first game, his mom got the call that he’d done enough.
The Buckeyes will have an absolutely monstrous offensive line, with three starters standing 6-foot-7.
Ohio State in prime position
The first AP Top 25 rankings were released and Ohio State was ranked second behind Alabama.
Meyer handled the news in typical fashion when asked about it a couple hours after the poll’s release.
“You know my answer, right? I don’t care,” Meyer said at his Monday news conference. “We’ve got kicking meetings here in an hour. Got to be ready for that.”
Maybe he should, though. There’s an argument to be made that this is the best spot for the Buckeyes to begin the season.
Joe Burrow injury fallout
Sophomore quarterback Joe Burrow broke a bone in his right hand and had surgery. He’ll miss an unspecified amount of time, but it’s estimated to be at least four to six weeks.
What does that mean? Redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins will open the season as the backup behind J.T. Barrett. That opportunity could give him a leg up in the competition to replace Barrett in 2018, and Burrow’s absence might also open the door to Tate Martell playing as a freshman.
“It’s unfortunate for Joe,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. “Dwayne needs to take advantage of the opportunity. Then we’ve got to get Joe back and keep him coming and Tate will be in the mix, as well.”
Defensive line ready to dominate
We could be here all day with separate sections on each defensive lineman, so let’s just use this list below to illustrate how insanely talented the defensive line is going to be.
- Nick Bosa is trading film with his brother Joey and learning from it.
- As a result, the younger Bosa brother is looking better than ever.
- Dre’Mont Jones is terrorizing interior linemen in practice and looks like a first-round pick.
- Tracy Sprinkle has transformed into a leader in the middle.
- Who will lead the Buckeyes in sacks? There’s a case for four or five players.
Austin Mack emerges
Arriving as a heralded recruit in the Class of 2016, it seems Austin Mack might already be poised to deliver on that promise.
His mom got the call from coaches that he’ll get a start at wide receiver for Ohio State in the opener at Indiana. That it will come in his home state makes it even better for the Fort Wayne native. His development gives the Buckeyes a big-play threat they desperately need in the passing game.
Black stripe updates
The black stripes continue to come off for Ohio State’s outstanding freshman class. Here’s a list of the players who achieved that honor over the past week.
That means 14 players have lost their black stripes during fall camp. Rossi was the first walk-on to have his taken off.
Nine captains chosen
Ohio State named nine captains for 2017. Barrett, Sprinkle, Price, Chris Worley, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes and Tyquan Lewis earned the honor.
The announcement confirmed that Barrett is the first three-time captain in Ohio State football history.
Beard Watch 2017
As of Sunday, Meyer’s blossoming camp beard was still intact.
If his wife Shelley has her way, though, it won’t be long for his world.
“It is hysterical to me that it is getting as much attention as it is,” she told Land of 10. “But as bad as it looks right now, I can see why it is. I do not like it. And I told him that I think it makes him look older. He’s like, ‘Really?’ Well, yes! There’s gray in it. He looks like a grandpa now. And I’m just not a facial-hair girl.”
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