Skull Session: Buckeye Offense is Loaded For Next Three Years, Why Ohio State Needs a Tight End, and Buckeyes Make Directors Cup Push

Apologies for the late Skull Session, I fell asleep on my couch while painting my house.

In other news…

My Reds beat the defending World Series champs yesterday so I’m just going to pretend this works like professional wrestling and claim the world title for Cincinnati.

Sometimes you just have to create your own rules.

Word of the Day: Lacerate.

LOCKED AND LOADED. At this point, it would be considerably more shocking to those in Buckeyeland if Ohio State *didn’t* have the best offense in the country for the foreseeable future.

It would appear that the rest of college football is coming around to that fact as well with ESPN projecting Ohio State to have the best offense in the nation over the course of the next three years.

Scouting the Buckeyes: The effect of several strong recruiting cycles under coach Ryan Day is showing with an Ohio State offense that should be loaded through the 2024 season. Quarterback CJ Stroud enters what’s likely his final college season as a top Heisman Trophy candidate, after passing for 2,165 yards and 21 touchdowns in his final five games last season. Kyle McCord should be ready to step in for 2023 and possibly 2024, and QB recruiting remains strong. Ohio State could have the nation’s best triple threat with Stroud, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and running back TreVeyon Henderson, who will play at least two more seasons in Columbus after rushing for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns as a true freshman. Smith-Njigba (1,606 receiving yards) will lead a wideout group that will lean more on Julian Fleming, Marvin Harrison Jr. and dynamic sophomore Emeka Egbuka. Sophomore Miyan Williams, who averaged 7.2 yards per carry, will back up Henderson.

Ohio State hired Justin Frye to upgrade an offensive line not short on talent but needing a boost after being overpowered by Michigan late last fall. Dawand Jones and Paris Johnson Jr. form one of the nation’s top tackle tandems, while center Luke Wypler and guard Matt Jones each earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2021. Wypler and projected starting guard Donovan Jackson each have sophomore eligibility, as does Josh Fryar, rotational piece at guard. The Buckeyes will miss Jeremy Ruckert at tight end, and should turn to veteran Mitch Rossi, junior Gee Scott Jr. and others.

Hilarious as it is, you could almost safely make this projection five years instead of three, even having no idea who’s going to be on the roster in *checks notes* 2027.

I don’t need to know specifically who’s gonna be throwing, catching or running the ball in the future. All I know is that based on the way Ryan Day’s been recruiting and stockpiling his offense, they’re going to be good as hell.

WHY TIGHT ENDS. Ohio State’s got what has to be the most absurd stockpile of wide receiver talent in college football history. It’s probably not hyperbolic to say that the Buckeyes have four or five players that would each be the best receiver on 95 percent of college football rosters – and that’s after two receivers just left to become first-round picks.

And yet, we’ve spent the past several weeks worried about who is going to play tight end.

Fact is, if I was running this offense on a video game, I probably wouldn’t even mess with a tight end. I’d just roll with four or five wide receivers every single play and slice apart defenses like a surgeon cutting a cookie cake.

But this is real life, not a video game. And as it turns out, there are very real and valid reasons why Ryan Day insists on playing a tight end or two every play.

Ohio State signed four of the top 11 receivers, regardless of class, according to the 247Sports Composite, from 2019 through 2021. It signed nine top-100 receivers total over those three years. Oh, and he also had Chris Olave, who outperformed his lower recruiting ranking and played like one of the best receivers in the country over that span. And during those last three years, the offense has tended toward playing with multiple tight ends more often.

Whether it’s from 10 personnel (four receivers, one back, no tight ends) or 20 personnel (three receivers, two backs, no tight end), teams have shown that running the football without a tight end can be done. But Ohio State has not ventured down that road much under Day. The Buckeyes have run 2,557 official plays with Day as head coach (and de facto offensive coordinator), and only 62, or 2.4 percent, have come without a tight end on the field, per PFF. That falls well below the FBS average of 14.6 percent. The Buckeyes have accumulated receiver talent better than any program over that stretch and didn’t run a single play with five receivers on the field.

It seems odd to live in a world where, at any given time, you’ve had Olave, Garrett Wilson, KJ Hill, Ben Victor, Austin Mack, Jameson Williams, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Julian Fleming, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, and have done little to utilize personnel groupings that try to get even four of those players on the field at once.

It comes back to how Ohio State wants to run the ball.

“It’s easier (if you have a tight end),” offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson said. “I think if you don’t have a tight end that’s really good, you get forced into the quarterback having to be part of the run game. When the tight end isn’t involved, you get into a lot of quarterback-heavy run game.”

And Ohio State doesn’t want to live in that world.

That simultaneously makes complete sense while also still leaving me pining for some four or five receiver sets.

Could we come up with some sort of compromise? Please?

COMING FOR THE CUP. Ohio State’s never won the Director’s Cup (hell, last year was the first time in my lifetime that Not Stanford won the Director’s Cup), but after an absolutely absurd run through winter, the Buckeyes are in striking distance.

A strong winter sports season has enabled the Ohio State Department of Athletics to surpass 35 schools and take over third place in the winter LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup standings Eight Ohio State teams combined for 537.50 points this winter for the most winter points scored by any school.

Leading the way this winter was the Ohio State women’s hockey team, which won the national championship, and three other teams with Top 10 NCAA finishes: women’s swimming and diving, men’s swimming and diving, and fencing.

Ohio State has 701.50 points through the fall and winter sports seasons to trail only Michigan (761) and Notre Dame (754). Stanford and Texas round out the Top 5 with 690.50 and 679.50 points, respectively. Wisconsin, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Kentucky and Arkansas round out the Top 10.

I don’t mean to be a downer, but I’m not sure Ohio State has enough natty-worthy power in the wings to make a push, but I’ve been known to be wrong before.

YOU JUST HATE TO SEE THAT! For those who aren’t super keyed in on college hockey, the Wolverines had an unbelievably and borderline unrealistically stacked roster.

Michigan’s college hockey roster features 13 NHL Draft picks, including an NCAA record seven(!!!) first-round picks – including the top two overall picks and four of the top five.

Needless to say, anything short of a national title would have been a massive underachievement this season.

Well…

Oops! Better luck next year, I guess!

SONG OF THE DAY. “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys.

NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. My high school’s secret fantasy slut league… Man accidentally attaches his STD results to his ‘dream job’ application… TikTok influencers are reshaping how we think about life behind bars… It’s shockingly easy to buy some of the world’s most endangered species on Facebook… My best friend disappeared from my life without a trace…

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