Throughout this summer, we will be spending a great deal of time looking at the upcoming Indiana football season. To start our season preview, we will be diving into each opponent Indiana will face on a week-by-week basis.
When you begin to discuss Indiana’s opening opponent, Ohio State, the first concept that comes to mind is the multitude of players leaving the program.
In the NFL Draft, Ohio State was able to put seven guys on NFL teams and leaving only one undrafted (punter Cameron Johnston), including three first rounders. Here are those seven players taken:
Virtually the entire OSU secondary
Those three first round picks that were from Ohio State were all from Ohio State’s secondary. This includes S Malik Hooker, CB Marshon Lattimore, and CB Gareon Conley. While a place like OSU is going to be deep with talent at any position, replacing three first rounders in the same area isn’t going to be a simple task.
Last season, we saw an Indiana team that seemed rather reluctant to attack Ohio State through the air. Most noticeably, it seemed as if Richard Lagow spent the entirety of the first three quarters against Ohio State avoiding the left side of the field. This is completely due to the efforts of Hooker, a safety that drew comparisons to Ed Reed during his time at Ohio State.
Hooker, Lattimore and Conely were all remarkably effective for the Buckeyes, and their departures could leave a giant mismatch in week one. Any other week of the season, an individual could argue that Ohio State can simply replace the three defensive backs with its next line of talented recruits. With the matchup between the Hoosiers and the Buckeyes coming in week one, that lack of time to develop chemistry could play in as a huge advantage for the Hoosiers.
Perhaps Indiana’s experienced wide receiver group that includes Simmie Cobbs Jr., will have great success while Ohio State tries to figure things out in their first game of the season.
LB Raekwon McMillan
Besides those three secondary players, Ohio State lost talented linebacker Raekwon McMillan. McMillan was eighth in the Big Ten last season for total tackles (102), but his biggest impact on the team was his leadership. Losing McMillan could have the same impact that losing Tegray Scales will have on the Hoosiers next season. As the quarterback of the defense, McMillan helped the Buckeyes maintain a defense that forced two turnovers a game and gave up less than a touchdown per game.
WR Curtis Samuel and Noah Brown
Wide receiver Curtis Samuel will be a major loss for the Buckeye’s offense. Samuel not only put up over 750 yards rushing last season, but also racked up over 850 yards receiving. Samuel was also fifth in the nation for rushing yards per attempt (7.9).
The biggest impact of losing Samuel will simply be the position he played. Urban Meyer has always had an effective H-back in his system since Percy Harvin at Florida. Now he needs to find a replacement for Samuel.
Brown was not as much of an impact player as the seventh round pick saw himself face some injury issues in his career. With that said, Brown always had the ability to do the spectacular...
C Pat Elflein
Elflein could be the biggest loss of all, as the former captain held together a rather inexperienced offensive line last year. While there may not be many stats on offensive linemen, there is a notable achievement by Elflein that is worth seeing. In 2016, Elflein was awarded the Dave Rimington trophy which is awarded to the nation’s top center. Elflein has always been elite, and now he leaves a giant hole.
If Ohio State is going to be hurting anywhere, it’s going to be at the secondary position. If Indiana can focus on the passing game, this could have a different result than many expect. Besides that, OSU is realistically going to be as good as they ever have been everywhere else on the field as they travel to Bloomington for their first game of the season on August 31.