By Griffin Hill
The Ohio State wide receivers have so many similarities to the 2015 national championship group of receivers; it is actually quite scary. The 2014-15 squad, including Devin Smith and Michael Thomas, weren’t immediate stars; but with hard work became the group of players that crushed the Michigan, Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon defensive backs to finish their historic season. My point in saying this is that in due time this year’s group will be even better.
Paris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, and KJ Hill provide Ohio State with “big play” potential and talent to consistently make something out of nothing. Binjimen Victor is used as a threat to make a catch deep downfield in isolation. Austin Mack, Terry McLaurin, and CJ Saunders all fill similar roles: giving Haskins a target 10-15 yards away nearly every passing down and fantastic blocking downfield.
This downfield blocking I bring up extends well past Mack and McLaurin, and is truly the pride and foundation of this group. Part of this comes from the theme of brotherhood. These men care about their teammates, and help them make big plays with bigger blocks. The touchdown scored late in the Penn State game by Binjimen Victor was one of the 3 biggest plays of the night, and wouldn’t of been possible without 2 great downfield blocks by other receivers.
I also mentioned Paris Campbell’s potential to break out for game changing plays, but I think his skills need to be elaborated on even further. At 6’1 207, Campbell is FAST. This speed and lateral quickness is a test for opposing defenses every time he lines up for the ball. He could come around for a jet sweep, beat you long downfield, or shake you and get open over the middle. He is also a great bubble screen asset, and waits for his blocks tremendously. An NFL career is in his future but for now he is the key piece in the Buckeye’s offense in their quest for a championship.
My only concern for the Buckeye wideouts is the dropped passes. KJ Hill and Austin Mack have the talent to catch just about anything thrown their direction; however, they have dropped the ball on plays that should be simple to make. Many on these have come on bullet-speed passes, but that is no excuse.
The good news? This problem will be fixed. The more comfortable the receivers get playing with Haskins, the fewer drops we will see. They also need to make sure they aren’t turning to run down field too quick while catching the ball. This problem has been relevant in the TCU and Penn State game but going forward I do believe the number of drops will diminish.