EL SEGUNDO, CA — They say that following in the footsteps of a legend is one of the toughest things to do for the one who succeeds them. In the case of Ohio State Buckeyes football coach Ryan Day, succeeding Urban Meyer is a challenge all it’s own.
Meyer, a former Ohio State alum and graduate assistant coaching tight ends under Earle Bruce, went 83-9 in seven seasons in Columbus won three Big Ten titles and the inaugural College Football Playoff national title to cap off a storied career record of 187-32, third best in NCAA history after Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy.
To be the man that succeeds the man is one thing, for a first time head coach such as Day–who went 3-0–during Meyer’s three game suspension for knowing about former wide receivers coach Zach Smith’s spousal abuse allegations against his estranged wife, managed to lead the Buckeyes to wins over Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU is another.
Ohio State finished 12-1 and sent Meyer off in grand style in beating PAC-12 champion, Washington 28-23 before handing over the reins to Day.
With DE Nick Bosa, QB Dwayne Haskins, WR Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin, DL Dre’Mont Jones, CB Kendall Sheffield, OL Michael Jordan, OT Isaiah Prince and RB Mike Weber Jr. drafted and now playing on Sundays, Day’s first official Buckeye team as head coach returns 13 starters from last season (4 on offense, 9 on defense) and as usual, the high expectations of competing for a national title.
Can Day and the post-Meyer era Buckeyes live up to the hype? One place that might be good to start is fixing their 72nd-ranked defense, which was one of the worst in the country, and was at best suspect, and at worst dreadful.
If new co-defensive coordinators, Greg Mattison from Michigan and former San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach, Jeff Hafley can somehow get the best out of this unit, then Ohio State won’t be in the position of having to rely so much on trying to outscore opposing teams in 2019.
Incoming transfer QB Justin Fields from Georgia gives Day’s Buckeyes an immediate shot in the arm and should make up for any lost offensive firepower from the-now departed Haskins.
With Weber now gone, junior RB J.K. Dobbins will be the featured tailback in Columbus without having to worry about splitting carries. With Campbell now Indianapolis, the 6’4 199-pound senior WR Binjimen Victor will likely be elevated into the new No.1 wideout. With Bosa in San Francisco and Jones now in Denver, 6’5 265-pound junior DE Chase Young will now step into a bigger leadership role on defense.
At Ohio State, there is no such thing as rebuilding only reloading, as the Buckeyes have been a stable NFL factory for years, and while Meyer is no longer on the sidelines, don’t expect any immediate drop off under Day, as the 2019 Ohio State Buckeyes look as formidable and challenging as always.