Ohio State Football: Buckeye X-Factors this Fall

The Ohio State Football team is in prime position for a big season and these players will be x-factors for the Buckeyes this fall.

The 2022 season arrives with more anticipation and expectations than the Buckeyes have garnered, arguably, since the 2015 campaign. Namely, the x-factors offense will be expected to carry the load after showing major flashes of dominance this past season and returning many key starters.

The defense has historic lows that has Coach Day visibly irate by the end of the season, but this is expected to change after a coaching staff overhaul and a couple key transfers. With that being said, there are a few players on either side of the ball to keep an eye on that will be crucial to giving this team the best chance at breaking through and competing for the CFP.

On the offensive side of the ball there is no shortage of playmakers (Henderson, Williams, Smith-Njigba, Harrison Jr, Fleming, etc). In fact, the only real problem in that regard will be figuring out how to get enough touches to them all. The real question mark lies on the offensive line.

Who will be the X-Factors on Offense?

The guard position will be crucial this season. With the unfortunate departure of Harry Miller (wishing him the best of course) the Buckeyes will have to fill the right guard spot and that will most likely be filled by Matthew Jones. The grad senior from Brooklyn will the the best option in this spot from an experience stand point alone. On the left side, former 5-star Donavan Jackson will be the sure fire starter at Left Guard heading into the season.

Last year, the run game experienced a series of peaks and valleys with the valleys heavily contributing to the two losses that ultimately costed OSU a shot at the title. If the guard play can stay consistent throughout the year, the rest of the offense will ultimately follow suit with Stroud and his weapons having their way.

To put it very lightly, there’s a lot of room for Improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Michigan exposed this and caused what was perhaps the worst run-defense performance in modern history for OSU. The pass rush had its ups and downs but was not what Buckeye fans are used to seeing and the Linebacking core was under fire especially start-to-finish last year.

Who will be the X-Factors on Defense?

If I were to pick out a couple x-factors on this side of the ball I would have to start with Zach Harrison. The highly touted 5-star came in with the body and the tools to be the next early-first rounder coming out of Columbus. However, he hasn’t been able to put together the kind of year we would have expected. With JT Tuimoloau likely started opposite of him, Harrison should find himself in some more advantageous matchups throughout the year. I would look for him to finally put it all together this fall.

Secondly, whoever starts at Mike Linebacker, whether it’s Tommy Eichenberg or Teradja Mitchell, will have to step up in a big way. Last year was a revolving door at this positions at times and it was hard to key in on exactly who the staff trusted. With stopping the run assuredly being at the top of the list of priorities this year, this position will be essential and it will be very interesting to see how Jim Knowles handles the LB group as a whole.

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