With No. 3 Ohio State on deck for Penn State, we thought a proper scouting report was in order. Brendan Gulick, publisher of SI.com's BuckeyesNow channel, dives into how good Justin Fields is, whether Ohio State has any weak spots and how the program views Penn State.
Check out our Q&A here and visit BuckeyesNow for more Ohio State coverage.
Question: How good was Ohio State against Nebraska and how much better can it get?
Brendan Gulick: The final score of the Nebraska game looked like an overpowering win, and I suppose it was, but it was pretty clear it was the first game of the season. The Buckeyes really had trouble running the ball effectively in the first half by their own standards, and it took a while for things to get moving.
That said, Justin Fields looked every bit the star that he is. He threw one incompletion the entire afternoon, and it was a ball thrown right on the money. He took a few sacks and he scrambled 15 times, making plays with his feet. He is the heartbeat of this offense. Their ceiling is still exceptionally high. All in all, it was a good start to the season and they have several things they are working on this week.
Question: Urban Meyer said last week that he thought all 11 of Ohio State's starters on offense will get drafted? Is that legitimate?
Brendan Gulick: I absolutely agree with Urban on that front. That doesn't mean they are all first-round picks and will make boatloads of money in the NFL, but this is essentially a professional offense from top to bottom. Fields, right guard Wyatt Davis, center Josh Myers and wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are their best stars on that side of the ball.
Question: Who should we watch at receiver if Chris Olave can't play?
Brendan Gulick: Olave is the most experienced in the WR room, and he's the real deal, but he's far from the only talented option. I think that's the deepest position group on the entire team. Garrett Wilson is a sophomore and is a burgeoning star on the national scene. Jameson Williams is very talented and saw the field a good bit on Saturday; he's been a bit under the radar.
But it's this freshmen class of receivers that is getting all the attention. Jaxon Smith-Njigba made one of the wildest touchdown catches in a collegiate debut last week that you'll ever see. Julian Fleming was the top-rated receiver in the country and is certainly someone the Nittany Lions fans are familiar with. Gee Scott saw only a few snaps on Saturday but is also crazy talented. Tthe Buckeyes think they have a ton of potential NFL talent here.
Question: Weak spots for Penn State to exploit: Any?
Brendan Gulick: I think this early in the season, and coming off a Week 1 performance where they weren't nearly as sharp as they'd like to be, the Buckeyes are probably more focused on doing what they want to do at the highest level they can, more than being focused on stopping Penn State. I imagine Penn State's pass rush will be a big point of emphasis for the offensive line this week, and you can't lose track of [Shaun] Wade in the secondary. Trusting Justin Fields' talent and giving him time to make the right reads was a good strategy last week, and I assume will be a similar one on Saturday. But I'm also pretty certain they'd like to get the run game going better than they did last week. We'll see how it goes.
Question: Whether Penn State admits it or not, Ohio State is its biggest rival now. How do the Buckeyes view Penn State?
Brendan Gulick: In the eyes of most Buckeye fans, there's no substitute for a rivalry like playing The Team Up North. That said, given the way the last couple of years have played out, there's no doubt that the Penn State game has been a more competitive, challenging game. Fans are very cognizant of the challenge that comes with playing the Nittany Lions.
I think Ohio State fans have taken a massive deep breath knowing the environment in Happy Valley won't be the typical chaos that it has been in years past. Even still, this is not a game Ohio State will take lightly. Given that Journey Brown, Micah Parsons and now Noah Cain won't play on Saturday, I think fans feel slightly less worried than they would otherwise, but I also think most people still expect this to be as tough a test as the Buckeyes will face all season.
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