By Phil Harrison September 22, 2022 8:00 am
By Phil Harrison |
Every now and then we like to get the debate going here on Buckeyes Wire. We have a little roundtable segment we like to call our “Buckeye Battle Cry.” We throw out a hot-button topic and each of the three writers takes turns debating an answer.
There are varying perspectives for a trio that doesn’t agree very often, and sometimes the virtual mud flies. Other times (and rarely at that), there are rainbows, butterflies, and agreement among the group.
This time we’re reflecting on the first three games of the season. You knew C.J. Stroud was going to be special, and you had a pretty good idea a receiver like Marvin Harrison Jr, was going to have a breakout year. But who has surprised?
So the question this week: Which player for Ohio State has been the biggest surprise through three games?
Phil gets things going on this one.
Sep 10, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. (51) celebrates the tackle for loss during the first quarter against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
This question can go in more directions than a Jim Harbaugh press conference. I am guessing we aren’t qualifying whether we’re talking about a pleasant surprise or a not-so-pleasant one. I’m a football half full of air kind of guy so I’ll stay positive and go with Michael Hall Jr.
There was a little bit of buzz surrounding his abilities from the coaching staff, but not to the level of production we’ve seen so far. I expected a guy like Taron Vincent or Tyleik Williams to be the monster in the middle at nose tackle, but it’s been Hall that’s been a problem for opposing offensive lines.
He has more tackles than anyone on the line (7) and is tied for the team lead in sacks with two. But it’s more than that. What won’t show up in the stat book is the disruption he has called with pressure and clogging up holes for others to make plays. I can tell you that the linebacking corps is appreciative.
That would be my pick three games into the season. What do you think Mark? Lay it on us.
Sept. 3, 2022; Columbus; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Tommy Eichenberg (35) sacks Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner (12) during the first quarter of the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium. Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
Good call on Mike Hall. And maybe the improved play of the defensive line is helping, but I’m going with Tommy Eichenberg. For a program that once felt it could lay claim to the title “Linebacker U”… the position has been anything but stellar over the past several years.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Eichenberg is the next coming of Chris Spielman, but there is no denying the young man has looked outstanding through three games. He looks faster, is shedding blocks, and covering large chunks of the field. Eichenberg leads the team with 19 total tackles and is tied for the team lead with two sacks.
We thought Jim Knowles would vastly improve the defense, but nobody has looked better than No. 35. If he keeps this up, Eichenberg is headed for All-Big Ten honors.
Sep 10, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Arkansas State Red Wolves wide receiver Reagan Ealy (28) has the pass broken up by Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Denzel Burke (5) during the second half at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Both Mark and Phil went the positive route and for good reason as both Michael Hall and Tommy Eichenberg have been extremely impressive, but let’s discuss the biggest surprise on the negative side and the clear and obvious answer is Denzel Burke. The young corner came into the season with All-American expectations, but he was getting cooked by Arkansas State.
Both Ryan Day and Jim Knowles came to the defense of Burke bringing up how talented he is and they believe he can bounce back and I believe it too, but eventually, the meat of the Big Ten schedule is going to come up and guys like Parker Washington, Dontay Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett are going to have a field day if Burke doesn’t improve.
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