Connect with us

Does Ohio State have breakout options waiting for shot at linebacker?

Ohio State-Teradja Mitchell-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State freshman Teradja Mitchell could be a potential candidate to help the Buckeyes down the stretch. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

Does Ohio State have breakout options waiting for shot at linebacker?

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about the linebackers? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

Given the choice of only one non-starting linebacker who might need more snaps down the stretch, Baron Browning is the easy pick. But Ohio State actually has a handful of talented tacklers who could emerge during the potential November run, which is a big reason why it has been a bit puzzling that the unit hasn’t experimented more with different personnel to jumpstart the production.

In addition to Browning after he added another tackle for loss in the win over Nebraska, Keandre Jones showed his twitchy athleticism by blocking a punt, Justin Hilliard has flashed when given a chance to play, Dante Booker brings a veteran presence and freshmen Teradja Mitchell and Dallas Gant both clearly bring a lot of impressive tools to the table. Given how consistently or stubbornly Ohio State has stuck with Tuf Borland, Pete Werner and Malik Harrison, it would be reasonable to assume the cupboard is bare — but that’s just not the case at linebacker.

To be fair, Harrison had one of his best outings of the season with 13 tackles last week. Borland added eight of his own, and Werner has noticeably improved over the course of the year into a solid defender. But given what the Buckeyes just saw happen at another defensive spot with Brendon White exploding when given a chance to get meaningful reps at safety, it surely wouldn’t hurt at some point for position coach Billy Davis to test the waters with his group as well.

“We haven’t had those opportunities like we’ve had in the past to get guys in the game,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “But the best opportunity to get them is at practice — come show yourself and get going.

“You can see on special teams, [safety] Josh Proctor did a heck of a job for us on the opening kickoff or the second kickoff. And other guys coming on like Teradja Mitchell and some other guys are doing very good for us in special teams. Practice, special teams and an opportunity to play on defense.”

Considering the way Ohio State has struggled throughout the year with giving up big plays, it surely couldn’t have hurt much to tinker with the personnel. On the flip side, there is surely a good reason that an experienced, well-compensated coaching staff hasn’t done so based on everything it has seen on the practice field so far this season.

But the Buckeyes were also essentially forced to turn to White on Saturday, and he was obviously ready for his opportunity.

Would the same thing happen if Ohio State unleashed Mitchell or Browning or any of those options at linebacker? There’s no way to know for sure what would happen, but it’s impossible to find out if they’re always on the sideline.

Miss Question of the Day on Monday? Catch up right here.

15 Comments
avatar
9 Comment threads
6 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
DaveLawrence BMitchell BurcherAdrian J DeJesusLawclub Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
jbirmmd
Guest
jbirmmd

I hate to call out specific players, especially guys who are clearly good dudes, but Pete Werner is NOT a serviceable defender at this level of college football (at least has not been this year). Numerous missed tackles, gets juked over and over, gobbled up by blockers.

I’d love to be proved wrong. But I think someone else needs to play.

Meatchicken Sux
Guest
Meatchicken Sux

And Bourland is SLOW.

Lawrence B
Guest

Borland is highly overrated he would not start for any other top 10 team. He’s a huge liability athletically!

Lawclub
Guest
Lawclub

Wrong. He’s just young.

Kid Buckeye
Guest
Kid Buckeye

I guess the saying is true , some players are practice players and some are game players. I am tire of watching our practice players play in the game.

don f.
Guest
don f.

COME ON BUCKEYE COACHES , LETS GET CREATIVE!

Ace
Guest
Ace

Davis must be the worst LB coach and judge of talent in America. Our 4 and 5-star players look like they’ve never played the position before. Being the best man at Urban’s wedding has nothing to do with coaching. Replace the clown.

Meatchicken Sux
Guest
Meatchicken Sux

IMO, I have seen nothing but pathetic play by Bourland all season long. Werner has flashes, but he is nowhere in the category of “great”. There has to be a better option at LB…and at LB coach. The “best man” Davis needs to go.

Scarlet Fever
Guest
Scarlet Fever

Do it please! Just do it!!

SweetLou
Guest
SweetLou

Werner showed some flashes early, has been pretty bad lately. Borland is either bad or not healthy or both. They ROUTINELY get smoked in pass coverage. They get sucked in on run plays, then not fast enough to recover after the RB’s get through the hole. Bad recipe. Harrison is the best of the 3 and he’s average at best. Tough position group. Still a chance to get better and finish strong though. Go Bucks.

Lawrence B
Guest
Lawrence B

Perfect analysis. Other than Harrison the other two shouldn’t even be on the field. They’re instincts against misdirection and in the pass game is terrible. Browning should be a starter along with Hilliard or Jones. Time to fire Schiano!

Dave
Guest
Dave

A lot of that is bad position coaching

Adrian J DeJesus
Guest
Adrian J DeJesus

Borlan is terrible and shouldn’t be in the field, and it’s not because of his injury he’s been like this since last year…… Whenever Browning and Hilliard have been on the field recently they’ve been really good for the most part they need more snaps if they’re gonna be ready for bama

Mitchell Burcher
Guest
Mitchell Burcher

Borland was actually pretty solid last year. Starting him after the Iowa debacle completely changed our linebacker play for the better. This year I don’t believe he is 100% with that Achilles injury

Greg
Guest
Greg

If the freshmen backers are not good enough to get some playing time, why did they kill their redshirt year by playing them on special teams every game?

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

To Top