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I talked to an Ohio State guy about their spot in the College Football Playoff For this episode I am joined by Matt Tamanini from the SBNation Ohio State site Landgrantholyland.com.

We discuss Ohio State’s place in the 2019 College Football Playoff.

Was this team ready made for Ryan Day to succeed?
Justin Fields and his shot at the Heisman
What OSU fans might be worried about in facing Clemson.
Will Chase Young really return next season?
Does Matt believe in conference rooting?

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About the Transcript
Keep in mind that the following is a transcript. . I use a service that automates the first draft. As much as “artificial intelligence” is included in the description of every bit of technology these days, it’s clear that computers understanding human speech is more artificial than intelligent. The transcript has been edited to take out human speech bites, you know, um, okay, uh, but it’s not been edited to be an “article”.
Transcription:
Jon Johnston Welcome to Jon’s Postlife crisis. I am your host Jon Johnston, founder of CornNation.com, your Nebraska Cornhuskers site of terrific fun. This season. You got to look on the bright side of things. This episode we’re talking with Matt Tamanini of the SB Nation Ohio State site – LandGrantholyland.com. As you know, Ohio State is one of four teams selected for the college football playoff. How you doing today, Matt?
Matt Tamanini
I’m good other than the fact that Ohio State just Had a top 50 recruit flip to Utah things are going very well for for Buckeye fans right now so all is good in our neck of the woods.
Jon Johnston You got this Stroud guy though because you guys keep stockpiling all the quarterbacks.
Matt Tamanini
Well the problem is is that the the Buckeyes keep having this thing where all of their quarterbacks transfer that they’re not starting. They’ve had three leave in the past two years from Joe Burrow, Matthew Baldwin and Tate Martel. So they were really had only one quarterback of note on their roster this year. That’s Justin fields, which is was a problem because if he got hurt, which he did a little bit of times, they had to middling three star grad transfers, who weren’t going to ever do anything. So Ohio State decided that they really needed two quarterbacks in this year’s recruiting class, so they got two top 250 guys, including CJ Stroud, who was the number two pro style quarterback who committed on Wednesday the first day of the early signing period, so it was a very interesting recruiting process in terms of the quarterback room for the Buckeyes this year.
Jon Johnston Stroud was bound for Michigan wasn’t he?
Matt Tamanini
It was weird because he was a late bloomer, like he wasn’t on anybody’s radar. Then he went out and did the elite 11 camp and he was the MVP at the elite 11. So, Michigan had been on the radar, the thought was that it came down to Ohio State and Georgia actually. But it all of the crystal balls and all the prognostications were that he was going to go to Ohio State but if there was a second, it was Georgia. So while all Ohio State fans would much rather take a top 50 quarterback from from Michigan instead, you know, to have it to hold that over Michigan fans. Doing it from Georgia isn’t bad either. I mean, if there’s two quarterbacks you’re going to take from from from Georgia between fields and Stroud. That’s not too bad.
Jon Johnston Let’s go into Justin Fields, he transferred from Georgia right?
Matt Tamanini
Correct yeah he was a originally originally committed to Penn State. When Joe Morehead left there when he was the offensive coordinator. He went down to Mississippi. He decommitted and ended up committing to his home state school Georgia and then played there during his freshman year.
Jon Johnston Earlier this season Stewart Mandel made the tweet that said the biggest win this season was Ohio State getting Justin fields to be able to play this year getting a waiver from the NCAA. I mean, he’s come in and honestly, I watched him and said, that guy’s the Heisman Trophy winner, your transfer guy, Joe Burrow ends up winning it. But I mean, Justin Fields just comes in. And it’s like, there’s no learning curve whatsoever. Is it just because of all the cast that surrounds him because he looks like, well, he looks like a Heisman Trophy winner.
Matt Tamanini
It definitely has a lot to do with the people around him and and not just the skill players really the the biggest change for Ohio State in terms of their offense this year, besides the quarterback position where you go from Dwayne Haskins who reset all of the Ohio State and big 10 single season passing records to Justin fields who does not have that type of skill set – has his own skill set – but it’s different but other than the quarterback position what really changed for Ohio State this season was their offensive line play. Last year they were very good at pass blocking but could not run block to save their lives this year because they had to replace four offensive linemen who all went to the NFL or graduated.
Matt Tamanini It’s actually reversed they run block significantly better than they do pass blocking but that serves Justin Fields his skill set very well because he is a quarterback that has the ability to run. But like I said, they don’t have a ton of depth. So they’ve been hesitant to actually run him a lot. But his his ability to kind of move the pocket get rid of the ball quickly. That’s really helped him work himself into the offense. The other part is I think that Ryan day is just a pretty good quarterback coach. I mean he’s the he’s coming from the previous two years working as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, coordinator and quarterback coach to really kind of shepherding Justin fields into the program. So it’s been a nice relationship of all the different factors great skill players obviously improved offensive line play across the board even if their pass protection isn’t as good and a good quarterback and and coach relationship.
Matt Tamanini
I don’t think that anybody in Ohio State’s fandom or media world expected Justin fields to perform as well as he did, at least not as consistently. We knew that he was going to be really talented. He was the number one or number two, quarterback recruit or number even overall recruit in the 2018 class. But he didn’t he didn’t throw the ball much at Georgia. He was used almost exclusively in running sets. So we assumed that the rumors that we’d heard about you I’m having some turnover issues, some interception issues, we’re going to pop up like they do with a first time starter. But that really didn’t happen. I mean, he’s thrown 40 touchdowns it only has one interception. He’s fumbled the ball a few times and takes a few more sacks and I think a lot of people would like, but overall he is just far exceeded any reasonable expectation that anybody even the most Die Hard Buckeye fans could have had.
Jon Johnston Okay, you mentioned Ryan day, he takes over from Urbz. What was this team setup? I mean, was it just ready made for him to make this run? You think that he he did a good job of maintaining or did he make changes that actually took the team and made it better? Because the last two years I mean, Ohio State did not make the college football playoff because of Purdue and Iowa. And those games were terrible games for the Buckeyes. is Ryan day that much better or potentially that much better coach than Urban Meyer. I’m That’s a stretch but speculation. That’s what we do.
Matt Tamanini
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a little bit of both. Obviously, he came, you know, when Urban Meyer left Florida, he kind of left it in disarray. The recruiting wasn’t great. There was a ton of cultural internal issues, which are part of the reasons why he left Florida. But that’s the exact opposite. With him leaving Ohio State he left the program in as good a shape as most any coaches ever left it. I mean, up there with like Bob stoops leaving at Lincoln, Riley, Oklahoma. What the foundation of this team, the sophomores and the juniors, who are the major contributors on this team are from the set 2017 2018 recruiting class, both of which were number two in the country. So there’s a ton of talent in the majority of those top line guys are contributing. If you look at the 2017 class, the three top of recruits in that class were chase young Jeff Okuda and JK Dobbins. One of them was a Heisman Trophy finalist. The other two are going to be leaving early to be first round picks in the NFL, probably so Ryan day was going to come in with a ton of talent. The difference is I think that his biggest successes besides the Justin fields thing, which you mentioned earlier, which I completely agree with was the biggest win of his career, despite the fact that it didn’t happen on the field. The other thing that really helped him this year was how he was able to restructure the defense. Last year’s defense was statistically the worst in Ohio State history. Despite the fact that they really didn’t lose a ton of players. They obviously lost Nick bosa, but he was gone after the third game of last season. The last Dre’Mont Jones, who was a mid level or mid round pick in the NFL Draft, but for the most part, all of the other contributors are back.
Matt Tamanini The difference is the staff and the defensive philosophy that Ryan day told his new hires that he wanted to have and that was to get away from the press man coverage of Greg Schiano and Chris ash that Urban Meyer liked, and to get more na na, cover one or cover three with a high safety mixing some Man, but uh, but don’t put the players in situations where they have to make super complicated algebraic decisions on every play. Just go out there, tell them the responsibilities and let them make plays. And that’s been the difference. Ohio State is one of the best defenses in the country this year end. It’s really the same players Now, obviously, you know, another year of experience is huge for them. But they went from being awful last year to being the third best scoring defense in the country this year, giving up just over 12 points a year and last year, they were giving up twice as many. So yes, he was ready made for him in a lot of ways in terms of talent, but he made some really shrewd decisions and getting fields and rebuilding the coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball to fix what were the glaring issues last year that really kept them out of the college football playoff because of those ugly losses and they were giving up tons of points even today. Bad team. So it’s a little bit of both, which I think is great and speaks well for the future, considering right now, and well, things can change. Before everything said and done in February. He’s got the third best recruiting class in the country this year. And this is really his first class. So I think the future is really bright for Ryan day and he’s shown himself to have made really good decisions so far. But it certainly doesn’t help when you start with what Urban Meyer left him in a really, really good situation.
Jon Johnston
I’m going to ask you about recruiting. Right now what we’re looking at in college football is we have this four-team playoff which is kind of like an Invitational a real playoff that. It what from what it looks like is the best players around the nation are choosing to go to like the top, let’s say five or six teams and kind of stockpiling themselves in their choices. Other teams are not really getting a chance to compete, in other words, to get into the playoff or to get into the top teams. Am I saying that right? You understand what I’m saying? It’s as if they’re all they’re not it’s not a conspiracy, but they’re all conspiring to load the team so that they can win a championship.
Matt Tamanini Yeah, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. The, the teams that perform better on the field are the teams that have the best recruits and the best recruits when it go to the places that perform the best on the field. So it’s, it’s it’s a cyclical or not a cyclical thing. It’s like a, you know, it’s a snake eating itself in a good way. I guess. I don’t know. That’s not the right metaphor.
Jon Johnston
It’s a good way if it’s you, otherwise it’s not a good deal.
Matt Tamanini
Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. But yeah, the teams that are that are continually going to the college football playoff or in the discussion, at least, are also the teams that are sending players to the NFL. And that’s of course, where the best players in the country want to go. That makes sense. So it definitely is is very True. And that’s why you see, the top three or four teams in the country in terms of the recruiting rankings are also generally the top three or four teams in terms of the college football playoff rankings as well. So it is definitely part and parcel with each other.
Jon Johnston
Chase Young has announced right now that he’s returning. Do you think he’s actually going to retire next year?
Matt Tamanini
Oh,absolutely not now would be disappointed in Ryan day in the coaching staff if he did. I think he was asked by TMZ when he was in New York for the Heisman Trophy. thing, I think that this stuck a camera in his face. What are your plans? I think he tried to be diplomatic and say, Well, I’m coming back until I make a decision not to I haven’t really thought about it but there is no reasonable world in which chase young comes back to Ohio State depending on who’s the first you know, team of the NFL Draft. He could be the first overall pick. I don’t think he will be I think the Bengals are going to get the pic they’re going to take Joe Burrow but he could be the second or third pick in the Draft. That is life changing money and i would i but honestly, I say this completely seriously as much as I would love to see Chase Young, playing defensive end for Ohio State for for 10 more years. Hell, if he’s back next fall barring some sort of injury that makes him decide not to go to the into the draft. But if he’s back next year or in any other circumstance, I would be disappointed in the coaching staff for not telling them that he has to go to the NFL, and take the money while it’s there because nothing is guaranteed in life or in football. Yeah.
Jon Johnston
So you guys were number one for a long time in the college football playoff. IWisconsin played you tough in the big 10 championship game. You dropped to number two behind LSU. Do you think that was warranted?
Matt Tamanini
I mean, I think that Ohio State deserved to be number one. I think that there’s the LSU also probably deserve To be number one, but I think what happened was is the last game mattered more in the minds of the playoff committee than the entire totality of the season. And they’re humans. That’s part of why you have a committee. And in certain situations, that’s better. But one of the things that the committee talks about all the time is that they’re not looking at just individual results, they’re looking at the entire season. Ohio State has been historically dominant in terms of margin of victory, actually, Ohio State and Clemson both have they’re both in like the top three or four of all time margin of victory stats, like in terms of point differential LSU struggled on defense for most of the year, but then turned it on in the last three weeks and really showed out super well on the SEC championship game.
Matt Tamanini
So I understand thinking, Okay, well, maybe they have fixed their problems. Maybe they got some, some folks back who were injured, so they’re looking better now. So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Where Ohio State struggled in the last few weeks, I would argue that they had three of the toughest games imaginable to end of the season with Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska. [It's pretty obvious he didn't mean Nebraska here. - Jon]
Matt Tamanini
But I think that if you’re looking just on how teams are playing now, I get I get why LSU jumped Ohio State. If you’re trying to look at the whole picture of the season, I think Ohio State deserved it. Ultimately, I still think that the game that’s happening in Atlanta and the Peach Bowl, or I’m sorry, the game that’s happening in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, is the de facto national championship game. I think Ohio State and Clemson. Whoever wins that game is going to win the national title one because I don’t think that unless you can stop them, they might be able to score on it. But I don’t think that LS US Defense is going to be able to stop either Clemson Ohio State’s offense. Of course this very well might come back to haunt me when I say that in Ohio State gets beat you know 50 to nothing by LSU in the championship game if they get there but I just I just don’t see a world and where we What we’ve seen from LSU, so far this year, will be able to stop either Dabo or Ryan days offenses.
Jon Johnston
Clemson played not a very good schedule, to be kind.
Matt Tamanini
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why they weren’t number one. I mean, when you Ohio State had a top, depending on the metric, whether its strength of schedule or strength of record, either a top 15 to a top 30 strength of schedule well Clemson’s was like in the 60s or 70s. And I’m just making those numbers up off the top of my head because I don’t remember the specific ones but yeah, they might be the best team in the country, but they didn’t play anybody to actually prove it. So it’s still a bit of an unknown.
Jon Johnston
What what worries you about them?
Matt Tamanini
Everything. You know, obviously, a lot of Ohio State fans and a lot of Clemson fans to remember the last time they played in the Fiesta Bowl, which was 2016 and Clemson beat Ohio State 31-0. That is still fresh and a lot of minds. Obviously the players are almost most if not completely different, and the head coach for how state is different, but the thing is that they they are as athletically skilled as anybody in the country. They’ve got a fantastic quarterback, a great wide receiver. Great running back. And what’s different about this Clemson team is is in the past, they’ve always been known for having one of, if not the best defensive lines in the country. However, this season, their defensive line is still very good, but they are dominated on defense by their secondary and even their linebackers to a lesser degree. So that’s interesting. Ohio State is very much a run first team this year, which was not the case last year with Wayne Haskins, but they’re really talented across the board. I think that some of the matchups favor Ohio State. Some of the matchups favor Clemson. I am nervous about the game as a fan, but I think that it will be a good game like I think that it’s going to be competitive even though the last one absolutely was not.
Jon Johnston
Interesting. How do you see it playing out?
Matt Tamanini Oh, hell.
Matt Tamanini
I see both teams kind of struggling at first to kind of get their feet under them. not playing for three weeks certainly will do that to you and then coming out and playing a team that is as well rounded as you are, will also take some time to get figured out. Ohio State has started slow in a number of games this season even against not great competition. They usually figure out how to turn it on mid second quarter and maybe the beginning of the second half. So that worries me a little bit because you can’t get down in a hole against Clemson like you can’t against Wisconsin. I mean, I haven’t thought about like predictions yet. I’ll do that when it gets a little closer. I mean, I’ll take Ohio State.
Matt Tamanini
Bill Connolly’s SP+ has Ohio State as as a couple point favorite Again, those stats are little colored by the competition that each side has played this year. But I think it’s going to be a tough game, I think it’s going to be one where the defenses dominate, for the first part of the game, and maybe it’s whichever offense is able to crack through. The one thing that I will say is that because Ohio State is such a ground based team, they don’t need big plays. to score. They get them occasionally, whether it’s through the running game or deep balls from Justin fields to one of the wide receivers, but they don’t need it. And I think that benefits you in a game with two tough defenses, because you’re not they’re not going to give up big plays all that often. And if you’re able to get yards in chunks and then take the clock down and move the ball that benefits a running team on offense. I don’t know that Clemson can do that they haven’t had to. So I’m not saying they can’t I just don’t know if they can. So I think that things look good for Ohio State, but I would not no matter what the spread was, I would not put money on this game unless it got like to a ridiculous double digit number and then I figure out where the points were and I’d go that way. But if it’s still close, I would not bet on anybody specifically.
Jon Johnston
Okay, so you have Justin Fields has thrown one interception all year. And you have already mentioned that Clemson’s secondary is very, very good and their defense is good. Key to the game?
Matt Tamanini
I think it’s going to be Justin Fields getting rid of the ball on time I mentioned earlier that he likes to take he likes to hold on to the ball. And that makes sense when you have an athletic quarterback because a lot of times when he holds on to the ball, he can either create something with his arm, because he really does have a really strong he was a middle infielder. He played baseball at Georgia was going to play baseball at Georgia too. But he he’s got a great arm, he’s got great accuracy, and he’s got great legs so we can obviously run but the bat downside of that is Is he takes a lot of sacks, which can get him hurt. And then also, because he throws the ball late.
Matt Tamanini
call spade a spade the defenses that he’s played this year haven’t really been able to take advantage of some of his worst decisions. I’m afraid that with the defense in a secondary, like Clemson’s, they might be able to do that. If he doesn’t, you know, doesn’t doesn’t get rid of the ball earlier. So I hope he doesn’t hold on to the ball, feel free to throw the ball away. He doesn’t do that nearly enough. But if the defensive or the offensive line can can give him a clean pocket, I think, obviously, I mean, I’m not saying anything that’s new, but if the quarterback has a clean pocket, he’s gonna have to make better decisions. That just hasn’t been the case so far this year. So that’s what would worry me. I think Ohio State’s running game can can do well against anybody. I think Ohio State’s defensive line is almost impossible to run against.
Matt Tamanini
Now, Travis Etienne is a different level back so I fully expect for him to get his yards. But I don’t think that he’s going to dominate. I think Ohio State secondary has its issues. But should be okay High Seas linebackers aren’t great. And I fully expect Trevor Lawrence to throw the ball over the middle two tight ends, or running backs or wide receivers on crosses to take advantage of Ohio State suspect linebackers and coverage. But I mean, the biggest issue for me is whether Justin Fields has the time to make good plays, or if he’s forced to try to improvise, which could lead to some bad decisions against a really good Clemson defense.
Jon Johnston We also have Chase Young going after Trevor Lawrence.
Matt Tamanini
Well, here’s the thing. I mean, that’s that’s like, Chase didn’t have a sack in the last two games. But there were I mean, if you watch the games, oftentimes because that was because he literally had three people blocking him whether that was sometimes that was three offensive linemen. Sometimes it was two offensive linemen and a running back thing about trying to block a really great defensive end is that if you’re going to sell out to stop him, you have to dedicate enough manpower to do that, but then that leaves other players open and we saw true freshman Zach Harrison have a really good game against Wisconsin and, and some other players contribute tyreke Smith, you know, contribute against Michigan as well.
Matt Tamanini
So I’m not super worried about how many actual sacks Chase gets, although he did wreak a lot of damage without recording any sacks against Wisconsin. But if he is able to kind of take up two or three guys on on his side of the line wherever he lines up, I think that benefits Ohio State because the rest of their defensive line is I mean, the other ends are young. The inside though is really experienced and really talented. So I think that they they can get some pressure whether or not it’s actually chase being the one to get it. I guess is The best would say.
Jon Johnston
I don’t know if I have anything else. Is there anything I forgot to ask that you’d like to add?
Matt Tamanini I think we we hit a lot of it. I think Ohio State is a team that is going to come into this really well prepared that that’s the one of the things that I’ve been really impressed with Ryan day compared to Urban Meyer, not the Urban Meyer didn’t get his team’s prepared in terms of X’s and O’s. I think the thing that that really hurt Urban Meyer in those games like Purdue and Iowa, you mentioned, Urban Meyer, if anyone’s watched him on a sideline, he’s a really high intensity guy. And that’s true on the field. That’s true off the field. So he was able to get his players really, really motivated for big games. wasn’t able to do that as much for the for, you know, the games like I went Purdue. Obviously, he would have been able to get his team motivated for the playoffs. We saw but He was able to do with his team when they got to the playoffs the first time.
Matt Tamanini
The difference with Ryan day there was I think that he is somebody who was able to get his team motivated, but not get them too high or too low. That’s why we didn’t see the drop off, like we have in the last few years they came prepared in. I mean, every game the last three games were a little closer, but those were against really good opponents. So I’m interested to see how they are mentally prepared. They’re missing Christmas, they’re going to be in Arizona, starting early next week, or whenever this is coming out there. They’re going to be there for the holidays. So how he can keep them focused. I think it’s a big deal. So I’m interested to see this next phase of Ryan Day’s coaching career since you know, everything with him is new. You’ve never seen him do this. We never saw him at a big 10 championship game. We never saw him in a game against Michigan. And so far he’s passed with flying colors. So I’m I’m excited to see what he’s able to what he’s able to do in this game. Again, I know I’ll go with Ohio State because I kind of have to. But if there was a game that I would pick to be a super close push game it would it would definitely be this one.
Jon Johnston And then for their prize, they get to go play LSU and which basically as a home game.
Matt Tamanini
Yeah, yeah, definitely is a home game.
Matt Tamanini I mean, the different The one thing is, is that Ohio State travels super well, like I’m not worried about playing in in the Superdome against LSU that those Ohio State fans are going to buy tickets. However they have to they’ll use their allotment. Clemson is didn’t sell out their allotment I don’t know for the Fiesta Bowl. So I don’t know if that means that they just they expect to beat Ohio State and they’ll go closer to home and LSU are in Louisiana.
Matt Tamanini
But it’s certainly is not advantageous to be playing in the home. Not home venue but you know the home state of the team you’re playing for the national championship game and all due respect to Oklahoma, even before they had a number of suspensions, they they had no shot. So I like I said, I think Ohio State or Clemson whoever wins that game will beat LSU. But like you said, who knows it’s at home. Maybe they’ve got a little bit extra juice.
Matt Tamanini Anything can happen.
Jon Johnston
All right. I think that’s gonna wrap it up for this episode. Thanks, Matt for joining us and give me a preview of the Ohio State Clemson game. I probably shouldn’t say this. They’ll you know, Nebraska came for the big 10 or the big 12 and the big eight. And we probably did more conference routing, all the end join this conference where everybody literally hates everybody.
Matt Tamanini I think that depends. I mean, we get a lot of crap on Twitter because we don’t necessarily root for everybody. I mean, I think I used to full disclosure, my first job out of college was was working for the big 10 office. So like I had for a long time. This idea that I just root for everybody, it helps Ohio State, it helps the conference. It looks good. It helps recruiting if everybody else is good and they win. But the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been like screw that. I mean, it’s funny when Michigan loses, I don’t care who it is. They were almost lost Army earlier this year, that would have been the greatest day of my life.
Matt Tamanini
So I, other than I’ve written about how I hate Michigan, but I despise Penn State. So other than those two, maybe Wisconsin’s up there other than those, I’ll root for pretty much any other big 10 team.
Jon Johnston Wait everybody has to hate Iowa.
Matt Tamanini
Iowa is so nondescript. I mean, it’s hard to get, I mean, not not in terms of what they do on the field. But it’s just like there’s like, there are personalities for those other three schools like with Penn State and Michigan that I hate. I’m not a big Wisconsin fan. On Point, they had this practice of putting quarters and marshmallows and throwing them at opposing fans and players. That’s obnoxious. So I hate that. But like there’s nothing like I don’t hate Kirk ferentz lik he’s just there. I mean, he’s a good coach, and his teams are good, but like nothing about him makes me angry. You know?
Matt Tamanini It’s just like, all right, whatever. I mean, I’m a central I live in Central Florida so I have nothing but respect for Scott Frost. So, you know, I want him to do well in Nebraska and I love Lovie Smith’s beard. So of course, I’m going to root for Lovie Smith, Illinois, you know, things like that, like I can root for pretty much anybody other than Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Jon Johnston
Okay, we’re going to wrap it up. Thank you for listening, CornNation.com people and Merry Christmas.
Matt Tamanini Yeah, happy holidays, everybody and look forward to maybe talk to you guys again in the future.

Source: Corn Nation