2017 Ohio State Buckeyes mailbag: Will new OC Kevin Wilson help J.T. Barrett win the Heisman?

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Quarterback J.T. Barrett
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Quarterback J.T. Barrett /

The 2017 Ohio State Buckeyes mailbag preview of the upcoming season is upon us. With Indiana looming on Thursday night, here’s the answers to your questions.

It’s officially game week for Ohio State Buckeye fans! With the Indiana “Megacast” looming on Thursday, we bust open our inbox to answer your questions from email and social media about the 2017 edition of THE Ohio State Buckeyes.

It’s not to late to send in your questions for parts two and three this week, so reach out to our team and get your questions answered.

With the help of a proven OC, Kevin Wilson, will J.T. Barrett have a season worthy of a Heisman Trophy?

Surprise surprise, a handful of the early questions related to Kevin Wilson, so why not start with the main benefactor of Wilson’s arrival? J.T. Barrett should be in the conversation of Heisman hopefuls with Lawrence Jackson, Baker Mayfield, and Jalen Hurts. Last year was an odd season for Barrett. He was successful, finishing third in the Big Ten in total offense individually and leading the best offense in the conference. So lets not act like Barrett was some replacement level player that wasn’t deserving of his role.

What bothered fans was that the Ohio State passing attack was wildly inconsistent, finishing 6th in the Big Ten in team passing offense. But guess which team finished 2nd in the conference? That would be none other than Kevin Wilson’s Indiana Hoosiers. Richard Lagow was the second leading passer in the Big Ten. Indiana had consistently been one of the top offenses in the Big Ten. With better talent, there’s no reason to believe Wilson won’t have the same type of impact that Tom Herman had with his offensive ingenuity.

One more key point about Wilson’s impact. The Indiana game has been one of the most infuriating games for Buckeye fans that last few seasons. Aside from the lack of a passing attack against the Hoosiers, Indiana hung with a defense that saw three defensive backs taken in the first round of the NFL draft and a handful of others in later rounds. The year before, Ohio State squeaked by with a 34-27 win. Indiana put up over 400 yards of offense against a defense that had three first round defenders in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The point is, Kevin Wilson knows what he is doing. This type of addition adds the level of pace and creativity that was missing under Tim Beck and Ed Warinner. Because of that, the 5th year Senior and all time leading scorer in Ohio State history is poised for another huge year.

Is Kevin Wilson going to help stretch the field this year?

Wilson will help, yes. His quicker pace and more aggressive play calling will help. But Wilson is only a coordinator. I am not of the belief that the reason Ohio State couldn’t stretch the field last year was the play calling. I think it was the lack of polish up front and at receiver. Aside from Noah Brown‘s big game at Oklahoma, there wasn’t a receiver who could take the top off the defense besides Curtis Samuel on certain plays. At the level Ohio State wants to play, it’s not enough to just be fast and run past a defender.

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The route running was just not there last season. Curtis Samuel more than doubled Noah Brown’s receiving yards in 2016. Only Demario McCall averaged more than 20 yards per catch, and that was only on 4 catches all season. Dontre Wilson wasn’t able to step up and Paris Campbell seemed just a bit off in the route tree. Austin Mack, Ben Victor, and Terry McLaurin couldn’t step up either with a golden opportunity to be a needed boost in the passing attack.

If Wilson is going to help stretch the field, it’s going to be by getting these players in better position to use their skills. I also believe he is going to ask far more of them than ever, knowing he could simply run the ball 50 times a game and still put up points. Otherwise, players have to make plays.

Will Kevin Wilson increase the tempo?

Short answer, no. Ohio State ran the 24th most plays in college football per games last year. Indiana was 26th. Ohio State played much fast as the season went on, realizing that tempo is what allowed them to throttle Michigan and Notre Dame at the end of 2015. If anything Wilson will just emphasize the need to keep the tempo where Ohio State had it last year.

Is Wilson’s hire as important as the Greg Schiano hire?

It could be argued that this hire was more important. Luke Fickell did a great job in Columbus, where he has earned his places as a star players and solid coach. He was ready for a shot at leading his own program. Where he excelled was in coaching the details and blazing a recruiting trail across the country. A coach of Schiano’s caliber was the only way to keep that momentum and it’s paid off. Just look at the recruiting rankings and the results on the field.

Wilson’s arrival is likely to have the effect with one huge caveat. Wilson has to put the issues surrounding his departure from Indiana behind him. He has to sit in those living rooms around the country and tell parents that there’s nothing t worry about.

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He has to prove to high school players that he isn’t “that guy” at Ohio State and that what they can accomplish on the field together is the priority. So far, it hasn’t matter to the first incoming class with Wilson leading the offense.