COLUMBUS — Six receivers are listed as starters on Ohio State’s official depth chart released this week, a sure indication that all will get plenty of chances to shine in the season opener tonight.
Paris Campbell and K.J. Hill are listed as co-starters at H-back. Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor both are listed at one wide receiver spot, and Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin are slotted in at the other. While all have game experience, none has been a major contributor yet at Ohio State.
Coach Urban Meyer said all six “will play in a pure rotation basis” when the Buckeyes open on the road at Indiana.
“That’s how much confidence we have in them,” he said, noting that it’s more depth at receiver than he’s had in five previous seasons at Ohio State.
One of aims this preseason has been to solve the deep-ball woes that plagued the team last season against better opponents. The hope is one or more of those six receivers will emerge as a reliable deep-ball threat . Quarterback J.T. Barrett has been working with new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and new QB coach Ryan Day on accuracy and throwing into coverage.
Meyer said he’s seen improvement in Barrett in “continued development of accuracy, and his relationship and timing with the wideouts.”
“It’s just the timing, the execution and the trust,” he said.
Regarding the running back situation, Meyer said 1,000-yard rusher Mike Weber, who has been hobbled by a hamstring tweak, is “very close” to being in shape to start. He’s listed as the starter, but true freshman J.K. Dobbins likely will see some playing time, too.
The Buckeyes are eager to get going with the season, to put the embarrassing loss to Clemson in last year’s playoff farther behind them and show the nation they are worthy of the No. 2 ranking in the AP Top 25 .
“I feel very comfortable with the progress,” Meyer said. “I hate to say I’m confident. I’m just kind of a worrier.”
PROUD MOMS TWEETING
The public at-large — or at least the Twitterverse — learned about new Ohio State starters over the weekend, thanks to some proud mamas.
The mothers of offensive lineman Branden Bowen, receivers Mack and Hill and cornerback Damon Arnette all tweeted about receiving a call from coaches informing them their sons would be first-time starters. That phone call to parents is a tradition at Ohio State.
Additionally, the program released video on Sunday of receivers coach Zach Smith calling Dixon ’s mom on Sunday to let her know the news.
Bowen had been competing with Matt Burrell, Malcolm Pridgeon and others for the open right guard spot.
“Proud Mom!” tweeted Natalie Bowen on Saturday.
Arnette is listed as a co-starter at corner with Kendall Sheffield. Denzel Ward is the starter on the other side.
One of the safety spots also has two players listed as starters, Jordan Fuller and Erick Smith. Damon Webb gets the nod at the other safety spot.
There also are co-starters at both defensive end spots, with Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa on one side, and Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes on the other. D-line coach Larry Johnson has said he plans to use a rotation there.
NOTES: Ohio State is opening a season against a conference opponent on the road for the first time since 1975 when the Buckeyes won 21-0 at Michigan State. … Barrett is six touchdowns short of breaking Drew Brees’ Big Ten record of 106 TDs responsible for. … Ohio State is 26-2-1 against Indiana in Bloomington. … Meyer enters the season with the highest winning percentage among active FBS coaches with at least 10 years of coaching (.850).