Logan Schuss will always be The Silver Gleaming Death Machine, but Jesse King -- Ohio State's junior midfielder -- is poised to move into the role that Schuss held for the Buckeyes over the last few seasons. King's effort against Johns Hopkins this past weekend -- a five-goal, one-assist effort that featured 12 shots and only one turnover from the offensive hub -- served as a sort of coming out party for the Canadian. Hounded all day by defensive nightmares like Mike Pellegrino and Jack Reilly, King drove Ohio State's offensive fortunes in a key opening game against what should be one of the nation's stronger defenses.
Ohio State will likely build its offensive focus around King this season, and while there is concern about that, the Buckeyes had strong success offensively in 2013 using Schuss as their point of light:
|Adjusted Offensive Efficiency||33.91||14|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||0.98||58|
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate||33.16%||5|
|Offensive Assist Rate||20.89||13|
|Opponent Save Percentage||49.06%||14|
|Strength of Schedule: Opposing Defenses Faced||29.11||6|
Schuss accounted for 23.16 percent of Ohio State's goals last season, 22.95 percent of the team's helpers, 23.08 percent of the team's total points, and was responsible for 24.96 percent of the Buckeyes' total shots. On an estimated basis, Schuss was responsible -- in some form -- for ending around 28 percent of the Buckeyes' offensive possessions (with a goal, assist, turnover, or saved shot) last year. Let's be clear about that: Regardless of whether Schuss was actually on the field for an offensive opportunity, an estimated 30 percent of Ohio State's offensive possessions ended in some form thanks to Schuss simply existing; almost eight percent of Ohio State's offensive opportunities ended with Schuss doing something deadly (generating a goal on his own or assisting on another), about six percent ended with Schuss turning the ball over, and about 10 percent ended with an opposing keeper eating up a Schuss bullet.
Into this vacuum steps King. The midfielder is necessarily going to assume more responsibility for the Buckeyes in 2014, but it's not like King hasn't had carried the mail in the past. On an estimated basis, King was responsible -- in some form -- for ending around 19 percent of the Buckeyes' offensive possessions (with a goal, assist, turnover, or saved shot) last year. More than five percent of Ohio State's offensive opportunities ended with King doing something positive in 2013, about four percent ended with King giving the ball away, and about five percent ended with an opposing keeper stopping a King blast. Interestingly, King's ratio of positive possession-ending activity (-4.27 percent) last year was stronger than Schuss' (-8.21 percent).
King is ready for his featured status in 2014, and his performance against Hopkins proves that. The only questions that remain are whether (1) he can shoulder the load that Schuss did for a full season, and (2) if he can find a running mate (or mates) capable of accounting for the bulk of the Buckeyes' offensive efforts so that King doesn't have to do everything on his own.