Penn State will travel to Columbus for a prime time kickoff with Ohio State on October 26th. By that time, much will be known about where each team stands in the 2013 season. With 12 days left until the season, it would seem much is known about the Buckeyes. They return tons of talent on both sides of the ball, have a chip on their shoulder after last year’s post season ban, oh, and that Urban Meyer guy is a pretty good coach.
- Coach – Urban Meyer, 2nd season (12-0)
- 2012 Record - 12-0
- Key Departures - DE John Simon, DE Nathan Williams, DT Jonathan Hankins, LB Storm Klein, RT Reid Fragel
- Key Returnees - QB Braxton Miller, WR Corey Brown, WR Devin Smith, LG Andrew Norwell, LB Ryan Shazier, CB Bradley Roby, S Christian Bryant
To say Ohio State has gobs of skill on offense would be an understatement of massive proportions. It all starts with Braxton Miller at quarterback, who only had over 3,300 yards of total offense last season, and 28 touchdowns. Nearly 1,300 of those yards came on the ground, as did 13 of the TDs. Miller has the speed to run by you, the power to run over you, and the athleticism to make you look like a fool in the open field. The passing game is in need of some improvement, just ask Urban, but with a senior receiving duo of Corey Brown and Devin Smith, there is still plenty of big play potential. Worried about keeping Miller healthy behind the offensive line? Don’t be. The Buckeyes return 4 of the 5 starters, losing only Fragel, last year’s starting right tackle, to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The biggest question mark on offense comes at running back, following the minimum 3 game suspension to last year’s leading rusher from the tailback spot, Carlos Hyde. However, senior Jordan Hall is back, after taking a medical redshirt in 2012. If Hall can stay healthy, he has the talent to beat you out of the backfield either running or receiving. Remember the name Dontre Wilson as well. The true freshman out of DeSoto, Texas was sought by everyone in the country, and the reports on him out of Columbus have been glowing.
The biggest road block between the Buckeyes and an undefeated 2013 would appear to be the front 7. On paper, they will be looking to replace all 4 starters on the line, and 2 more at linebacker. However, while the returners are not starters in name, they are not exactly inexperienced either. Sophomore ends Noah Spence (sorry guys) and Adolphus Washington appear ready to stop into more prominent roles. Tackle is a bigger question mark, but the talent seems to be there with Tommy Schutt (damnit, Urban!), Michael Bennett, and massive (like 350 pounds worth) Chris Carter, if he can get his weight to a level Meyer finds acceptable.
All-everything Ryan Shazier returns at one outside linebacker spot, but the other 2 roles will have new names. It’s now or never for MLB Curtis Grant, especially with Camren Williams (srsly, H8 U Urbz) pushing for time. Trey Mitchell and Joshua Perry will fight for time opposite Shazier.
Bradley Roby leads a talented secondary, although he will miss the opening game after a small legal issue over the summer. For my money, he’s the best DB in the Big 10, and one of the top players in the country at his position. Dorian Grant will man the other corner. Safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett both return, and contribute in the run game (70+ tackles for each), and in the passing game. Bryant accounted for a whopping 17 pass breakups a season ago. Armani Reeves (now I’m just crying) will see time in nickel situations, and I expect freshman Vonn Bell to contribute quickly as well.
If Miller can stay healthy, and the young talent in the defensive front 7 plays up to their ability, there really is not any reason to doubt the Buckeyes can complete a second 12-0 season, and this time play for a Big 10, and BCS championship. Perhaps the biggest question mark will be how this team deals with the massive expectations both inside and outside of Ohio. The two biggest obstacles could be their trip to Evanston in early October, and the season ending clash with Michigan in Ann Arbor. Those two schools could meet a week later in Indianapolis too.
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