Rabinowitz: A no-brainer: Braxton Miller. The Buckeyes want to put less of the onus on the junior this year, and Miller has the supporting cast for that to happen. But it still begins with the quarterback. The Buckeyes wanted to see him develop in three key ways — vocal leadership, better throwing mechanics on the run and, yes, become a better scrambler (as opposed to his excellence on designed runs). They’re happy with the first two; the third remains to be seen.
May: Jordan Hall. Although injuries have stunted his college career, he has gained a fifth year of eligibility because of them. He was targeted to be the vital hybrid, or slotback, last year in coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense but didn’t get the chance (cut foot early, knee injury later). He’s the No.?1 running back headed into the opener, with Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith suspended, but he might move to the slot once they return.
Key defensive player
May: Adolphus Washington. The defense needs a new wheel horse to set the edge with John Simon gone, and the sophomore end seems to fill the bill. In fact, he has the potential to be a more dynamic player than Simon because of his combination of bull-rush and edge-rush capabilities.
Rabinowitz: Curtis Grant. The defense floundered last year until Zach Boren switched from fullback to middle linebacker. Grant wasn’t up to the challenge last year, but he and his coaches think he is now, even though a concussion slowed him down in camp.
Key early game
Rabinowitz: San Diego State. The Aztecs, the replacement for Vanderbilt on the schedule, won’t be a pushover. Rocky Long is an excellent coach, and he beat Meyer’s Utah team in 2003 while at New Mexico. The Aztecs won their last seven regular-games last year before losing to BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl.
May: At California, the first road game of the season. It will have a funky kickoff time of just after 4 p.m. in Berkeley, 7?p.m. in Columbus. And it’s against a team that could have spoiled Ohio State’s unbeaten season early last year if it only had a kicker. New coach Sonny Dykes has brought his high-powered passing game to Cal but with a freshman quarterback.
New to view
May: Freshman running back Dontre Wilson. After all the preseason camp hoopla, who isn’t looking forward to seeing the flash from DeSoto, Texas?
Rabinowitz: It’s not often that a freshman punter is a topic of conversation. But the novelty of having a 21-year-old Australian with no American football experience but possessing a booming leg makes Cameron Johnston the choice.
Best offseason move
Rabinowitz: Keeping the coaching staff together. The coaches got along well personally last year, but they took a while to mesh. The continuity should pay off in 2013.
May: Another year under the guidance of football sports performance coordinator Mickey Marotti seems to have paid dividends. For example, senior right guard Marcus Hall has been transformed in two years, as has senior receiver Corey Brown.
Pressure is on
May: Miller. In his second year under offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman, he knows the system. He’s the linchpin on the No. 2-ranked team in the country. Everyone is expecting much more from him this year.
Rabinowitz: Ryan Shazier, who blossomed last season at linebacker. This year, the junior is the only returning starter among the front seven. Shazier is conscientious and wants to be a great leader. The trick will be helping to guide his teammates while continuing the development he showed last year.
Stat that must change
Rabinowitz: The passing offense improved last year, but only marginally, going from 115th nationally out of 120 teams to 101st. There’s no excuse for not having a much more explosive and efficient passing game this season.
May: The Buckeyes were sixth in the Big Ten last year in scoring defense (22.8-point average) and total defense (359.6-yard average). By year’s end, Meyer said he thought the team could play with anyone in the country because the defense had come around. It can’t afford another three-quarters of a season of wandering if it wants to be in the national championship hunt.
Rabinowitz: After a year limited by NCAA sanctions, the Buckeyes are ready for their national coming-out party in year two under Meyer. With an even weaker schedule than in 2012, the Buckeyes probably will be favored in every game. But every team, no matter how good, has one or two games in which it doesn’t play well and needs some fortune to get by. (Remember Purdue?) That could be the key to whether this year’s team goes beyond being merely a very good team.
May: It’s difficult to pick a team to make a run for it all when it’s replacing seven starters on a defense that wasn’t so great the year before. But the new-look OSU defense has an athletic, play-fast bent, and seemingly loaded with would-be contributors in the front and at the back. If the linebackers can hold their own, this team can go places, because with Miller running an offensive show that has a much stronger supporting cast, limiting the opponent under 35 points each week might be all that’s needed.
E-mail or follow on Twitter Bill Rabinowitz and Tim May at: firstname.lastname@example.org | @brdispatch & email@example.com | @TIM_MAYsports
Why you should watch: This game will be over the moment Buffalo walks off the bus. Ah, who am I kidding: This game was over a nanosecond after it was scheduled. The real key: Will the Buckeyes dominate an overmatched foe like the No. 2 team in the nation should? It’s time to play like the No. 2 team in the nation should vs. a 60-pound MAC weakling.
Player on the spot: No one player here; it’s the entire defense. Is the retooled front seven kicking butt? The linebackers haven’t been up to OSU standards in recent years—and depth is dicey. That must change. Curtis Grant, Joshua Perry and Ryan Shazier et al need to play with purpose and violence.
Key matchup: Ohio State’s running backs vs. Buffalo defensive line. No Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith? No problem. Still, let’s see how the other Buckeye backs—Jordan Hall, Bri’onte Dunn, Warren Ball–perform with those two out with suspensions. Can’t wait for the debut of speedy Dontre Wilson, a true game-breaker that this offense needs who may be used all over.
Key number: 12, games in a row Ohio State has won. That’s the longest winning skein in America.
Ohio State and Buffalo are meeting for the first time on the gridiron.
The Bulls are coming off a 4-8 season in 2012 where they tied for fourth in the MAC East with a 3-5 mark. They return nine starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that won three of its final four games, dropping its final game to Bowling Green at Crew Stadium in Columbus on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Bulls will be led on offense by sophomore quarterback Joe Licata, who completed 52 percent of his passes in 2012, throwing for 1,045 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Licata started last season as a backup, but earned starts in the final four games of the season as the Bulls went 3-1 in those games. Senior running back Branden Oliver returns after leading Buffalo with 821 yards on the ground, despite missing five games with an injury. He averaged 117 rushing yards per game with five touchdowns. The defense is led by senior linebacker Khalil Mack, who led the Bulls with 94
tackles in 2012.
Head coach Jeff Quinn is in his fourth year at Buffalo with a 9-27 record at UB and a 10-28 mark overall. Quinn also served as interim coach on two occasions; one at Central Michigan in the 2006 Motor City Bowl and the other at Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, falling to Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators, 48-17.
NG/DT Tommy Schutt suffers broken foot in practice, will be out 6-8 weeks. (via Eleven Warriors)
Carlos Hyde, Bradley Roby & Marcus Baugh will not play.
Ohio State tops preseason power poll August 26, 2013 Source: BTN - 1. Ohio State. The Buckeyes are the bellwether, carrying the Big Ten’s water when it comes to being a national title contender. What do I like? Where do I begin? How about with a loaded offense led by the Big Ten’s best player in QB Braxton Miller? Not bad, huh? The skill positions spill over with veteran talent. Yes, the front seven on defense has been retooled—but that’s a good thing, considering this defense ranked just sixth in the league in 2012. So, it’s the Buckeyes’ world—and everyone else is just living in it...
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer discusses his team's preparations and expectations for this season and the progress of QB Braxton Miller on College Football Live August 13, 2012
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller discusses areas where he has improved, his ability to make defenders miss, and his relationship with coach Urban Meyer on ESPN August 13, 2012
Fall camp is three practices in and Tuesday was the first day that the Buckeyes put the pads on but things were not "full go" yet as the team eases back into football shape. But that doesn't mean that the team isn't making strides toward being game ready for the opener against Buffalo.
Veterans of the team already know what to expect as the young guys still are learning that the leap to college is a big one but that doesn't mean that players are not starting to already emerge, three practices down or not. Dontre Wilson is one player that head coach Urban Meyer has not been afraid to recognize as a player who will play this upcoming season.
We caught up with Meyer after practice on Tuesday to get his thoughts about what he has seen so far and while the evaluations are only beginning there is still plenty to talk about. Check it all out here in this free video update. Source: BuckeyeGrove.com
Camp Meyer 2013 Full of Storylines August 5, 2013 Source: Eleven Warriors - It wasn’t even 9 a.m. yet and already Dontre Wilson, Billy Price and a host of other first-year Buckeyes passed the eyeball test. As Ohio State’s ballyhooed freshmen class jogged on to the practice fields at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Sunday, the sun was still rising high above. It was a metaphor for the coming season, bright and with visions of the very top of college football.
The sounds of football were on full display. Not whistles, footballs whizzing through the air or helmets and shoulder pads thudding. The soundtrack of fall at Ohio State is the raised voices of Urban Meyer, Kerry Coombs and Mike Vrabel offering endless motivation. They were heard full blast on Sunday.
The previous day it was another booming voice, that of strength coach Mickey Marotti, who delivered a spirited message. For nearly four months it was Marotti who oversaw the 2013 Buckeyes. Daily workouts resulted in an exhausted but bonded group of teammates. On Saturday, he handed that collection of players who possess so much potential over to Meyer, a head coach who’s turned highly touted teams into national champions.
Ohio State, ranked No. 2 in the nation, still has weeks until its season opener versus Buffalo. But the next four weeks, according to Meyer, will make or break the team. It’s hard to improve upon a perfect season. The Buckeyes have been afforded the opportunity, though. To do so, they’ll need superior play and a little bit of luck, but also answers to several nagging questions.
The biggest on-field concern is the undecided battle at right tackle. One year ago, uncertainty at the same position gave way to a breakout year for converted tight end Reid Fragel. The man he beat out, Taylor Decker, was expected to ascend quite easily to the starting job. Instead, neither he nor Chase Farris separated themselves in the right tackle derby.
“It’s real bothersome to me,” Meyer said. “It’s real bothersome to our coaches, too.”
Cohesion along the offensive line was a big factor in its success in 2012. The four returning starters – Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall – played all but 10 snaps last season. Finding a replacement for Fragel early in camp is a priority to help establish continuity with the other line mates and quarterback Braxton Miller.
The offensive line’s performance during the spring was underwhelming. Still, they’re expected to return to form in the fall and be vital in the big picture success.
“Here’s the thing about football, you never start where you left off,” said offensive line coach Ed Warinner. “Football is a year-round cycle, and whenever you end the season, you have to go back to ground zero and start there.”
Decker, who took a majority of the first-team reps in the spring, is still the odds-on-favorite to start, but his consistency remains a flashing warning sign to coaches. The opposite occurred across the line. One returning starter would have heightened Vrabel’s mood. He gets none, though.
The current freshmen were still 10 years away from being born the last time Ohio State had to replace an entire defensive line. It was 1985. Johnathan Hankins and Garrett Goebel may be on NFL rosters, but that doesn’t mean they’re irreplaceable.
Defensive line has been an area targeted by Ohio State in recruiting. It showed in the spring. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington quickly made fans forget about losing a handful of starters. Michal Bennett and Joel Hale only improved the outlook along the line.
“Those guys, they don’t stop going,” said senior safety Christian Bryant. “It’s like we have another John Simon just stepping right up.”
What both positions – and others on the team – don’t provide is depth. Nearly all 22 starters, plus the special teamers, give the Buckeyes confidence as a viable national title contender. But when you look at the two- and three-deep, a bleaker picture emerges.
Injuries along either line or at linebacker could be devastating. Meyer lamented the lack of depth in the spring, simply saying he lacked all confidence in the No. 2s. An even bigger impediment to the Buckeyes’ objectives could be distractions.
The summer was void of any major news until the final week before fall camp. Then the floodgates opened. Suspensions galore reigned down and a promising season already reached the first speed bump. There are examples throughout history of talented teams that vastly underachieved after being overwhelmed with off-the-field disturbances.
Perhaps the biggest is predicted success. Ohio State didn’t have to the burden of rankings last year. The AP was the only service that recognized the Buckeyes during a season they spent in purgatory. Now they must face the expectations head-on and the realization that a loss could, and most likely would, end any hope at a national championship.
Individual achievement has taken a backseat to what the team’s ultimate goal is, but Miller is still dreaming of the Heisman Trophy. Meyer admitted last week that his dual-threat quarterback mentioned the iconic bronze stiff-arm trophy. When the time is right, Meyer said he’d be receptive of that message.
Until then, it’s all about improving his completion percentage and scrambling ability, among other quarterback-centric traits. In Year 1 with Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman, Miller threatened to rewrite the Ohio State record book. Since then, he’s had a spring practice and will soon have fall camp and more game time under his belt. He’s already becoming more and more acclimated with the system and everything encompassed in college football.
“I feel so much more comfortable now,” Miller said.
Big Ten coaches from Iowa City to State College just shuddered.
The Buckeyes hit the field this morning for the first day of preseason practice, with the freshmen and a few other young players, like Glenville defensive back Devan Bogard who is coming back from an ACL tear, hitting the field at 8:45 for a two-hour session.
The upper classmen will practice this afternoon.
Urban Meyer addresses BuckeyesUrban Meyer gathers the freshmen and delivers a message of going hard, getting off to a good start and not developing a bad rep on the first day of preseason practice on Aug. 4, 2013.
It was back to the basics for the new Buckeyes during the 30-minute window that reporters were permitted to observe this morning. The speed guys backpedaled as cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs told them to keep their arms and hands quiet. The offensive linemen, where Evan Lisle worked as the only scholarship player with several walkons, went through the basics of stepping with power, as demonstrated by line coach Ed Warinner. Vrabel hit the sled when he needed to show the defensive linemen something, grew frustrated when he saw guys he thought looked out of shape and congratulated a few who hit the sled just as he wanted.
The Buckeyes have 24 new scholarship players in camp, but two of them weren't out there today. Tight end Marcus Baugh isn't practicing because of his suspension resulting from an offseason underage drinking charge. And lineman Donovan Munger of Shaker Heights wasn't out there because of some academic issues that need to be cleared up.
A lot of the other freshmen are expected to come in and and make contributions right away. As usual, the Buckeyes slid right from stretching into special teams work first. And that's where a lot of freshmen should be noticed. Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall and James Clark were lined up ready to work on receiving punts, though the Buckeyes have veterans like Jordan Hall and Philly Brown who have done that before.
Meyer wants to use his newly recruited speed, though, and that might be a way.
This is the first of 15 days of camp for the Buckeyes, which includes four days with two practices. They open with seven straight days of practice, with the pads going on Friday, before they get a break next Sunday, which will serve as the team's annual media day.
Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel works with the freshmen during the first day of preseason practice on Aug. 4, 2013.
Ohio State Football 2013
In 2013, the Ohio State Buckeyes look to pursue another perfect season, a Big Ten Championship, and a National Championship. Led by their determined head coach, Urban Meyer, and star quarterback, Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes have a legitimate shot at achieving their dream.
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