Ohio State Football 2011
2011 Ohio State Football Preview
To say that the 2011 Ohio State football program had an "offseason to forget" would be a severe understatement.
As the red confetti rained down from the Superdome rafters following the Buckeyes 31-26 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl this January, Buckeye nation couldn't foresee the controversy and turmoil that would ensue.
Their head coach and leader, Jim Tressel, resigned in the offseason amidst NCAA violations stemming from a tattoo-parlor scandal involving several players.
As a result, quarterback Terrelle Pryor decided to leave the school and the team. On top of all that, there are at least four other players who will be suspended for the first five games and a few others that could join them after Ohio State goes through a disciplinary hearing sometime this month.
You couldn't go one day this offseason without hearing or seeing some new development coming from any and every sports media outlet.
On a positive note, Luke Fickell, 2010 co-defensive coordinator, comes in as the new interim head coach, and is dealt the daunting task of getting this team to play at the same level that the Ohio State Buckeyes have grown accustomed to.
In order to get to that level, the Buckeyes will once again have to rely on their defense as their offense is littered with question marks.
With Pryor off to get tattooed in the NFL, the Buckeyes enter the season with a void at quarterback position. The battle for the starting role appears to be between senior Joe Bauserman and true freshman Braxton Miller.
Bauserman has seen some action, and with his maturity and experience advantage, may open the season as the starter. However, Miller is the future and will likely end up on the field sooner rather than later, especially if Bauserman has his struggles early.
Ohio State's offense will have to look to its running game to set the tone as first-team All-Big Ten running back Dan Herron returns. However, Herron is one of the four players who will be suspended for the first five games of the season.
With Herron being out, that will give Ohio State a chance to see what it has in redshirt freshman Rod Smith. If Smith proves to be a capable starter, Ohio State will have a very talented duo to throw at opposing defenses once Herron returns.
At wide receiver, Senior DeVier Posey returns having finished second on the team with 53 catches for 848 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Unfortunately, Posey is yet another player who will miss games early due to suspension. In the meantime, Ohio State will have to rely on inexperienced players like sophomore Corey Brown and Chris Fields to step in and make plays.
The Buckeyes have three starters back on the offensive line with starting left tackle Mike Adams on the suspension list. Regardless, this unit will be the most reliable and is a very talented from top to bottom. Senior center Mike Brewster and senior right tackle J.B. Shugarts are back from last year. Sophomore, Marcus Hall, will start in place of Adams until he is cleared to play, while sophomores Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley look to take over at the two open guard spots.
Although the Buckeyes lose star defensive end Cameron Heyward, the loss doesn’t figure to hurt the Buckeyes too much as they return one of the best defensive ends in the conference in senior Nathan Williams. Williams had a team-best 4.5 sacks last season and will disrupt passing attacks by applying constant pressure on the quarterback.
Also returning is junior defensive end John Simon, who had a very impressive sophomore season tallying three sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. They do have to replace both starting defensive tackles, but they have two very capable players waiting to get their chance in junior Garrett Goebel and sophomore Johnathan Hankins.
Ohio State is well known for sending out big-time talent at linebacker and should have two stars in senior outside linebacker Andrew Sweat and junior middle linebacker Etienne Sabino. Joining Sweat and Sabino will be junior Storm Klein.
Perhaps the weak link in the Buckeye's defense figures to be in the secondary. The Buckeyes lose first-team All-American corner Chimdi Chekwa along with corner Devon Torrence and first-team All-Big Ten free safety Jermale Hines. The only starter back is junior strong safety Orhian Johnson, leaving the Buckeyes very inexperienced in the defensive backfield. At corner, junior Travis Howard and sophomore Dominic Clarke are expected to be the two new starters
Overall, even with all the scandals, distractions and suspensions, there is still a ton of talent left over for this team to compete in the Big Ten. Although the addition of Nebraska into the Big Ten will
Most importantly for the Buckeyes, they have to play with a chip on their shoulder. Use a "Us Against the World" mentality and start to rebuild the program with integrity.
The rebuilding process begins on Saturday, September 3rd as the Buckeyes take on the Akron Zips in Columbus.
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