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Hines and Simon will both be key players in 2010 (Photo via Cleveland.com)
Drew Thurman (3:51 am)

Spring football is upon us, and all the Buckeye football news platforms are posting their previews. If your like me at all, you have read all the posts on the "biggest questions" the team has going into spring. Most have focused on Pryor's knee, the depth at running back, the No. 3 wide receiver, and the battle for both offensive tackle spots. None of these are bad questions, and will play an important part of the spring, but the focus needs to get placed on the defense.

While the offensive side of the ball will provide some exciting battles at positions of depth, the Buckeyes have very few worries on that side of the ball (as long as Pryor heals up). The defense on the other hand, has some gapping holes that must be filled. Not only that, but the "D" lost its leadership in Coleman, Spitler and Worthington, which is vital to replace.

So, as spring practice gets underway, pay attention to the defense. How far this team goes truly lies in some of the questions on that side of the ball. Let's take a look...

Can the defensive line replicate the depth from a season ago?  

Thaddeus Gibson, Doug Worthington, Lawrence Wilson, Robert Rose, and Todd Denlinger have all departed leaving a much less experienced unit on the defensive line. There is no doubt about it, last year's line was the core of the defense, and they took over in many games. That will be tough to duplicate in 2010, and I'm not sure it will happen.

The Buckeyes do return the overall best defensive lineman from last year in Cameron Heyward, along with familiar faces Nathan Williams, Dexter Larimore, and John Simon. Yet, they will have to rely on many unproven and inexperienced players to add the depth they need to create a rotation. Guys like Solomon Thomas and Keith Wells will try to finally prove their worth, while youngsters Garrett Goebel, Adam Bellamy, Melvin Fellows, and all the 2010 newcomers will try to make a name for themselves. The spring will go a long way to prove how deep the defensive line will really be. 
 
 
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Dave Thurman (9:40 PM)

Ohio State's dream season was brought to an end Saturday evening in St. Louis as they came up just short against a physical, determined Tennessee team.  As Drew and I had said all along, Bruce Pearl may act like an idiot but the man can flat out coach.  And, with a taller and deeper squad, he pushed the right buttons to eliminate the Buckeyes and deny them a trip to the Elite Eight.

Truthfully I am not in the mood for a lengthy blow-by-blow account of this painful loss, but I did notice a few things that are worth metnioning:

-This team lived and died with Evan Turner all year, and never was that more apparent than tonight.  He made some spectacular plays and carried Ohio State for much of the second half, but his late turnovers were terribly costly.  That's the price you pay for having the ball in one player's hands so much of the time. 

-David Lighty's early foul trouble opened the door for forgotten senior Jeremie Simmons and he hit a trio of big threes that helped OSU post a slight halftime lead.  Of course his defense was less than stellar, but it was nice to see the kid make an important contribution.

-Jon Diebler was terrible and you hate to pin the loss on one player, but had he shot the ball at all, the Bucks would have won. And, compounding matters was the fact that he didn't do anything else to make a contribution.  Tough night for number 33.

-Though killed on the boards, the Bucks had every oppotunity to win the game, but just couldn't make the plays down the stretch. 

That's pretty much all I have to say about that.  Great year...painful conclusion...time to get the pigskin ready boys!
 
 
 
 
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Marcus Freeman will be stepping out of professional football after finding out he has an enlarged heart. Doctors informed him that he had a heart problem in February after taking a physical.

“It was hard to hear that football was being taken away, but life is much bigger than that for me,” Freeman said earlier this week. “Sooner or later you’re going to be done. Even though I can’t play anymore I still have a love and a passion for it. I’ll just turn the page to the next chapter in my life.”

Any good news to this? Well, he will be rejoining the Buckeyes staff this fall as a graduate assistant. Future defensive coach anyone?

“Coach (Jim) Tressel gave me the opportunity to be on the staff,” he said. “It’s a lot different than playing, but it’s exciting because it gives me the chance to stay close to football.”

Source: http://www.daytondailynews.com/dayton-sports/
ohio-state-buckeyes/enlarged-heart-sidelines-former-
wayne-osu-star-freeman-620938.html
 
 
Yesterday, the results of a recent survey given to all FBS college football head coaches in January was released. Here is what it had to say on the BCS system (Let's hope they have been watching CBS the last few weeks!):

• Ninety-three percent of the coaches prefer the traditional bowl system over a playoff.

• Eighty-five percent are in favor of the current BCS team selection process.

• Thirty percent of the coaches favor some modifications to the BCS system. Of that group, 50 percent prefer the “plus one” model that would result in the addition of a fifth BCS bowl game.

• Ninety-five percent of the coaches are in favor of the AFCA Coaches’ Trophy continuing to serve as the BCS National Championship Trophy.

Source: http://blog.dispatch.com/buckeyesblog/
2010/03/survey_coaches_love_current_bc.shtml
 
 
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Drew Thurman (9:29 pm)

This Friday, the Buckeyes will take on Tennessee in what has the making of a very interesting matchup. The Volunteers are fresh off their victory over Ohio 83-68, and now get their second straight Ohio team. So the Buckeyes will be playing for more than just a spot in the Elite 8, they will be playing to defend the State of Ohio and get revenge for fellow Buckeye John Groce and the Bobcats. All kidding aside, Turner and company have a tough task ahead of them. 

On paper Tennessee doesn't seem like that scary of an opponent. Their 27-8 record has some holes in it, especially their very average road record. Not only that, but the Big Ten has shown that it is superior to the SEC in the tournament this season. Oh, and by the way, Tyler Smith isn't magically coming back.

It's the NCAA tournament though, so who cares about statistics? The reality is that Buckeye fans should be a little bit worried. Here is why...
 
 
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Evan Turnover?
Dave Thurman (8:10 PM)

It wasn't a pretty weekend for Ohio State but it was effective.  Evan Turner was a turnover waiting to happen during for a big part of the first and second round games, but the Buckeyes advanced and head to St. Louis.  They will need to take their game to a higher level as they face a Tennessee team that defeated Kansas and Kentucky this year among others. 

Notables from the first weekend of the Big Dance:

- Once again we saw why this is they ultimate event in sports.  While I prefer football any day of the year, there is nothing that can compare with the excitement of 48 games played during one extended weekend, many of which went down to the wire. 

- The Big Ten acquitted itself quite nicely.  With three teams headed to the Sweet Sixteen, the conference looked much better than the more ballyhooed Big (L)East and Big Twelve. 

- Ohio teams played very well.  Not only did the Buckeyes advance, but so, too, did Xavier.  Meanwhile, the Ohio Bobcats of John Groce (former OSU assistant) had one of the highlight moments of the first weekend, when they upset Georgetown, before succumbing in round two to Tennessee.  I happen to be friends with John's parents, and wish to congratulate him on a fine year of coaching. 

- Kentucky looks like the team to beat in spite of their youth, and some are predicting a repeat of the '96 Championship game betgween UK and Syracuse. 

Anyway, congrats to the Buckeye roundballers, and good luck in St. Louis!
 
 
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Today has to be one of the least productive days of the year. Even if you haven't called in sick to work, we know you won't do any real work. With smartphones, live scoring and live streaming, you catch plenty of March Madness. So avoid doing any of that work, catch what is going on, and talk about it here. Today starts a holiday better than Thanksgiving or Christmas, so you deserve to procrastinate your real life...

ESPN Scoreboard
CBSSports.com Scores  
March Madness On Demand
 
 
David Thurman (8:15 AM)

Last year the OSU coaching staff cast a very small net going after a few elite offensive linemen and got burned, signing only one.  Quickly rectafying that situation this year, they reeled in their second OL in the class of 2010 a few hours after securing the first.  This time it was lesser known Antonio Underwood of Shaker Heights, Ohio, a 6'3", 300 lb. guard/tackle, who will probably play on the interior at Ohio State.  While he has not garnered national recognition, I feel it is a good move to get some solid local players early and then go after the big, national names who won't decide until late in the process.  Welcome to the family Antonio!

Source: http://bucknuts.com/index.php/
Football-Recruiting-Article/bucks-get-ol-commitment-no-2/
menu-id-1346.html
 
 
Dave Thurman (9:05 PM)

The third commitment of the class of '11 was announced today and it is a big one (literally and figuratively).  Chris Carter has a great name (spelled slightly differently than Cris Carter the All-American wideout) and was one of the staff's early offensive line targets.  Hailing from Cleveland John F. Kennedy, Carter is a load at 6'4" 340 lbs. and projects as a guard at the college level. 

Hopefully Chris is the first of a large group of lineman to verbal to OSU in the near future.  Other targets include Michael Bennett, Brian Bobek, and Aundrey Walker.

Source: http://bucknuts.com/index.php/
Football-Recruiting-Article/carter-is-a-buckeye/
menu-id-1346.html