1) Reports keep coming up of what seem like absurd sack margins. Some people say the right side of the line in particular is really struggling with pass protection. The line in general apparently is. The left side of the line is in chaos, we hear. Boren’s injury opened the door for a walk-on (Andrew Moses) and a never-quite-was (Connor Smith) on first team left guard. Highly-touted Mike Adams began camp in a position where he almost had to implode in order to lose his spot. He’s now rotating on the third team. Are you close to pushing the panic button?
Honestly, I am extremely disappointed in the reports of our offensive line play. No offense to Rehring or Boone, but I thought our line would upgrade this season despite losing some experience. It really isn't comforting that Pryor's backside is going to be protected by a starter decided at the last second before the season starts. I personally chalk it up to continual bad coaching on the offensive line, because the staff has recruited too many studs to see such little production produced. With that said, I don't want to take anything away from how talented the defensive line is. They should be causing this same kind of havoc on every team they go up against.
There have been a ton of interesting stories and reports coming from the linebacker position, a lot thanks to injuries, but Brian Rolle has to take the cake. Outside of the A.J. Hawk days, the middle linebacker generally gets the most attention at Ohio State, and this year will be no different. There are more physically impressive specimens in the linebacking core for the Buckeyes, but none have the heart or explosion that Rolle possesses. Not only that, but I think the defensive line will do its job so that Rolle doesn't have to shed an insane amount of blocks. So, I think he has the ability to become the face of the Buckeye defense in 2009.
3) By time the Buckeyes head up to That State Up North, the Buckeye receiver rotation will look like:
Posey, Sanzenbacher, and Small. Posey and Sanzenbacher are pretty much locks for the season unless an injury happens, but Small is the wild card. I put him there because I want to believe he turns things around and redeems himself in his senior season. The other guys to watch out for are Washington and Carter. Washington will have his chance to steal Small's role early in the season, and if he burns down the field catching the long ball the way he has shown signs of, he might be the one come November 21st. Carter easily is one of the best receivers on the team and will get plenty of playing time, but I think he plays too similar to Posey for Tressel to start him. Posey seems to be Pryor's favorite target so that is why I give him the edge, even though I think Carter has greater intangibles.
4) What’s the single biggest concern for the Buckeyes in the secondary?
This one is pretty obvious, the biggest concern is the corner play. Not only do the young Buckeye corners need to show the are capable of making plays one-on-one in coverage, but they also need to prove the can come up and help stop the run. The Buckeyes cannot win the big game playing strictly zone, as they have proved in recent history, especially if they are trying to hide a corner. With the diverse passing attacks being developed and perfected, the Buckeyes need strong corner play!
5) How much improvement are you expecting in the passing game and from Terrelle Pryor in particular?
I think the Buckeyes passing attack takes a huge step forward this season, but is still one season from being a force. I say this because I think the passing attack improves because Pryor is a much different player, but unfortunately I don't have a ton of confidence in the game plan. Much like the days of Troy Smith, the passing game will only be as good as Pryor's athleticism makes it.
Extra Credit: I genuinely like our pre-Big Ten schedule. Navy, USC and Toledo (in Cleveland) is infinitely more interesting than something else that includes Youngstown State, Akron or hosting the Ohio MAC snacks. Construct your ideal 3-game pre-conference schedule, including who you would go on the road to face and who you would want at home. I imagine USC is as good of an opponent you could ask for in that desired primetime slot. Who else would you want?
As for this season, I really like our non-Conference schedule outside of playing Navy. I hate that we are playing a team with such a distinct style before playing a big time opponent with a completely opposite style a week later in USC. I think it would be different to play a Conference USA team like Memphis or Marshall (like next year) in Navy's slot, and would be a nice switch from the MAC. As for the future I am extremely happy we are playing teams like Miami of Florida, Cal, and Virginia Tech. Don't get me wrong I have loved the hype of USC and Texas, but I think the Buckeyes can help repair the Big Ten's imagine by overpowering teams, that as of now, are not up to the level of Ohio State.