Offensive: At the skill positions, the Buckeyes are well-stocked with weapons. They also possess the ultimate weapon — junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Long before he arrived on campus, Pryor’s play-making reputation was well-known throughout the Big Ten. He has shown flashes of that. Now he is seeking consistency. His size and speed are off the charts for a quarterback. His 779 rushing yards led the Buckeyes last season (not necessarily a good thing in Ohio State’s mindset). His accuracy must improve. That could be a simple fix because he’s surrounded by great talent. Senior Brandon Saine has the look of a classic Ohio State tailback. Pryor has big-play targets in junior DeVier Posey and senior Dane Sanzenbacher, plus the athletic ability of sophomore tight end Jake Stoneburner opens some intriguing possibilities. Four starters return on the offensive line, including senior guard Justin Boren, a mauler, but the player to watch is junior Mike Adams, the new left tackle, who has been limited by injuries.
Defensive: It should be business as usual for a unit that returns seven starters, including one of the nation’s most dominant performers, senior defensive end Cameron Hayward, who had 6.5 sacks last season. Senior defensive tackle Dexter Latimore returns for his third season as a starter. The team’s two leading tacklers, senior linebackers Ross Homan and Brian Rolle, are also back. The only minor concern is replacing the two safeties, but the Buckeyes are high on the potential of sophomore Orhian Johnson.
Specialists: Devin Barclay, the senior place-kicker, is a great story. He’s a 27-year-old former professional soccer player, but he has found a home with Ohio State. He was 7-for-10 on field-goal attempts, including an overtime game-winner to defeat Iowa and send the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl. Inexperienced sophomore Ben Buchanan is the new punter. There will also be new faces in the return game, and Ohio State features a plethora of candidates.
Coaching: Jim Tressel will earn his 100th victory in this 10th season with the school this fall. Do the math. That’s the hallmark of consistency and stability. Tressel is sometimes criticized for his conservative nature and inability to win BCS bowl games (three-game losing streak prior to defeating Oregon in last season’s Rose Bowl), but you can’t dispute his elevation of Ohio State into a consistent national power.
Heisman hopefuls: Pryor is front and center in the Heisman race. He has name recognition. He’s coming off a stellar performance in a high-profile bowl game. He plays quarterback for a team expected to contend for the national championship. Yes, he has all the key ingredients. Now he must deliver.
Next up: No. 3 TCU
DPS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban was recently trash-talked by colleagues, and he tells Dan Patrick he wishes he was spoken to in private prior to the insults.
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Saban hurt by colleagues' comments?
DPS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban was recently trash-talked by colleagues, and he tells Dan Patrick what he think of these comments.
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