Penn State beat the Buckeyes in Columbus last season. Yeah, that means the Nittany Lions are 2-for-3 in the Horseshoe. Funny how that works. But that's last year. This is now, and both teams have new head coaches. Ohio State is coming off a decent size scandal and are mired in NCAA sanctions. How Urban Meyer and Co. handle the situation this fall remains to be seen. But anyone who sleeps on this team this year is a moron. Here we have'em, the Ohio St. Buckeyes.
Where they call home: Columbus, OH
Endless running begins/ends: March 28 / April 21 (Spring Game)
If they suck, this guy gets fired (yeah, right): Urban Meyer
Ohio State, like it or not, has dominated the Big Ten the last 11 years. In fact, it doesn't even come close. No, co-championships "won" when you lose the head-to-head with the other co-champ shouldn't count. But the Big Ten doesn't care about logic in that respect. The Buckeyes won a national championship and a record streak of recognized conference championships under Jim Tressel. Then the castle came tumbling down and now we have Teh Urbz in charge. He's killing it on the recruiting trail, helping mitigate the difficult, NCAA-sanctioned road ahead.
Coming off a 6-6 disaster in 2011, there's really nowhere to go but up for this program. To say otherwise doesn't make sense, as the roster is still packed with big-time talent and experience. But the big question remains: Can Meyer turn Ohio State into the national title caliber team it once was? And if so, how long will it take?
More specifics below the fold...
|More 2012 Spring Snapshots|
|Ohio Bobcats - 3.12.12|
|Virginia Cavaliers - 3.13.12|
|Navy Midshipmen - 3.14.12|
|Temple Owls - 3.15.12|
|Illinois Fighting Illini - 3.19.12|
|Northwestern Wildcats - 3.20.12|
|Iowa Hawkeyes - 3.21.12|
What they return...
Quarterback Braxton Miller isn't Tim Tebow... well, not yet. Okay, he may never finish his college career with the stats and hardware Tebow was able to under Meyer's guidance. But you have to put two and two together at some point. Miller tortured opponents with his legs, yet made them laugh (except for Wisconsin) with his arm. No Ohio State wide receiver caught more than 14 passes last season. Hey, at least we can break out the arm-punt memes once again.
Defensive lineman John Simon could have gone to the NFL this year. But he's back to lead a defense that returns all but one starter, and the guy replacing him has starting experience. Simon's presence up front is the kind of spark that causes lost yardage, turnovers, and huge plays for the defense. And if the offense takes a bit to get going this season, the defense will need every ounce of talent on this side of the ball.
What they lost...
Center Mike Brewster and tackle Mike Adams leave huge voids in the offensive line this year, something that won't help the young Miller & Co. This is a spot any team in the Big Ten can't afford to have a lack of experience and talent. Without Brewster, a four-year starter and multi-year All-American, and Adams, the line might take some time to gain its footing. The spring practice session will be critical to forming this unit into a group ready to take on an improving conference schedule.
Running back Dan "Boom" Herron only ran for just under 700 yards last season, but keep in mind six of those games were missed due to Tat-gate and other suspensions. In 2010, Herron ran for 1,155 yards, and was likely to break that mark and some in 2011. He and receiver DeVier Posey will be missed on offense, even if they were already being missed last season.
Meyer made the power-spread-option fashionable and deadly with Alex Smith at Utah and later with Tim Tebow at Florida. With Miller taking the snaps already, Meyer's system should have little problem fitting in the current personnel. Its effectiveness on the field remains to be seen this fall, but at least we'll get a preview this spring. The schedule is tough, but not impossible, as both Nebraska and Michigan come to Columbus, while a nice home date with Cal boosts the non-conference slate. The Buckeyes can't go to a bowl game, or win the conference. But they can win games, and spoil a few seasons along the way. It looks like Meyer's reign of terror over the Big Ten will have to wait one more year.
See you next week as we continue Spring Snapshot 2012.