2013 is here, I hope everyone rang in the New Year safe and sound but still had a lot of fun! With a new year brings the opportunity to look forward to what we are expecting and would like to see at this time next year. Let’s rumble!
No drop off on the d-line
For the first time in who knows how long, Ohio State will go into the upcoming football season replacing all four starters on its defensive front line. Gone are Jonathan Hankins, John Simon, Nathan Williams and Garret Goebel. The guys taking their place have big shoes to fill as Hankins may potentially be a top ten pick in the NFL draft, Williams and Simon were deadly on the ends (most notably when on the field together) while Goebel came into his own in 2011 and really blossomed in 2012 as a solid run stuffer. Goebel and Simon were named captains at the end of fall practice.
Fortunately, the Buckeyes appear to be loaded. We watched true freshman Tommy Schutt, Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence see significant snaps, some in critical junctures of big games. Junior Joel Hale was solid when called on. Another junior, Michael Bennett, has the potential to be the next “big time” defensive lineman at Ohio State. More troops are on the way as incoming freshman Tracy Sprinkle, Joey Bosa and Michael Hill are being looked at to perform as well as the Schutt-Spence-Washington trio did in 2012 or better.
There’s also the enigma that is J.T. Moore. He has the size and speed to be a steady hand in the rotation but has yet to show an ability to stay on the field when opportunities arise. Along with Moore, what will become of Chris Carter? Carter has the size to shut down run lanes in the manner that Hankins did in his career, but does he have the desire?
The REAL Linebacker U
Andy Katzenmoyer. A.J. Hawk. Ike Kelly. Bobby Carpenter. Randy Gradishar. Chris Spielman. Steve Tovar. Pepper Johnson. Tom Cousineau. James Laurinitis. Matt Wilhelm. Marcus Marek. Na’ill Diggs. Tell me, Penn State, is your list remotely close to this one? Didn’t think so.
When spring practice opens up, the Silver Bullets are going to be under the magnifying glass, perhaps no position more so than the linebackers.
Nobody questions that midway through his sophomore season Ryan Shazier became what we all thought he would be during his freshman campaign. He is the leader of the defense, a solid tackler and emerging playmaker.
Etienne Sabino has graduated and (fortunately) Storm Klein is out of eligibility and is graduating too. It leaves the question: Who’s the next man up?
We’ll see Curtis Grant (a former number one overall in the country linebacker recruit by many of the nerds who track these things) get another shot to prove he was worth the hype. It doesn’t leave us with much optimism seeing that he couldn’t crack into the rotation last year even when Sabino was out with injury. We never want to write a player off, especially one with his size, speed and potential, but if Grant sees significant time on the field or somehow cracks into the starting lineup, it will feel almost like a bonus.
Sophomores Joshua Perry, David Perkins and Cam Williams will get looks, but past them there isn’t anything to write home about so much so that there is literally almost no depth behind them. No offense to Craig Fada, Connor Crowell or Joe Burger, I’m just being realistic. It is why Urban Meyer has his eyes firmly set on undecided recruits Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson. They both project to be factors immediately should they decide to make Columbus their home for the next four years.
Accuracy and decision making
I’m looking forward to seeing the progress that Braxton Miller makes in his second season in Meyer’s offense. Miller is a highlight waiting to happen on nearly every snap, but Wisconsin may have come up with the solution: Find players, such as Dezmen Southward, that can contain Miller one-on-one in the open field (no easy task but something they accomplished in Madison last year) and force his receivers to win the subsequent one-on-one’s thus making Miller beat you with his arm and not his legs.
Another major negative to come from the Wisconsin game was that they proved when forced to make a decision, sometimes Braxton Miller can hesitate just enough to get himself into trouble. This is where another year of being in Meyer’s offense will help. Instead of making decisions, we should see Miller simply react in 2013.
Don’t underestimate the positive effects of the work Miller put in out in San Diego with quarterback guru George Whitfield. The client list alone for Whitfield is enough to make you understand that the guy knows what he is doing. The guy who put his stamp on names like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Johnny Manziel, Landry Jones, E.J. Manuel and Tajh Boyd spent some quality time with number 5 for the Ohio State Buckeyes? Yes, please.
We discussed the defensive line, well how about the offensive line? Losing one senior (Reid Fragel) on what turned out to be a pretty solid front five means the 2013 offensive line should be dominant. I’m guessing Braxton Miller sleeps well.
Ben Buchanan is graduating. Who punts in 2013?
At the time of the writing, we still have no word on if Bradley Roby or Carlos Hyde are NFL-bound or coming back to Ohio State. Selfishly I’d like to see them both back, but I can understand and see the reasons why both may go. Hyde will be in a crowded backfield with Rod Smith, Bri’ontee Dunn and Warren Ball. The Buckeyes also get Jordan Hall back (medical redshirt approved) and incoming freshman Ezekial Elliot seems like an all-world type talent that is going to push for reps as well. Roby is being discussed amongst the top 5-10 corners to be picked, which means a lot of money should he declare for the NFL.
The new court at the Schottenstein Center is beautiful! I love the throwback to the old St. John says with the state of Ohio in the center. The Big Ten logo shadowed in the paint is also a nice change to having it emblazoned on the floor and sticking out like a sore thumb.
I’m still not sold on the “The Big Ten is to basketball what the SEC is to football” for a couple of reasons: 1. Unless they win the tournament in April, it can be as good as it wants but it won’t matter. 2. I don’t believe the SEC is what everyone else thinks it is in football. You can bet there will be more on this in upcoming weeks.
Metallica track of the week
We kickoff 2013 and our first MTOTW of the new year with a classic: Creeping Death from the Orion Music and More festival in June of 2012 at Atlantic City’s Bader Field!