Way Too Early Look: Defensive Line (updated)

Written April 15th, 2010 by Jim

Last season the defensive line was the anchor of the team, and one of the best (if not the best) units in the entire country. In 2010, the line will look to continue the dominance they established in 2009, but will be missing a few key players as well as a lot of quality depth.

Luckily, there are also lots of young players in the pipeline itching to get on the field, giving Buckeye fans some competition to look forward to in the spring.

Perhaps most importantly for the line, Cameron Heyward chose to pass up NFL dollars and is staying in Columbus for one last go around in scarlet and gray. Heyward was the best player on a great defensive line last year and his return is a huge steps towards continued excellence on defense.

Best case scenario? Heyward pulls a Ndamukong Suh in his senior season.

That is setting the bar pretty high, and I don’t really expect Heyward to be in the running for the Heisman, but a Suh-like level of domination is certainly within the realm of possibilities for him.

Yeah, his decision to return is a pretty big deal.

Outside of Heyward, Ohio State has a a few other players returning from the rotation last season, and a few young guys with a ton of potential looking to get on the field for the first time. Join me after the jump for an in depth look at each position along the defensive line and the players that will be playing them.

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Way Too Early Look: Linebackers (updated)

Written April 15th, 2010 by Jim

Long time readers (if there are any of you out there) know that linebacker is my favorite position, so this should be fun. Adding to the fun is the absolutely ridiculous amount of talent that the Buckeyes are packing in the linebacking corps right now.

Ohio State has depth, experience, talent, youth, and probably a few other things at linebacker going in to next year.

The only loss from last year is fifth year senior Austin Spitler.

Spitler was a solid performer for the Buckeyes last season (38 tackles, 5 tfl, 1 sack), and he did have some great moments, but there are several players waiting in the wings to take his place, and if there is any drop off at all, it should be minimal.

It can’t be overstated how much talent Ohio State has here. So rather than getting out a thesaurus and trying to find some creative adjectives, I will simply jump right in.

Join me after the jump for an in depth look at the 2010 Buckeye linebackers.

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Way Too Early Look: Defensive Backs (updated)

Written April 15th, 2010 by Jim

The DBs were hit pretty hard this year with the graduation of Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell.

On the other hand, both starting corner’s return as well as Jermale Hines, who started at safety and the star position in a total of eleven games last season. So while the Buckeyes did lose some starters and some depth, things aren’t exactly bleak either.

Speaking of Jermale Hines, he has the versatility to play either safety position as well as the star position (I will explain what that is more later), and he will probably start and play at multiple spots throughout the year. So yeah, I would just like to thank Mr. Hines right now for having the versatility to make the depth charts for DBs relatively meaningless right from the start.

Despite the uncertainty of the depth charts heading into spring, I am still going to attempt to put them together, so stick with me and as more information comes out in the spring I will certainly adjust them.

There is going to be a ton of experimentation here (particularly at safety), so I fully expect the actual depth charts to look nothing like the ones I put out there now.

Update: there actually appears to be a lot less experimentation at safety then I expected, Jermale Hines at free and Orhian Johnson at strong appears to be pretty set, there is some experimentation going on with the star position though.

Now that I have that covered, let’s move on to our in depth look at the 2010 defensive backs!

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Way Too Early Look: Offensive Line (updated)

Written April 15th, 2010 by Jim

The offensive line is probably the most publicized position at the moment due to missing out on three prospects on signing day. Update: not so much anymore, but LT is still one of the most interesting position battles this spring.

Those signing day disappointments also makes depth along the offensive line an area of concern for many Buckeye fans. Throw in the fact that Ohio State only loses one lineman (Jim Cordle) from 2009 and only gains one (Andrew Norwell) heading into 2010 and I would call the offensive line an ideal place to begin our look at next season.

Oh yeah, and the line is going to be good next season, maybe really good.

Many fans were disappointed to the point of calling  the 2010 recruiting class a bust due to the high profile recruiting misses last week. Well I am here, as always, to inject some optimism into the conversation for this season specifically, and for the future of the offensive line in general.

First let’s talk about the 2010 season. Ohio State has four returning starters along the offensive line, which is nice by itself. These four helped pave the way for well over 200 yards rushing per game over the last five contests of the 2009 regular season, which is even nicer.

Throw in the fact that the Buckeyes have quality young depth from the 2009 recruiting class and things look pretty good… at least to me… at least for the 2010 season.

In fact, I would even say that the 2010 offensive line could be the best of the Tressel era. The best in the Big Ten? Possibly. The best in the country? We can only hope.

The key to the offensive line achieving greatness? Two questions need to be answered. Who will play at left tackle? and can the line stay healthy?

Left tackle has been a question mark since the beginning of last season. With an extra year of experience under their belts, hopefully the two main contenders to fill the position can solidify their spot in the starting lineup, extra bonus points if they solidify it early in the spring. Update: Mike Adams appears to be relatively solidified as the starter, but Miller is still getting reps with the ones.

Health is the other major concern for the line. Last year injuries ravished the line early in the season, and the resurgence of the run game at the end of the year may have been simply due to the starting line returning to full strength.

Can the line stay healthy in 2010 and continue the momentum they established at the end of last season?

If they can… happy times.

Join me after the jump for a closer look at the each position as well as a look at the depth situation and possible future recruiting targets. Update: I took out the recruiting update, there will be lots of posts focusing on the recruiting after the spring game, also, Ohio State signed four offensive lineman between the time I posted this and now.

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Way Too Early Look: QB, WR, RB (updated)

Written April 15th, 2010 by Jim

I actually don’t enjoy writing about the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers as much as I enjoy writing about other positions (which is why I have been putting it off until last). This is mostly due to the large amount of coverage already heaped on these players. It becomes difficult to say something that hasn’t already been said… over and over.

At the same time, when you think ahead to next season, what jumps into most people’s minds are visions of Terrelle Pryor decimating defenses in the air and on the ground, Boom Herron and Brandon Saine bursting through the line for big gains, DeVier Posey and Duron Carter hauling in deep bombs over helpless defenders, and a host of other exciting offensive plays that make for sweet highlight reels.

So while I don’t necessarily enjoy writing about these positions as much as I do others for fear of being unoriginal, I do think I have some interesting things to say (so read it anyways!).

And I have to admit, even for a “the games are won in the trenches” devotee like myself, the skill positions should be pretty damn exciting to watch next year.

So join me after the jump for an in depth look at the offensive skill positions!

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