Wednesday, August 26, 2009

10 Questions Swirling Around the 2009 Ohio State Buckeyes - Public Health and Expectations

Posted by HD Handshoe

1) How much depends on QB Terrelle Pryor?

Everything. He’d better be really good, because most of the Buckeyes’ alpha dogs on offense are gone: Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline at receiver, Chris “Beanie” Wells at tailback, a couple of linemen and the reassuring presence of backup quarterback Todd Boeckman.

2) Who’s the tailback?

Dan “Boom” Herron will get first shot at replacing Wells. Former high school sprint champion Brandon Saine is now seen as an uber-back, capable of giving Herron a break but also a distinct threat to catch passes out of the backfield. This looks like a potential platoon position.

3) Any freshmen who’ll play right away?

Despite his arrest on minor drug charges, it appears Jaamal Berry will be in the mix at tailback – particularly if Herron and Saine can’t get a firm grip on the job. It figures that Duron Carter’s bloodlines (he’s the son of legendary OSU and NFL pass-catcher Cris Carter) will get him on the field. Tyler Moeller’s season-ending head injury might open the door for an Adam Homan, Storm Klein or Dorian Bell to show what they’ve got at linebacker. It could also be the case that the injury will be discussed by public health programs around the country as the head injuries caused by playing football are a growing area of concern.

4) What are some problem areas?

The absence of the top two tacklers – linebackers James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman – means that somebody else will have to make up for the loss of 214 of Ohio State’s 901 tackles from a year ago.

5) If Tressel’s right, and the punt is the most important play in football, then how important is the punter spot?

Don’t worry about placekicker because Aaron Pettrey will be a quality replacement for the graduated Ryan Pretorius. Punter A.J. Trapasso is gone as well and he will likely be replaced by the unproven Jon Thoma, who has all of two punts since coming to Ohio State.

6) Will this be a running or a passing team?

Silly question. Unless Pryor has suddenly channeled Dan Marino, he’ll likely fall back on what he knows and does best – run, run and when all else fails, run. Even though he had a fine passing year as a freshman (61 percent, 12 touchdowns, 4 interceptions), Pryor was seldom put in a position where he had to complete a pass in order to avoid a defeat.

Tressel looks at his group of tailbacks, his young wide receivers and his big and fast quarterback and knows it adds up to a big rushing attack.

7) What drives this team?

For the vets, it’s the chance to make it five Big Ten titles in a row. Only once has Ohio State done that. Three consecutive Bowl Championship Series losses have moved the focus to taking care of business in their own backyard.

8) When will we find out how good this team is?

That’s easy: Sept. 12, around 11:30 p.m. A year ago, Southern California absolutely bamboozled the Buckeyes, 35-3. If the Trojans do it again, this time in Ohio Stadium, any Buckeye national title aspirations can be put aside immediately.

9) Any trap games to watch out for?

Not really. The schedule sets up really well for Tressel and Co. It may sound funny to say this because of the Wolverines’ record last season, but one game to watch out for is at Michigan on Nov. 21.

10) OK, what’s a reasonable expectation for the 2009 season?

Another BCS berth isn’t out of the question coming out of the mediocre Big Ten, although the 2009 Buckeyes appear to be a year away from making a run at the title game for the third time in four years.

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