Friday, August 27, 2010

Ohio State Football: The Top Five Storylines of Fall Camp 2010

Tim Bielik—Featured Contributor / Storm the Field Founder

We are one week away from the joyous return of college football for the 2010 season.

And that means camps such as the one run by Jim Tressel at Ohio State are winding down to their final days.

With national championship expectations and QB Terrelle Pryor receiving plenty of Heisman hype entering his junior season, this camp has been looked at as one of the most competitive and entertaining camps in the last few seasons.

And in any camp, there are new players that break out, old ones that are reemerging, and sometimes the unexpected.

The Buckeyes will end camp soon before making final preparations for Ohio State's first home game of the season Thursday, September 2 against Marshall.

With camp coming to a close very soon, here is a look back at the top five storylines of 2010 camp in Columbus.

Number Five - The NCAA Clearinghouse vs. Roderick Smith

Of all the freshmen Ohio State brought in for the 2010 season, one notable absence has been Fort Wayne, IN product Roderick Smith.

Smith, who rushed for 6,620 yards in four seasons of high school, signed in February as possibly the most-hyped player of the recruiting class.

But questions about his grades surfaced, and he had to stay in Indiana to take summer classes.

And even after he seemed to gain eligibility, he was never given clearance to join his fellow teammates at fall practices.

At this point, whether or not Smith does come to Columbus this fall (which it seems like he will), it is all but a guarantee that the big freshman back will redshirt.

But odds were good that Smith would redshirt anyway, because of the depth at running back.

For whatever reason, the NCAA has not given a decision either way yet about Smith's eligibility, which is strange because it has been some time since Smith finished up summer classes and his grades should be out.

Hopefully, they can decide soon so the freshman back can learn whether or not he will get to practice with his future Buckeye teammates this season or wait another year to come to Columbus.

Number Four - Injuries, Transfers Leaving Sudden Question Marks

Keith Wells, Duron Carter, Jermil Martin: those are three of the players that have left the Buckeyes' program, although Wells and Carter could find their way back.

Wells and Carter were forced to leave due to academic issues, the latter of whom has had problems dating back to the Rose Bowl, where he was ruled ineligible because of poor grades after the fall quarter in 2009.

Martin has left the OSU program entirely due to the depth at the running back position and transferred to Ashland University.

Meanwhile, fall camp seems to have taken some of the starters from the OSU defense and put them on the sidelines due to injuries.

Most notable to miss time have been DE Nathan Williams, S Orhian Johnson, and both starting CBs Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence.

While all four should be able to play in the season opener against Marshall, the trend of injuries is more concerning when combined with the sudden loss of key depth players on the Buckeye roster.

Tressel has said a few times that if it were a game, these guys would be playing.

Number Three - Corey "Philly" Brown, Johnny Hankins Shining as True Freshmen

Every season, there are some freshmen that step right into fall camp and have an immediate impact.

For the Buckeyes, in a class that wasn't ranked very high by most recruiting services, mostly due to a low amount of commits, it seems that they have found a pair of talented freshmen, one on each side of the ball.

Corey "Philly" Brown has been a great find in the offense and can see immediate playing time in special packages.

The coaches have been impressed with Brown's speed and play-making ability in the open field. He has also caught the eye of Terrelle Pryor, who said that Brown may be the next DeSean Jackson.

Even though the talent at WR for the Buckeyes is pretty deep and Brown may only be fifth or sixth on the depth chart, he has the type of athleticism and speed that makes it almost impossible to keep him off the field.

Defensively, one player that has had quite a big—literally—impact may be DT Jonathan Hankins, who came into fall camp weighing over 300 lbs.

Even though Hankins is working out some conditioning issues, due to his size, he is a guy that can simply eat up blockers and has surprising quickness for his size.

He may not start right away, but there is a very good chance Buckeye fans will get to see Big Hank sooner rather than later.

Number Two - Incorporating the Tight End Into the Offense

In recent years, the idea of the tight end being involved in the Ohio State passing game has not manifested itself.

But this year, Jake Stoneburner, a converted wideout, is looking to change that.

Stoneburner, a junior from nearby Dublin, OH, has moved to the tight end position, and reports out of camp say that he has been very effective.

His combination of his height at 6'6", and speed, a mid-4.5 40-yard time, makes him a giant mismatch from either the WR or the TE position.

The goal for offensive coordinators Jim Bollman and Darrell Hazell will be to find a way to use Stoneburner as a weapon in the middle of the field.

So far, their efforts to incorporate Stoneburner have been positive, which could add a dimension that Ohio State has not had in a long time: an impact TE.

But don't expect Stoneburner to be used solely as a TE.

The coaches like his versatility and may line him up outside to take advantage of his athleticism.

With what Ohio State has lacked in offensive production, they need all the weapons they can get. And based on the reports, Stoneburner can be a guy that can make things happen.

Number One - The Maturation and Growth of Terrelle Pryor

Much has been made of Terrelle Pryor, as a Heisman candidate, and an improving passer. But what has changed has been his personality.

Pryor, although he will not be one of the six captains on the Buckeyes in 2010, has taken on much more of a leadership role.

But it seems as if the young QB from western Pennsylvania has matured and been humbled after his first two seasons.

The growth, which has been dramatic since the eye black incident during the Navy game back in September of 2009, has caught the attention of Pryor's teammates who felt he was arrogant when he came to OSU as a freshman.

When he had been told for two years that he was the best player in the country, it would be hard to blame him.

But two years with Jim Tressel, who has been credited with being a coach that has molded his players into high-character people, has certainly helped Pryor.

Whether or not this necessarily translates into more success on the field is anybody's guess.

But if there is any question as to whether or not Pryor will be a better leader, he hopefully will answer it starting next week.

A Few Other Noteworthy Buckeye Bits

After suffering a season-ending knee injury, junior LB Andrew Sweat has reportedly won the final starting OLB job from junior Etienne Sabino, as reported by Brandon Castel of The O-Zone.

Sweat and Sabino, both highly-recruited LBs out of high school and ranked in the top 10 by most recruiting services, were contending for the third starting job alongside seniors Ross Homan and Brian Rolle.

But losing the starting job doesn't necessarily mean we won't see No. 6 in the defense.

The coaches like his athleticism and have tried to implement him at the LEO, or small DE position, and even at the STAR, which is essentially a combination of DB/LB in the traditional 4-3 set.

For Buckeye fans that have been long awaiting the debut of highly-touted redshirt freshman back Jaamal Berry, they may not have to wait long.

The coaches believe that Berry will have the opportunity to get multiple carries during the Marshall game.

In the recent jersey scrimmage, Berry rushed for 64 yards on 17 carries and had one reception for 10 yards.

The six captains (all seniors) were announced earlier Wednesday.

The 2010 football captains are DE Cameron Heyward, OL Bryant Browning, RB Brandon Saine, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, and LBs Brian Rolle, and Ross Homan.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ohio State-Marshall 2010 Season Opener: Preview, History Lesson, And Prediction

Game Preview

The 2010 Ohio State football season is set to kickoff next Thursday night (9/2/10) at 7:30PM on the Big Ten Network as the Buckeyes host the Thundering Herd from Marshall University.

The Herd are coming off of a disappointing 7-6 season and are now under the direction of new head coach, Doc Holliday.

It could be understating the situation to say that Marshall is not currently a very good football program. Basically, the program has been down ever since Byron Leftwich departed in 2003.

They have several big holes to fill where they had talented players last year, or where they were projected to have them in 2010.

Their top rusher in 2009, Darius Marshall, declared for the NFL after the season and just a little over a week ago, it was announced that QB Willie Korn, a once-highly-regarded transfer from Clemson is now leaving Marshall for DII North Greenville after being told he would be moved from quarterback to safety.

Contrarily, Jim Tressel's Buckeyes are coming off an 11-2 season which culminated with their 26-17 Rose Bowl win over then-No. 7 Oregon, a game which has been billed as Terrelle Pryor's coming out party.

The Buckeyes did lose a handful of very good players from last year's team, but they return 16 starters and many of the projected new starters were used as part of a two-deep rotation so they are not raw and inexperienced.

As (unintentionally) disrespectful as this is going to sound, the fact is that even Ohio State's third or fourth string players could almost certainly defeat the first team squad from this Marshall team.

Since this is the season opener, I will mention a few of the key players from each team and list their respective stats from 2009. This section will be slightly different in future "preview article" editions over the coming weeks as the season progresses.

Marshall—By the Numbers

QB—Brian Anderson (6'3, 213) - Senior

In 13 starts, Anderson had 2,646 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a QB rating of 118.96. He was also sacked 24 times.

RB—Martin Ward (5'9, 201) - Sophomore

As a backup in 2009, Ward rushed for 393 yards and three scores, all while averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

WR—Antavious Wilson (6'0, 196) - Sophomore

Wilson led the Herd in receiving last year with 60 receptions for 724 yards and three touchdowns. He played in all 13 games a year ago, and in two of those games he had over 150 yards receiving.

WR—Aaron Dobson (6'3, 203) - Sophomore

Appearing in only six games last season, Dobson caught 15 balls for 358 yards and four touchdowns.

LB—Mario Harvey (6'0, 250) - Senior

Harvey led the Marshall defense in 2009 with 117 tackles and 7.5 sacks and he also had 1.5 tackles for loss.

LB—Kellen Harris (6'3, 232) - Junior

Harris recorded 71 tackles including 5.5 tackles for loss as well as one-half of a sack.

FS—Omar Brown (5'11, 194) - Junior

Brown's 73 tackles are second only to Harvey's 117 among returnees. He also has 10 passed defended ans two interceptions.

Ohio State—By the Numbers

QB—Terrelle Pryor (6'6, 235) - Junior

Pryor led the Buckeyes both through the air and on the ground, passing for 2,094 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushing for 779 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also threw 11 interceptions, a feat that he preferably not repeat or exceed in 2010.

RB—Brandon Saine (6'1, 220) - Senior

Saine is a dual-threat back who rushed for 739 yards and four touchdowns with a 5.1 yards per carry average. He also caught 17 passes for 224 yards and two scores—not bad considering he was part of a running-back-by-committee approach used last season in Columbus.

RB—Dan Herron (5'10, 202) - Junior

In eight full games, Herron rushed for 600 yards and scored seven touchdowns last season, but potentially see his role (and stats) diminished in 2010. With the emergence of a healthy Brandon Saine, as well as talented youngsters Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, and Carlos Hyde all looking to earn their share of playing time, Boom could be relegated to just a 3rd down and/or goal line back.

WR—DeVier Posey (6'2, 213) - Junior

Posey led Ohio State in receiving with 60 catches for 828 yards and eight touchdowns. He had over 100 yards receiving twice last year, and he caught the fourth quarter touchdown that sealed the victory over Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

WR—Dane Sanzenbacher (5'11, 180) - Senior

Sanzenbacher wasn't that far behind Posey with six touchdown grabs and 570 receiving yards last season. His value and stats could increase this year as OSU is talented, but young and inexperienced, and in at least one case inconsistent, at the wide receiver position after he and Posey.

TE—Jake Stoneburner (6'6, 245) - Sophomore

Stoneburner had just two catches for 30 yards in 2009, but all indications from the Spring game are that he will be used as an extra receiver quite often in addition to his blocking duties.

DT—Cameron Heyward (6'5, 290) - Senior

Heyward came back for his senior year to "be the best" and to hopefully win the Big Ten and a national title. He posted 46 tackles with 3.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks. Although the stats don't tell the full story or include how often he was double-teamed, he will need to nearly double those numbers this year to truly be considered the best ever lineman at Ohio State. I'm not sure that he can, but he might. He's that good.

LB—Ross Homan (6'0, 230) - Senior

Homan quietly led the Buckeyes in tackles with 108 in addition to his two sacks and five interceptions. I see no reason why he won't post similar stats in 2010.

LB—Brian Rolle (5'11, 220) - Senior

Rolle emerged as a star immediately last year when he became the hero against Navy in the too-close-for-comfort 2009 opener. He recorded one sack and was second on the team in tackles just behind Homan with 95, seven of them for loss. Another big year out of Rolle should be on tap.

Ohio State—Marshall: History Lesson and Other Tidbits

• This will be only the second ever meeting between Ohio State and Marshall.

• Ohio State defeated Marshall 24-21 on a last play, 55 yard FG in 2004.

• Ohio State has won 31 straight home openers by an average of 20 ppg.

• Since 2001 under Jim Tressel, Ohio State is 35-8 vs. non-conference opponents.

• Overall since 2001, Ohio State is 56-7 at home.

• Marshall is 0-5 all-time vs. Big Ten opponents.

• Marshall has lost 10 straight road openers by an average of 23 ppg.

• Marshall is 1-13 all-time and has lost 9 straight vs. ranked FBS opponents.

Summary and Prediction

We know No. 2 Ohio State is highly regarded and should have a very potent offense to compliment one of the stingiest and best defensive units in the nation.

We also know that no matter how you slice it, Marshall is clearly considered a cupcake in anyone's opinion unless if you are asking a coach, player, or fan of the Herd.

Like I said before, I am not trying to be overly disrespectful to the Marshall program, but it has seen its' better days.

The 2004 game was a fluke, so with all that being said, it is time for my not-so-surprising final score prediction.

Let it be known that I wouldn't be shocked by a shutout, and even though Ohio State could easily break 50+ points, Tressel is a classy coach that tends not to run it up just for "style points" like the Urban Meyer's of the world.

Ohio State 45
Marshall 3


I am having surgery next week so I might not be able to sit at the computer for an extended period of time, meaning I may or may not publish any articles for the next couple of weeks. It will depend on how I am recovering (hopefully fast) and the level of pain and discomfort (hopefully very little or none) I am experiencing post-op.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ohio State's Quarterback Enigma: Lack of Depth Behind Terrelle Pryor a Big Concern?

By Doug Tarnovich - Contribtor

In the first game of the 2009 season, the Oklahoma Sooners lost Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford to what would end up becoming a season ending shoulder injury. That left things up to his backup Landry Jones, and though an 8-5 record isn't what folks hope for in Norman, they should be pleased with a second stringer who threw for more than 3,100 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Texas lost Colt McCoy in the national championship game against Alabama. The Crimson Tide was already favored, but without the Longhorns' best player, Texas should have been blown out of the water.

Not so.

Garrett Gilbert, a freshman, managed to bring Texas within a field goal half way through the fourth quarter before Alabama pulled away for good. Typically, two touchdowns to four interceptions is pretty bad. But considering the circumstances, Gilbert did all his coach, teammates, and fans could've asked for.

Both quarterbacks were highly recruited to be the heir apparent. Both led their high school teams to state titles. Both are highly decorated. They each boast crazy statistics.

Here's a couple of questions for you, Buckeye fans:

Who is Ohio State's Landry Jones?

Who is the Buckeye version of Garrett Gilbert?

Could Kenny Guiton or Taylor Graham keep the Buckeye offense competitiveve if Terrelle Pryor were to go down? Maybe. Nobody thought much of Troy Smith when he came to Columbus. But the facts are the facts.

Guiton was a three-star recruit who the Buckeyes snagged only after they whiffed at elite prospect Tajh Boyd who opted for Clemson. In other words, Guiton was an afterthought.

Graham hasn't played a full season since he was a sophomore at Wheaton North High School in Wheaton, IL. He broke his ankle during the fifth game of his junior year then tore his PCL the following year, missing the strong majority of the schedule. Maybe that's why he was only given a two-star rating.

Neither prospect was highly sought after. Neither got offers from other perennial powerhouse college programs. Neither led their respective teams to state championships. Neither received any prestigious awards. On paper, the prospects aren't too encouraging.

What about Joe Bauserman? Any analysis there?

Yeah. Bad. That's all you need to know. And by the way, "Bad" was all the Buckeyes had last year for a backup.

Why does the Ohio State University—highly ranked every year with multiple BCS bowl appearances, great recruiting, and a gateway to the NFL—have such a dilemma when it comes to football's most important position? Quarterbacks should be breaking down the door, but havn't been the last couple of years.

Perhaps the explanation can be found in the fact that Terrelle Pryor, as a sophomore, was the unquestioned starter for the 2009 season. Certainly, a more immediate chance to start made a convincing argument too tempting for Boyd to turn down. Perhaps Pryor was just a year too young to make room for a future star at the position unless, of course, Pryor laid an egg against an inferior opponent.

Oh, wait. That actually happened.

Some called for Pryor to move to wide receiver. Maybe he would have succeeded as such had he a competent No. 2 throwing the ball. Head coach Jim Tressel apparently didn't think he did. As bad as Terrelle played against Purdue, the other options were far less appealing.

But this offseason has yielded some good news. Guiton had a solid performance in the spring game, leading the Gray team to a 17-14 victory. He completed 11 out of 21 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. There are also reports that Graham had a good showing at Ohio State's jersey scrimmage.

Whoever it is, one of these guys needs to step it up. It'll be another year before star recruit Braxton Miller puts on the scarlet and gray. In the meantime, there needs to be at least one valid option in case something happens with Pryor, be it injury or meltdown.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Ohio State's Three Game Season on the Road to the 2010 BCS Title

Miami, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

When looking at the Ohio State 2010 schedule, those three games vs. those three teams are what will make, or break, the season for the Buckeyes.

Sorry to those other nine teams and their fans.

Sorry to the countless Buckeye haters who think we fans are cocky and our team is overrated—take a number.

We're good and we know it, and we're not afraid to show it. Now that I have all that out of the way, let's dig in to the meat of this article.

Ohio State almost certainly must go 12-0 to control their own destiny and to ensure their chance at another BCS title. Just one loss will likely derail the entire season, one in which the coaches, players, and fans all believe this really is our year.

EA Sports thinks this could be the year of the Buckeye too!

While I think it will be a tall task to win all three of those games, I do not believe that we will lose all three as ESPN's Brian Griese and Eric Kuselias (both Michigan guys by the way) predicted on Thursday's edition of College Football Live.

I do however believe it will prove to be very difficult to go undefeated, but it could happen and here's my take on each game.

9/11/2010 Vs. Miami

I believe Miami is good, but they are also being a tad over-hyped and overvalued by the sports media, their fans, and possibly themselves, just as Oregon was prior to the 2010 Rose Bowl.

Oregon was a better team last year than Miami will be this year. I don't personally subscribe to the transitive property but for what it's worth, last year Ohio State beat Wisconsin 31-13 and Wisconsin beat Miami 20-14, and that game was not as close as the final score.

As for the Buckeyes, too many people are predicting or expecting or hoping perhaps that their "D" will not be as good this season, when in reality, it will be as good and might actually be even better than last years.

I believe it could be close in the first half, but the Bucks will pull away in the third and fourth quarters and beat Miami by 14-17 points. 33-17 sounds about right in this one.

10/16/2010 At Wisconsin

Wisconsin is the game I expect to be our toughest.

John Clay is a great RB, although we held him down last season, but they also have a good QB in Scott Tolzien, and a solid O-line and pretty decent receivers too.

Plus it's in Camp Randall. I know we can win, but we could definitely lose this game just as easily. I'm expecting it to be much closer than last years game, so I am hoping for another finish to this game like the one in 2008 where we won in the final minute.

Then again, maybe our offense just overwhelms their defense and we win going away....

Wouldn't that would be sweet?

The key will be our offense not sputtering out as it did in 2009 against their defense, which is not nearly as good as their offensive unit.

Our "D" saved the day last year, but let's not take any chances this time around.

I'm going with the Buckeyes to win by less than 10, so 27-21 is my guess.

11/20/2010 At Iowa

Iowa will be another tough game, but it's their defense that could give us fits and a low-scoring close game could be on tap.

I must admit I'm much more confident that we can beat Iowa in their place than I am about playing in Madison, but I am not overconfident either.

Iowa is a good team and they didn't lose much from last year's squad. And remember, we needed O/T to beat them at home last year.

I think we will win this year, but it will probably be very close just like last season. Or maybe Stanzi is healthy and does what Stanzi does and our "D" turns 2010 OSU/Iowa into 2009 OSU/Wisconsin regardless of any potential woes we have on offense.

I think it will be a relatively low scoring, defensive battle with the Bucks pulling out a hard fought "W" by a score of 24-13 or something close to that.

BONUS: 11/13/2010 Vs. Penn State

Just in case anyone is wondering about Penn State being a legit threat to the Bucks this season, go ahead and stop now.

The Nittany Lions should be improved by the time they come to Columbus, but not enough to beat the Buckeyes in The Shoe—Not this year.

They were much better in 2009 and OSU went to Happy Valley and beat them up to the tune of 24-7.

This year's meeting could be an even bigger blowout. 38-13 sounds about right to me.

Then again, there's always Tresselball, so a modest ho-hum 28-13 win could be more realistic, but a win nonetheless.

We Are the Champions...

With the wins over those four teams, that's a 12-0 perfect season and another trip to the BCS title game for the Buckeyes!

Of course I know after reading this, there are many of you that hate Ohio State and me even more now than you already did.

That's why there's a comment section.


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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vlogging and Blogging The Buckeyes: A Top to Bottom Preview of Ohio State's 2010 Running Back Stable

Every Buckeye fan knows that Ohio State has a lot of depth at the running back position, but others outside of the Buckeye Nation don't know about these young men as we do.

As Fall camp is soon to be nearing completion, and with the start of the season just two weeks away, it seemed like a fitting time to let everyone know just how deep and talented (albeit raw in some cases) the 2010 Buckeyes will be by taking a look at each of our backs that will have a chance to contribute on the field this season.

Brandon Saine

Not staying healthy has always been the knock on Saine, but entering this season, all systems are go for Zoom.

There is still likely to be somewhat of a running back by committee approach, but Saine is expected to get the lion's share of the workload.

A year ago, a relatively healthy Saine posted 963 rushing and receiving yards combined, scoring four touchdowns on the ground and two through the air.

This season, not only will he carry the ball, but as evidenced by the Oregon game, he will also be used as a receiver out of the backfield and from the slot at times.

For Saine, plays like the one at 1:25 of this video should become a regular occurrence this season.

If (big if) he can remain healthy, Saine is going to be used a lot like Reggie Bush was at USC, (sans the free house and cash in return) so don't be surprised when he has a big year for the Bucks.

Dan Herron

Two words come to mind when thinking of Boom—very dependable.

By all accounts, Boom is a very hard worker and a great team mate. In 2009, Herron gained 600 yards on the ground for a 3.9 yards per carry average and scored eight total touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving).

On occasion, he has shown the ability to break a big run, but he's also been somewhat inconsistent at times. One minute he's breaking through for a big gain, then the next it's as if he trips over a blade of grass with nothing but wide open space ahead of him.

Hopefully we see more of what we saw against Michigan in 2008 from Boom this season and the next.

He needs to be more patient and let the play develop instead of running straight into a pile of bodies before the hole opens up. His field vision could also use some fine-tuning.

Doing those things should hopefully (for his sake as far as playing time goes) help him move his game to the next level.

Jordan Hall

The former HS teammate of QB Terrelle Pryor out of Jeannette, Pennsylvania filled in for the then-injured Saine and Herron and showed that he is strong, fast, and explosive out of the backfield.

Somewhat of an afterthought in the class of 2009, the undervalued Hall proved his worth when he had his opportunity and at least for now has been rewarded accordingly as the third running back in the pecking order.

In the six games he saw action in last season, Hall gained 248 yards on 48 carries for an average of 5.2 yards per carry, which was a higher ypc average than both Saine and Herron.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a video specifically of Hall from last year at Ohio State, but he played very similarly for the Buckeyes as he did for his HS team, the Jayhawks.

He was pretty solid on defense too as you'll see. It probably won't happen, but I wonder if a position change could be in his future given our depth at running back?

Here are a few highlights from his Jeannette days.

If Hall can hold off the surging and highly-touted Jaamal Berry for the No. 3 back behind the oft-injured Saine and Herron, he could find himself playing a key role for the Buckeyes in 2010 and could emerge as an unlikely star.

Jaamal Berry

Miami Palmetto's Jaamal Berry was the most prized recruit in the Ohio State 2009 recruiting class. Saying he was/is considered a can't miss star-to-be is almost an understatement.

But not every highly-regarded prospect lives up to the sometimes ridiculous hype and expectations. The jury is still out on Berry as he took a redshirt in 2009 after battling a nagging leg injury all season.

Although by most accounts coming out of camp, Berry sits at No. 4 behind two upperclassmen and fellow 2009 recruit Jordan Hall on the depth chart, many believe he also won't be down there for long.

He is a game breaker, possessing moves that have been compared to those of Barry Sanders and also is a literal speed-burner with another gear, allowing him to blow past defenders.

Obviously he has not seen any on-the-field action in the Scarlet and Gray as of yet, but take a look at this impressive highlight reel of him from his HS days.

After watching the video, I think it is easy to see why Buckeye fans are chomping at the bit to see Berry on the field this season and for the next three to four years.

He may have to bide his time as the third or fourth option in the crowded Buckeye backfield this season, but he won't be held down for long if he even comes close to performing near the level of expectation we have for him.

Carlos Hyde

Originally a member of the 2009 recruiting class, Carlos was one point shy on the A.C.T. of meeting the academic standard for admission to OSU.

So instead, he followed the path former Buckeye great and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George took to Columbus by spending a year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. With the plethora of backs already on campus and in the class of 2009, that might have been the best situation for Hyde.

At 6-1, 230, the former Cincinnati, Ohio native is a big, powerful back who has been compared to both Eddie George (6-3, 235) and Beanie Wells (6-1, 235). He clearly has the physical tools just as they did and if he can carry the rock like those two did, look out!

Like Berry, Hyde has not seen any live game action for the Buckeyes, but he too has a very impressive highlight reel from his days at Naples HS in Florida—take a look.

As you can see from the highlights, Hyde is big, strong, and fast for his and Buckeye fans are very excited to see him on the field as sokn as possible.

Others worth noting

Roderick Smith out of Fort Wayne, Indiana is considered the top recruit from the 2010 class but he is yet to make it on campus. He might be wise to take a similar path as Hyde did and save a redshirt year and a year of eligibility by working out his academic issues then joining the Buckeyes in 2011.

Now-former Buckeye Jermil Martin officially transferred to Ashland University recently because of the abundance of backs ahead of him at OSU. He decided on AU so that he can play right away instead of sitting out a season per NCAA rules.

Also worth mentioning are fullbacks Zach Boren and Adam Homan. Both are great blocking backs, but Boren has also been making his case to actually carry and catch the ball on occasion as well so keep an eye out for that.

There is no shortage of depth, talent, or speed at the running back position in Columbus and it is easy to see why we Buckeye fans feel that we (not USC or Alabama or Florida) have the best stable of backs top to bottom in the nation.

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All images used are copyright property of and the respective photgraphers

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why it is Finally Time to Unleash Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State Offense This Season

Tim Bielik—Featured Contributor / Storm the Field Founder

As the days leading up to the 2010 season become fewer, the excitement grows in college football circles throughout the country. Perhaps nowhere is there more hype than in Columbus, OH.

The second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will be all about QB Terrelle Pryor, a third-year starter and a Heisman hopeful who heads an offense that's bursting with potential.

However, the biggest key to the Buckeye offense will not be the player known throughout Columbus as TP or its talented collection of running backs.

The key will be the Vest.

Jim Tressel is recognized as one of the nation's best coaches, but he is known for running a conservative offense. At times, he's conservative to a fault.

The last time the Buckeyes' offense was considered explosive was 2006, when Tressel had first-round picks Ted Ginn, Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez catching passes from Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.

The current Buckeye receivers don't have the explosiveness possessed by Ginn and Gonzalez, however Devier Posey is a "complete" receiver.

From an offensive standpoint, the biggest difference this year compared to 2006 is a much better offensive line, anchored by C Mike Brewster and LG Justin Boren. Both are elite players and potential 3rd-5th round picks.

In addition, the Buckeyes have witnessed the emergence of a receiving threat at the TE position. Jake Stoneburner, a 6-foot-6, 250 lb converted WR could be a matchup nightmare if used properly.

But if we've learned anything from Jim Tressel in his 10 years at the helm, it's that he only gets aggressive on offense when his play-makers protect the football.

That may seem like a given for any team, but those that follow the Vest know that every decision he makes on offense and special teams revolves around ball protection.

If he knows that the offense will protect the ball, he then feels comfortable turning it loose.

With the tools he has on offense, it will be very hard for Tressel to keep the unit on lock as he has done in years past.

And with the type of playmakers the Buckeyes have, especially in Pryor (reports from practice are that his passing is much improved), this may be the best offense the Buckeyes have had in the Jim Tressel era.

The bottom line is that Tressel hold the reigns to the offense, so he alone is the only one that can mold the 2010 offense to meet the ever-growing hype.

I'm confident that Buckeye fans should be preparing the popcorn.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

2010 College Football Predictions: Top Five Running Back Duos in the Nation

There is always a lot of talk, conjecture, and debate when it comes to individually ranking the top running backs in the nation.

But what about the top running back duos—that is, the best backs who are teammates.

Here are my top five. I encourage everyone to post your comments on which of my rankings you agree or disagree with.

Duo Number Five

Brandon Saine and Dan Herron - Ohio State

In 2008, Herron replaced the injured Beanie Wells and impressed the coaches so much that he entered 2009 as the starter.

Saine came back healthy in 2009 and led the Buckeyes in rushing yards by a running back with 739. He also had 224 receiving yards and scored six total touchdowns.

Herron added 600 yards on the ground and seven touchdown runs.

Entering 2010, it appears that Saine is the No. 1 back with Herron a very close second.

With the O-line expected to be one of the best in the country, another huge year from the Buckeye backfield should be on tap.

Duo Number Four

Adam Robinson and Jewell Hampton or Adam Wegher - Iowa

With Hampton out for the season due to injury, Robinson led the Hawkeyes rushing attack in 2009 with 834 yards and five touchdowns, and Wegher added another 641 yards and eight scores.

Before being injured, Hampton was considered to be the guy who would take over for NFL-departed Shonn Greene.

In 2008, Hampton rushed for 463 yards and scored seven times as Greene's backup.

I'm sure Robinson did enough in 2009 to be Iowa's No. 1 or No. 2 in 2010, so the only question is who will be his main sidekick, Hampton or Wegher?

I'm still leaning towards Hampton, but no matter who it ends up being, expect plenty of production behind their big line and the reduction of pressure on turnover-prone quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

Duo Number Three

Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray - Texas A & M

A year ago, Michael just edged Gray to lead the Aggies in rushing with 844 yards and 10 touchdowns. Gray added 757 rushing yards, 226 receiving yards, and seven total touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving).

QB Jerrod Johnson, who is also a pretty decent ball carrier himself, is one of the best passers in the Big 12 and is expected to pass more than scramble this season.

That should allow Michael and Gray even more running room in 2010.

1,000 yards seasons could be possible for both.

Duo Number Two

Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson - Alabama

Everyone knows about Ingram, the 2009 Heisman winner. He gained 1658 yards on the ground and had 334 receiving yards. In total, he scored 20 touchdowns (17 rushing, three receiving).

Not everyone knows about Ricahrdson, but they soon will. He is considered by many experts and fans alike as one of the best non-starters in college football.

Last season, he averaged nearly 5.2 yards per carry, as he rushed for 751 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

Only a sophomore in 2010, he's tough,fast, and just might someday be Alabama's second Heisman winner.

He was twice named the SEC freshman of the week in 2009 and was also tabbed as a member of the SEC All-Freshmen team.

QB Greg McElroy seems more of a game manager type to me, so it's not hard to imagine another huge year rushing for the Tide with both Ingram and Richardson carrying the rock.

Duo Number One

Ryan Williams and Darren Evans - Virginia Tech

Coach Frank Beamer has a huge problem on his hands heading into 2010.

However, it's not a problem he minds having.

How will he decide which one of his star running backs will be 1A and 1B?

In 2008, freshman Darren Evans rushed for 1,265 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Prior to the 2009 season, Evans tore the ACL in his left knee and was lost for the entire season.

Hokie fans were at a loss and many thought the season would be a disaster.

But for the second straight season, a freshman, this time Ryan Williams, ran wild.

Williams unexpectedly had one of the best statistical seasons of any back in the nation, gaining 1,655 yards and finding the end zone 21 times.

Expectations are sky high for the 2010 Hokies, and Williams and Evans are two of the biggest reasons, justifiably so.

That's it. That's the list. Now let's hear from my fans and haters alike.

Let the debating begin.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Buckeyes Start Here: Six Ohio State Players Who Will Lead the Team to the BCS Title

Despite the title of my article, I am certainly not a blind homer, nor am I an out-of-touch fool.

In order for the Ohio State Buckeyes to win the 2010 BCS title, all 22 starters, the majority of the second-team players that add depth to each unit, and the players that help to comprise the special teams units (kicker and punter included) will all have to contribute significantly.

That being said, there are three players from the defense and three players from the offense who will individually have the biggest roles in making sure their respective units succeed in ultimately giving the Buckeyes the best chance to win every game up to and including the BCS championship game.

I will now reveal them one at a time for your viewing and reading pleasure.

# 36 Brian Rolle: Linebacker

A year ago, the Buckeyes had to replace three-time All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis.

Enter Brian Rolle.

Rolle, a senior from Immokalee, Fla., is entering his second season as a starter and a solid middle anchor for the Ohio State defense.

Prior to last season, Rolle was a special teams veteran, having seen significant playing time in that role in both 2007 and 2008.

At just 5'11'' and 220 pounds, Rolle is fast, compact, yet deceivingly powerful when it comes to separating a receiver from the ball.

Rolle was the hero for the Buckeyes last year when he intercepted Navy QB Ricky Dobbs' pass attempt on a two-point conversion and returned it 98 yards for the defensive PAT with just 2:23 remaining to seal the win in the season opener.

For the season, he was the second leading tackler for Ohio State with 94 solo take downs.

He is expected to make key contributions and will bring invaluable senior leadership to a defensive unit once again expected to be the best in the Big 10 and one of the best in the nation.

# 51 Ross Homan: Linebacker

Homan returns for his senior season and his third as a starter at LB.

If experience truly is priceless, Homan is worth his weight in gold.

In 2006 as a freshman, he was not a starter, but saw action in all 13 games that season and recorded 28 tackles.

He missed the 2007 season due to injury and took a medical redshirt.

When he returned in 2008, he earned a starting role and was fourth in solo tackles that season with 67.

In 2009, Homan assumed the role of the top LB at Ohio State and led the team in tackles with 108.

All signs point to him once again leading the team in tackles and will likely continue the tradition of linebackers from Ohio State finding themselves heading to the NFL.

At 6'0 and 225 pounds, Homan has excellent speed and big-play ability.

All Homan has done is work hard, improve every year, and become the quiet leader of a great defense.

He may not be flashy or have the household name of some of his predecessors, but he's silently as good, if not better.

He is yet another star linebacker in-the-making at Ohio State, the real linebacker U, and opposing QBs and WRs would do well to take note.

# 97 Cameron Heyward: Defensive End

The son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, Cameron Heyward is a 6'5, 290-pound defensive lineman for the Buckeyes.

To the pleasant surprise of many Buckeyes fans, Cam decided to skip the NFL for one more season and return for his senior year—one he intends on making his best season yet.

Heyward has had starting experience since his freshman year of 2007, but he seized that role permanently in 2009.

A year ago, he had 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 QB sacks. With the talent along the defensive line, Heyward will look to post double digits in each of those categories this coming season.

Recently named to the 2010 Nagurski and Lombardi watch lists, Heyward is blessed with size, agility, and excellent speed for his size.

Clearly, he has all the physical tools to be one of the best defensive lineman in the country in 2010.

# 3 Brandon Saine: Running Back

Saine, now a senior tailback, played high school football and ran track for the Piqua, Ohio Indians.

He was compared favorably to Reggie Bush while entering his freshman year at Ohio State due to his ability to be a jack of all trades—running, blocking and even spending time in the slot as a WR, which he may also do this season in Columbus due to the depth behind him in the Ohio State backfield.

Saine has been officially timed at 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash, although he has been unofficially timed at 4.25 seconds.

After being stuck in the shadow of Beanie Wells in 2007 and being injured in 2008, Saine was finally healthy for most of the 2009 season. He split carries with Dan Herron, who had impressed coaches in 2008 when Beanie Wells went down with injury, but is expected to be featured more as the top back in 2010.

Last season, Saine finally showed flashes of brilliance and the potential greatness Buckeye fans expected from him when he committed to OSU in 2007.

For those who doubt Saine is a potential top RB, consider that as a healthy featured back during his senior year of high school, he ran for 1,895 yards and scored 27 touchdowns on 259 carries, while recording 30 receptions for 412 yards.

Last year, Saine averaged 5.1 yards per carry while rushing for 739 yards and scoring four touchdowns. He also had 224 yards receiving and caught two touchdown passes.

He will definitely be a featured option for OSU this year and if he stays healthy, he will be one of the top backs in the Big 10.

# 8 DeVier Posey: Wide Receiver

Not a newsflash: Junior wide receiver DeVier Posey will be the top WR target for Ohio State in 2010.

Posey wasn't always great in 2009, but he was almost always good, improving his game from week to week, culminating in the Rose Bowl with his eight catches and 101 yards receiving, including a picture-perfect touchdown pass and catch to help seal the victory.

Overall, Posey caught 60 balls for 828 yards in 2009. What is best for the team is what matters most, but anything less than 80 receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving in 2010 for Posey will be somewhat of an individual disappointment.

I believe the running game will open up the passing lanes for Posey and those numbers should be attainable.

Dane Sanzenbacher, Taurian Washington, and Chris Fields are also other talented receivers that should help prevent defenses from doubling up on Posey.

Of course, Posey's overall success will also depend heavily on the play of the quarterback...

# 2 Terrelle Pryor: Quarterback

Junior QB Terrelle Pryor is clearly the centerpiece of the Ohio State offense and the face of the program.

I wonder if any other quarterback that boasts a 19-3 record as a starter has ever had to face the level of criticism that Pryor has had to endure since taking over for the Buckeyes in week four of his freshmen season.

It's not all negative, though. Pryor is considered by several notable sources as the preseason 2010 Heisman Trophy favorite.

It hasn't always been perfect or pretty, especially when it comes to mechanics and footwork, but this kid is a winner, pure and simple.

As advertised when he was the No. 1 overall recruit in the entire 2008 recruiting class, he's also an amazing freak of an athlete.

It's not often that a 6'6, 240 pound quarterback can run a sub 4.4 40-yard-dash and shove countless would-be-tacklers to the ground.

Defensive coordinators may want to pull their hair out when defending against Pryor and the Buckeyes as 2010 unfolds.

In his 22 career starts, Pryor has amassed 3,405 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes, 1,410 rushing yards, and 13 rushing touchdowns.

With his improved footwork and mechanics, it's safe to expect a similar path for Pryor that Troy Smith took from 2005 to 2006 as Coach Tressel gains more and more confidence in him, just he did Smith.

Pryor came to Ohio State because he wanted to become a pro-style QB and he should take significant steps towards that goal this year. His passing stats are sure to increase and his rushing numbers should decline somewhat.

One thing that is for sure...

He still has the ability to scramble away from pressure and keep a drive alive if need-be, but he is improved and will continue to improve as a passing QB with each passing week. Opposing defenses are going to have few options when it comes to game planning against him.

In closing, I just want to add that I am not guaranteeing or predicting that the Buckeyes are going to win, or even play for the BCS title.

I am only suggesting that they have a very high probability of accomplishing that goal if they remain healthy and the six players I mentioned live up to the hype.

I know I will enjoy the journey no matter what. It's going to be a great season and hopefully expectations meet reality and it culminates in another national title for the Buckeyes.

I just found this Sports Illustrated cover that features Ohio State. I had not seen it until just now. I must be on to something seeing as how SI used the same players for the cover that I mentioned in the story.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Revised Top 10: How the Coaches Should Have Voted

Most of you are aware that the USAToday top 25 coaches poll was released yesterday.

As far as the top 10 goes, some teams were ranked too high—some teams were ranked too low—and a couple of teams that belong in the top 10 actually found themselves on the outside looking in.

The controversy over preseason polls will never end, but I believe my revised rankings will right a few of the wrongs and please everyone—or cause an outright riot.

Either way, it should be a good time. After all, the 2010 college football season is almost here!

Coaches top 10

No. 1—Alabama

No. 2—Ohio State

No. 3—Florida

No. 4—Texas

No. 5—Boise State

No. 6—Virginia Tech

No. 7—TCU

No. 8—Oklahoma

No. 9—Nebraska

No. 10—Iowa

My top 10, and a few thoughts on each

No. 1—Alabama

The Tide lost 9 defensive starters and almost slipped from the top spot because of those losses, but the offense, led by Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and his talented understudy Trent Richardson, should be very prolific. I still am not sure QB Greg McElroy is as great as Alabama fans believe he is, but it won't hurt him to have Julio Jones to throw to after the running game likely opens up some huge passing lanes. Because of their numerous weapons on offense, they maintain the top ranking for now, but we all know it's hard to go wire-to-wire unbeaten with that huge target resting squarely on your back.

No. 2—Boise State

I moved BSU up three spots from five to two. Did someone forget to tell the coaches that Boise State was a perfect 14-0 last year and that they return all 22 starters including QB Kellen Moore? Ultimately their conference schedule may hurt their overall SOS down the road when the BCS rankings are released, but it's not their fault no other top teams want to schedule them. Either way, Moore is a stud and he would be a star in any conference in the country in my opinion.

No. 3—Ohio State

To show my ability to be objective, I moved the Buckeyes down one spot from two to three behind Boise State because the Broncos have all their starters returning. If the Buckeyes and Broncos each go unbeaten, Ohio State's SOS would give them the clear edge and once again eliminate any BCS title hopes of yet another mid-major program. QB Terrelle Pryor will be improved in 2010 just as Troy Smith was in 2006 and he is surrounded by top-notch players at every offensive position. The Buckeyes and their fans are hoping this is the year they get back to, and win, the BCS championship. It's definitely possible, but it won't be easy. Miami, Wisconsin, Iowa, possibly Penn State, and yes, perhaps even lowly Michigan, all intend on ending those dreams when they each get their shots.

No. 4—Virginia Tech

There are several reasons why I moved the Hokies up from sixth and into my top five. QB Tyrod Taylor has consistently improved in each of his first two seasons and year three should reveal more of the same. They also have a problem every team and coach would love to have--two top-tier running backs in Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. Add in the fact that they always have a pretty solid defense and an excellent coach in Frank Beamer and that all adds up to a top 5 team in my book.

No. 5—Florida

I dropped UF from third to fifth for multiple reasons. In short, Tim Tebow is gone and there is some uncertainty as to what new QB John Brantley will bring to the table. UF really has no No. 1 big name workhorse running back that could help take some of the pressure off of Brantley. Also, the questions that are still looming (at least for me) about Urban Meyer's health and ability to withstand the pressures of coaching for the entire season are a factor. Lastly, UF had a few key losses on defense. I feel compelled to be skeptical of the Gators being ranked in the top three and maybe even being in the top five, but until I see them play, I really can't justify dropping them any further at this point.

No. 6—TCU

Andy Dalton could prove to be one of the nation's top quarterbacks and I believe it is safe to say the Horned Frogs will field one of the best defenses in all of college football. I moved them up one spot from seven to six for those reasons. As is the case with Boise State, TCU's overall schedule may prevent them making a legit BCS title run, but at the very least, making a BCS bowl is a distinct possibility.

No. 7—Iowa

If coach Kirk Ferentz ever had an Iowa team that appears more ready than ever to contend for the Big 10 and possibly the BCS titles, this would be it. Offensively, senior signal-caller Ricky Stanzi returns along with running backs Jewell Hampton and Adam Robinson and wideouts Marvin McNutt and Derrell-Johnson Koulianos. The defense is led by Orange Bowl MVP Adrian Clayborn, who is one of the favorites for the conference and national defensive POY awards. The schedule is near perfect with only one difficult away game (at Arizona), while Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State all have to play the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. If Stanzi, who has had a propensity for turning the ball over at inopportune times, can protect the football, the Hawkeyes will have a solid chance of unseating the Buckeyes as the best of the Big 10.

No. 8—Pittsburgh

Even after losing proven starter QB Bill Stull, the fighting Wannstedt's are my favorite to win the Big East. The main reasons are, first and foremost, phenom running back Dion Lewis, and secondly, the schedule. When examining Pitt's schedule, you might be ask yourself in reference to me, "Is this guy insane?" No, I assure you I am not, and here is why. Pitt has stepped up in a big way with their scheduling and if they win all of their games or lose just one against any one of the ranked teams they will face, they should still be in the running for the conference title and a BCS berth. They will open the year at Utah, then they host Miami-FL a couple weeks later, followed by a trip to South Bend three weeks later to face the Irish. They then host WVU and travel to Cincinnati to finish the year. The BCS computers will love their SOS, and the rankings at season's end will show it, provided the Panthers win most or all of those matchups.

No. 9—Wisconsin

I have been unimpressed, and therefore critical of the Badgers over the past couple of seasons. That may all change this year. UW returns 10 offensive starters including reigning Big 10 offensive POY, running back John Clay and the conference's passing efficiency leader from a year ago, QB Scott Tolzien. The Badgers should be a literal offensive juggernaut in 2010. They host the Buckeyes, then travel to Iowa City the following week. I believe those two games will define their season, as the other 10 games are all practically locks for them to win. I wouldn't call it a huge worry, but as I see it, the one area of concern will be their defense. It could be the missing puzzle piece that ends up derailing the season, or the saving grace that preserves a magical season in Madison. The "O" should score plenty of points, but can their "D" preserve leads and hold on for real wins instead of moral victories?

No. 10—Texas

With QB Colt McCoy now in Cleveland playing for the Browns, and with heavy losses elsewhere including Jordan Shipley and Sergio Kindle among others, the Longhorns may be in for a long season. Garrett Gilbert, McCoy's replacement, did show that he's no slouch when he stepped in for the injured McCoy against Alabama in last season's title game, but he also had five turnovers. The Longhorns must also find the running game that they have lacked in recent years. Experience is priceless, so 2010 may be somewhat of a rebuilding year in Austin. That being said, 2011 may just find Texas right back in the hunt for another national championship.

Just FYI, I'm not like the majority of SEC fans. I know my conference is not a team. In Big 10 country, we pick one team to root for, not all 12. I'm stressing this just so nobody gets the wise idea to accuse me of being a homer for ranking three Big 10 teams in the top 10. All three deserve to be there, end of story.

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