Following the most tumultuous offseason in OSU Football history, Luke Fickell will lead the Ohio State Buckeyes onto the field at Ohio Stadium at noon today to take on the Akron Zips. It’s hard to know what to expect in this unexpected season, but if one thing’s certain, it’s that Fickell will have the team playing hard, and this team still has a lot of talent, with or without the suspended players.
The best way to start is with the quarterback. Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller are listed as co-first team QBs, with Bauserman expected to get the start against Akron. I think we all know that is temporary. I’m not saying Bauserman won’t have a role after this game, but what I am saying is that if Coach Fickell wants to last past this year, he has to win 9 or 10 games, and even that may not be enough. In that train of thought, Fickell is going to care much less about seniority and much more about talent and ability to help this team win now. If you take that into account, I would like to see Miller (depending on what happens today, of course) be starting before the Big Ten season starts.
As for running back, thank goodness for our depth. Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith will handle most of the carries today with Boom Herron and Jordan Hall both suspended and Jaamal Berry battling a hamstring injury. Hyde flashes signs of being able to break big runs last season, and I’ve heard nothing but flattering reports on Smith. A big back at 6’3″ and 230 pounds, I look forward to seeing him get into the RB rotation even after Hall and Herron return. I think the ceilings on Hyde and Smith are higher than those of Hall and Berry, so I hope there are enough carries to go around. This should be an incredible strength of this team by mid-season.
The receivers are young (starters are freshman Verlon Reed and sophomore Corey Brown), and without Posey they’ll struggle early. However, any of the group of Brown, Reed, and Williams could have a huge year and finish the year starting beside Posey. I think I’ll be interested how they use Jake Stoneburner as well. He could certainly get some reps out wide with Reid Fragel getting additional time at tight end.
My biggest concern with this team is the O-line, especially down LT Mike Adams for the first five. The starters from left to right at this time are Andrew Norwell, Jack Mewhort, Mike Brewster, Marcus Hall, and J.B. Shugarts. Shugarts has battled chronic foot injuries, and while Brewster is an anchor in the middle, the depth of this group is concerning while Adams is out.