First off a quick and heartfelt get well soon to Tyler Moeller; all of us in Buckeye Nation are pulling hard for you to have a speedy recovery and to return to the field as soon as you can safely do so. Also, it was nice to see our rivals to the north being concerned and kind regarding the situation.
Now, I assume that many of you diehards have been hard at work reading up on the comings and goings of the team check-in yesterday. If you haven't had the chance to check out photos yet the best gallery I have found is here. Ken Gordon has done a great job keeping us up to date on his Buckeyes Blog and his Twitter account (@kgordonosu). It's finally the exciting time of summer (and soon fall) and we're looking at just 25 days until the kickoff versus Navy. My thoughts going into fall camp and leading into the season:
What now happens with the linebacking crew?
I think it goes without saying that Austin Spitler will be playing, likely the middle (Mike LB), and judging from the pictures I've linked to looks like the kind of stud you need bouncing off blocks abd blowing up plays in the middle.
My thought was we were going to see Moeller on the weak side this year (Will LB), however, that has obviously changed with the tragic news of the injury. I've been anxious to see Etienne Sabino get on the field because I am convinced this guy will be a game changer; I also have a thing for his first name which is pronounced eighty-yen. Dorian Bell, the incoming stud frosh LB from Pennsylvania, could also be in the mix here although before the injury would have likely been relegated to mop up and special teams duty.
Finally on the strong side (Sam LB) I expect Ross Homan to get the nod over Brian Rolle and I expect that Bell's name could pop up here as well. To be honest I'd love to see Rolle get the opportununity to play over Homan although that is for no other reason that I really like Brian Rolle and just have this hunch that he could cause serious problems all over the field.
Secondary needs to be primary!
Chimdi Chekwa is the obvious and clear heir apparent to be the numero uno at corner replacing Thorpe Award winner Malcolm Jenkins. I would to have loved to have seen DWash back this year to really have a true competition here for this spot (and remove a lot of doubt on who the top two would be) but alas Chek is the man. His getting burned big by Taurian Washington in the Spring Game provides a small case of the jitters but then again I realize this happens even to the best.
Who is going to wrap up that other spot? Andre Amos has been waiting in the wings for some time but I think that Devon Torrence is the overall better athlete and having a full spring and summer to work out with the team (instead of playing baseball) leading into fall camp may push him easily into the number two spot.
The secondary is, without hesitation or doubt, my biggest concern heading into the season and I fully expect teams to test the corners early and often as they get their feet wet. Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell, the experienced safeties, are going to have to step it up and be there over the top and to help out often which leads me to believe we're going to see a lot of 4-2-5 (Nickel) defense this year with Jermale Hines playing the hybrid safety/linebacker role.
Can Boren bring the nasty to the Brew Crew?
Everyone's favorite story from spring returns to his first fall camp as a starter and here's to hoping he can teach the pastsies of the past couple of seasons what it means to knock people off the ball; which I also hope lends itself to a tougher and more dynamic defensive line. I fully expect that Mike Adams and JB Shugarts will lock down tackle spots with Adams on the left side and Shugarts on the right. In fact, I imagine your starting line for the Buckeyes this year from left to right will be: Adams-Boren-Brewster-Cordle-Shugarts.
What kind of offense will we see?
I'm hesitantly hopeful that we're going to see a change in offensive philosophy and I stress hesistantly. With a known threat to run and/or throw one has to believe that Terrelle Pryor is going to be given an offensive playbook that utilizes these opportunities. Are we going to see more of the Pistol formation we heard so much about last year? Daniel 'Boom' Herron and Brandon 'Zoom' Saine may be more complimentary to this style of offense than we had with Beanie last season. Or, are we going to see more 3 and 4 wide sets featuring the receivers. Or, are we going to see a lot of Ace formations with 2 TE's and utilizing that H Back position that Jake Stoneburner can exploit. Will we see them all?!
Knowing how Tressel has been over the years we're going to see them all and once there is a lead established we're going to see more of the Ace formations with 2 TEs and a slow grinding game. As much as that troubles me and I'd love to see a pedal to the metal type of approach with the potential this offense has I know we're not going to ever get it.
Speaking of receivers ....
Ray Small's continued inability to pass class has me a little more worried and it's likely to thrust a frosh or two to the field before perhaps they're ready.
I know there has been some discussion that Dane Sanzenbacher could be the number one this fall and as much as I love Sanzo I just don't see it happening. Dane is going to make a great number two in the same vein as Anthony Gonzalez and Brian Hartline have. I expect to see DeVier Posey to develop in fall camp and exit as the number one receiver. He has better height and speed for the routes generally given to the number one receiver in this offense and he's very close with Pryor.
Your other receivers, I think in this order mind you, will be Lamaar Thomas, Taurian Washington, Duron Carter, and James Jackson. I specifically see Jackson as taking over the return duties that Small once held as it's been firmly established that he is a burner (and that jump start in the spring is bound to assist him).
Will a defensive line finally live up to the hype?
Clearly we haven't seen a defensive line at Ohio State with this kind of star power since 2003 and I for one am excited - especially if Lawrence Wilson makes it through the season uninjured (not that there isn't depth). The defensive ends are going to be dynamic as Thad Gibson returns to wreak havoc as a pass rush specialist. If he can slow down his reads some and play run a little better than really look out. Also, has anyone else noticed what a stud he appears to be?
It has happened to me, right in front of my face, and I just cannot hide it. Someone learned how to throw a football really well it appears. Look at that release and form ... oh Lord, please tell me it's true.
And yes, my man card has been put on temporary suspension for quoting CeCe Peniston.