Dispatch OSU football beat writer Bill Rabinowitz answered your questions about the Buckeyes, Big Ten and college football in general during our weekly chat.

Dispatch OSU football beat writer Bill Rabinowitz answered your questions about the Buckeyes, Big Ten and college football in general during our weekly chat.

13:01:02 Rob_(moderator): Ready to roll, Bill?

13:01:30 Bill Rabinowitz: Fire away

13:01:36 DenisonBuckeye: Much like a couple seasons ago, when Ohio State opened with Navy's triple option, this week will be a contrast in offenses from Miami's pass-happy spread and the running attack of UCF. Will the Buck's D will "better suited" with the much bally-hooed D line, or will UCF be balanced and be a challenge?

13:04:11 Bill Rabinowitz: UCF is a better, more complete team than Miami, which had a passing game and little else. But yes, it is a better matchup for OSU's D-line. Blake Bortles will take longer dropbacks than Miami's Zac Dysert did. In fact, UCF coach George O'Leary criticized Bortles for holding the ball too long in their opener against Akron. The Knights will work to correct that in practice, but OSU should have better chances to rush the passer.

13:04:19 My paper's late: Why do you think the Buckeyes looked so poor on offense in the first quarter? I could have sworn I was watching a sequel to last season.

13:05:48 Bill Rabinowitz: Yes, it looked that way to everybody. Some of it was opening jitters. There were some dropped passes, for example. Also, Miami schemed OSU very well early on. They moved their linebackers right to the spot the Buckeyes planned to attack. It took a little time for OSU to adjust. But once they did, wow.

13:05:56 Gabuckeye: How deep is the linebacker group,I also noted that the D-line is playing alot of young Freshmen.

13:06:18 Rob_(moderator): We can use some questions, folks.

13:07:31 Bill Rabinowitz: Not very deep at all. That's a big problem for the linebackers. Urban Meyer just said on his radio show that he's not even sure who his backup linebackers are at this point. Storm Klein is eligible to come off of suspension next week, though Meyer was non-commital about it. The freshman linebackers are talented but haven't progressed as far as Meyer would like. As far as the D-line, those freshmen -- Spence, Washington and Schutt primarily -- will continue to see a lot of playing time.

13:07:40 BuckLuvR: Were you surprised at how vulnerable OSU was against the pass in the early going againsr Miami?

13:09:02 Bill Rabinowitz: Not really. Historically, OSU defenses have been torched on a long drive early in the game before settling down and making adjustments. And Dysert and Nick Harwell are players who could very well play in the NFL. Some of the breakdowns in the secondary were disappointing, but somewhat expected for a first game.

13:09:10 Gabuckeye: How intense are the buckeyes practies.

13:10:35 Bill Rabinowitz: The local media has only been able to watch three practices, but from those brief observations and what I'm hearing, they're very intense. Would you expect anything else from Urban Meyer? All of the position coaches are vocal guys who don't shy away from bluntness. The pace of practices we saw was pretty impressive. It's constant movement.

13:10:43 mehtash: True to what what members of the secondary had been saying prior to the start of the season, they played less man and played off the line more than perhaps last year. I thought there were times when they should have played man instead. Is this just a matter of getting used to the new scheme or should there be more balance between man and zone?

13:12:44 Bill Rabinowitz: I think they will mix it up, but there's little question they'll play more off coverage. The rationale is this: With a (hopefully) dominant defensive line, quarterbacks will have to rush throws. It's better to have a defensive back facing the quarterback than glued to a wide receiver and unable to react as easily if a pass is errant. But there's no question that Bradley Roby has the ability to be a shutdown corner, and Travis Howard can be that way, too, if he keeps improving.

13:13:01 Gabuckeye: Can you give us any updates on Michael Bennett.

13:13:55 Bill Rabinowitz: He reinjured a pulled groin muscle during pregame warmups last week. His status is questionable for Saturday, probably leaning toward doubtful.

13:14:11 My paper's late: Of the four non-conference opponents to start the season, which will be the toughest test?

13:15:43 Bill Rabinowitz: I think the UCF game is. Cal is supposed to be the "marquee" non-league opponent this year, but the Golden Bears lost at home to Nevada last week 24-17. Nevada is an underrated program, but that's not a team Cal should lose to at home.

13:16:12 withholding judgment: Besides Braxton Miller, no OSU runner has much of a game last week. How important is it for OSU to establish a reliable running game?

13:18:03 Bill Rabinowitz: I think Carlos Hyde did just fine. He had 82 yards. Meyer said that 70 percent of that yardage came after contact. It's always important to be able to run. The passing game showed a lot of progress from last year in the opener, but it's by no means a finished product. The run game remains the backbone of the OSU offense.

13:18:19 DenisonBuckeye: Can you liken UCF (which OSU has never played before?) to a team that fans would be more familiar with, style wise?

13:20:33 Bill Rabinowitz: I haven't seen UCF play. I'm not sure I can make a good comparison. For some reason, the first team that popped into my head is Illinois, but I'm not sure there's anything to that, especially with a new coach (Tim Beckman) now in charge of Illinois. Maybe that's more the caliber of team I compare UCF to.

13:20:44 My paper's late: Any thoughts on Michgain getting hammered by Bama?

13:22:19 Bill Rabinowitz: Not an impressive performance, though not entirely surprising. Alabama is really good. They play HARD. I didn't see that much of the game, but I was surprised Michigan didn't have Robinson run more early. A couple of big runs might have set a tone. But Alabama was clearly the superior team. Not a particularly good day for the Big Ten, though the league was 10-2. There were a lot of close calls.

13:23:15 mehtash: What happened on the stuffed 4th and 1 play at the goal line during the Miami game? Did someone miss an assignment?

13:24:58 Bill Rabinowitz: It's so hard to tell from the press box. I came home and watched the replay and analyzed that play several times. Carlos Hyde ran into the back of right tackle Reid Fragel. Fragel was blocking his man on the play and was in the end zone, but that stopped Hyde's progress. The camera angle made it hard to see what else happened, but I think right guard Marcus Hall missed his block.

13:25:05 Gabuckeye: I read were local media had limited time to watch the team. Any thoughts on why and will this be a Urban Meyer tradition.

13:26:39 Bill Rabinowitz: Apparently, that's the way it was at Florida and it's the way it is most places. Last year we were allowed to watch a lot of preseason practice. Different coaches, different philosophies. I think Meyer figures there's little to be gained from allowing media to watch practices, especially in the age of Twitter when everything can be disseminated instantaneously. Coaches are paranoid, you know.

13:26:52 Gabuckeye: The coaches grade everything how did the O-line grade out last week?

13:28:21 Bill Rabinowitz: Good not great. That was Meyer's assessment. I think he was happy with Fragel. Very happy with Norwell at left guard and Mewhort. He loves Linsley (who'll be my GameDay cover story this week) and has been high on Hall. So I think it was more a collective judgment that there's room for improvement overall than anything else.

13:28:32 DenisonBuckeye: Do you think the Big Ten's ruling that OSU and PSU can win their division is a way to keep them "relevant" in the standings especially since it becomes a 4 team race to Indianapolis? (i.e., marketing, etc.)

13:30:05 Bill Rabinowitz: I don't know that it really matters. I suppose the idea of being able to win a trophy is a little bit of a motivational boost, but not nearly as big as actually being able to play for the championship, which they can't do. I think it was just accepting reality by the Big Ten. If OSU is 8-0 and Wisconsin 7-1, is the league really going to pretend OSU didn't win the Leaders division?

13:30:22 hopalong: I feel a lot better about the backup QB after seeing Kenny Guiton play. Did he surprise you at all?

13:32:04 Bill Rabinowitz: Considering where he started from, yes. He was an afterthought recruit, offered a scholarship because the Buckeyes needed a body at that position. I think Rice was his only other D1 offer. Meyer wasn't a fan of his at the beginning, as he's said several times. But Guiton quickly got on board and is now one of Meyer's favorite players. He's only a decent athlete, so his ceiling is limited. But I truly believe Meyer would have faith putting the offense in his hands. That's a huge step from where Guiton was 6 months ago.

13:32:10 mehtash: Have all freshment had their stripes removed. If not, did anyone who still had his stripe play in the Miami game?

13:33:10 Bill Rabinowitz: Good question. I believe Meyer said that only non-striped players would play in the opener, but I can't say for a fact that none did. I'd have to consult my list of striped players and compare that to the participation chart, but that would take a little time.

13:33:29 lofunk: Adding on to the question about media not being able to watch as many practices... I read that no one can tweet during the press conferences. Why do you think they're banning tweeting?

13:36:24 Bill Rabinowitz: That was a big misunderstanding. The OSU SID, Jerry Emig, asked that media not tweet during Meyer's press conference. The thinking behind it was that media should be concentrating on asking questions and listening to answers. I know it's frustrating to me when I ask a question and maintain eye contact with Meyer as he's answering to be courteous and professional and thinking of a follow-up question. Meanwhile, others are tweeting the answer to my question. Besides, it was a delay, not a ban. It wasn't as if we were forbidden from tweeting it. Anyway, it's a moot point because this week we could tweet to our heart's content. Meyer, by the way, said he knew nothing about the ban until his wife asked him about it days later. It wasn't his directive.

13:36:44 hopalong: I saw the note that Jordan Hall will sit again. When he does get in, how will that change the offense?

13:38:15 Bill Rabinowitz: Jordan Hall might have the skill set that fits this offense better than anyone other than Miller. He's fast, but more importantly, he's quick, shifty and elusive. This offense is designed to get the ball to players in space who can make tacklers miss. He fits that bill. Carlos Hyde is fast, but he's not that shifty.

13:38:20 Sally: What do you see as the big challenges for OSU this week?

13:40:43 Bill Rabinowitz: Central Florida's big defensive line will have to be moved off the ball. They have a quarterback who's a pretty good passer and a number of receivers who are dangerous. Their starting running back got hurt against Akron, but his replacement, transfer from Miami Storm Johnson, who was highly touted coming out of high school. In terms of talent, UCF is a Big Ten-caliber team. They've got a lot of new players, so they might not have meshed completely yet. But OSU better be at its best if it wants to avoid a scare.

13:40:56 withholding judgment: What do you think of the new kickoff rules? Seems to me they are on the way to legislating kickoffs out of football. What a shame that would be.

13:42:58 Bill Rabinowitz: Safety is the concern, particularly concussions. I think kickoffs are most dangerous play in football because of the speed at which all the players are hitting each other. The new rule adds some strategy. You can force a touchback, but the other team gets the ball at the 25. Or you can try to place the kick so that you allow a return but have a chance to pin a team deeper. Because of the safety factor, I don't have a problem with the rule.

13:43:11 circleville fan: Devin Smith sure put himself on the map last Satuday. When the season ends, will that play be one of many great ones for him or the only one where he looked great?

13:44:55 Bill Rabinowitz: Devin Smith is very talented. You could see that last year. But I think there was a maturity factor, which is common for a freshman. A catch like that happens rarely because there aren't many chances for a circus catch like that. But is Smith capable of making more highlight-quality catches? Absolutely.

13:45:02 Ed: What are you thoughts on the new helmet rule in college football?

13:45:55 Bill Rabinowitz: Haven't given it a lot of thought. Off the top of my head -- get it? -- I think it's an overreaction. Officials ought to have some discretion to determine whether to allow a player who's helmet came off can stay in the game.

13:46:13 DenisonBuckeye: Do you see any Freshman, on either side of the ball, possibly becoming a starter by the end of the year?

13:48:42 Bill Rabinowitz: I could see Noah Spence becoming a starter, especially if Nathan Williams' knee becomes an issue. Spence is probably the best pure pass-rusher on the team. Adolphus Washington has starter-like ability eventually, though the D-line is deep. Redshirt freshman Bryce Haynes is the long-snapper. I could see Devan Bogard getting the nod as the top nickelback eventually.

13:49:06 DoormattedForLife: What was the assessment of special teams in week one?

13:49:08 Bill Rabinowitz: I forgot Taylor Decker as an OT as well

13:49:59 Bill Rabinowitz: Overall, the special teams were good. OSU's pressure probably contributed to the botched punt snap that resulted in a Buckeye touchdown. There weren't any long returns, but those should come.

13:50:10 hopalong: Do you think Storm Klein will be able to work his way back onto the field sometime this season?

13:51:16 Bill Rabinowitz: I would assume Klein will be taken off suspension, assuming he's doing everything he should in practice and off the field. Unless Curtis Grant really struggles at MLB, I don't think Klein replaces him. I think he's a backup.

13:51:50 Rob_(moderator): Thanks, everyone. We'll do it again next week. That's a wrap.

13:52:01 Bill Rabinowitz: Thanks for the questions, everyone.