1. How will the secondary shake out?

Any time a team has to replace three first-round NFL picks from one unit, questions are bound to follow. But the Buckeyes believe they have to players to replace cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley and safety Malik Hooker without a steep drop-off. Denzel Ward rotated with Lattimore and Conley last year and is ready to step into a starring role. Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield have talent, as do several freshmen. At safety, the Buckeyes regard returning starter Damon Webb as the leader of the secondary and are counting on Erick Smith or Jordan Fuller at the other spot. Will there be growing pains? Probably. But the talent is there.

2. Can Worley transition to middle linebacker?

For the past two seasons, Raekwon McMillan was the quarterback of the defense at middle linebacker. Now Chris Worley steps in from outside linebacker to that spot. He doesn’t have the bulk of a prototypical middle linebacker, but that is a lesser concern in this age of spread offenses. A fifth-year senior, Worley is a natural leader who relishes his chance to become the heart of the defense.

3. Is the defensive line too deep?

Even with the multi-game suspension of returning nose guard Michael Hill, the Buckeyes have an abundance of elite players up front. Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Dre’Mont Jones and Tracy Sprinkle are the projected starters, but a unit of Jalyn Holmes, Nick Bosa, Davon Hamilton and Robert Landers would be formidable in its own right. That’s not even taking into account several others, including heralded freshmen Chase Young and Haskell Garrett. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson’s biggest task may be parceling out sufficient snaps for all the deserving players. It’s a nice problem to have.

4. Can the Buckeyes cut down the big plays?

The risk of playing press coverage is that it leaves a defense vulnerable to big plays. The Buckeyes yielded 30 plays of 25 yards or longer last year, which was about the only flaw in an otherwise dominating defense. The Buckeyes have worked hard to shore up that weakness, but it will be a challenge with a mostly inexperienced secondary. Surrendering the occasional big play is inevitable. It just can’t become a chronic issue.

5. Will Luke Fickell’s presence be missed?

As co-coordinator of the defense, Fickell’s contributions were sometimes underappreciated as first Chris Ash and then Greg Schiano took over much of the responsibility for the unit. But Fickell, now the head coach at Cincinnati, was integral in getting the coaching staff to mesh and instilling a sense of selflessness in his players. His history as an OSU player — none of the current assistants was — provided a link to the Buckeyes’ past.