Ohio State Preview 2006 - Offense
Ohio State Buckeyes
Posted Aug 5, 2006

Ohio State Buckeyes Preview 2006 - Ohio State Offense

What you need to know ... Good-bye Tressel ball, and hello Tressel ball with a kick. QB Troy Smith should make the spread offense sing making big play after big play with his legs as well as his arm. The receivers are big, fast, and talented with Ted Ginn Jr. appearing to be ready to blossom into a superstar wideout. The backfield is full of talent with star freshman Chris Wells ready to push possible All-Big Ten runner Antonio Pittman. The line might be the best in the Jim Tressel's six years in Columbus with a world of talent, especially at tackle.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Troy Smith
149-237, 2,282 yds, 16 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Antonio Pittman
243 carries, 1,331 yds, 7 TD
Ted Ginn Jr.
51 catches, 803 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Troy Smith
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior TE Marcel Frost
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Alex Boone
Best pro prospect: Boone
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Smith, 2) WR Ted Ginn Jr, 3) RB Antonio Pittman
Strength of the offense: Experience, speed, quarterback
Weakness of the offense:
Proven number two running back, proven tight end

Troy Smith will forever have a place in the hearts of Buckeye fans for his performances against Michigan over the last two seasons, and now he has to lead the potent offense to a national title level. Knowing the offense, he'll put up huge numbers as both a runner and passer. Justin Zwick could start and keep the offense humming. While he doesn't have too much mobility, he's arm is strong enough to keep the passing attack moving. Todd Boeckman and Robbie Schoenhoft are nice reserves who'll need time to be groomed for next year's battle for the starting job.
The key to the unit: Smith has to use all his experience to make the offense even more effective. The young number three and four backups need meaningful playing time.
Quarterback Rating: 9.5

Projected Starter
- Troy Smith, Sr. - 149-237, 2,283 yds, 63%, 16 TD, 4 INT, 136 carries, 611 yds, 4.5 ypc, 11 TD
Could Smith be this year's version of Vince Young and be a do-it-all star who carries his team to a title? After being suspended for the season opener and coming off the bench for the Texas game, he took over and was fantastic showing off an accurate arm along with tremendous rushing skills. He's not a bomber, but he's a great decision maker who's great at making big plays and is icy cool in the clutch. A perfect fit for the read-option offense, he'll be a statistical machine who could be a front-runner for the Heisman if he can pull off a win at Texas.

Top Backups
- Justin Zwick, Sr. - 42-58, 359 yds, 72%, 1 TD, 1 INT, 12 carries, 25 yds, 2.1 ypc
The superstar recruit has now turned into a more-than-reliable backup. He's 6-4 and 225 pounds with a decent arm and good accuracy, but he doesn't have the magical quality of Troy Smith. He has taken to the role as the number two man, but he'll still see plenty of action in mop up duty and if Smith falls into any sort of a rut.
- Todd Boekman, Soph. - 5-7, 67 yds, 71%, 1 TD
Boekman has been in the mix for a few years and knows the offense. He's a big, talented passer who saw a little bit of time in the opener against Miami University. While he has the edge in experience, he'll have to battle with Rob Schoenhoft for the number three job.

Running Backs
This should be interesting. Antonio Pittman emerged as a star last season with eight 100-yard games, but it's possible he's the team's third best back. Quick Maurice Wells was a bit tentative as a true freshman, but he could be a superstar if he figures out what he's doing. The real excitement is over top recruit Chris Wells, who could do for this year's team what Maurice Clarett did in 2002.
The key to the unit: The two young Wells have to be reliable enough to get meaningful carries to keep Antonio Pittman fresh. More big runs would be nice.
Running Back Rating: 8.5

Projected Starters
- Antonio Pittman, Jr. - 243 carries, 1,331 yds, 5.5 ypc, 7 TD, 17 catches, 161 yds, 9.5 ypc
Pittman was always a decent producer, but he wasn't a touchdown maker with only one career score up until late October of last year. Then he turned it on ripping apart Minnesota for 186 yards and two touchdowns and ended up scoring at least once in each of the final five games. While he won't run over anyone, the 5-11, 195-pound junior has a nice blend of speed and power with a home run hitting ability. He proved he can be a durable workhorse last year with 243 carries, but he likely won't have to carry so much of the load again with other backs to help him out.

- Fullback Stan White, Sr. - 3 catches, 21 yds, 7 ypc
The 6-3, 242-pound White isn't flashy and he isn't going to catch the ball, but he's a heck of a lead blocker and can occasionally catch the ball. He'll combine with Dionte Johnson for the job.

Top Backups
- Maurice Wells, Soph. - 61 carries, 199 yds, 3.3 ypc, 1 TD, 1 catch, 1 yard
A superstar high school recruit, Wells looked good as a freshman, but he wasn't eye-popping and was a bit too indecisive. He has the speed and quickness to get to the corner and potentially rip off big runs, but he needs to show that he can tear of yards in chunks. Getting him to grow as a receiver to get him in space will be a must as the year goes on.
- Chris Wells, Fr.
Considered by some as the nation's top running back prospect, the 6-1, 225-pound freshman has speed, power, and a killer instinct around the goal line with 47 touchdowns along with 4,073 rushing yards over his final two years at Garfield High in Akron. Expected to be a do--it-all back with the strength to run inside and the quickness to bounce outside, he might quickly turn into the key back in the attack. He looked great in the spring game with 94 rushing yards.
- Erik Haw, Soph. - 14 carries, 61 yds, 4.4 ypc, 1 TD, 2 catches, 6 yds
Will he be lost in the shuffle? He has the measurables with size and 4.3 speed, but he looked a bit lost when he got his carries last season. He has to be lights out in practices to work into the number two job.
- Fullback Dionte Johnson, Jr.
A bigger option than Stan White, the son of former Buckeye great Pepper Johnson will be used solely as a blocking fullback. That doesn't mean he can't be effective with the ball in his hands; he just won't get the chance.

Santonio Holmes left early for the NFL, but that wasn't a shock. It's also not a major surprise that Ted Ginn Jr. now appears ready to be a superstar number one target. Anthony Gonzalez can do a little of everything well and should thrive in the number two role. Big receivers like Roy Hall, Brain Hartline and Brian Robiskie will combine to form a good rotation. The tight end will be used more in the passing game this year with good, big receivers in Marcel Frost and Rory Nichol.
The key to the unit: Ginn needs to adequately replace Holmes, and Gonzalez has to adequately replace Ginn. The big young backups have to come through early on.
Receiver Rating: 8.5

Projected Starters
- Ted Ginn Jr., Jr. - 51 catches, 803 yds, 15.7 ypc, 4 TD, 12 carries, 83 yds, 6.9 ypc, 1 TD
What was wrong with Ted Ginn? That was the cry early last year when one of college football's top all-around players failed to make any top all-around plays. As it turned out, he just needed a little time to breakout, and then he showed off his skills tearing off some big punt returns and growing into a dangerous receiver finishing off with an eight-catch, 167-yard, one touchdown day against Notre Dame. The light has appeared to go on and he should be the All-America, number one target he was expected to blossom into last season.

Anthony Gonzalez, Jr. - 28 catches, 373 yds, 13.3 ypc, 3 TD
The unnoticed big play target last year, Gonzalez goes from being a quick number three receiver to a potentially dangerous number two man. He isn't afraid to make the tough catch and has grown into a great route runner. While he's not known for his deep speed, he has the wheels to hit a few home runs.

- Tight end Rory Nicol, Soph.
Kept out last year with a leg problem, the 6-5, 260-pound sophomore will be back as a dangerous safety valve who'll create major mismatch problems. He's a little more of a blocker than Marcel Frost and almost as athletic a receiver.

Top Backups
- Roy Hall, Sr. - 16 catches, 134 yds, 8.4 ypc
A big, medium-range target, Hall had a nice first three games catching 11 passes, but then his production fell off the map. At 6-3 and 240 pounds, he has the size to create big mismatches will all the focus on Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez.
- Brian Hartline, RFr.
Back from a leg injury, he's one of the X factors in the receiving corps. He's one of the team's fastest players and has big-time size at 6-3 and 180 pounds playing behind Anthony Gonzalez. He'll be the number one target two years from now.
Brian Robiskie, Soph. - 1 catch, 13 yds
Potentially a strong possession receiver, the 6-3, 190-pound sophomore has nice speed playing behind Ted Ginn. He's a good route runner with decent upside.

- Tight end Marcel Frost, Jr. - 7 catches, 70 yds, 10 ypc
He was supposed to be a good go-to option, Frost has deceptive speed for a 6-5, 255-pound target with good hands, but he was suspended for the season for violating team rules.

Offensive Linemen
It's amazing the Buckeyes have had the success they've had over the last few seasons without the benefit of a killer offensive line. Despite struggling at times this spring, this year's group has the potential to be the best by far in the Jim Tressel era if all the parts play as well as expected. Alex Boone is an All-American waiting to happen at left tackle, while Kirk Barton is on the verge of All-Big Ten stardom on the other side. There's a little bit of movement to get the best players on the field with starting tackle Doug Datish taking over at center to get Boone on the field. The depth is big and athletic with enough options to play around with several different combinations.

The key to the unit: Be consistent. This could be the Big Ten's best offensive line if it plays up to its potential.
Offensive Line Rating: 9

Projected Starters
- OT Alex Boone, Soph.
Considered by some to be the best Buckeye lineman prospect in over a decade, the 6-8, 315-pound sophomore has first round draft pick written all over him. He had a nice first season in the program, and now the spotlight is on to see if he can up his game and be the type of devastating all-around blocker the offense can revolve around.
- OG Tim Schafer, Sr.
A part-time defensive lineman over the course of his career, the 6-5, 290-pound senior is better for the offensive side. He's a tough, physical blocker, but he also might be the weakest link on the line. Consistency will be his key.
- C Doug Datish, Sr.
Datish was a solid tackle last season and now will move to the middle to replace Nick Mangold. The 6-5, 295-pound senior can also play guard if needed, but his experience, smarts and attitude make him a perfect leader at center.
- OG T.J. Downing, Sr.
A bit unsung on last year's front five, the 6-5, 305-pound senior had a nice season as the starter at right guard. He's not the most athletic lineman around, but he has decent feet and can be a punishing run blocker
- OT Kirk Barton, Jr.
While not the prospect Alex Boone is on the other side, Barton has impressive size at 6-7 and 325 pounds and can move. Even though he's more of a pass protector than a mauling run blocker, he should be an All-Big Ten performer as he continues to improve on the right side.

Top Backups
- OT/OG Jon Skinner, Soph.
The top recruit of a few years ago hasn't made much of an impact yet. Even so, he has all the tools with good athleticism in an extremely strong 6-5, 300-pound body. He can play either tackle or guard.
- O
G Kyle Mitchum, Soph.
A top recruit a few years ago, Mitchum has to start to play like like. He'll get the backup spot at right guard behind T.J. Downing, but he's expected to eventually become a rock on the line. Eventually.
- OT Steve Rehring, Soph.
The question is where he'll be a key reserve. At 6-8 and 329 pounds he has the frame to become a top tackle, but he's strong enough to also play guard. He was knocked out last season with pneumonia, and now he's back to 100% starting out the year at left tackle behind Alex Boone.

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