2007 Ohio State Preview

Posted Jul 5, 2007

Ohio State won't get much national respect after getting blown out in the BCS Championship game and with so many big personnel losses, but Jim Laurinaitis leads a strong defense that could lead the way to another Big Ten title.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 OSU Offense Preview | 2007 OSU Defense Preview
2007 OSU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Ohio State Preview 

After the brutally awful 59 minutes of football that followed Ted Ginn’s kickoff return for a score in the BCS Championship Game, Ohio State has to quickly pick up the pieces of its shattered reputation and get right back in the national title race. Despite massive personnel losses on offense, this team can do that.

Head coach: Jim Tressel
7th year: 62-14
22nd year overall: 197-71-2
Lettermen Returning
Off. 18, Def. 20, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best OSU Players
LB James Laurinaitis, Jr.
2. CB Malcolm Jenkins, Jr.
3. OT Alex Boone, Jr.
4. OT Kirk Barton, Sr.
5. DE Vernon Gholston, Jr.
6. LB Marcus Freeman, Jr.
7. RB Chris Wells, Soph.
8. OG Steve Rehring, Jr.
9. LB Larry Grant, Sr.
10. P A.J. Trapasso, Soph.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 9-3
Preview 2007 predicted wins

Sept. 1

Youngstown State

Sept. 8


Sept. 15

at Washington

Sept. 22


Sept. 29

at Minnesota

Oct. 6

at Purdue

Oct. 13

Kent State

Oct. 20

Michigan State

Oct. 27

at Penn State

Nov. 3


Nov. 10


Nov. 17

at Michigan

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2

2005 Record: 12-1

Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 No. Illinois  W 35-12
9/9 at Texas W 24-7
9/16 Cincinnati W 37-7
9/23 Penn State W 28-6
9/30 at Iowa W 38-17
10/7 Bowling Green W 35-7
10/14 at Michigan St W 38-7
10/21 Indiana W 44-3
10/28 Minnesota W 44-0
11/4 at Illinois W 17-10
11/11 at Nwestern W 54-10
11/18 Michigan W 42-39
1/8 BCS Championship
Florida L 41-14

Don’t believe the myth that the Buckeyes aren’t fast, just because Florida played faster. Don’t believe the myth that Jim Tressel and his staff now can’t coach in the big game compared to the new breed of stars like Urban Meyer. Don’t believe the myth that OSU can’t play with SEC teams (although the record against the league would suggest otherwise). And don’t believe the myth that OSU is a dead-team-walking after losing Ginn, Antonio Pittman, Anthony Gonzalez, Heisman winner Troy Smith, and six starters on the defense.

This is Ohio State. Like last year on defense, superstars will take over for superstars.

The Buckeyes should be able to show up and start 8-0 without breaking much of a sweat, so barring a disaster, they’ll be able to fill in all the gaps and tweak all the problems for two months before the real season starts. But even if they rock and blow everyone out, will America forgive and forget how it felt so hoodwinked last year? How much time will it take before Tressel’s boys get the blind faith and goodwill it built up when everyone picked them to walk over the Gators? Maybe the loss to Florida was a major embarrassment that could turn out to be a positive going into this year.

Motivation won’t be an issue. The tired “nobody believes in us” cliché will be fired out more than once when everyone picks Michigan and Wisconsin to be the main conference favorites. Yes, the Ohio State University could actually be the sleeper in the Big Ten race.

What to watch for on offense: Welcome back to Tressel-ball. Without Smith and his weapons, the offense’s prime initiative will be to not screw up, and to let the defense and special teams take care of business. The offensive line should be good enough to pound out an effective running game, so expect RB Chris Wells to quickly become a household name and a favorite for the 2008 Heisman.

What to watch for on defense: James Laurinaitis making tackle after tackle. Vernon Gholston is the only returning starter on the line, so it might take a little while before the front four is up to championship snuff. Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman will be a lights-out 1-2 linebacking combination against the run in an aggressive, fast defense that should produce plenty of turnovers.

The team will be far better if … it remembers that it really is a national title-caliber program, and that the Florida loss might simply have been an aberration. The team was fat, lazy and unprepared for the jacked-up Gators. Make no mistake about it, Florida earned that win, but the Buckeyes didn’t seem focused. Using that game for motivation is a necessity.   

The Schedule: It should be just about perfect, giving all the young offensive talent time to figure out what to do. Warm-ups against Youngstown State and Akron will set the tone for a road trip to Washington. The next five games are nice and easy for a team like OSU, playing Northwestern, at Minnesota, at Purdue, Kent and Michigan State before the nasty finishing kick: playing at Penn State, home against Wisconsin and Illinois, and finishing at Michigan.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB Chris Wells.  Get ready for information overload regarding Wells, who’s set to become the next great Buckeye back and the focal point of the offense, now that Troy Smith and his star-studded support cast are in the NFL.  In the Adrian Peterson mold, he’s the prototype at the position with great size, ample speed and a solid true freshman season to build upon.      

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB James Laurinaitis.  What does Laurinaitis possibly do for an encore after leading the Buckeyes in tackles and interceptions a year ago, en route to becoming the first true sophomore to win the Nagurski Award?  A physical beast in run defense, he’s also stellar in underneath pass coverage, making him a natural at creating takeaways.           

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Todd Boeckman. Assuming he actually wins the job by opening day, don’t be shocked if he’s better than many expect, considering he has to replace a legend. While he’s not the passer Troy Smith was, he has the arm, size and talent to make defenses worry about the passing game. Sophomore Rob Schoenhoft and speedy redshirt freshman Antonio Henton should see a little bit of time to get their feet wet.

The season will be a success if ... the Buckeyes are playing Michigan with a shot at the Rose Bowl. Even with all the issues on offense, this is still The Ohio State University; it’ll come up with a few guys who can play. The defense alone will be enough to win seven games without much of a concern. Even if there’s a toe-stubbing against someone like Purdue or Penn State, OSU should be able to get to Michigan with a shot at the Rose Bowl.

Key game: Oct. 6 at Purdue. Yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s no bigger game than the one against that team in Maize and Blue up the road about 200 miles, and battles against Penn State and Wisconsin are vital, but the road trip to Purdue will show what kind of team this is. The Boilermaker attack likely will finish the season first in the Big Ten in total offense, and will give the Buckeye defense a test. The OSU offense has to show it can keep up the pace. A win would likely mean an 8-0 start before the trip to Happy Valley.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Ohio State 118; Opponents 34
- Points allowed vs. Michigan and Florida: 80; Points allowed vs. the other 11 opponents: 86
- Red zone touchdowns: Ohio State 42 of 54 (78%); Opponents 17 of 31 (55%)


Related Stories
2007 Ohio State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 4, 2007
2007 Ohio State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 4, 2007
2007 Ohio State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 4, 2007

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Ohio State
[View My HotList]