2008 Ohio State Preview - Offense
Ohio State OT Alex Boone
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Ohio State Buckeye Offense
Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN Ohio State Preview |
2008 Ohio State
2008 Ohio State
2008 Ohio State
2007 CFN Ohio State Preview |
2006 CFN Ohio State Preview
What you need to know:
The Buckeyes are loaded with ten
returning starters and the one new face to the mix, sophomore
right tackle Bryant Browning, is on the verge of being a star. A
shockingly balanced attack last year, averaging 197 yards per
game both rushing and receiving, might lean even more heavily on
the running game with Chris "Beanie" Wells a Heisman candidate
working behind a durable, tough front five. The passing game
gets back the dangerous receiving tandem of Brian Robiskie and
Brian Hartline, while QB Todd Boeckman will once again be a
steady, efficient triggerman. The key will be to get more
offensive scoring pop and to figure out how to mix in all the
talented young backups. How will super-recruit Terrelle Pryor
fit into the quarterback rotation, if at all? Can speedy
tailback Brandon Saine get more carries? There's an
embarrassment of riches to get excited about.
Passing: Todd Boeckman
191-299, 2,379 yds, 25 TD, 14 INT
Rushing: Chris Wells
274 carries, 1,609 yds, 15 TD
55 catches, 935 yds, 11 TD
Star of the offense: Junior RB Chris Wells
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore OT
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Brandon Saine
Best pro prospect: Wells
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Wells, 2) OT Alex Boone, 3)
WR Brian Robiskie
Strength of the offense: Experience, running back,
Weakness of the offense:
Proven backups, Consistent scoring
Projected Starter: Oh no, senior Todd
Boeckman wasn't flawless in the spring game? He might be
destined for backup duty, right? It might be Terrelle Pryor's
offensive now. Whatever. The 6-4, 244-pound senior is a good,
steady leader who has been through the ringer over the last
year, took his lumps at the end, and now should be the veteran
who keeps the mistakes to the minimum and keeps the offense
moving. At least that's the hope, and that's why the mistakes he
made in spring ball were magnified. He struggled at the end of
last year throwing six of his 14 picks in the final three games,
and while he wasn't asked to bomb away or carry the offense,
when it came time to start throwing in the national title loss,
he wasn't able to produce until it was too late. Even so, he's a
big, strong passer with decent enough mobility to keep moving,
and he has the size and the arm to get the eye of the NFL
Projected Top Reserves: The surprise of spring ball was the emergence of redshirt
freshman Joe Bauserman, a cool, calm 6-2, 220-pound
former pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirate farm system with a live
arm and nice touch. He showed off excellent mobility and an
accurate deep gun as spring ball went on, and even though he's
22 and fighting an uphill battle for playing time, he's on the
In case you've been in a coma for the last year, or have an
extremely interesting life with plenty to do, you're now way too
familiar with Terrelle Pryor, the 6-6, 235-pound
superstar prospect who could've gone anywhere to play
basketball, could've gone anywhere to play football, and is
expected to be the next-big-thing from day one. Very confident
and very talented, he's a bigger, stronger, better passing Vince
Young-type who also has the smarts to handle the schoolwork and
the playbook right away. In a perfect world he's able to
redshirt and will be the man for the following four years, but
he's more likely to find his way on the field in a running role.
He's too much of a weapon to keep under wraps.
Henton was supposed to be the sure-thing No. 2 going into
the fall, and possibly a challenger to Todd Boeckman for
meaningful playing time, but he chose to transfer after the
writing was on the wall with the signing of Pryor.
Watch Out For ... Bauserman. It was an
afterthought that the redshirt freshman was going to be the
fourth man in the mix, but he showed enough throughout the
off-season to be a co-No. 2. Don't hand the backup job to Mr.
Pryor just yet.
Strength: Options. Bauserman won't just provide a
good backup to Boeckman, but he'll also offer the possible option of
Weakness: A quarterback controversy? Boeckman won't be allowed
to make a mistake. The fans are going to want Pryor, or even
Bauserman, if the offense isn't rolling. Pressure
comes with the territory at Ohio State, but it's never a plus to
be looking over your shoulder.
Outlook: The situation is eerily similar to 2006
Florida quarterback rotation when Chris Leak was the
established, steady starter, while the super-recruit, Tim Tebow, was waiting
in the wings to be unleashed. Make no mistake about it; this is Boeckman's offense to run, but
Pryor is too dangerous to not see a few key snaps here and
there. The Buckeyes have a good backup in Bauserman to make the battle for the No. 2 job a
fascinating one all season long.
Projected Starters: Enjoy junior Chris
"Beanie" Wells now before the NFL gets its hands on him. At
6-1 and 237 pounds, he brings the power in between the tackles,
and he has the breakaway speed to hit the home run from anywhere
on the field. An elite recruit a few years ago, he overcame a
mediocre outing to start the season against Youngstown State to
crank out a 1,609-yard, 15 touchdown season highlighted by a
brilliant 221-yard day against Michigan State and a 169-yard,
three touchdown performance against Wisconsin. And then there's
Michigan. Ohio State players go from good to legendary by
rocking against the Wolverines with a 52-yard scoring dash in
the classic 2006 win and with 222 yards and two scores last
year. He's not going to catch it much and he has to continue to
prove he can hold up under the pounding and the pressure, but
he's the real deal and on the short list of Heisman candidates.
6-0, 238-pound senior Ryan Lukens is a former linebacker
who spent most of his time on special teams and now will battle
for the starting fullback job. He'll never get the ball, but he
has a physical style and is strong enough to blast open some big
Projected Top Reserves: This close to
transferring two years ago, 5-10, 196-pound senior Maurice
Wells stuck around and had a decent year as the team's No. 2
back with 367 yards and three touchdowns. His workload dropped
to almost nothing in November and there's a huge talent drop-off
to him from Chris Wells, but he's a reliable veteran who can
catch the ball and can hit the hole early or break to the
outside to crank out a big play. He'll be a third down back and
a specialty option.
6-1, 217-pound Brandon Saine was a top recruit last year
and came through with 267 yards and two touchdowns on 60
carries. Also a strong receiver, he caught 12 passes for 160
yards and a score. Ohio's 2006 Mr. Football, he has good size,
was a state champion sprinter with 4.35 wheels, and will be
worked in more and more to give Chris Wells more of a break.
He's a special back who'll get a chance to show it off soon.
It'll be hard to find carries or work, but 5-10, 183-pound
redshirt freshman Dan Herron is a dangerous back with the
toughness to pound the ball inside and the speed to work
outside. While he doesn't have the wheels of Saine or
the talent of Chris Wells, he's gifted enough to get 50 touches
Battling with Ryan Lukens for the starting fullback job will be
linebacker Curtis Terry and 6-2, 225-pound redshirt freshman Spencer Smith.
Smith is a walk-on
who'll solely be used as a blocker; it'll be a shock if he gets
any carries. Terry is a natural at fullback and is coming off an
ankle injury that cost him all of last year, but he still might
be a linebacker.
Watch Out For ... Saine. Chris Wells might be
a special back who can do everything, but Saine is a faster,
special back who can do everything. Wells, at least for this
year, is the franchise. He's the player to revolve the offense
around, and he needs to be kept fresh with more carries from
Maurice Wells and Saine.
Strength: Breakaway speed and size. Both of the Wells can tear off
big runs, and Saine has the speed to become one of the Big Ten's
most dangerous backs. All they'll need is a little bit of room
and they're gone. It doesn't hurt that the three combine to
average around 215 pounds.
Weakness: Getting the motor running. Chris Wells isn't exactly a
slow starter, but it sometimes takes him a little bit to get
going. He's the epitome of the back who gets better as the game
goes on. It would be nice if he was used more in the passing
game, but that's left to Maurice Wells and Saine.
Outlook: Chris Wells is a superstar, No. 1 overall
pick type of back who can carry the Ohio State offense on his
back. And he has help. Maurice Wells is a quick runner who can
be a good third down back or can be the featured runner from
time to time. The star in the making is Saine, the
217-pound speedster who has good power and jaw-dropping moves.
This backfield is deep, fast, big and very, very talented.
Projected Starters: One of the big question
marks going into last year was whether or not senior Brian
Robiskie could go from being a great complementary receiver
into a No. 1 target. He came through every as well as expected
with 55 catches for 835 yards and 11 touchdowns averaging 17
yards per catch. At 6-3 and 199 pounds, he's a big, strong
target who was a consistent producer all season long. A smart
player with great hands and good toughness, he's a fantastic
all-around NFL prospect who'll be Todd Boeckman's main man all
Junior Brian Hartline took over the starting flanker spot
early on and never let go. With tremendous hands and good route
running ability, he can be used in any situation and can be a
reliable deep threat averaging 13.3 yards per catch with 52
grabs for 694 yards and six touchdowns. Extremely fast with 6-2,
186-pound size, he's a matchup problem. He's also a talented
punt returner averaging 11.4 yards per try.
6-6. 256-pound junior Jake Ballard was the team's fifth
leading receiver last season making 13 catches for 149 yards and
two touchdowns. A co-No. 1 tight end along with Rory Nichol,
Ballard became more of a target as the season went on and got
better and better as a blocker. While he won't be an all-star,
he'll be dominant in two-tight end sets and a tough matchup to
Projected Top Reserves: Is junior Ray Small
out of the doghouse? All spring long he was relegate to play
with the backups, if he got time at all, but he reemerged in the
spring game and he should be the team's best third option in the
three-wide sets. He was third on the team with 20 catches for
267 yards and two touchdowns, but he can do a lot more. At 6-0
and 180 pounds, he has decent size and phenomenal speed, but he
hasn't been able to put it all together and live up to the prep
Is Taurian Washington ready to be a breakout star? A true
sophomore with 4.5 speed and decent hands is a good home run
hitter who made a few big plays throughout spring ball. He only
caught three passes for 45 yards and a touchdown and saw time on
special teams, but he has the talent to play a big role behind
Sophomore Dane Sanzenbacher is a quick 5-11, 175-pound
target who was an all-Ohio sprinter and showed off some flashes
of promise last year catching 12 passes for 89 yards and a
touchdown. He'll work in a rotation behind Brian Hartline with
the potential to become a dangerous fourth receiver in the mix.
Physical enough to not be pushed around and fast enough to blow
past just about anyone, he can do a little of everything. After
a big spring, he'll be used even more.
Is there any room for DeVier
Posey? The 6-3, 205-pound star recruit would've been the
team's most celebrated get if it wasn't for the signing of
Terrelle Pryor. A next-level athlete with a 33-inch vertical and
21.5 speed in the 200, he's a scary-good mix of size and wheels.
Smart enough to handle himself well from day one, he could see
the field sooner than later. Redshirting might not be an option.
6-5, 252-pound Rory Nicol has been a big of a forgotten
man in the passing game over the last few years, but he's a
reliable veteran with 32 career catches for 269 yards and four
touchdowns. He didn't get into the end zone after scoring three
times in 2006, and he did nothing to stretch the field, but he's
a good route runner and a more than willing blocker.
Watch Out For ... Washington. He won't break
into the starting lineup unless he's in a three-wide formation,
but he has the deep speed and the upside to be used more as a
home run hitter. He should destroy most of the mediocre corners
who'll match up against him.
Strength: NFL size/speed. This is Ohio State. It
doesn't throw a receiver on the field unless he's fast, has
fantastic hands, and has good size. That includes the tight
Weakness: Sure-thing backups. It's nitpicking, but there will be
a problem is there's a rash of injuries. There's plenty of
promise behind Robiskie and Hartline, but Sanzenbacher and Washington haven't had to do it yet in
a full-time role, while Small can't seem to put it all
Outlook: The receiving corps came through as well
as could be hoped for after losing Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez
with Robiskie and Hartline growing into a nice combination.
There's plenty of experience returning with promising backups
who got their feet wet last year, and two excellent tight ends
in Nicol and Ballard an
unappreciated twosome who should be used more in the passing
game. This group will be held in check by the top secondaries,
but there aren't a lot of them in the Big Ten.
Projected Starters: The Buckeyes caught a
huge break when 6-8, 312-pound senior Alex Boone
surprised everyone and chose to return for his senior season. A
four-year starter on the left side, he's a great pass blocker
with the long arms that keep all the pass rushers at a distance
to go along with the power to be a dominant run blocker. He's a
rock of a player who's getting more and more consistent.
Considered by some to be the best Buckeye line prospect since
Orlando Pace, all eyes will be on him as the possible first
tackle taken in next year's draft.
6-7, 345-pound senior Steve
Rehring is back to start for his third season at left guard
after growing into a steady run blocker. While he's not athletic
enough to be an NFL tackle, and might be considered too tall to
be a consistent guard, he certainly gets the job done at the
collegiate level and should have a long career waiting for him
at the next level. He's a blaster of a run blocker.
Unsung compared to the rest of
the stars on the line 6-4, 297-pound junior Jim Cordle is
a steady center who's tough as nails and is one of the line's
better athletes. He suffered a foot problem as a true freshman
and played through a broken wrist last year. It'll be
interesting to see what he can do if and when he stays healthy;
he was good enough banged up.
6-3, 323-pound senior Ben
Person is back after starting every game at right guard. A
quality reserve over his first two seasons, he stepped in for
T.J. Dowling and handled himself well. A mauler who was helped
immensely by playing next to Kirk Barton, now he should come
into his own as a steadier interior pass protector. While he's a
limited talent compared to some of the other linemen, he's a
hard-working veteran who won't be a liability.
The one new starter up front is 6-4, 313-pound sophomore
Bryant Browning, who replaced Kirk Barton after spending
last year on the special teams. Very smart and very tough, he
handled himself well this off-season and improved as practices
went on. He has all the tools and the coaches really like him,
but he'll be in for a bit of a battle to keep the starting job.
Projected Top Reserves: Will the Buckeyes really
put a true freshman at right tackle? It's possible. 6-8,
310-pound Mike Adams will get every shot to beat out
Bryant Browning for the starting job with tremendous size and
next level athleticism. While it was almost a sure-thing that
he'd redshirt, he could quickly change his mind depending on how
the early workouts go this fall.
Along with Adams, Michael Brewster is the future of the
Buckeye line. Arguably the nation's best offensive line prospect
this year, the 6-5, 300 pounder can play either center or guard.
While Adams could see time right away, Brewster, thanks to a
shoulder problem, will likely be in the mix for playing time
At 6-4, 321 pounds, sophomore Connor Smith is one of the
team's biggest linemen and a promising backup. A top recruit as
the 2005 Ohio Player of the Year, he has the upside, but he has
to see more playing time behind Ben Person at right guard.
Watch Out For ... Browning. He's the only new
starter on the line and he's been able to hold his own so far in
place of Kirk Barton. He'll be challenged for the starting job,
but he has everything needed to be the next great Buckeye
Strength: Durability and cohesion. There wasn't
one change in the starting lineup from start to finish, and with
four of the starters returning, this group knows what it's
Weakness: Backups. It's been hard to get playing time over the
last few years behind the rock-solid starting five, but it's not
like several players have stepped up.
You were a superstar high school player if you're on the OSU
two-deep, but veterans like Kyle Mitchum and Jon Skinner never
lived up to their prep hype. Now the hope will be for true
freshmen, Adams and Brewster, to be the real deal.
Outlook: After two very good years, the Buckeye O line should be
among the best in the nation again with four starters returning. Boone should
be one of the country's premier tackles, while Rehring is an NFL-caliber guard to help form a dominant left
side. There's a question about the relatively inexperienced
backups, and the Buckeyes can't have the same luck with
durability again, so there will be a bit of a panic if there's a
rash of injuries early on.