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2009 Ohio State Preview - Offense
Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher
Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher
Posted Jul 9, 2009 2009 Preview - Ohio State Buckeye Offense

Ohio State Buckeyes

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Ohio State Preview | 2009 Ohio State Offense
- 2009 Ohio State Defense | 2009 Ohio State Depth Chart
- 2008 OSU Preview | 2007 OSU Preview | 2006 OSU Preview 

What you need to know:
The OSU offense took a left turn last season when Terrelle Pryor took over the attack with less deep passing and more running, but things should be more balanced this year. Pryor worked hard this offseason to become a more polished passer, and now there should be more long balls and more chances taking after he dinked and dunked with safe passes throughout the second half of last season. While much will be made about the major losses at running back and receiver, there's more than enough speed and talent to step in and produce. There's no power in the running game, but Dan "Boom" Herron and Brandon "Zoom" Saine can fly. The receiving corps might turn out to be a strength with DeVier Posey about to become a superstar and with Dane Sanzenbacher, Ray Small, and incoming freshman Duron Carter all good enough to put up big numbers. The key to the offense should be the line, which wasn't bad for the ground game last year but struggled mightily in pass protection and didn't have a nasty enough attitude. The addition of Michigan transfer Justin Boren at left guard should make a big different for a group that should emerge as the Big Ten's best with a little time.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Terrelle Pryor
100-165, 1,311 yds, 12 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Terrelle Pryor
139 carries, 631 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Dane Sanzenbacher
21 catches, 272 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Terrelle Pryor
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore OT Mike Adams
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman TE Jake Stoneburner
Best pro prospect: Pryor
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Pryor, 2) OG Justin Boren, 3) WR DeVier Posey
Strength of the offense: Pryor, Speed
Weakness of the offense: Power Runner, Proven Receivers


Projected Starter: The pressure put on Terrelle Pryor was unfair. It was like everyone forgot he was a true freshman, but he came through. The super-recruit who kept Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State fans waiting on the edge of their seats was the team's best quarterback from the moment he arrived on campus, but the coaching staff still went with Todd Boeckman early on and gave Pryor a few drives here and there to throw defenses a curve ball. He completed 7-of-9 passes against USC, and ran for 40 yards, and he threw four touchdown passes in a win over Troy, but his era truly arrived late in an early October game against Wisconsin. He only ran for 20 yards on the day and he completed 13-of-19 passes for 144 yards with an interception, but when he had to, he came up with a tremendous late scoring drive for the 20-17 win.

The coaching staff limited what Pryor could do, keeping his throws basic, conservative, and simple, while allowing him to use his legs whenever needed. He ran for 110 yards against Michigan State on the was to a 639-yard, six touchdown season, while he completed 61% of his throws for 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns with four interceptions. However, his emergence made ghosts out of star receivers Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline as the Buckeyes became more reliant than ever on the run. This offseason, the 6-6, 235-pound sophomore with elite speed busted his tail to become a better quarterback, and worked his arm to the point of exhaustion with throw after throw after throw to improve his accuracy. While he still needs technique work, and he's still going to rely on his legs more often than not, he should be a far more confident passer and he should do far more for the offense.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 220-pound sophomore Joe Bauserman is a cool, calm, former pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirate farm system. He has a big arm and a lightning quick release, and he has enough mobility to take off from time to time. He's 23, mature, and the type of No. 2 quarterback who can step in for a stretch and keep the season rolling, but he's not a full-time answer as a starter if something happens to Pryor.

While 6-2, 210-pound Ross Oltorik might be the No. 3 option to start the season, and walk-on Justin Siems is a good scout teamer who had a nice spring, the team's third best quarterback will likely be Kenny Guiton, a 6-3, 180-pound dual-threat recruit who has phenomenal speed and enough of an arm to get the passing game moving. The 6-3, 180-pounder is smart and has the talent to see time at another position just to get him on the field, but he'll likely redshirt and be the main man in a few years. 

Watch Out For ... Pryor as a passer. It's not that Pryor couldn't throw last season, it's that he wasn't allowed to come up with too many dangerous deep balls. He'll still spend most of his time dinking and dunking, but he'll air it out more and he should be far more efficient. If he can stretch the field a little bit, he'll have that much more room to run as games go on.
Strength: Pryor. Not only does he have the size, the speed, the athleticism and the arm, but he showed this offseason that he has the drive and the work ethic to become special. He's the real deal with the talent to potentially be the best quarterback in college football right now. And no, Tebow, Bradford, and McCoy didn't turn pro.
A monster drop-off from the one to the two. Ohio State has a legitimate shot to be in the national title hunt, rebuilding job at all, if Pryor is under center. Bauserman has been fantastic in practices, but he struggled in the spring game and he's nowhere near the player Pryor is.
Outlook: Everyone in America knew that Pryor was the team's best quarterback going into last year, but the Buckeye coaching staff didn't get the memo until right after Todd Boeckman melted down against USC. Now this is Pryor's program to run for the next few years, and he should be fantastic. Bauserman isn't bad, and he could start for at least half of the other Big Ten teams, but he's a clear No. 2. There will be a season-long battle for the No. 3 slot.
Rating: 9

Running Backs

Projected Starters: There was some question marks over the last few years about Dan Herron's toughness. Only 5-10 and 193 pounds, he was seen as a pure scatback with blinding speed, but no ability to pound the ball inside. He changed that up this offseason running harder between the tackles while showing off tremendous cutback ability into daylight. "Boom" ran for 439 yards and six touchdowns last season, but he didn't do enough in the passing game catching just six passes for 29 yards. Now he'll be a far bigger part of the attack.

6-1, 240-pound redshirt freshman James Georgiades appeared to be on the fast track to the starting fullback job, but he got hurt this offseason and has to come back and be consistent. He'll never run the ball, but he's consistent for his age as a blocker and showed off decent hands in the passing game. He'll be part of a fullback rotation.

Projected Top Reserves: There are speedsters on the OSU roster, but Brandon Saine is one of the team's fastest players. Not only is the junior 6-1 and 217 pounds, but he has 4.35 wheels and the hands to be used as a receiver. Ohio's 2006 Mr. Football was a superstar recruit and was supposed to be special right away, but he has been a major bust so far rushing for just 65 yards and a score last year. The major problem has been staying healthy, but he had a great spring and he appears ready to finally blossom.

Walk-on Marcus Williams will likely only get on the field if disaster strikes and Herron and Saine get hurt, but in practices, the 5-10, 202-pound senior has been productive when given the chance. He has good quickness and is a willing, tough blocker, but he's strictly an emergency option.

True freshman Jaamal Berry was a nice get for the program, stealing him out of Miami. The 5-11, 195-pounder goes from zero to 60 in a hiccup and has nice hands. While he's not huge, he has workhorse ability and could find a niche as a third down back early on.

While true freshman Adam Homan might not be No. 1 on the depth chart at fullback, he's No. 1A. He came to Columbus early and had a great spring, showing he's ready to be a major part of the attack right away. The brother of linebacker, Ross Homan, the 6-4, 235-pounder is tough, physical, and could be used like another tight end and an H-Back.

Watch Out For ... the health of Boom and Zoom. "Boom" Herron isn't built like a full-time back, while "Zoom" Saine hasn't been able to stay on the field so far. These two aren't going to be asked to carry the offense with No. 2 under center, but they need to stay healthy and have to make the most of their opportunities.
Strength: Speed. Herron is lightning quick and can fly when he gets into the open field, while Saine might be the Big Ten's fastest back. The Buckeyes averaged a mediocre 4.6 yards per carry last year and should have more home runs this season.
Someone to count on for a full season. Can the Buckeyes rely on Saine to stay in one piece for 13 games? Good luck with that. Herron is tough as nails, but he's not built to handle the ball 200 times. There will have to be a steady rotation for the ground game to work.
Outlook: Beanie Wells would've been a favorite for the Heisman had he decided to come back for another year, but now it'll be running back by committee with Herron and Saine forming a dangerous, but shaky 1-2 punch. It would be nice if there was a power option to run the smashmouth style that Jim Tressel enjoys utilizing from time to time, but the ground game will have to settle for speed.
Rating: 7.5


Projected Starters: Is it possible to lose Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline and upgrade the receiving corps? Not right away, but with the emergence of DeVier Posey, the offense has a more dangerous No. 1 target. The 6-3, 205-pound sophomore only made 11 grabs last year for 117 yards and a score, but he showed this offseason that he's ready to blossom into yet another superstar Buckeye receiver. He has tremendous athleticism, the ability to hit the home run from anywhere on the field, and a willingness to catch the ball in traffic. A next-level athlete with a 33-inch vertical and 21.5 in the 200, to go along with the smarts and consistency to be a solid route runner, he's a flawless prospect ... outside of his blocking. It's nitpicking, but he's a mediocre blocker, which is a big deal in the OSU offense.

On the other side, at least at the moment, is Dane Sanzenbacher, a serviceable target who wasn't able to do much this spring thanks to an ankle sprain. While the junior is only 5-11 and 175 pounds, he's a sharp route runner and he doesn't drop a pass. He pales in comparison to the rest of the tremendous athletes in the Buckeye receiving corps, but he always produces in practices when he gets the chance, and he tied for second on the team with 21 catches for 272 yards with a touchdown last season.

Senior Jake Ballard returns at tight end after combining forces with Rory Nicol last year and making five catches for 73 yards. The 6-6, 256-pounder is hardly an elite receiver, but he can make plays on short to midrange pass plays and is a fantastic blocker. He'll be at his best in two tight end sets.

Projected Top Reserves: Senor Ray Small has had a bizarre and disappointing career. The tools are there with decent 5-11, 180-pound size and excellent deep speed, but he has never been able to put it all together to live up to the enormous prep hype. In and out of the coaching staff's doghouse, and out of the mix throughout last year because he wasn't exactly happy with his role, he caught 18 passes for 149 yards averaging a pathetic, considering his skills, 8.3 yards per grab. While he'll start out behind Sanzenbacher, he'll be the team's No. 3 receiver and could see far more time if he can settle down and just play.

6-2, 179-pound junior Taurian Washington has 4.5 speed and good hands, but most importantly, he appears to have a rapport with Terrelle Pryor after coming up with a big performance in the spring game. He was supposed to be a breakout star last season, too, but he didn't catch a pass. With a slew of good prospects waiting in the wings, now is the time for Washington to step up and distinguish himself.

Considering Ohio State has nothing but speed at receiver, it should say something that Lamaar Thomas might be the fastest of the bunch. The 5-11, 186-pound sophomore only made four catches for 29 yards last season, but "Flash" is a true deep threat who could flourish as a fourth receiver and as deep threat specialist.

On the way is one of the team's top recruits, Duron Carter, son of should-be-Hall-of-Famer Cris Carter. The 6-2, 190-pounder isn't his dad, but he's a fiery playmaker who wants the ball and will make himself into a go-to target sooner than later. He's good enough that he could be the team's No. 2 receiver on the other side of Posey right away.

While Jake Ballard might be the veteran tight end, Jake Stoneburner is the most dangerous option. The 6-5, 230-pound redshirt freshman is like a big wide receiver who can do what Ballard can't and make big things happen down the field. While he's not the blocker than Ballard is, he's a matchup nightmare who could do big things if the coaching staff decides to use more two tight end sets.

Watch Out For ... Stoneburner. The OSU receiving corps has its share of speedsters that'll demand extra attention from the safeties. The seam should be wide open for a potential playmaker like Stoneburner, who has the speed to get past most linebackers and the toughness to fight for the ball against most defensive backs. He could quickly develop into Pryor's most reliable big-play, third down target.
Strength: Wheels. Sanzenbacher is tremendously quick and can do big things after the catch, but he looks like he's running in sand compared to the rest of the receiving corps. Posey is fast, Small is a blur, and Thomas is a bolt of lightning. Getting deep won't be an issue.
Proven crunch-time production. The passing game was in lockdown mode after Pryor took over last season and it hindered the development of the younger receivers, while all but ignoring Hartline and Robiskie. There's no questioning the talent level of the OSU receiving corps, but there aren't a lot of big numbers against top secondaries.
Outlook: Lose Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez, plug in Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline. Lose those two to the NFL, and keep the factory rolling with Posey, Sanzenbacher, Small, Thomas, Washington, and Carter. Don't weep for the "rebuilding job" that needs to be done here; the passing game should be even more dangerous with the improvement of Pryor and the potential for more home runs from the lightning fast corps. Throw Stoneburner into the mix, and OSU will average far more than the 12.2 yards per catch of last year.  
Rating: 8

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The line was talented but soft last season, and it's in desperate need of an attitude upgrade. Enter Justin Boren, the one-time Michigan Wolverine who famously left the program because it didn't have a family atmosphere under Rich Rodriguez. The 6-3, 315-pound junior is just plain nasty, and he's exactly what the the line needs. A bear of a run blocker, he was dominant throughout the offseason and should immediately be the one the offense works behind at left guard. He'll be making a ton of money very soon at the next level.

Taking over for Alex Boone, who was overhyped and underperformed despite all the all-star accolades, will be Mike Adams, a 6-8, 322-pound sophomore who has a world of talent and the long, lean tackle-body, but he needs a ton of work at left tackle. He's a fantastic athlete, but he needs work on getting his hands locked on or he'll get blown past by speed rushers early on, but he's expected to grow into the job.

Michael Brewster was arguably the team's second best recruit last year behind Pryor, and he showed signs of becoming a mainstay on the All-Big Ten team. The 6-5, 296-pound sophomore is versatile enough to play either guard position, but he's too valuable in the middle where he's smart enough at his young age to be able to make all the right line calls and he still hasn't reached his potential after improving game by game last year. He started in ten games, taking over for Jim Cordle, and he'll be the leader of the line for the next three years.

Junior Bryant Browning started every game last year at right tackle and was a turnstyle in pass protection. The 6-4, 312-pounder has the basics as a tackle, but he's too slow against the better pass rushers and wasn't great at getting down the field in a hurry. He should blossom at right guard as he appeared to be more of a natural this spring. He's better in a phone booth.

6-4, 297-pound senior Jim Cordle has been tried out at center, starting the first three games last year, and worked the rest of the way at left guard, and now he'll be moved to right tackle. He's a bit of a square peg being forced into a round hole, and while he doesn't appear to have a natural position, he's a leader, a tough veteran, and will get every chance to keep the starting spot.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Andrew Miller was an afterthought in the offensive line mix, but he came up with a tremendous spring and is now deep in the hunt for a starting tackle job. He's not a left tackle, even though he's getting a look there, but the 6-7, 295-pounder will be in the rotation on the right side after showing he can be fine in pass protection and tough for the ground game.

Sophomore J.B. Shugarts will be right in the hunt for a tackle job once he's healthy. He had shoulder problems that required surgery and he has been limited this offseason. However, the 6-8, 298-pounder has the size and the talent to push Adams or Cordle out of a starting job, and he'll get every shot to do it this fall.

6-4, 321-pound junior Connor Smith is one of the team's biggest linemen and will work at left guard behind Boren. The 2005 Ohio Player of the Year has the upside and the size to be a good one, but it hasn't happened yet and he's been a bit of a bust so far. He's not pushing for the starting job, but he should be a serviceable backup.

Watch Out For ... Boren. He came in with a ton of fanfare and a big chip on his shoulder, and he's going to back it up by being among the Big Ten's best linemen. He's the tone-setter for the line and he's likely to grow into the most talented blocker.
Strength: Talent. The three returning starters are at center and on the right side, while the left side might have gotten an upgrade. Boren is a better guard than Cordle, who started most of last year at left guard, while Adams or Shugarts should be an upgrade over the inconsistent Boone.
Pass protection from the outside. The coaching staff is working on trying to fix the problem after the quarterbacks were hit way too often. USC treated Todd Boeckman like a rag-doll. Cordle probably won't end up being the answer at right tackle, while Adams has to prove himself on the left side.
Outlook: If you're looking to point the finger at one area of the Buckeyes that kept the team from being truly special, look at the line. This year's front five might not be better right away, considering there's going to be plenty of shuffling over the first half of the season, but it's going to be a tougher and will have a far better attitude.
Rating: 8


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2009 CFN Ohio State Preview
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2009 Ohio State Preview – Depth Chart
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