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2010 Ohio State Preview – Offense
Ohio State RB Dan Herron
Ohio State RB Dan Herron
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 17, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Ohio State Buckeye Offense



Ohio State Buckeyes

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 Ohio State Preview | 2010 Ohio State Offense
- 2010 Ohio State Defense | 2010 Ohio State Depth Chart
- Ohio State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

What You Need To Know: With nine starters returning from an offense that appeared to be hitting its stride at the right time over the second half of last year, the sky’s the limit. The attack, as always, was conservative with a premium put on keep the chains moving and not screwing up, and while there were too many interceptions (11), everything ended up working out fine. The key wasn’t the emergence of star QB Terrelle Pryor as more of a leader and a playmaker; it was the maturation of the line. While the pass protection was spotty, the line started to do more and more for the ground game, and the team responded. With all the returning talent, a ton of promising depth, and the expected emergence of Pryor as a consistent star, the offense that finished 68th in the nation in yards and 49th in scoring should be far, far better.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Terrelle Pryor
167-295, 2,094 yds, 18 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Terrelle Pryor
162 carries, 779 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: DeVier Posey
60 catches, 828 yds, 8 TD  

Star of the offense: Junior QB Terrelle Pryor
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT Mike Adams
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore FB Zach Boren
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Justin Boren
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Pryor, 2) Justin Boren, 3) WR DeVier Posey
Strength of the offense: Experience, Pryor
Weakness of the offense: Consistent Passing, Pass Protection

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Now the expectations go from hoping he’ll take another step forward to hoping he can win a Heisman while leading Ohio State to the national title. Junior Terrelle Pryor hasn’t been the be-all-end-all transcendent player that many thought he’d be right away after being everyone’s No. 1, can’t-miss recruit in the 2008 class, but he has been good enough to be the starting quarterback on two BCS bowl teams and the reason why the team won the 2010 Rose Bowl. At 6-6 and 233 pounds he’s big, really big, and tough to bring down with just one defender. Extremely fast and elusive for a player of his size, he ran for 779 yards and seven touchdowns last year with 74 yards against Michigan and 72 against Oregon in the Rose Bowl despite playing on a banged up knee. While he might never be Peyton Manning as a passer, he’s improving enough to be accurate and effective on midrange throws while making defenses worry a bit more on the deep balls. At his best when on the move, he’s great making plays out of the pocket while being able to make something out of nothing when the play breaks down.

He appears to be working his way up in the logical progression of a great college quarterback’s career having relied on his raw skills as a freshman and expanding his passing abilities last year, completing 57% of his throws for 2,094 yards and 18 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He completed 61% of his passes for 1,311 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions as a freshman, but he wasn’t allowed to do anything that wasn’t ultra-safe. After a year and a half of starting experience, he’s more in command of the offense now, appears to be quicker with his decision making, and he’s ready to open up the attack more to unleash his tremendous arm on more downfield throws. Work-level isn’t an issue; he has had problems with a sore arm from overuse working on throw after throw. Toughness isn’t an issue; he played hurt at the end of last year and underwent minor knee surgery to clean everything up. This is his team and his season for the taking, and for all the hype and all the promise, he appears ready to be the player everyone has been waiting for. The pressure has gone up ten-fold on his career and the success of the team rest squarely on his shoulders.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-1, 233-pound junior Joe Bauserman has his defined role. The cool, calm former pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirate far system has a live arm and a quick release to go along with the mobility to take off from time to time. An almost perfect emergency backup, the former walk-on isn’t going to transfer, he’s mature enough to be mentally ready to step in at a moment’s notice, and he’s just good enough to keep the offense moving. While the 24-year-old only completed 32% of his throws for 124 yards in his limited time, he has enough talent to be fine in an emergency.

The quarterback of the future might be Kenny Guiton, a slippery 6-2, 190-pound dual threat prospect with the smarts to grasp the position from all angles (considering his multitude of talents), and with the arm to get the passing game moving. Fast and athletic, there’s a chance he could be moved to receiver or another position to get him on the field over the next two seasons, but he’s a quarterback.

Watch Out For … an open playbook for Pryor. The coaching staff took the training wheels off a little bit last year, and then gave No. 2 the option to make the offense shine by the end of the season. Now the attack is all his.
Strength: Terrelle Pryor. No one player in America has the ability, the potential, or the talent to carry his team to the national title like Pryor. If he’s the be-all-end-all player everyone hoped he’d be when he signed on two years ago, Ohio State could be the national champion. If he’s just really good, ho hum … the Buckeyes could win another Rose Bowl.
Weakness: Passing. Yeah, Pryor opened it up for 266 yards against Oregon, but OSU was still dead last in the Big Ten in passing. It’s not like the running game was so great that the passing attack could be ignored; the Buckeyes finished third in the conference on the ground. Pryor needs to cut down on his interceptions and be more consistent through the air.
Outlook: It’s all on Pryor to carry the Buckeyes this year, but if something happens, Bauserman is at the point where he might be just good enough to tread water with. He’s not good enough to take the Buckeyes to a national title, but he could win a game or two if he had to. Guiton is the X factor with phenomenal speed and great upside. He’s like a smaller Pryor.
Unit Rating: 9

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Junior Dan Herron doesn’t get any attention or any of the spotlight with Terrelle Pryor the most dangerous rushing weapon in the offense, but he led the team in rushing last year with 600 yards and 11 touchdowns despite missing a chunk of the midseason with an ankle injury. The 5-10, 202-pounder bulked up a little bit to take more of a pounding, and he showed at the end of last year that he could be a workhorse who can carry the offense from time to time getting 32 carries for 97 yards and a score in the pivotal Iowa win and running 19 times for 96 yards against Michigan. “Boom” has blazing speed and tremendous cut-back ability, and while he’s not going to beat anyone up as an inside runner, he’s just tough enough to get a few carries here and there up the cut. He’s trying harder to be a tough between-the-tackles runner, but he’s at his best in space and could be used more as a receiver after making 11 catches for 66 yards and a score.

Sophomore Zach Boren is a big-time blocker who can catch a little bit. He stepped in when need as a true freshman and flattened everything in front of him while catching four passes for 23 yards with a touchdown against Illinois, and now the 6-0, 252-pounder will be an even bigger part of the offense as blocker. He’ll quickly be among the premier fullbacks in the Big Ten, but he won’t carry the ball, if at all.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Brandon Saine is No. 1A on the depth chart next to Dan Herron, and he can be the featured runner whenever needed. The 6-1, 219-pound veteran has good size and is one of the team’s fastest player with 4.35 wheels. Ohio’s 2006 Mr. Football hasn’t quite put it all together to be the special player many were thinking he’d be coming out of high school, but he was fine last year running for 739 yards and four touchdowns averaging 5.1 yards per carry. A nice receiving threat, he caught 17 passes for 224 yards and two scores. His biggest issue is health, and that carried over into this offseason with a hamstring problem. But when he’s 100%, he has all the tools to be terrific.

5-9, 195-pound sophomore Jordan Hall adds even more speed to the equation. He’s not going to run over anyone and he’s not a workhorse, but he’s quick as a hiccup and can start and stop on a dime. He got a little bit of work last year finishing fourth on the team with 248 yards and a touchdown averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and now he needs the ball in his hands more in space to show what he can do.

5-10, 200-pound redshirt freshman Jaamal Berry was a great recruit stolen away from Miami, but he has yet to show much with a hamstring problem keeping him sidelined. Shot out of a cannon when he gets to show his burst, he’s fast out of the blocks and has the toughness to be a workhorse for his size. Once he gets healthy he could find a niche as a third down back.

Sophomore Jermil Martin is one of the team’s most versatile backs, and most interesting. At 5-10 and 235 pounds he has the build and the makeup to be a fullback, but he has the speed and the skills to be a tailback who beats people up. Fast for his size, he’s not just an interior runner averaging 7.6 yards per pop on his 11 carries with a 39-yard touchdown against Minnesota.

Sophomore Adam Homan stepped aside for Zach Boren as the team’s top fullback, but the 6-2, 238-pound brother of star linebacker, Ross, was a good special teamer in his true freshman season and is a good, smart blocker who can see more time. He’s tough, physical, and ready to play a bigger role even with Boren’s star on the rise.

Watch Out For … the fullbacks. Saine and Herron might be one of the nation’s most lethal running back combos, but the fullbacks, Boren and Homan, deserve credit for making many of the holes happen. Boren could be making a pitch to be the nation’s best fullback by the time the season is over.
Strength: Experience. Including Terrelle Pryor, the top five runners from last year are back, and including receivers, nine of the top ten rushers from last season return. Of the 2,540 yards and 20 touchdowns gained last season, all 20 scores and 2,388 of the yards are back.
Weakness: An overreliance on Pryor. The running backs chipped in with Saine and Herron combining for 298 carries, but Pryor was the team’s most dangerous weapon. While Saine averaged 5.1 yards per carry, Herron averaged a mediocre 3.9 and there weren’t nearly enough home runs hit. The two top backs disappeared a bit too often.
Outlook: This is a very, very deep, very, very talented group of quick running backs with five options who can carry the load anytime and produce. The two fullbacks are tremendous, Saine and Herron (or Zoom and Boom, respectively), are great when healthy, and there are plenty of young backs waiting to shine. The running game hit its stride at the end of last year rumbling over both Iowa and Penn State, and the production should continue behind a veteran line.
Unit Rating: 8.5

Receivers

Projected Starters: The next in the lineage of NFL receivers from Ohio State is DeVier Posey , a 6-2, 213-pound junior who has all the tools to be a No. 1 target at the next level once he becomes more consistent and once he refines his technique. With 6-2, 213-pound size, great athleticism (with a 33-inch vertical), and blazing speed (running the 200 in 21.5), he has the raw tools, and he has the smarts and the drive to become a star. While his blocking leaves something to be desired for a player of his size, and he has a case of dropsies from time to time, everything else is in place. He had a good 2009 regular season, and then he showed just how good he could be with eight catches for 101 yards and a score in the Rose Bowl to finish with 60 grabs for 828 yards and eight scores on the year. He also threw a 39-yard touchdown pass against New Mexico State.

Facing single coverage with all the attention paid to the other Buckeye weapons, senior Dane Sanzenbacher was able to flourish averaging 15.8 yards per grab making 36 catches for 570 yards and six touchdowns in a steady season. At 5-11 and 180 pounds he’s not all that big, but he’s a sharp route runner and he always produces when he gets the ball. While not a deep blazer, he’s shifty enough to make things happen in the open field, and he’s trusted on key plays to keep the chains moving.

Yes, the tight ends really will be a part of the equation this year meaning 6-5, 245-pound Jake Stoneburner could be the biggest surprise in the attack. The sophomore only caught two passes for 30 yards last season as he played second-fiddle behind Jake Ballard, but with the expected emergence of the passing attack as more wide open and more dangerous, he’ll be a regular, steady target. He looked the part this offseason and will be used like a big wide receiver who’ll create matchup problems down the middle of the field.

Projected Top Reserves: Considering his skills, Taurian Washington has been a mega-flop. The senior has 6-1, 181-pound size, 4.5 speed, good hands, and has been great in practices, but he has only three career catches and hasn’t made on in the last two years. A special teamer last season, now he’s being looked at as the No. 3 target in the rotation working behind DeVier Posey. He’s smart and he has been around, and now he could break out in his final year.

6-2, 198-pound sophomore Duron Carter appears to be the next great Buckeye receiver, but that will only happen if he gets into the classroom on a regular basis. The son of legendary NFL receiver Cris Carter, Duron, is a fiery playmaker who managed to step up in his true freshman season to make 13 catches for 176 yards and a score. While he’s nowhere near the talent his dad is, and he missed time this offseason to work on his academics, he’s a phenomenal prospect who should be a big part of the three-wide sets.

This might not have been an epic recruiting class (there wasn’t much room for new prospects), but the top prospect among the 2010 haul was Corey Brown , a lightning fast prospect who set records in the 200 meter dash with a 21.4. Great with the ball in his hands as both a runner and a receiver, he might be too good to keep under wraps for a redshirt year unless he moves over to the defensive side. At 6-0 and 189 pounds, he has the size to be a strong corner.

At 6-8 and 260 pounds, sophomore Reid Fragel is a nightmare of a matchup problem with good quickness and toughness. While he’s not built to be a big-time factor for the running game, he’s physical and should move beyond just being a special teamer. However, he was good enough to see time in every game as a true freshman and is more than ready to be a part of the passing game.

Watch Out For … Sanzenbacher. While he’s not getting the publicity of Posey, Sanzenbacher averaged more yards per catch (15.8 to 13.8) and was a bit more reliable. Even sharper in his route running this offseason, he could be even more dangerous as a No. 2 target.
Strength: Posey and Sanzenbacher. These two stepped in and made everyone forget about Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie. Posey has All-America potential, while Sanzenbacher is a playmaker who can strike from anywhere.
Weakness: Hands. Posey doesn’t have the softest mitts in the business and Washington fights the ball way too much. It’s not a huge problem, but this isn’t always the most reliable receiving corps around.
Outlook: The factory keeps on pumping out NFL caliber receivers, and if Carter gets his grades right and Posey keeps on progressing, this year’s receiving corps will be loaded with players with next level skills. With the expected emergence of the tight ends as bigger parts of the attack, the passing game should have no problems outside of the limitations of the conservative attack.
Unit Rating: 8

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: As a symbol of the shift in the rivalry, senior Justin Boren is mostly known for leaving Michigan after a supposed lack of a family atmosphere under Rich Rodriguez. However, the veteran left guard is more than just a defector; he’s a top-shelf NFL prospect. At 6-3 and 320 pounds with a mean, nasty streak, he’s a bear of a run blocker earning first-team All-Big Ten honors as the team’s best blasted for the ground game. While he was banged up a bit with a foot problem, he still managed to start in 12 games providing the physical presence the line was in need of.

Junior Mike Adams was supposed to be the main man at left tackle early on, taking over for Alex Boone, but he didn’t get his first start until the fourth game of the year. Solid, but not tremendous in pass protection, he was just starting to get a feel for things when he suffered a knee injury midway through the season before returning as a backup against Iowa. At 6-8 and 300 pounds he’s very long, very lean, and he’s very athletic, but he still needs plenty of time and work before he’s a finished product on Terrelle Pryor’s blindside.

Back in the middle is for his third year in a row is junior Mike Brewster , arguably the team’s second biggest recruit of 2008 behind Terrelle Pryor. Everyone’s top center prospect, the 6-5, 293-pounder from Orlando showed why immediately with the athleticism and the smarts to command a leadership role early on. Before, he was very, very good, but a bit green. Now he’s very, very good and experienced. Consider it a shock if he’s not a lock for all-star honors.

Returning for his third year on the line is senior Bryant Browning , a nice right guard who could play tackle if needed. He started every game in 2008 on the outside and basically wrote open invitations to pass rushers to get into the backfield. Far better suited for the inside, the 6-4, 313-pound veteran is a big-time hitter who pushes people around in the running game. An honorable-mention All-Big Ten performer, he’s great in a phone booth and he growing into top NFL guard prospect.

Junior J.B. Shugarts was supposed to be a part of rotation last season but ended up starting at right tackle. The 6-7, 297-pound veteran is just athletic enough to work on the left side if needed, but he’s better suited to the right side without the next-level feet to consistently handle the speedier pass rushers. Healthy again after fighting through a shoulder problem that required surgery last offseason, he’s a blossoming prospect, especially for the running game, who should be hold down the starting spot for another two years.

Projected Top Reserves: Soon, sophomore Marcus Hall will be one of the keys to the line. A great recruit last year, he has elite run blocking skills and the size and frame to become a good all-around blocker with a bit more work. At 6-5 and 321 pounds, he’s powerful, but he’s not a polished pass protector by any stretch. Good enough to have started against Iowa as a true freshman, he’ll eventually be the star of the line.

Senior Andrew Miller is a smart, veteran backup who got the call at left tackle over the first three games before moving around after suffering a bout with the flu. Not a left tackle, he struggled in pass protection and proved to be far more effective whenever he was inside. Even so, the former tight end with 6-6, 288-pound size will be the prime backup on the outside again and will get a little bit of look at guard behind Justin Boren.

A backup for nine games last season, 6-4, 313-pound Connor Smith came up with a good year as a run blocking guard in the rotation. While he’s not a starter, the senior has the size and the power to step in from time to time behind Justin Boren and provide some power. The 2005 Ohio Player of the Year has been a disappointment considering his prep billing, but he has found a role.

Watch Out For … the young blockers. Redshirt freshmen Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley would be starting for most teams by now, but they’re stuck for another year behind the veteran starters. The 6-6, 288-pound Mewhort is a versatile inside presence who’ll start out at center but could play guard, while the 5-2, 298-pound Linsley is a superstrong right guard prospect who should be a great run blocker with a little more time.
Strength: Veterans. With four returning starters, a fifth in Adams who should be counted like a starter, and backup in Hall who started a game, this is a tight, veteran group that’s only missing Jim Cordle from last year’s top starting lineup.
Weakness: Pass protection. Cordle wasn’t a great tackle, but he worked hard. The Buckeyes struggled a bit in pass protection partly because of Terrelle Pryor’s mobility and partly because the line simply wasn’t that great against the speedier pass rushers (Oregon’s Kenny Rowe bought a timeshare in the Buckeye backfield). This was a problem two years ago, too, and while this group will blast away for the ground game, it needs to be steadier after allowing 24 sacks and way too many hurries.
Outlook: The line has been fine over the last few seasons, but it hasn’t been special. It’s good for stretches and it has been good enough for the running game, but the pass protection has been mediocre and this hasn’t played like a line that can lead the way to a national title. This year, though, with four returning starters, more talent among the backups just waiting for a chance to get on the field, and an all-star interior with Boren, Browning, and very soon, Brewster, this could end up being the best line in the Big Ten (or No. 2 just behind the Wisconsin front five).
Unit Rating: 8

- 2010 Ohio State Preview | 2010 Ohio State Offense
- 2010 Ohio State Defense | 2010 Ohio State Depth Chart
- Ohio State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006