Reality Check Time
Ohio State may be in for a bit of a rougher ride this year than many of the Buckeye faithful expect. Urban will probably right the ship in his second year, but too many things concern me about this 2012 team.
The Buckeye defense that I hear some fans boasting as one of the best in the nation – I’m not seeing it. Sure, it’s a nice looking set of starters on the D-line, but is it deep enough? Not sure Nate Williams, coming back from a pretty nasty injury, can help much. And Bellamy had developed into a very solid D-lineman; I’d really like to get his experience back. I am not counting on future stars Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington to dominate just yet.
As for the linebacking crew, again, there is little depth. The Bucks need Sabino to continue to play like he did in the Gator Bowl and I am taking a wait and see approach on Curtis Grant. Obviously, the potential is there with Grant. Shazier is a rising superstar and health permitting, will be All Big-Ten.
The DB’s….again, I’m taking a wait and see approach. From just about all reports, Bradley Roby is ready to become the next great OSU corner. But such was the talk about Travis Howard this time a year ago. I do think CJ Barnett, two years removed from an ACL injury, will have a big year. Christian Bryant and Travis Howard simply have to get better to live up to Buckeye standards.
On offense, I think most will agree that there are many more concerns than on defense. The lack of playmakers at WR is an obvious concern as is the lack of depth on the O-line. In a nutshell, I think Braxton Miller needs to come of age quickly to help save this offense from an ugly year. Also, a healthy Jordan Hall could help immensely – he is the perfect fit for an Urban offense.
The good news is that there is still enough talent and there is certainly a new attitude that should enable the Buckeyes to improve by at least two wins over 2011. I think 8-4 or 9-3 is realistic. The game in East Lansing is going to be rough. Don’t think much of the 2012 Sparty offense, but I think the Bucks have trouble scoring points in that one. And playing at night in Madison is never fun. My guess is the Bucks almost certainly lose one of those games and probably end up losing both of them. I do like a motivated Ohio State team to beat Michigan this year, but likely be dealt at least one other loss, possibly in a game fans are taking for granted. Jim Tressel’s first year at Ohio State was a bit rough and so was Urban’s at Florida. In the end I just don’t see this 2012 Buckeye team being much better than either of those teams. Hope I’m wrong.
I am, however, extremely excited about the future and do think Ohio State hired a coach that is about as good as they come. 2013 may see the Buckeyes back in the top 5, where they belong.