2009 Ohio State Buckeyes Football Preview
2008 Record: (10-3, 7-1)
2008 Bowl: Fiesta Bowl vs. Texas (L 21-24)
Coach: Jim Tressel (83-19 at Ohio State, 218-76-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jim Bollman
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Heacock and Luke Fickell
Other Key Returnees: TE Jake Ballard, C Michael Brewster, OT Bryant Browning, CB Chimdi Chekwa, G Jim Cordle, DE Cameron Heyward, LB Ross Homan, S Anderson Russell, DT Doug Worthington
Key Losses: DT Nader Abdallah, OT Alex Boone, LB Marcus Freeman, WR Brian Hartline, CB Malcolm Jenkins, LB James Laurinaitis, TE Rory Nicol, K Ryan Pretorius, G Steve Rehring, WR Brian Robiskie, P A.J. Trapasso, CB Donald Washington, RB Chris Wells
Seven Ohio State players were drafted in the first five rounds of the NFL Draft. Sure the Buckeyes will reload, but replacing players like James Laurinaitis, Chris Wells, Malcolm Jenkins, Brian Robiskie, Brian Hartline and Marcus Freeman will not be easy. Nor will it happen overnight. But this is OSU after all and they will be a player in the race for a Big Ten championship.
Ohio State's Strengths:
Even though the defense lost Laurinaitis, Freeman and Jenkins, this will still be one of the best defenses in the Big Ten. The front line returns Thaddeus Gibson, Cameron Heyward and Doug Worthington. Gibson is the most dynamic pass rusher of the group and could emerge as a big time playmaker now that he is an upperclassman. The secondary will miss Jenkins, but Chimdi Chekwa is a quality corner and safeties Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell will both be three year starters. As long as the Buckeyes can find a replacement for Jenkins, the pass defense will be among the best in the conference and possibly the nation. It is in the middle of the defense where there are the most questions. Ross Homan is the lone returning starter to the linebacker corps and the junior needs to become a leader right now.
Ohio State's Weaknesses:
As long as Terrelle Pryor is around, Ohio State will have a dynamic offense. Pryor threw for 1,311 yards as a freshman and ran for another 631. Pryor will do damage with his legs no matter what, but how far has he come as a passer? Without Wells around to hand the ball off to, Pryor is going to have to pass more often. The good news is that Pryor only threw four interceptions last year compared to 12 touchdowns. Even if the passing attack struggles, Pryor has proven that he can usually avoid making the big mistake. And the passing game may very well be ineffective this year without Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline. Those two accounted for 12 of the team’s 17 touchdown receptions. The only other player to catch more than one touchdown pass on the season was the now departed tight end Rory Nicol.
The Bottom Line for the Buckeyes:
Barring an injury to Pryor, the Ohio State offense should be fine. Even without their top two receivers, the Buckeyes should pass for more than 150 yards per game. Coach Jim Tressel limited Pryor’s passing game last year, but that will end now. Pryor will be heaving the ball down field and if that works out well, Ohio State will earn another Big Ten crown.
By Joel Welser
Check out all of the 2009 college football previews online through College Sports Fans.
Copyright 2005-2009, CollegeSports-fans.com and the Dash Fans Network of Independent College Sports Fan Sites.