A horrific 6-7 season in 2011 amid a NCAA scandal ultimately led to the hiring of Urban Meyer as the new head coach of the Ohio State football program. The new coaching staff allows a new beginning to occur for the Buckeyes. Both fans and players are ready to forget last season and welcome in a new football campaign.
With spring practice beginning on March 28 and the spring game quickly approaching on April 21, here are 10 benchmarks the Buckeyes need to accomplish for a successful season in 2012.
Urban Meyer has the quarterback he needs for his system to be successful. Now it is up to Braxton Miller to learn the intricacies of the new offensive system this spring.
Miller will have a lot more options in the spread offense to go to compared to last year's conservative play-calling. The new offense will be a lot more complex, though. Fortunately for Miller, he will be working closely with two guys who know just about everything there is concerning the spread offense.
Meyer and new offensive coordinator Tom Herman will be tutoring the sophomore quarterback this spring as he gets a handle on the new playbook.
One of the weakest areas on last year's team was the offensive line. The unit gave up 46 sacks in the 2011 season. Only two other teams in the nation allowed more sacks than Ohio State.
To add more misery, the Buckeyes also lose three starters from last year's offensive line.
Ohio State has moved some players such as Reid Fragel to the line for some much-needed depth. The linemen will need to become bigger and faster in order to compete under Urban Meyer's offensive scheme.
There is no doubt new offensive line coach Ed Warinner will have his work cut out for him.
When asked what lacked on his Ohio State football team, Urban Meyer simply said, "Speed."
The Buckeyes do not have a player like former Florida Gator Percy Harvin, whose speed can change the outcome of a game. Meyer will be searching during spring practices to find that speedster that did not show up on film from last season.
One likely candidate is WR Verlon Reed. Reed showed a lot of promise last year before injuring his knee against Michigan State, thus ending his season. He could potentially possess the speed that could add another facet to the offense.
The Ohio State linebackers struggled mightily last year by putting forth inconsistent efforts throughout the season. They would show flashes of excellence at times but also had a tough time simply tackling the ball-carrier.
The three linebackers projected to be starters have a lot of experience and potential. The job of turning this potential into results on the field now falls into the hands of Mike Vrabel and Luke Fickell.
These two coaches have the knowledge and skills to make this a physical and talented linebacker corps that OSU fans are accustomed to seeing.
As many college football fans saw last year, the Ohio State passing game was almost nonexistent. Three receivers led the team with 14 receptions each. This cannot be the case in 2012. A receiver on the roster needs to step up above the rest as the "go-to guy."
The receiving corps is filled with potential, but who will rise to the task be the guy Miller can count on to throw the ball up to in a tough spot?
Corey Brown, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Verlon Reed and and Chris Fields all have the ability to become the No. 1 guy. Only time will tell which one will rise to the challenge.
Braxton Miller was a dangerous quarterback last year, but not in the pocket. He could frustrate defenses by avoiding the rush and scrambling for extra yardage but did not have the accuracy to sit in the pocket and throw accurate passes. Defenses did not respect the passing game at all last year and would constantly load the box to stop the run.
This is typically the case when it comes to true freshman quarterbacks, but Miller will have to greatly improve his accuracy going into his sophomore year for this team to be a true contender.
The pure speed and arm strength he possesses is unreal, but it will be up to Urban Meyer and Tom Herman to take those intangibles and mold them into an effective passing attack.
Urban Meyer will have something he lacked in his previous coaching jobs. He will now have the addition of a power running game to accompany the spread offense attack.
Carlos Hyde, listed at 6'1" and 238 pounds, is the bruising running back that will be the man behind the power running game. He has the ability to run through tacklers but also has the speed to make a big play possible at any time.
Meyer will need to create some special packages that utilize Hyde's strengths. These packages will most likely be in the red zone or in short-yardage situations.
The addition of the power running game will help make the Ohio State offense dangerous in any position.
The Ohio State football program has been plastered throughout the media outlets for the past year. It is now time for the Buckeyes to lay low and stay under the radar.
The last thing the Buckeyes need is for a player to get in some kind of trouble and start the media whirlwind up again. Meyer and his coaching staff will emphasize that any type of insubordination will not be tolerated at all.
The only type of news Ohio State fans need to hear about this season is what happens on the football field, not what takes place off it.
The 2012 Ohio State season will showcase a slew of new faces on the sidelines. Urban Meyer brings a whole different attitude to every aspect of the program that players will need to get use to quickly.
Meyer brings a SEC tempo and intensity from Florida to the Big Ten that these players have not seen before. The new coaching staff will simply not tolerate any type of loafing or fooling around, and the offseason conditioning program has already been shown to be way more intense than those of the past.
The staff will need to be sure the players are buying into the new intense workload that can hopefully propel Ohio State to a national championship-caliber team.
So far, it seems like the players are listening to what the coaches are preaching as they transition to a new era in Buckeye football.
Ohio State's 2012 season will not conclude with a chance at a Big Ten Championship or even a bowl game. This upcoming season is not a lost cause, however.
The team has 12 games to gain valuable experience and build towards a national title contender for the future. The coaching staff will need to keep the players' focus on each game being played from September to November and not what game will not be played in December or January.
The mission for 2012 will be to win games, build for the future and send the seniors off on a winning note.