Ohio State Football: How Buckeyes Plan to Improve Glaring Weaknesses
Ohio State's roster for the 2012 season is anything but perfect as there are still plenty of holes to fill from a team that went 6-7 in 2011.
The Buckeyes do have some new life under Urban Meyer and appear to be going back in the right direction.
Their personnel, however, does need some smoothing out as there are a lot of questions left unanswered as far as improving specific areas of the team.
Here is a look at how Meyer and the Buckeyes can improve some of the biggest positions of concern.
The Ohio State offensive line was a huge problem last season even with three seniors up front.
The group continually looked slow and poor in pass protection, which was a huge factor—though not the biggest reason—why the passing game was so poor.
New offensive line coach Ed Warriner comes from Notre Dame with a great track record in developing offensive linemen, something former coach Jim Bollman was very poor at.
Warriner doesn't have much depth to work with right now, but his track record and experience should help this unit play much better.
Ohio State's passing woes last year can be attributed to all sorts of issues, including inexperienced QB play and poor offensive line play.
But plain and simple, the receivers were not able to make the plays they needed to make when they needed them.
The high catch total for the season—again, for the entire season—was 14, shared by three different Buckeyes.
The new offense should fit their skills much better since they are more suited to run the shorter crossing routes and catch the football in full stride.
If all goes well, those numbers in the passing game will skyrocket significantly this season.
Outside of the great freshman season Ryan Shazier had, the linebackers at Ohio State had a season to forget.
OSU has been used to having great playmaking linebackers that were great at defending the pass as well as stopping the run.
They didn't do either one well at all last year.
Shazier should improve, but the key to the linebackers as well as the entire defense lies on sophomore ILB Curtis Grant.
Grant's performance this season will dictate how good the defense is, which puts a lot of pressure on a player who didn't play all that much a year ago.
Among the other areas of the team that struggled last season, the special teams struggles were among the most puzzling.
Jim Tressel's teams thrived on special teams success for several years, but have fallen off in the past few years.
The Gator Bowl loss was particularly painful as two of Florida's touchdowns came off special teams—a kick return and a blocked punt.
Meyer is another big proponent of special teams, and will put his best athletes on the punt block team in order to help flip momentum in his team's favor.
Expect that to happen from day one as well as the Buckeyes putting their best skill players back to return kicks and punts.
The problem for the Buckeyes in most seasons has been that their offense has looked bland, inconsistent and very predictable at times as well.
With Meyer and new offensive coordinator Tom Herman in charge, that will all change.
The spring game showed how different the new passing game will look although fans didn't get to see any of the new inside-zone read that OSU will operate most of the time.
Just from what we saw in the passing game alone, the offense already looks more fluid and more fun to watch.
That will fit the Buckeyes' personnel much better and will allow them to score enough points to keep the pressure off the defense.
Braxton Miller may look like a much better player this year in this new offense, which will go a long way towards the 2013 season, which is one of the main goals of this season.
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