Ohio State Football: How Buckeyes Top Players Plan to Take B1G by Storm in 2012
The Buckeyes did everything but take the B1G by storm in 2011. The team finished a disappointing 6-7 overall and an almost unheard of 3-5 in the conference.
The good news is, the situation this team finds themselves in now compared to last year is light-years better. There's no coaching uncertainties, poor offensive schemes or freshman quarterbacks. There's no long-term suspensions, inexperienced coaches or uneventful offenses.
Now I'm not saying this team is primed for a national championship run, (even if they were allowed to do so) but these Buckeyes have a great chance to take their conference by storm and have an extremely productive season.
However, in order to accomplish this, their big-time players have to use their specific advantages and dominate this conference.
QB Braxton Miller: Competitiveness
As a freshman, Miller already took the B1G by storm. The young QB played years beyond his experience and proved he will be a force to be reckoned with for the next few years to come.
Miller has all the physical tools to be a great college quarterback. The young field general can drive a defense crazy with his running ability and shows plenty of potential in the passing game. In Meyer's offense, Miller will be placed in a much better position to succeed and his physical skill-set is perfect for the spread attack.
However, Miller's most important quality is his absolute competitiveness. The sophomore never backed down from a big moment in his rookie campaign and never ceased to amaze us in the fourth quarter and on his final drives.
Look for Miller to pull OSU out of the fire in tight games and rise to the challenge in momentous conference matchups. Halfway through this season, the entire conference will know that no lead is safe late in games against the Buckeyes because Miller will not let up.
RB Carlos Hyde: Power
Carlos Hyde is a bruising back who always hits the hole at 100 mph. His style of running exemplifies what Ohio State is all about and I expect him to have a huge year in this new system.
Many look at the spread as a disadvantage to bigger backs like Hyde, but I couldn't disagree more. In Meyer's offense, Hyde will find himself in plenty of one-on-one situations, which is bad news for the poor defender in his way but great news for the young running back.
In the open field, I'd put my money on Hyde and his power every time and in this offense, he'll be given this opportunity throughout the season.
Hyde will also be expected to pick up this offense's third and shorts and if the young rusher continues to hit the hole with the type of fury he has in the past, he should be very successful in this position.
I fully expect Hyde to have an impactful year for this team, and I think his power between the tackles will be the difference.
RB Jordan Hall: Versatility
Throughout his time in Columbus, Jordan Hall has been forced into the wrong system. The senior rusher has an excellent skill-set for the spread offense but has been asked to be a between-the-tackles type of runner in Bollman's offense.
With the hiring of Urban Meyer, Hall has found himself in an excellent situation. Now Hall will be given the opportunity to showcase his versatility and make an impact on the game in multiple ways.
The product out of Jeannette, Pennsylvania will be placed in the "Percy Harvin role", and while he's no Percy Harvin, I expect him to see a ton of success in 2012. Hall is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and he has a knack for making defenders miss in the open field.
Hall will get involved in the passing and screen game, as well as the rushing game in 2012, which is great news for him and Buckeye Nation. His versatility will be key to the Buckeyes offense and will give the rest of the conference splitting headaches.
TE Jake Stoneburner: Mismatches
Although he is currently suspended indefinitely, I don't expect Stoneburner to miss any games in 2012. What I do expect is for him to be a major factor in this year's offense and to have a huge year in his final season at OSU.
It's no secret that the Buckeyes are lacking experience and big-time talent in the wide receiver department. Due to this shortage of pass catchers, Stoneburner will be targeted a ton in 2012 and should be a major mismatch for B1G defenses.
The red-shirt senior has exceptional athleticism and speed for his size and this unique combination should set up some serious mismatches on the field. Stoneburner should be able to burn opposing linebackers and out-muscle smaller safeties making him a great option on any passing play.
Meyer has always done an excellent job of utilizing his tight ends and this year will be no different. Opposing defensive coordinators will be scrambling to find an appropriate matchup for Stoneburner and he will take advantage of these mismatches week in and week out.
DT Jonathan Hankins: Athleticism
Normally when speaking of a 6'4", 317-lb defensive tackle, "athletic" is probably the last adjective used to describe the lineman. This is not the case when speaking of defensive tackle, Jonathan Hankins.
The mammoth sized Buckeye has surprising speed and athleticism and uses this to his advantage in the trenches. The junior out of Dearborn Heights, Michigan is extremely quick off the ball and can beat out opposing offensive lineman with his athleticism.
Due to his quickness off the ball, Hankins constantly disrupts the offense and frees up the linebackers to run free and make stops.
Teams may have to double-team Hankins inside the trenches, which will only open up opportunities for his fellow defensive linemen. I expect Hankins to not only make a personal impact with his athleticism but make his teammates better also.
DE John Simon: Strength
John Simon is an absolute animal in the weight room, flat out. The guy works out as much as he breathes and even has to be discouraged from going to the gym too much in one day.
Throughout spring, nobody came even close to slowing down John Simon and the senior defensive end was even excluded from this year's spring game in order to give the offense a chance.
Last season, Simon was all over the field and made himself very familiar to opposing quarterbacks. The senior is a complete beast and will constantly insist himself into opponent's backfield with his quickness, athleticism and superb strength. Simon has the muscle to bully through most offensive tackles and when this fails, his technique is getting better and better.
I completely expect Simon to have a huge year in 2012 because of his exceptional strength and great experience.
CB Bradley Roby: Coverage Skills
In 2011, Bradley Roby emerged as the next shutdown corner at Ohio State. The red-shirt sophomore took on top wide receivers throughout the season and saw a great deal of success.
Roby finished the season with two interceptions, but more importantly he turned the top opposing receiver into a complete non-factor in almost every game. The product out of Georgia has all the tools to be a shutdown corner, including superb speed, physicality and great coverage skills.
This year, Roby's side of the ball may become known as an island and the entire B1G probably should avoid his side as much as possible.
Actually, they may have to.