Ohio State Football: 10 Reasons to Be Excited About the 2012 Season
Can you believe college football will be back in less than two weeks? I know I can't!
As hard as it is to fathom, college football fans all over this bright and wonderful world will either sit in front of their television sets, listen over their radios, watch from their computers, or attend the games first hand to witness their favorite football teams play this fall.
Just like a new chapter of college football will begin, so will a new era of Buckeye football under the leadership of first-year head football coach Urban Meyer. Buckeye fans, players, coaches, and alumni alike are filled with anticipation and there are plenty of the reasons why. But for now, let's narrow down the list a bit.
Without further ado, here are 10 reasons to get excited about this upcoming season.
10. It's Not 2011 Anymore
Now that the 2011 season is in the books and Ohio State had its first losing record since 1988, the Bucks can regroup and turn the page of the book of college football to a new chapter in hopes of having a better outcome in 2012.
Although the 2011 season was disastrous at times, it helped the Buckeyes find their identity. Though the offense will look different with the insertion of the spread this season, key positions are more concrete as we know who will start, and who to expect to see in the games.
This was not the case heading into the 2011 season.
9. Improving Linebackers
Ohio State always seems to have a good group of linebackers anchoring the defense. This year will be no exception as the Bucks may have their best linebacker trio since the 2008 season, when guys like James Laurinaitis were on the roster.
Ryan Shazier showed glimpses of greatness as a true freshman last year, recording 56 tackles and a sack to go along with them. If things don't change, he will be suiting up next to youngster Curtis Grant, and senior Etienne Sabino, who hasn't quite played as well as he was advertised to coming out of high school.
These guys would make up one of the best linebacker trios in the conference, and one of the fastest in the country.
8. Jordan Hall
Running back Jordan Hall hasn't seen too much action thus far in his career at Ohio State. Look for that to change this season.
Hall is one of those rare players that have the ability to run the football from the backfield, run routes and be used as a receiver, and make a significant difference returning kick and punt returns. Just think back to the ways Urban Meyer used Percy Harvin in his years at Florida.
Even though Hall's injury will prevent him from seeing action in the first two to three games or so, he is an exiting play waiting to happen and it will be evident by the time the Bucks enter conference play.
7. Tight End Jake Stoneburner
Ohio State has been in need of a good receiving tight end for years now. They always seem to bring in Ryan Hamby-type guys who are big bodied and good at blocking but don't have the ability to catch the football. But they have the whole enchilada when it comes to tight end Jake Stoneburner.
Despite having one of the weirdest names in college football, Stoneburner could be the x-factor of the Buckeye offense. Especially with an offensive minded guru like Urban Meyer as the head coach.
Sure, he only had limited action last season in the pass game, catching just 14 passes. But keep in mind, seven of those were for a touchdown. Expect his numbers to go up this fall. Especially with an improving Braxton Miller in at quarterback.
6. Favorable Schedule
With Ohio State's fairly reasonable schedule, they are basically setting themselves up for success. All four of their non-conference games will be played in The Shoe.
Not to mention, the toughest of their nonconference foes, California, is coming off of a 7-6 season and will have to replace their leading rusher in Isi Sofele, as well as quarterback Zach Maynard.
If Ohio State can jump off to 4-0 start, that would set up a huge Big 10 opener against the Spartans at Michigan State. And if they can win that one, they could very easily come away with a 10-, 11- or even 12-win season. Who knows?
5. Deep and Talented Secondary
Ohio State has one of the most talented secondaries in the conference, led by safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant, who look to be All Big 10 or better this season. Cornerbacks Travis Howard and Bradley Roby aren't much worse, either.
What's most exciting about this bunch is that all but Travis Howard will be around for at least two more seasons for the Buckeyes.
4. Nasty Defensive Line
Ohio State has one of the deepest and most talented defensive lines in the country, and that will be evident in 2012.
Not only are they loaded with already proven talent in guys like Jonathan Hankins and John Simon, they have arguably the best collection of freshman defensive linemen in the nation.
Look for freshman Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington to get some significant playing time, especially against inferior opponents in the first few games of the season. Who knows, they may fight for starting roles as the season progresses?
3. Sense of Urgency
After having a losing record for the first time since the 1988 season, the Bucks will play with a new kind of nastiness this fall. Just ask those big nasty guys up front what I'm talking about.
Though the NCAA sanctions imposed on the team will prevent them from playing in the inaugural Big Ten championship game as well as a bowl game, they will still have a huge say on who will win the conference crown.
Not playing in a bowl game will help the Bucks put more of an emphasis on that team up north as well.
Players have already reported the summer practices being more intense than ever before this year. Hopefully, that will reflect on the football field come fall time.
2. Electrifying Sophomore QB Braxton Miller
As if you weren't impressed with Braxton Miller last season en route to him becoming the 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and two-time Big Ten Player of the Week, just imagine how much more the electrifying signal caller can accomplish in an offense that will exploit his abilities unlike any other offense would have in the history of the storied program. .
That's right, the spread offense has finally made its way into the Buckeye football scheme, and Braxton Miller will be the director of it, complemented by a bunch of speedy play-makers in both the receiving corps and the backfield.
Things will get very interesting for Mr. Miller as he just may become a 2012 Heisman Trophy contender. Who knows?
1. Urban Meyer's Effect
There's no doubt that Urban Meyer has increased the intensity of things. The two-time national championship winning coach brings an excellent resume to what is now a revitalized football program.
His overall record as a head football coach in major college football is very impressive, as he has accumulated 104 wins compared to just 23 losses. More impressively, his teams went 7-1 in bowl games.
It gives you goosebumps when you consider what Meyer might be able to accomplish at a powerhouse program like Ohio State! Let the Urban era begin!