With only three days remaining until the Ohio State Buckeyes kick off the 2012 season against Miami of Ohio, the Buckeyes' depth chart (.pdf file) for the game has been released. While there are no surprises when it comes to returning players taking the starting roles, there are some fresh new faces that will find some time in the game and could make an impact.
The Buckeyes will no doubt count on their returning players to carry the load. However, as with any team, not every starter can play every drive of the game. There will be some freshmen that could come in and surprise a few people. How big the surprise will be remains to be seen.
Five players are in line to make a difference in Saturday's game.
While Corey Linsley isn't exactly new as he was with the team last year, this is his first year starting. Ohio State's biggest weakness is arguably its offensive line. As such, players like Linsley are going to have to step up.
As the player hiking the ball to quarterback Braxton Miller, the biggest spotlight on the offensive line might fall on Linsley.
He might not be a new face, but he is new at his position, so he's in. Another player on the offensive line, converted tight end Reid Fragel has the inside track on being the starter at right tackle. However, there is another right tackle that will be fighting for time as well.
Who will make the biggest impact?
Taylor Decker will be the one fighting for time with Fragel. As the two have similar talent at the position, these two could be sharing the spot for the entire season if one of them does not win the job outright.
It would be best for the team if the latter scenario happens rather than the former. It would have a more consistent lineup and would have a just as capable backup.
The freshman wide receiver Mike Thomas enjoyed a pretty good game in the Buckeyes' spring game with 12 catches for 131 yards. Thomas won't be starting, but with Ohio State's new offensive coordinator Tom Herman's philosophy of spreading the ball around, Thomas will get his fair share of catches.
With the Buckeyes' regular starting running back Jordan Hall out due to a foot injury, Saturday's start will go to Carlos Hyde. Hyde's backup will be Bri'onte Dunn. It was surprising to see Dunn's name in the backup spot on the depth chart, but with sophomore Rod Smith struggling, Dunn might be the safer bet.
Dunn will also play a part in returning kickoffs, so there is potential for him to impact the game on offense and on special teams.