The Ohio State Buckeyes aren’t losing too many players to the 2013 NFL draft—or at least Urban Meyer Hopes they aren’t.
Still, it takes a focused offseason and excellent preparation in order to put the same type of product on the field again in 2013. Urban Meyer knows that all too well coming from a perennially winning SEC powerhouse.
The team will need some key performances from some of its best players in order to repeat its unbeaten record. This time a bowl appearance will be on the line.
When you’re undefeated, everyone is gunning for you. Without going to a bowl game the Bucks don’t have the opportunity to defend that record on the national stage.
But which returning Buckeyes are the biggest keys to meeting that end?
Philly Brown, RB/WR
Brown is the quintessential piece of Urban Meyer’s offense. Well, after the quarterback, that is. Everything runs through Braxton Miller, but the big plays are designed to go to Brown. He had a long play of just 38 yards from scrimmage in 2012.
He fills the type of position that sometimes is labeled “athlete” in Meyer’s and other spread offensive systems.
While he had a productive season and led Ohio State in receptions, Brown needs to improve on elusiveness and field vision. Once he gets the ball in space he’s expected to make plays by making defenders miss and getting down the field.
Braxton Miller, QB
This is the obvious choice. Meyer’s offensive system flows through his quarterback’s ability to see the field, make the right reads and create offense.
Everyone knows what Miller can and can’t do at this point in his career. His junior season has to be the year he takes the leap to the next level. For him, that means he will need to improve drastically in his pocket presence.
Once he can get a better feel in the cockpit, he’ll start to see the field better and possibly improve his accuracy as a result. The dual-threat QB completed just 58 percent of his passes in 2012.
Adolphus Washington, DL
With DE John Simon and DE Nathan Williams graduating and DT Johnathan Hankins possibly on his way to the NFL, someone is going to have to step up in their places. That someone is going to have to get penetration in opposing backfields.
Who’s it going to be?
Freshman Adolphus Washington had time to showcase his excellent athletic ability during 2012. John Simon missed some time and Washington was thrust into action on more than one occasion. He played in just eight games but flashed the type of penetration the Buckeyes will be missing with their former mainstays moving on to bigger things.
In those eight games, he recorded nine tackles, but 6.5 of them were behind the line of scrimmage. Three were sacks and 3.5 were tackles for losses.
Noah Spence is another promising youngster that will team up with Washington to shore up the Buckeyes line for the next few seasons.