For the first time in nearly a year and a half, there are more answers than questions for the Ohio State football program.
Urban Meyer took the reins in Columbus last season, and he propelled the Buckeyes to a 12-0 finish. It was a fantastic season, and with the No. 2 recruiting class for 2013, Buckeyes fans can expect a lot more success going forward.
There are still a few questions that need to be answered, though. We’ll explore some of those questions and take a look at the prospects for Ohio State’s football program this season.
Will Braxton Miller play up to expectations?
Braxton Miller had a remarkable season in 2012, finishing the year with 3,310 total yards and 28 total touchdowns with Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors. He’s a legitimate dual-threat quarterback who came up big time and again last season, and the success of the Buckeyes in 2013 will be heavily reliant on him doing much of the same.
Miller is a dynamic player, and he stands to be a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy entering next season. There’s no doubt he has the ability, but the junior needs to prove he can repeat his prior success with another strong campaign in 2013.
Replacing John Simon and Johnathan Hankins
John Simon and Johnathan Hankins were two of the most dominant defensive linemen in the Big Ten last season. Both players will enter the NFL draft this year, leaving some big holes to fill on the Buckeyes’ defense.
Meyer brought in an exceptional defensive class this year, but it’s unclear how many of those incoming freshmen will have an immediate impact on Saturday. The Buckeyes will have to find players from within their current roster to step up and replace the 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss the pair recorded in 2012.
How do freshmen fit in?
Meyer’s new recruiting class is loaded with talent, but determining where that talent fits won’t be an easy task. The Buckeyes signed 20 prospects rated four-star or higher (per 247Sports), and it’s reasonable to believe a handful of those commits will garner considerable playing time in 2013.
Five-star safety Vonn Bell is the most obvious candidate to earn some early playing time. At 6’, 180 pounds, he has the size, speed and athleticism to play all over the defensive secondary.
Cornerbacks Eli Apple and Cameron Burrows will also be vying for immediate playing time, along with defensive end Joey Bosa and linebackers Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson.
Having so much depth and young talent isn’t a bad thing, but it will be a challenge for Meyer to determine how each player fits best on the team. Developing quality players on the fly isn’t an easy task, especially if several of those players are expected to contribute right away.