The Ohio State Buckeyes will go as far in 2013 as Braxton Miller can carry them.
He was a revelation in his sophomore season, oftentimes providing a major boost to the Buckeyes offense when the team needed it the most. Miller even managed to garner some Heisman hype, but that was always out of reach. 2013 could be his year, though.
Miller will have had time to develop as a passer, which is the biggest thing he needs to do considering how skilled a runner he already is. Having set the bar so high last year, the signal-caller will have to repeat his performance from 2012 and then some if the Buckeyes are to match their unbeaten record.
It's not all on Miller, though. There are plenty of other players on the Ohio State offense who must improve their games in 2013.
Carlos Hyde, RB
Carlos Hyde might have briefly flirted with the NFL draft, but there was no way that he would forgo his senior season. It's a good thing for the Buckeyes that he returned, and it also allows Hyde to make more money in the 2014 draft.
After relatively quiet seasons in 2010 and 2011, Hyde really broke through last year. His 970 rush yards were second on the team to Miller, while his 16 rushing touchdowns led the Buckeyes. You watch Hyde run and can't help but think back to Beanie Wells a little bit.
With the way he can run the ball inside, Hyde is the perfect complement for Miller. He can keep defenses honest and deflect plenty of attention away from Miller when it comes to the running game. Plus, Urban Meyer made it no secret last year how he wanted to lessen the burden that his QB had to carry. Having a successful Hyde will mean less carries for Miller, thus fewer big hits that could knock him out of the game.
Devin Smith, WR
When Ohio State needs a big play in the passing game, it looks to Devin Smith. He brings the kind of speed and athleticism to the Buckeyes offense that is necessary to create a balanced passing attack.
Although he only made 30 receptions in 2012, Smith averaged 20.6 yards a catch. The wideout was a great foil for Jake Stoneburner and Philly Brown. Now with Stoneburner gone, everybody in the receiving corps will have to step up.
Brown was a steady target last season, but it's Smith who's the more important player.
Drops were a bit of a problem for Smith last season. He made some absolutely crazy catches and would then turn around and drop a pass that hit him right in the numbers. Nothing is more infuriating that watching a receiver consistently drop passes. It's something Smith absolutely needs to improve upon in 2013.
Jack Mewhort, OT
2012 didn't start very well for Jack Mewhort as he was suspended indefinitely back in June (h/t Graham Watson of Yahoo! Sports). He was able to rebound and put him some dominating performances on the field.
His move to left tackle was a bit risky as that's one of the most important positions on the field. Mewhort instead repaid the faith shown by Urban Meyer and became a steady presence on the Buckeyes line.
With Reid Fragel graduating, it's going to be important for someone on the offensive line to become the leader. Mewhort is in perfect position to become that player.
Mewhort is a solid pass and run blocker, which is great for how balanced the Buckeyes offense looks to be in 2013.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!