Urban Meyer stepped into his first year at Ohio State and took the Buckeyes immediately on an undefeated run. Meyer was back in coaching, and the Buckeyes were back on top of the Big Ten.
Heading into the new year there are five items that need the attention of the coaches and players this offseason. Finding a way to go undefeated for a second year in a row will be tough, but if these five items are attended to the Buckeyes will cruise through the Big Ten.
This is a look at what the offseason holds for the Buckeyes.
Jordan Hall fell to an injury after appearing in only three games during his senior season in 2012. He was granted a medical redshirt in January (ESPN.com) and is expected to make a charge for solid playing time this fall.
Last season the Buckeyes turned to Carlos Hyde for the majority of the carries from the backfield after the Hall injury, but with both healthy they should split time this year.
Having the solid one-two punch of Hyde and Hall together will be enough to push for a Big Ten title. Add in Braxton Miller and his host of talents and this Ohio State offense should be one of the best in the country in 2013.
Ohio State stepped up the passing game in Urban Meyer’s first year with the program, but there is a lot of unfinished business that still has to be taken care of by this offense on the outside.
Receivers Corey Brown and Devin Smith showed flashes of playmaking ability, and incoming freshman Jalin Marshall is expected to be an immediate performer.
Although Brown and Smith had solid years in 2012, they have to step their game up in 2013. Marshall needs to be an impact freshman, and backups Evan Spencer and Chris Fields have to find quality catches as well.
Ohio State said goodbye to all four starters from last year’s defensive front this winter. Heading into spring, one of the biggest tasks will be replacing those starters.
Players like Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington are heading for a breakout year as they are the favorites to step into the starting roles this spring. Look for Ohio State to show a dip initially, but to find its 2012 form by midseason along the front.
There is a ton of talent that rests with the Buckeyes along the defensive line. This is a question mark entering the year, but it should be a solid position group when the season finishes.
The Buckeyes head into the spring with a number of questions in the defensive front seven, but most have apparent answers.
Middle linebacker does not.
Ohio State could start Curtis Grant again in the middle—and they likely will—but incoming freshmen Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson will challenge for the position if Grant stumbles.
If there is one concern for the Buckeyes that is a big one, it is the middle backer spot. Don’t be surprised if a freshman gets time this fall.
Last season the Buckeyes placed Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett in the secondary at safety expecting strong performances. Instead, Ohio State got inconsistent play with flashes of excellence scattered in.
This year the Buckeyes are hoping that a year in the program will provide these players with the spark needed to find more consistent performances this fall.
Both Bryant and Barnett are extremely talented, but neither has shown that they have the ability to be an elite defender in the Big Ten. That chance comes this fall, and the Buckeyes need that level of performance to be reached as they seek a second straight undefeated season.