Ohio State Football: What Is the Main Concern in OSU's Spring Practices?
The Ohio State Buckeyes kicked off their spring practices on Tuesday, taking the field for the first time in over 100 days.
They were banned from the postseason in 2012, meaning they could go no further than an undefeated regular season and didn't have the 15 pre-bowl practices all bowl teams get.
Nevertheless, Urban Meyer and his team have their work cut out for them as they try to make up the time they missed due to probation. That means these 15 practices have to be efficient and the coaches have to figure out how they're going to address their biggest weaknesses.
Thankfully at this point, the offense is in far better shape this spring than it was a year ago. The players know the offense, so now it's about fine-tuning things on that side of the ball.
The defense is another story with holes to fill all over the place, especially in the front seven. Sophomores Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington were among those on the first-team defensive line on the first day of practice, even though the team was not in pads (via the-Ozone.net).
Those two (among others) will have big shoes to fill, namely John Simon and Johnathan Hankins, who are each expected to be high picks in the NFL draft.
Replacing all four starters up front is a huge task, so the Buckeyes need to find about five or six guys who they feel can start or eat up significant minutes throughout the course of the game.
The linebacking corps faces a similar dilemma having to replace two starters. Ryan Shazier was limited on Tuesday in practice and could miss more time throughout the spring, which means the depth players could get more snaps.
Meyer hasn't given up on Curtis Grant just yet despite the fact that Grant completely dropped off the radar a few weeks into the 2012 season (forums.the-ozone.net). Still, sophomore David Perkins saw some major snaps in practice along with Josh Perry and Camren Williams.
Just like with the defensive-line woes, the Buckeyes need to find at least three, if not four or even five guys that can play those two spots alongside Shazier.
Those front-seven issues will ultimately decide how good this team will really be in 2013. The offense should have another big year, but it will be up to the defense to take the Buckeyes to another level.
For the last two years, the OSU defense has not been at the level that their defenses of the past decade have been.
That's a tough task because those defenses were very stout. But if you want to win the national championship, that's the type of defense that is necessary, as exhibited by Alabama in the last two seasons.
It all starts with the play of the front seven.
And the front seven is the biggest question that OSU needs to solve this spring.
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