Ohio State Football: Urban Meyer's 5 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

Cory McCuneContributor IIIApril 18, 2013

Ohio State Football: Urban Meyer's 5 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice

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    Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are coming off of an undefeated season. Ohio State is also returning most of its offense, several of its stars and tons of potential on the defensive side.

    Put those things together and the Buckeyes should have a successful season in 2013.

    But after spring practice, there are still a handful of questions that could keep Meyer and his coaching staff up at night.

    Surprisingly, the passing game won't be one of the things keeping offensive coordinator Tom Herman up at night, because Braxton Miller and the receivers have come a long way since last season.

    However, there are still concerns facing the Buckeyes' coaches as they enter the summer months away from the team.

The Fifth Offensive Lineman

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    Ohio State is returning four of their starters from the offensive line that led the Buckeyes' highest-scoring offense in the Big Ten.

    Neither Taylor Decker, nor his main competitor for the position, Chase Farris, took hold of the position in the spring.

    So for the second year in a row, Ohio State will go into fall camp not knowing who their right tackle will be.

    Last year, Reid Fragel really came on during the fall and had a solid senior season.

    But judging by how defensive ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington ran roughshod over Decker and Farris in the spring game for a combined seven sacks, there is a long way to go in this position battle.

Pass Protection

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    Even though the 2012 offensive line mostly controlled the line of scrimmage in the run game, it allowed 29 sacks in 12 games. That put the Buckeyes at 10th in the Big Ten in protecting their QB.

    Much of that had to do with Braxton Miller holding onto the ball too long, but the offensive line still allowed a lot of pressure.

    The amount of pressure on the QBs in the spring game probably had more to do with the lack of running plays and left tackle Jack Mewhort and center Corey Linsley sitting out than it did ability.

    However, once Ohio State finds the new right tackle, they will need to show that they come together and protect their Heisman candidate QB. 

    And it is without question one of Urban Meyer's concerns.

Stopping the Run

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    Despite a few very un-Buckeye-like performances against the run in 2012 that saw California rush for 224 yards and Nebraska for 223 yards, the Buckeyes finished second in the conference against the run.

    Now, in 2013, the Buckeyes will have to replace all of their front seven on defense other than linebacker Ryan Shazier, the team's leading tackler in 2012.

    Urban Meyer said the team has found their starting middle linebacker in Curtis Grant, while Joshua Perry is the the third linebacker coming out of spring practice.

    The defensive line is loaded with talented players, but Michael Bennett is really the only defensive lineman with much experience.

    Luke Fickell has said stopping the run isn't a greater concern this season than any other because that is what they focus on doing anyway. But it's hard to remember an Ohio State team having to replace so much up front.

Kicking and Punting

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    Drew Basil was having somewhat of a disappointing season though the first 11 games of the 2012 season. He was just 4-of-6 on field-goal attempts heading into the game against Michigan.

    In the 26-21 win over Ohio State's arch-rival, Basil went 4-of-5, including a 52-yarder, to help cap off the Buckeyes' undefeated season.

    The 2013 season will present a new challenge for Basil, who missed short field goals in the spring game. Urban Meyer is expecting him to pull double duty and handle the team's punting responsibilities as well.

    With Ben Buchanan graduating and Johnny Townsend deciding to stay home in the state of Florida, the Buckeyes are left without a full-time punter.

    Meyer has joked that his team won't have to punt in 2013, but Basil needs to become consistent just in case.

Not Angry Anymore?

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    Urban Meyer showed his ability to inspire his team last season. During ESPNU's look into Ohio State's summer practices on ESPN All-Access: Ohio State Training Days, Meyer proclaimed that "he wanted an angry football team." 

    He got what he wanted. Thanks in large part to John Simon and Zach Boren, the 2012 Buckeyes played every game with a chip on their shoulder and refused to lose.

    With the 2012 seniors gone along with the postseason ban, the reason for that anger is gone.

    While Meyer's job of finding motivation may be easier because Ohio State can play for a Big Ten and national championship this coming season, he needs new leaders.

    Jack Mewhort was complimented all winter and spring for the leadership he brought. Jordan Hall is a returning captain thanks to a fifth year of eligibility.

    But if this team is looking for a some anger and emotion, then look for Carlos Hyde to be this team's spark.