1. A WR with 65 or more yards
I feel especially confident about this one considering it only happened 4 times all of last season. Two of those occasions included a 53-yard reception by the eclipsing receiver. I have no doubt Pryor improved his passing and progressions during the offseason but the stories coming out of practice have not been filled with tales of laser strikes on out routes.
To be certain, the Buckeyes will not be leaning on the passing attack in '09 but a lot of attention has been paid to the younger receivers and their ability to make more plays. Pryor's preference to scramble will not help the passing game either.
2. Long, sustained drives
If there is one unit that should worry you (and there is more than one) it is the offensive line. Justin Boren seems ready to step in, add tenacity and nastiness that has been sorely lacking, and lead the line with Brewster. But there does not seem to be a solid starter of the remaining bunch. Mike Adams has failed to impress the coaches enough to receive all the first team reps. Shugarts is injured, which must be considered more concerning than alleviating.
Missed assignments and miscommunication were the calling cards of the line in 2008 and spring practice has done nothing to dispel those trademarks. There is a long time for these guys to get better and Pryor allow them some cover because of his running ability but without a good-to-great offensive line, this team loses at least two games again.
3. The beginning of an increased role for TEs
I know Ballard and Stoneburner are great talents and catch almost everything thrown their way. I know Ohio State is short on reliable pass catchers and Pryor could use a big target. But until the tight end position combines for 5 or more catches per game I will assume it is business as usual.
4. An empty seat today
Has there ever been a better day for the Spring Game? (Actually, I seem to remember a day reminiscent of today a few years ago.) This game gives so many fans a chance to watch the Buckeyes play in the Horseshoe when they would otherwise not have the opportunity.
I know every team does this but most teams do not have the extremely large and local alumni fan base that Ohio State does; 100,000 tickets don't go as far as you would think. Personally, I will not be there but I hope that place is packed with fathers and sons and anyone else who wants to watch a game in the best stadium in the country.
5. Any reason to be concerned about the running backs
I have mentioned before that I will not be surprised if Saine ends up with more total touches than Herron this season. And, that is not meant to disparage Boom. I just see Saine as a more valuable back with Pryor running the show and he is the type of player that the Buckeyes have not had since Micheal Wiley.
The combination of Saine-Herron-Pryor makes the running game extremely formidable. Now, add Berry and Hyde (albeit hyped and unproven players) to the mix and I think we can all rest easy when we peer into the backfield.
5a. A sweater vest
OK, I am making this one up. I cannot remember if the Senator has worn his uniform during past spring games but it does not seem like a formal enough occasion to require official garb.