Urban Meyer's 3 Biggest Challenges for the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2013
The Ohio State Buckeyes are certainly among the favorites to win the national championship this season, and Urban Meyer is a big reason why.
He guided the Buckeyes to a 12-0 season in his first year with a team that had only won six games the year before.
Now with a more veteran club better versed in his explosive offense, the Buckeyes appear poised to reassert themselves on the national stage.
But the Buckeyes are by no means a perfect football team, and Meyer has a few challenges in front of him.
Here are three of those biggest challenges.
Putting Together a Young but Talented Defense
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Ohio State's defense has some reloading to do this season, replacing all but one starter in its front seven. LBs Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant did start last year, but Grant was replaced in the lineup after a month.
Also gone is the entire defensive line, particularly stars John Simon and Johnathan Hankins.
In their place will be talented young sophomores Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, who each played often as true freshmen.
They will have the help of an experienced secondary led by star corner Bradley Roby, as well as senior safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant.
Special Teams Inconsistencies
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Urban Meyer prides himself on special teams, yet he saw this unit give up a few blocked punts as well as struggle at times in kick coverage, especially against Purdue.
To make matters a bit more stressful, Drew Basil is the only kicker on scholarship on the roster, and he will also be the team's punter now that Ben Buchanan has graduated.
The special teams did start to click more at season's end, especially when the kick coverage unit got healthy after being banged-up midway through the season.
Based on last year, they may not need Basil as a field-goal kicker much, with just 11 attempts all season—he converted eight.
Improving the Passing Game
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Ohio State's offense was very much improved in 2012 from the previous season, but it still struggled to consistently attack defenses through the air.
Part of improving the passing game involves Braxton Miller improving like he did a year ago, as he threw for more than 2,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,200, leading the team in both categories.
The Buckeyes do have a good mix of veterans, including Corey Brown and Devin Smith at receiver, and will get added reinforcements with a highly touted group of freshman coming in this fall.
It's hard to see the Buckeyes not improve their passing attack from a year ago, but Meyer has to make sure that it improves by leaps and bounds if he wants to win a national championship.
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