Ohio State may be one of the top teams in college football, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have some areas to improve on as fall practice nears.
The Buckeyes are expected to be ranked in the top five in multiple preseason polls. And who could blame those pollsters, because OSU was the only team that went undefeated last season.
Most of OSU's offense is back, but the defense is another story.
Add in a highly touted group of freshmen coming in and you have a team that could be as good as any OSU team in the past few years.
With fall practice just a few weeks away, here are the Buckeyes' biggest strengths and weaknesses.
It helps things dramatically when your offense returns the starting quarterback, especially if he was a top-five Heisman vote-getter in 2012.
Braxton Miller led the Buckeyes in passing yards (2,039), rushing yards (1,271) and total touchdowns (15 passing, 13 rushing).
Miller will be expected to take big steps in the passing game, which may reduce the amount of carries he had and thus keep him on the field longer.
He's proved to be a difference-maker early in his college career, and his junior season should be his best yet.
Urban Meyer recruited quite a lot of talent in the defensive front seven, and those youngsters will be thrown to the fire very quickly.
Ohio State only returns one starter in the front seven—linebacker Ryan Shazier—from the end of last season and must completely replace the defensive line.
Youngsters Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington will be expected to anchor the defensive line along with veterans Michael Bennett and Joel Hale, among others.
The talent is there, but expect a few growing pains early on from this group.
Braxton Miller wasn't the only reason Ohio State had the No. 10 rushing attack in college football a year ago.
Carlos Hyde rushed for just under 1,000 yards in only 10 games played but scored a team-high 16 touchdowns. He's back along with senior Jordan Hall and junior Rod Smith to form one of the deeper running back groups in the country.
Freshman running back Dontre Wilson could also find his way to the field after dominating the competition in Texas. His speed can get him on the field almost immediately.
While the inexperience of the front seven is a concern, the lack of depth at the linebacker position is a huge red flag.
Shazier is a star, but he is the only player in this group who has significant experience at the college level. Add in the recent transfers of Luke Roberts and David Perkins, and a group that was thin to begin with is only thinner.
Curtis Grant is expected to start after being a starter to start last season, then subsequently falling out of the rotation after poor play. Sophomores Josh Perry and Camren Williams both saw plenty of snaps late last season.
Freshmen Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell will be forced into action early on because there just isn't a lot ahead of them in more ways than one.
In the past, it seemed as if Ohio State's offensive line underachieved considering the amount of talent recruited at the position.
The 2012 offensive line, by contrast, overachieved and performed extremely well considering it had to replace both tackles and its starting center.
Led by left tackle Jack Mewhort and three other seniors, the Buckeyes boast a very experienced and talented offensive line which should continue to improve.
The only concern is how quickly OSU can stabilize the right tackle position after graduating Reid Fragel.
Ohio State's offense was explosive in 2012, but it never seemed to make a lot of big plays.
Outside of Braxton Miller and wide receiver Devin Smith, only three players had plays of 40 yards or more from scrimmage last season. The offense still put up big points but did so by moving the football in chunks rather than ripping off big plays.
That may be a huge point of emphasis in the fall and a big reason why Meyer signed several explosive skill players like Wilson, Jalin Marshall, Ezekiel Elliott and James Clark.
Big plays change games as much as anything in football, and OSU should look at trying to create more of them on offense.
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