Ohio State Football: 3 Biggest Concerns for the Buckeyes in 2013
No team is perfect, and despite the positive momentum Ohio State is riding into the season, a number of issues should be of concern to Urban Meyer.
The Buckeyes, who rank No. 2 in the AP and coaches polls, don't have a lot to worry about offensively, but a young defense will need to grow up quickly if Ohio State is to remain a title contender.
Some of those issues can be handled by good coaching, but some will persist regardless of the coaches' preventive measures.
Here are three of Meyer's biggest concerns heading into the season.
Lack of Depth at Linebacker and Offensive Line
Additionally, starting middle linebacker Curtis Grant suffered a concussion early in fall camp, forcing walk-on sophomore Joe Burger into a starting role. Grant isn't expected to miss much time, but his injury shows how thin the Buckeyes are at linebacker, and Burger's insertion into the starting lineup shows Ohio State's touted freshmen aren't ready to step in just yet.
The Buckeyes' depth along the offensive line is an even bigger concern.
According to Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer, the five offensive line starters saw 98.8 percent of the action last year, meaning Ohio State's backups got in on 10 of an available 837 plays.
With left tackle Jack Mewhort, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Corey Linsley and right guard Marcus Hall returning, the Buckeyes have a strong group of starters but a very inexperienced group backing them up.
One play could force that inexperience onto the field.
Youth Along the Defensive Line
Ohio State lost all four of its starters along the defensive line, and Meyer is replacing that experience with a number of second-year players.
The Buckeyes are certainly talented up front, especially with two former 5-star recruits in Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington coming off the edge. But both are true sophomores who saw limited action in their first years, and Meyer will need them to play like upperclassmen for the Buckeyes to generate a consistent pass rush this year.
Ohio State has five sophomores slated in its two-deep up front. With the Buckeyes' heavy rotation, all five will see significant time.
Braxton Miller's Durability
Maintaining Braxton Miller's health has to be one of Meyer's top priorities this fall.
Although senior Kenny Guiton is a serviceable backup, Miller takes Ohio State's offense to a different level with his running ability.
It's that running ability, though, that puts him at risk.
Miller was knocked out of five of Ohio State's 12 games last year with varying injuries, and while he returned quickly in four of those instances (against Miami, Michigan State, Nebraska and Indiana), the coaches would prefer to avoid a repeat of the injury he suffered against Purdue.
That will require a balance of maximizing Miller's running opportunities and limiting the number of hits he takes.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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