by HD Handshoe
As I mentioned here previously on B/R, I am now blogging about the Buckeyes for PhilSteele.com. This is my first article for them, and it can be found on the OSU blog by clicking here.
With a mere 39 days left until the start of the 2009 college football season, the excitement is building across the state of Ohio and around the nation.
With the loss of Chris Wells, Brian Hartline, Brian Robiskie, James Laurinaitis, Marcus Freeman and Malcolm Jenkins, the Buckeyes have some big shoes to fill on both sides of the football.
Right now, the only team that possibly reloads better than Ohio State is USC, and that is up for debate as the start of the 2009 season nears.
We'll certainly have many of our early season questions answered in 46 days when USC travels to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes in primetime at the Shoe.
From all indications this spring, questions about the passing ability of Terrelle Pryor may have been answered.
In front of a record-breaking crowd of 95,722 scarlet and gray clad fans, Pryor fired impressive touchdown passes to Taurian Washington and Ray Small within seconds of each other.
His accuracy and mechanics, which have been his most glaring weaknesses as a passer, seemed finely tuned that day.
That being said, it was the Spring game, against his own teammates, in a gloried scrimmage.
Success may not come so easily when it counts against the likes of USC, Iowa, Illinois or Penn State, among others.
Boom Herron, Brandon Saine, and Ohio State's top recruit from the 2009 class, Jaamal Berry, should be able to satisfactorily compensate for the loss of Wells at running back.
Other than senior Ray Small, the inexperienced wide receiving corp is young and raw, but also fast and talented!
Along with small, DeVier Posey, Lamaar Thomas, and Taurian Washington will most likely be the top targets for Pryor this season. Although, a couple other names you might hear are those of 2009 recruits James Jackson, Duron Carter, and Corey Brown.
The defense will be better than one might think after losing Laurinaitis, Jenkins, and Freeman. Ohio State always has a deep crop of linebackers ready to step in to a starting role.
Etienne Sabino and Austin Spitler are the names to remember at linebacker, and returning starter, senior Kurt Coleman, will anchor the defensive backfield along with Chimdi Checkwa and Anderson Russell. 2009 recruit Jamie Wood could also see some playing time as well.
Ultimately, the offseason improvements made in the offensive line (or lack thereof) and passing game of Terrelle Pryor, combined with the quarterback's ability to remain healthy, will determine the fate of this year's squad.
The 2008 senior-laden Ohio State team fell far short of expectations after being considered a preseason legitimate BCS title contender.
Conversely, the 2009 Buckeyes may overachieve and find themselves, to the surprise of skeptical football fans nationwide and even a bit to their own surprise, right in the thick of a 2009 BCS Championship hunt.