2010 College Football Predictions: Top Pieces for Ohio State Title Run
With most of their starting lineup returning, the Ohio State Buckeyes have their eyes fixated on the National Championship Trophy.
Most experts have selected Ohio State as the No. 2 team in the country behind Alabama. If the Buckeyes can survive the gauntlet of a schedule that has games against Miami and at Iowa and Wisconsin, Ohio State could take home their eighth national title.
But a run won't be so easy.
The Buckeyes will need everyone producing to accomplish such a feat. One slip-up can cost them the season. Just look at what happened against Purdue last season.
From Terrelle Pryor to kicker Devon Barclay, everybody will play a role in the quest for the championship. With that said, here at the top 10 most important pieces for the Buckeyes to make a title run.
10. Jermale Hines, Free Safety
Hines broke into the Buckeyes' lineup last season and made an instant impact as the team's "Star" position, which is a mixture of safety and linebacker.
Now, he must fill the big void left by Kurt Coleman at safety. From what Hines showed last season, he should be up to the task.
Like Coleman, Hines is an athletic ballhawk who is able to sniff out plays before they can develop. Even though he wasn't a starter last season, he still finished fourth on the team with 57 tackles.
His time at Star showed that Hines can deal with more wide-open offenses effectively. He can keep up with receivers while also providing quality run support.
Most importantly, Hines has to fill in for one of the few Buckeye starters gone from last season. If he can make people forget about Coleman, Hines will have done his job.
9. Tyler Moeller, "Star" Defensive Back
Hines proved last season how much of an impact the player at "Star" has on opposing offenses. Although he wasn't considered a starter, he still was in for 70 percent of the Buckeyes' defensive snaps.
Moeller is now given the task of replacing Hines at the position. After recovering from a horrific blow to the head in a Florida bar last summer, Moeller's return to the lineup has been astounding.
The physical former linebacker can play close to the line and also can cover, making him the best fit for the position. Known as a ferocious hitter, watch for the Buckeyes to sneak Moeller up into the box plenty of times this season.
With offenses' evolving, the county's defenses have had to adjust. Ohio State has done well with their implementing of a hybrid linebacker/safety.
Moeller is next in line to show their growth.
8. Brandon Saine, Running Back
On a team filled with versatile players, Saine might prove the most important of his multifaceted teammates.
Saine's incredible agility and shiftiness make him a threat not only in the running game, but in the passing attack as well. He should be one of Terrelle Pryor's favorite targets on dump-down routes or when he motions out into the slot.
On top of that, he will be counted on to move the chains on the ground and take pressure off Pryor. With the help of Boom Herron, the combo should be up to this task.
A heavy dose of Saine will be needed if the Buckeyes expect to compete for the title. After progressing exponentially last season, he should be up to the task.
7. Brian Rolle, Middle Linebacker
Rolle may be undersized at just 5-foot-11, but the missile of a middle linebacker will be one of the main anchors for the Buckeye defense.
The linebacker was all over the field last season en route to his 97 tackles, good enough for second on the team. Rolle proved last season he can read plays and shed blocks well enough to stifle the run.
He also provides the speed to keep up with running backs and tight ends in the passing game. Rolle showed his playmaking ability with a game-sealing interception on a Navy two-point conversion late in the early season contest.
Ohio State will need more of the same from Rolle this season. With Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman gone, he and Ross Homan will be looked upon as the leaders on defense.
Tressell has already shown Rolle his faith in the linebacker by naming him one of six captains for the upcoming season.
6. DeVier Posey, Wide Receiver
If the Buckeyes plan on opening up their passing attack, Posey will be the one carrying the biggest load.
The receiver broke into the starting lineup last season and secured the top receiver spot with ease. As Pryor's main target, he finished the season with 828 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
His relationship with Pryor makes him an even more important factor for Ohio State. Pryor and Posey are close friends, making their chemistry obvious when both are on the field.
With his consistent growth and his established position as the top receiver, Posey should garner over 1000 yards receiving this season. He'll be counted on to bust games open with his exceptional speed and route-running ability.
As the duo showed against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, it can be tear up opposing defenses with ease. If that's a preview of what is to come, teams may not have an answer this upcoming season.
5. Mike Brewster, Center
The upcoming season will mark Brewster's fourth season as the anchor of the Buckeyes' offensive line.
Brewster broke into the lineup early in his freshman year and, although mostly unnoticed by fans, has progressed steadily each year.
Last season, he battled through ankle injuries throughout the entire season. Along with guards Justin Boren and Bryant Browning, Brewster was a huge reason for a resurgent Buckeye offense after the Purdue loss.
With a recovered ankle, Brewster will be hungry to get back at defensive tackles when he's fully healthy.
He'll also be given the task to make the line calls against defenses gunning for the Pryor at quarterback. With all the hype surrounding the Buckeyes, opposing defenses are going to throw the kitchen sink at the Ohio State line.
Brewster has always been an intelligent center. Now, he'll have his work cut out for him even more with all the different looks he'll see.
4. Cameron Heyward, Defensive End
Heyward looked like a wrecking ball smashing through opposing defenses last season.
The 6-foot-5, 290 defensive end looked unblockable at times during 2009 as he broke up running plays with ease.
Just ask Penn State and Oregon offensive linemen what it was like to take on Heyward. The defensive lineman camped in both of their backfields en route to his biggest games last year.
This season, Heyward wants to be a force like Ndamukong Suh was for Nebraska last season. He possesses a similar drive and also has the strength and quickness to become a similar threat.
Plus, he's hungry. Heyward came back to the Buckeyes to win a national title. To the tackles and guards who will face him this season, good luck stopping such a hungry, fericious man.
3. Ross Homan, Outside Linebacker
The Buckeyes' leading tackler from last season will be counted on for another solid season in Columbus.
When describing Homan, solid is exactly the word to describe the linebacker.
He's a tremendous force in the running game and sheds blocks with ease. There's rarely a play when Homan isn't around the ball, which he showed with his team-leading 108 tackles.
He also has a nose for big plays. tying the team lead in interceptions with five.
The biggest came as Iowa drove late against the Buckeyes. Homan's snatch stopped the Hawkeyes' chance at a win and set up Ohio State's game-winning drive in the 27-24 win.
He and Rolle will be looked upon as leaders and catalysts for a stacked defense. The tenacious defender will be counted on to push the defense to the next level this season.
2. Mike Adams, Left Tackle
For Terrelle Pryor to fully show how far he's come as a quarterback, he'll need as much protection as possible out of his left tackle.
And with Andrew Miller out with an elbow injury, it looks like Adams has finally secured the position.
It's the tackle's time to prove all the doubters wrong. After coming to Ohio State as a top 5 recruit in the 2008 class, Adams has failed to live up to expectations throughout his rollercoaster Buckeye career.
He has all the tools to succeed. Long arms, superb strength, and quick feet are all attributes Adams possesses, but he has yet to get the intangibles down.
He'll have to put it all together now for the Bucks. He'll need to give Pryor superb protection in order for the quarterback to fully succeed. Pryor may be a superb scrambler, but he works much better when he has time to read defenses.
If Adams can't give Pryor the protection he needs, he'll be running for his life and be much more apt to make mistakes.
Basically, the direction of the Ohio State offense depends on how far Adams has come.
1. Terrelle Pryor, Quarterback
When Pryor plays like he did against Oregon last season, the Buckeyes are arguably the most dangerous team in the country.
But when he plays like he did against Purdue, the team will go nowhere.
TP was a dazzling force against the Ducks on his way to 266 passing yards and 72 rushing yards. Against the Boilermakers, he self-destructed and took the Buckeye offense with him, turning the ball over three times en route to a 26-18 loss.
Jim Tressell is expecting the guy from the Oregon game to be at the helm this season. He's given more control of the offense to Pryor and is allowing him more leeway than he did after the Purdue loss last season.
This can work well for Ohio State. When Pryor is on, he's arguably the most dangerous player in college football. His scrambling ability and arm power are an unmatched combination and should cause migraines for opposing defenses.
But that can only happen if Pryor can improve his accuracy and decision-making. He has to learn to stay in the pocket instead of going to his first instinct, which is to run.
He showed poise in the pocket against Oregon. If the performance proved Pryor's true form, Ohio State could be unstoppable this fall.