Ohio State Football: Top Ten Things To Watch For: Part Two

Phil HarrisonCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2010

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 14:  Tailback Brandon Saine #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs with the ball against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

We have already taken a look at numbers ten through six of things to watch for during Ohio State's season opener against Marshall. Now we continue to look at what to keep your eyes peeled on, as numbers five through one:

5. The Defensive Line

Ohio State does have to replace a couple of key starters from last year in Doug Worthington and Lawrence Wilson. Despite this, the line had a rotation of about eight to 10 guys last year meaning that there is still plenty of experience still on the shelf.

Don't take an outsider's view as a key indication of how good this line is going to be. Though coaches are not typically quick to lavish praise on their players in the media, the defensive line coach, Jim Heacock, has already gone on record to state that he believes that this may be the best defensive line he has had the privilege of coaching at Ohio State.

That is scary proposition for the opposition, because the line has excelled at Ohio State year in and year out in the Heacock era. If you believe the press clippings coming out so far, true freshman Jonathan Hankins is a star in the making to go along side Cameron Heyward and cast of other notables. This group has been talking the talk, and time will only tell what the result is on the field.

4. Re-tooled Safeties

So, what do you do when you lose an all conference performer, and heart and soul of a defense in Kurt Coleman? At Ohio State, you hope the next guy steps in and does just as well, if not better.  

Jermale Hines certainly had flashes of brilliance playing the hybrid "Star" position last year and should be ready to assume the responsibility of making big plays from the Free Safety position this year. The Strong Safety position however has been a subject of more conversation just recently.

All through the spring and early fall camp, we heard nothing but praise for Orhian Johnson. While many were quick to pencil him in as the starter, the new two deep just released has him as a back up to one CJ Barnett. It is apparent that either CJ Barnett has made a move, or Orhian Johnson has digressed.

It will be interesting to see how this group plays on the field to get an idea of just what prompted this change. Either way, with the multiple sets and looks that the Ohio State defense likes to employ, these two safeties have got to be able to react quickly and make big plays.

3.  Jake Stoneburner

The guy with one of the best names in all of College Football could be ready to let folks know that they do indeed have a tight end on the Ohio State offense. Stoneburner was brought in as a six and a half foot wide receiver, but was quickly moved to the tight end position once enrolled at Ohio State.  

After biding his time for a couple of years, there are many inside the program that have noted the inclusion of his ability in fall camp this year.  As Terrelle Pryor continues his development, more weapons should be in play.

With a converted wide receiver running and stretching the defense this year, it could be an exciting element that opposing defenses will have to game plan for this year.

2.  Offensive Style

Staying on the offensive side of the ball, many fans are looking forward to a much more wide open attack in 2010. There is, of course, a reason for this optimism. One has to only look at the last time Ohio State was on the field as to why some Buckeye Fans are making their flight plans to Glendale already.  

With more than a month to prepare, the ultra-conservative Tressel turned an about face and let young Mr. Pryor throw the ball all over the field. The result was a much more exciting brand of football—and a winning one at that.  

You still have to believe that there will be times in which Mr. Sweater Vest will provide a steady diet of running plays, but there is a feeling that this year could be very similar to the one in which Troy Smith was given the keys to the Ohio State offense and told to go win a ball game. It will be interesting to see what type of vehicle the keys drive this year.

1.  Terrelle Pryor's Development

Speaking of the quarterback of the offense, many people are interested to see just how many strides the uber-talented quarterback has made since he was last seen shooting and punching holes through the Oregon defense.  

It seems every year comments leak out from the players on the leaps and bounds of progress Pryor has made from the previous year.  Up until this point, aside from the masterpiece in the Rose Bowl, he has yet to fulfill those comments once the season begins.

It is no different this year as every news sound-bite seems to revolve around his maturity and development. He certainly seems more mature while talking to the media, but how mature is play is on the field could be the difference between a solid Big Ten campaign, or much much bigger things.  

As Terrelle Pryor goes this year, so does the hopes and dreams of the Ohio State team, coaches, and fans.

We are  mere days away from breaking the seal on the 2010 College Football campaign. These are just some of the things to observe and react to as the season begins for this installment of "The" Ohio State University football team. Here's to hoping it is a season to remember for a variety of reasons.