Week 1 of the 2010 Ohio State football season is in the books, and much of the speculation and lingering questions about the Buckeyes have finally been answered.
After watching the Buckeyes dominate Marshall, there are six things that should now be evident beyond a shadow of a doubt.
1. Special teams is a glaring weakness
Entering the season, special teams play was, and still is, the glaring weakness and No. 1 concern on this team.
There is the less-than-stellar punt and kickoff return averages, for one. Then the two nearly missed PATs (one was partially blocked yet still made it through the uprights), and who could forget the blocked 53-yard field goal try that was returned 57 yards by Marshall for the only (gift-wrapped) points the Thundering Herd would score all night?
With only eight days to go before the Hurricanes arrive in Columbus, the Bucks had absolutely better work out the special team kinks or those types of potential mistakes and shortcomings against Miami may prove much more costly.
2. No surprise here—The Buckeye defense is very, very good
Sure, it was against Marshall, but a shutout is a shutout and that's what this defense did, only to have it tossed away by the kicking team on the aforementioned field goal debacle.
Ohio State's defense limited Marshall to just 44 yards on the ground and 199 total for the game. Linebacker Brian Rolle had an interception and returned it 30 yards for what is sure to be the first of many pick-six INTs for this unit.
In addition to the Rolle interception, the Herd also lost two fumbles.
Expect more of the same from this defense in every game all year long.
3. There may be a battle for backup running back
The running back pecking order is set at the very top, but the No. 2 slot could be up for grabs.
Brandon Saine had a great game and proved he has all makings of a legit No. 1 featured back. Saine, who did not play in the second half, rushed nine times for 103 and two touchdowns.
Backup Boom Herron didn't have a bad game by any means with 44 yards on only seven carries. The dilemma, however, for Herron, is that fans who have already been clamoring for redshirt freshmen Jaamal Berry to get an opportunity watched as the speedy and elusive Berry dazzled the Ohio Stadium crowd with 80 yards, also on just seven carries.
Coach Tressel has always been very loyal to his upperclassmen, almost to a fault, but the bottom line here is the best players who give the team the best chance to win need to play, period.
Starting in 2011, Berry could be the next great tailback at Ohio State, and his week one performance might force Tressel to reevaluate and rearrange the depth chart behind Saine.
4. Terrelle Pryor is in mid-season form
Terrelle Pryor silenced his critics that still believed he was not a legitimate passing quarterback. He picked up right where he left off in the 2010 Rose Bowl, hitting 17-of-25 passing for 247 yards and three touchdowns.
Pryor connected on a couple of very well-thrown deep balls, including a 65-yard touchdown pass to senior Dane Sanzenbacher.
His mechanics, footwork, and release are all without a doubt much improved. The scary fact for defenses that will have to face the Buckeyes and defend against Pryor is he will continue to get better every week.
Pryor had only eight carries in the game and a handful of those were only due to sacks he took where he decided to just eat the ball rather than making a bad decision or forcing a throw that could result in giving up possession.
There's still some room for him to grow, but the evolution of Terrelle Pryor from a dual-threat scrambling QB to a passing, pro-style, pocket QB is nearly complete.
5. Sanzenbacher emerging as the No. 2 receiver
Dane Sanzenbacher caught three balls for 113 yards and a touchdown. His play often brings back fond memories of former Buckeye Anthony Gonzalez.
He proved that despite DeVier Posey being Pryor's favorite target, he is a very capable No. 2 receiver alongside Posey, and the notion that Ohio State has no other talented wideouts other than Posey has been greatly exaggerated.
Behind Sanzenbacher, it's true that the receiving corps are young and inexperienced, but what they lack in experience, they make up for in talent, and experience will come.
Sophomore tight end Jake Stoneburner also caught three passes and could be increasingly used as the Buckeyes' secret weapon in the passing game as the season progresses.
6. Buckeyes to reunite with Hurricanes
Next Saturday, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Miami Hurricanes will meet for the first time since their controversial 2003 Fiesta Bowl battle that saw the Buckeyes outlast the Hurricanes 31-24 in double overtime to win the BCS championship.
Both teams opened the season in similar fashion with easy wins as Ohio State defeated Marshall 45-7, while Miami shutout FCS-foe Florida A&M, 45-0.
Quarterbacks Terrelle Pryor and Jacory Harris had comparable individual first-game stats.
Both teams also have good backs, good o-lines, and good defenses.
This game should be great to watch and could be a back-and-forth shootout, with the team that has the ball last coming out on top.
Miami is the undisputed underdog, but you wouldn't know it by listening to or reading what their fans have to say about the game and about the Buckeyes.
See for yourself.
And even though it has been eight years, Miami fans have been preaching about revenge and redemption for that 2002 loss on message boards all across the Internet.
Referee Terry Porter still haunts the dreams of every Miami fan, even though "the call" was correct.
They might (cough...will) have to wait until next year in Miami for another shot at getting even...
For more on the upcoming OSU-Miami game, be sure to watch for the Ohio State-Miami: Game Preview, History Lesson and Prediction article over on the BlockONation blog and here on B/R early next week.
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