Ohio State Football: 2008 Team Preview (Part One)

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Ohio State Football: 2008 Team Preview (Part One)

So here we are, nearing the start of the College Football season, and everyone is getting anxious.  I hope to provide a fix for you fanatics and get you acquainted with the 2008 Buckeyes and what may ensue this upcoming year. 

 

This walk-through guide offers up the offensive preview in parts one and two, while the defense and special teams will be analyzed in parts three and four.

 

In Part One of my team preview, I will take a look at the 'Backs of this anticipated high power offense.  Two of the three starters at these positions return including Heisman hopeful Chris 'Beanie' Wells, Maxwell and O'Brien Trophy candidate Todd Boeckman, and super frosh Terrelle Pryor.

 

 

Quarterbacks:

 

Key Returnees:

  • Todd Boeckman, No. 17—6’5”, 235 lbs., Sixth Year Senior
  • Joe Bauserman, No. 14—6’2”, 220 lbs., Red-Shirt Freshman

Key Additions:

  • Terrelle Pryor, No. 2—6’6”, 225 lbs., Incoming Freshman

Key Departures:

  • Rob Schoenhoft (Transfer to University of Delaware)
  • Antonio Henton (Transfer to Georgia Southern)

 

2007 Statistics

 

Attempts

Completions

Comp. %

Yards

TD’s

INT’s

Pass Rating

Boeckman

191

299

63.9%

2379

25

14

148.9

Bauserman

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

 

Todd Boeckman returns for his senior season and leads a rather inexperienced group into the 2008 campaign.  In fact, neither Joe Bauserman nor Terrelle Pryor has taken reps in a college game.  The transfers of both Robbie Schoenhoft and Antonio Henton have obviously put Ohio State in a bind as far as depth is concerned. 

 

Bauserman looks to be second on the depth chart heading into 2008 after a quality spring game.  Not to fret Buckeye fans, Pryor being third on the depth charts will not prevent him from seeing the field.  Tressel and his coaching staff will design special packages to get Pryor’s talent on the field, providing wrinkles to this offense. 

 

Having said that, if Boeckman happens to go down to injury, look for Bauserman to replace him, with Pryor still playing a “situational” role. 

 

Boeckman provided about as good of a first year starting performance as you can find.  He cruised through most of the season before a shaky outing against Illinois.  He seemed to develop happy feet, often “feeling” the pressure when there was none.  This is to be expected with an inexperienced quarterback, but look for him to improve in 2008. 

 

Boeckman did show some ability with his legs against the Illini, and should be able to implement this into his game to slow down the pass rush at times. 

 

Todd then went on to deliver another sub par performance against Michigan, granted the conditions weren’t quite ideal.  He had a hard time holding onto the ball, often lost his footing, and was inaccurate. 

 

Contrary to what is believed, Boeckman was more than capable in the National Championship game.  He delivered some very nice throws, and showed his toughness by hanging in the pocket and taking some shots on more than one occasion. 

 

Was he perfect? No, but quarterback play was the least of Ohio State’s concerns in the loss to LSU.  Nevertheless, there are issues to address with Todd, such as his under-throwing of deep balls, as well as his ability to stay composed under pressure. 

 

With the experience gained from a championship run in ’07, look for Boeckman to not only improve his play this season, but also emerge as a leader of this entire team.

 

Joe Bauserman was an original Buckeye commitment in 2004, but was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and passed on attending Ohio State.  He has since given up his baseball career to pursue football opportunities as a walk on at Ohio State in 2007. 

 

As aforementioned, Bauserman had a solid spring game this year, showing off a canon of an arm, but has much more work to do to keep Terrelle Pryor at bay in future seasons.  Joe has all of the tools to become a successful quarterback at the college level, but most Ohio State fans hope that any playing time he sees is in mop up duty. 

 

This is not a slight against Bauserman, rather Joe getting substantial playing time means Boeckman is either ineffective or injured, and neither of those options is going to equal success in 2008.

 

Then there is the phenom Terrelle Pryor.  Here is a kid that is being hailed as the next Vince Young.  He has a certain aura about him that just screams superstar.  I think everyone knows about Pryor and his strengths, but his throwing mechanics is the area in need of improvement.

 

Terrelle’s form looks to have improved by quite a bit, and now with coaches able to counsel him, look for him to continue the dramatic jump.  Arm strength has never been an issue, but he is far from a finished product.  Nevertheless, the kid is going to be a weapon immediately and in the future.

 

Wild Card

 

The choice for a wild card at the QB position is all but obvious:  Terrelle Pryor.  Much has been said of Pryor, and the pressure on his shoulders is unimaginable. 

 

The uber-talented freshman will get his chances this upcoming season, whether it is as a decoy, or putting the ball in his hands.  Most expect a Tim Tebow like role for Pryor, but look for more versatility rather than a power running role like Tebow. 

 

Numerous options exist, such as splitting him wide, or lining him up in the option.  Any way you slice it, Pryor being on the field will cause defenses to become a little more wary.

 

Bottom-Line

 

Reports are that Boeckman has been absolutely money in 7-on-7’s.  While that doesn’t necessarily transfer to on field success, it shows that Todd is feeling confident in his abilities.  If Todd can cut down on the turnovers and manage the offense, the numbers don’t HAVE to be as good as they were last season. 

 

When you have a plethora of weapons that Ohio State currently has, it is not necessary to try to make the big play with unwarranted throws, which may result in limiting possessions.  Look for Boeckman to play smarter, not be a liability in big games, and have a very successful year.

 

Running Backs:

Key Returnees:
  • Chris "Beanie" Wells, No. 28—6'1", 237 lbs., Junior
  • Maurice Wells, No. 34—5'10", 196 lbs., Senior
  • Brandon Saine, No. 3—6'1", 217 lbs., Sophomore
  • Daniel "Boom" Herron, No. 1—5'10", 193 lbs., Redshirt Freshman
Key Additions:
  • None

Key Departures:

  • None

 

 

2007 Statistics

 

Carries

Yards

YPCarry

TD’s

Receptions

Rec. Yards

Rec. TD’s

C. Wells

274

1609

5.9

15

5

21

-

M. Wells

103

367

3.6

3

10

47

1

Saine

60

267

4.5

2

12

160

1

Herron

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

 

Talk about absolutely loaded.  The running back corps is obviously a luxury position for Ohio State in 2008, bringing not only quality but quantity as well.  The frontrunner is clearly Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells, who is a Heisman hopeful and looking to climb up the ranks of all-time leading rushers at Ohio State.

Wells brings a rare blend of size, speed, power and vision, and is an absolute chore to bring down.  Add to that a victimizing stiff arm, as well as his absolute will to carry this team at times, and you have a recipe for one of the greatest backs to ever step into The ‘Shoe.

Here is a little visual proof of what a talent he is.  Need a little more? Here you go.

Beanie has a legitimate shot at 2,000 yards, and no, that was not a typo.  Chris was never really healthy last year, playing through ankle sprains and a wrist injury which required off-season surgery, and still put up a savory 5.9 yards per carry and over 1600 yards.  He has all but indicated this is the best health he’s been in and the Heisman Trophy is on his ‘to do’ list.

How impressive is Beanie?  Case in point: the National Championship game against LSU.  The Tigers loaded up the box and went one-on-one with the receivers on the outside, and Wells still went off for 150 yards.  Granted, he did have two long runs, but for the time he was toting the rock, Wells still ran with a purpose.

Unfortunately for the Buckeye’s, they fell behind and had to go away from the running game.  Look for USC to execute the same strategy, daring Todd Boeckman to beat them rather than Beanie.  No matter the strategy, when Wells wants his yards, he usually gets them.


The biggest snagging point in Beanies quest for 2,000 is perhaps having so much depth at the position, as well as overall talent of the offense.  So while it is very possible for 2K, look for Beanie to eclipse last year’s totals, but not by a substantial amount.

Daniel ‘Boom’ Herron looks to make an impact after sitting out for a red-shirt year, and the super senior Maurice Wells has always gotten a steady dose of carries.

Brandon Saine is not your prototypical back, and will probably play a hybrid role of receiver and runner.  He only got 60 carries last season, but a knee injury dramatically slowed his freshman production.  His numbers look to increase in 2008, but I would expect him to be heavily involved in the receiving game as well.

Maurice Wells is a guy who is unspectacular, yet steady.  He provides another option when Beanie or Herron need to come off the field.

Another name to keep an ear out for is that of incoming frosh Lamaar Thomas.  The chances of him getting reps at the running back position are slim, but he is very shifty and has speed aplenty.

Some feel a redshirt is necessary to allow Thomas to add some bulk to his frame, but his talent would sure come in use to add more unpredictability to this offense.  If Lammar doesn’t get a look in the backfield, he would be a prime candidate for a return man on special teams.

It’s a nice problem to have when you have a Heisman candidate and still MUST find playing time for the talented players behind him.

Wild Card
:

Dan Herron seems to be the dark horse in all of this, as the coaching staff feels very strongly about him.  Herron is a hard, tough nosed runner, who seems poised to step up.  While undersized, Herron runs with the same style that Beanie employs, making him the ideal fit to spell Beanie during games.

Bottom Line:

The only reason for concern with this bunch would be injuries.  None of the running backs on the roster have had major injury problems, but rather injuries of the lingering ilk.

Beanie is a top running back even playing less than 100%, but to ensure the best chance for success, he must stay healthy.  It seems the ankle problems have subsided, but the wrist has not been put through the rigors of contact drills.

Brandon Saine had the knee operation provided an obstacle to hurdle, but the big question is: how will his knee hold up and respond to a hefty work load?

If the injury bug doesn’t rear its ugly head, big things are in store for this unit.

 

Full Backs:

 

Key Returnees:

 

  • None

Key Additions:

  • Jermil Martin, No. 4—5’11”, 220 lbs., Incoming Freshman

Key Losses:

  • Dionte Johnson (Exhausted Eligibility)
  • Aram Olson (Medical Release)

If there is one area of concern on this offense, it would be at fullback.  The only true fullback on the roster this upcoming season would be that of incoming freshman Jermil Martin.

Aram Olson was to be the starter but injuries have forced him out of football altogether, leaving Ohio State in a bit of a conundrum.

In light of this problem, Jim Tressel and his staff are turning to run-stuffing outside linebacker Curtis Terry to fill the void.

While Terry’s abilities will be missed at outside linebacker, the line-backing corps is absolutely loaded with talent, making him expendable at that position.  He may have had the inside track to a starting OLB spot in 2007, but a high ankle sprain ended those aspirations.

There is still the possibility of Terry getting reps at his natural position in the upcoming season, but for the time being, it seems his is exclusively at fullback.

Terry is a physical specimen with quite the mean streak, making him an ideal lead blocker for Heisman hopeful “Beanie” Wells.

 

Being a linebacker himself, Terry should have no problem meeting the opposition's linebackers head-on.  Honestly, the biggest collision of the year may be when Terry and USC's Rey Maugula meet, in what may result in California finally breaking away from the west coast and floating away into the Pacific.

 

If Curt Terry can grasp the offensive playbook smoothly, he should spell problems for any defense.  Chris Wells is hard enough to bring down as is, now pairing him with Terry will only make the task that much more difficult.

 

Also look for seldom used 5th year players to spell terry ala Tank Whaley and Stan White of 2007.  Don't count out Jermil Martin getting playing time either, as it all depends on how fast he can transition into the offense; it would be ideal for him to gain valuable playing time to prepare for 2009.

 

Wild Card:

 

This is a hard one to identify, as Curtis Terry would fit this mold if it wasn't the plan to make him the fullback.  If one had to skim the roster, a name such as listed redshirt senior fullback Ryan Lukens jumps out as a guy who could contribute at this position.

 

Bottom Line:

 

Wth the Buckeyes lacking a true fullback, coupled with the fact that Chris Wells can often handle single back sets, the staff may be forced to open up the playbook this season.

 

Look for a less predictable offense, with a decrease in the Power-I set.  Not to say they will dramatically stray away from power running formations, but if Terry, or any of the other candidates don't grasp the playbook and technique fast enough, there may not be many other options.

 

If Curtis Terry is ready to go, the running game will benefit drastically.

 

 

The overall felling for these three position corps is that they have a chance to be one of the most lethal in College Football.  There are other questions such as how the coaching staff will utilize certain players, and if the playbook opens up.  Depite those concerns, the potential for these positions is extraordinary.

 

Look for Part Two of the series upcoming in the next few days where I will preview the rest of the offense: Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, and Offensive Lineman.

 

 

 

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