Ohio State Football: Silver Lining for 2011 Despite Suspensions and Rumors

HD Handshoe - BlockONation.comAnalyst IDecember 26, 2010

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 11:  Head Coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches his team play against the Miami Hurricanes at Ohio Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The previously insignificant blog ChicagoNow posted a story that so far seems completely false and unfounded in which its author suggests Buckeye coach Jim Tressel will step down after the Sugar Bowl.

It would be shocking if this had any basis in fact and it would seem very unlikely that an unknown blog (at least outside of Chicagoland) would have the inside track on such a potential huge story out of Columbus, while the Columbus TV stations nor the Columbus Dispatch have made any mention of it.

Therefore, it should be considered hooey until proven otherwise. Tressel's contract runs through 2014 and the odds of him resigning prior to the end of the 2014 season are practically nil, so don't hold your breath.

Now, as for the suspensions that were levied by the NCAA against Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, and Soloman Thomas—they (the NCAA) are a joke. Five games for selling your own property to help your family?

The punishment does not fit the crime, and while the suspensions could be reduced to three or four games, it's still is unfair to the individual players.

Hopefully, the NCAA takes a long hard look at itself in the mirror after this and removes the rule that prevents players from making a little money to help their families, but don't hold your breath on that one, either...

That being said, here's where the silver lining comes in for the 2011 Buckeyes.

Some would say Tressel is often considered loyal to a fault when it comes to his upperclassmen, even when there may be a younger, more talented player behind an upperclassman on the depth chart.

With the loss of skill-position players Pryor, Herron, and Posey for at least a handful of games, Tressel will be forced to evaluate some younger guys and give them a shot sooner than he normally would have.

Joe Bauserman has been the No. 2 QB for the Bucks the last two seasons but it has to be painfully obvious to everyone including JT that he is not even a DI-level backup, let alone starter.

Quarterback is obviously the most important offensive position.

Ohio State has Braxton Miller, the No. 2-rated high school QB in the nation, signed to their 2011 class.

Many experts believe the dual-threat Miller is very comparable to Pryor, except he actually can throw the ball and has the mechanics of a pure passer. The knock on Pryor has always been his below-average mechanics, so this could open the door for Miller.

The Buckeyes could also turn to redshirt sophomore Kenny Guiton or redshirt freshman Taylor Graham.

Guiton, a less-heralded dual-threat QB, was the winning quarterback in the 2010 Scarlet and Gray spring game. While Bauserman struggled (as usual), Guiton completed 11-of-21 passes for 167 yards with two touchdown tosses.

Graham, son of former Buckeye QB Kent Graham, is more of a prototypical pocket QB.

His Scout.com profile says of him, "Has prototypical size for the position. He stands tall in the pocket, has good mechanics and has solid arm strength, although adding velocity is something which could really help him in college.

"He is accurate and throws the ball on time, displaying the ability to hit receivers in stride. He makes quick decisions, showing good football acumen. He is not a running quarterback by any stretch, but does show the ability to throw on the move."

The fear in this situation is that Tressel might still go with Bauserman, the upperclassman who has put in the most time, a la Todd Boeckman in 2008, but we all know how that turned out after just three games, so let's hope JT selects his QB based on ability, not seniority.

When it comes to running back, Tressel won't have much choice but to play some of the guys the fans have been wanting to see, and that could be the biggest silver lining of all to come from the tat-gate fallout.

Senior Brandon Saine will be gone and Herron may elect to turn pro, leaving Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, Carlos Hyde, and Rod Smith to choose from.

Hall has seen the most playing time to date so he is probably the leading candidate at this point—however—Berry displayed flashes of great potential while averaging 8.3 yards per carry in 2010—Hyde saw some game action in 2010 as well and has been compared to Beanie Wells—and Smith has been turning heads during the Sugar Bowl practices, earning praise from the staff and his teammates, while garnering comparisons to Eddie George.

The biggest hurdle the 2011 Buckeyes will face is replacing senior Dane Sanzenbacher, who led the team in receiving, and Posey, the second-leading receiver.

There are a slew of young wideouts on the roster, but very few have had much of an opportunity to play thus far.

Corey Brown, James Jackson, Chris Fields, Ty Williams, James Louis and Verlon Reed are all recruits from either 2009 or 2010. Brown is really the only one who has seen much playing time as a WR.

The 2011 recruiting class includes four-star receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer.

Perhaps they get an early shot at earning some playing time.

There are a lot of questions as the 2010 season winds down, and as the off-season is nearly upon us.

Are there any truth to the rumors about Tressel considering retirement?

In the face of their pending suspensions, will Pryor, Herron, Posey and the others jump ship in hopes of NFL fortune and fame?

Is it Miller time in 2011, as in Braxton Miller, or does BM redshirt in favor of Bauserman while Tressel rebuilds for 2012?

Which of the young running back(s) will emerge as "the guy" in 2011?

Will the starting quarterback have anyone worth a hill of beans to throw the ball to?

The only thing for sure right now is these questions will be answered eventually, and it's going to be a long off-season until they are...


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