Now that the 2010 season has come and gone, it's time to reflect back on it before a sneak peak at 2011. The following slides include grades on offense, defense, special teams, recruiting and combined coaching/final grade category.
Grades are mostly high for the Buckeyes, save one category that may have cost them a spot in the BCS title game. Dive on in...
The Team Numbers
National: 19th in total offense, 13th in passing touchdowns, 14th in rushing touchdowns, 11th in points per game
Big Ten: 2nd in total offense, 2nd in yards per game, 2nd in points per game ,4th in total rushing, 3rd in yards per rush, 4th in rushing touchdowns, 1st in passing touchdowns, 2nd in quarterback rating, 3rd in yards per reception, 1st in touchdown receptions
The Individual Numbers
National: 10th in quarterback rating, 20th in completion percentage, 17th in passing touchdowns with 27.
Big Ten: 3rd in quarterback rating, 4th in completion percentage, 4th in passing yards, 1st in passing touchdowns with 27, 1st in points responsible for with 15.08/game
Dan Herron: 13th nationally (3rd in Big Ten) with 16 rushing touchdowns, 4th in Big Ten in rushing with 1,155 yards
Dane Sanzenbacher: 16th (1st in Big Ten) with 11 receiving touchdowns, 2nd in the Big Ten with 948 receiving yards
DeVier Posey: 8th in the Big Ten with seven receiving touchdowns, 6th in the Big Ten with 848 receiving yards
Jake Stoneburner: 21 catches, 222 yards, two touchdowns. He missed three games with an ankle injury
The Buckeye offense generally has an archaic stigma attached to it. Whether that is true or not, one cannot argue with this group’s tremendous numbers. They only failed to score more than 31 points in a game three times, one of which was the Illinois game when Pryor missed time due an injury.
Pryor himself upped his passing touchdowns to 27 from 18, his passing yardage from 2,094 to 2,772 and increased his completion percentage from 57 percent to 65 percent. While he still has major footwork and occasional decision-making issues, by all means he took a big step forward in 2010.
Herron had himself a career year. His three-year rushing totals have gone from 439 to 600 to 1,155 in 2010. He became the featured back in the offense week four against Eastern Michigan and took off, rushing for 80 or more yards in seven of the last nine games, including 193 yards against Penn State and 182 against Michigan.
Dane Sanzenbacher had fantastic finish to his OSU career. He posted career-highs in every major receiving category and had a number of heads-up plays, including catching a deflected pass for a touchdown in the Penn State game and recovering Pryor’s fumble for a score on OSU's first drive in the Sugar Bowl.
Posey’s numbers resembled his ’09 figures, as he was the victim of Pryor spreading the ball around a bit more.
Jake Stoneburner saw his numbers surge, despite being bothered by an ankle injury midseason. He figures to be a focal point in the offense in 2011, especially early in the season with Pryor and Posey suspended and Sanzenbacher having graduated.
The Grade: A-
The OSU offense was very, very good in 2010. This was due in part to some weak defenses in the Big Ten and the growth of key components on offensive coordinator Jim Bollman’s unit. The only real blemish, albeit somewhat of a major one, was their poor performances in three of the road games including a putrid first half against Wisconsin. That half probably cost the Buckeyes a shot at the national title.
The Team Numbers
Total defense: 4th in nationally, 1st in Big Ten. Scoring defense: 5th nationally, 1st in Big Ten. Rushing defense: 3rd nationally, 1st in Big Ten. Pass efficiency defense: 4th nationally, 1st in Big Ten. Pass defense: 8th nationally, 1st in Big Ten
Sacks: 2nd in Big Ten with 23.
Tackles for Loss: 2nd in Big Ten with 75.
Interceptions: Tied for 1st in Big Ten with 19.
The team forced 19 fumbles.
The Individual Numbers
The team leaders in tackles were:
1) Brian Rolle-76
2) Ross Homan-72
3) Jermale Hines-66
Nathan Williams led the team with 4.5 sacks.
Cameron Heyward led the team and was tied for fifth in the Big Ten with 13 tackles for loss.
Chimdi Chekwa led the team and was sixth in the conference with three interceptions and led the team with nine pass break-ups.
Another banner year for the “Silver Bullets,” as they were among the leaders, both nationally and in the Big Ten, in virtually every defensive statistic. Cam Heyward may not have had the year that he wanted numbers-wise, but he finished strong with a dominating performance in the Sugar Bowl. He was a human tornado thrashing around, under and through the Razorback offensive line. But, the defense as a whole struggled to corral the quarterback, and finished with only 23 sacks after netting 30 in 2009, 28 in 2008 and 43 in 2007.
Brian Rolle and Ross Homan again posted solid seasons as they were the two leading tacklers on the team. Andrew Sweat also emerged in 2010, and his performance in the Wisconsin game should be a sign of things to come.
The Buckeyes fought major injuries in the secondary to post great numbers but leaving the casual observer wanting more. Season-ending injuries early in the year to C.J. Barnett and Tyler Moeller followed by Christian Bryant’s foot infection left the secondary depleted. Throw in Chimdi Chekwa’s broken wrist in the Sugar Bowl, and it’s plain to see the team was really testing its depth throughout the season. That made for questionable pass coverage against the better teams OSU played.
The Grade: A
This unit reloads every year with four and five-star recruits ready to step in. 2010 was no different and 2011 will be more of the same. Heyward, Larimore, Rolle, Homan, and Chekwa will be missed and their contributions are irreplaceable, but the next line of “Silver Bullets” will be ready.
The Team Numbers
Kicking: 8th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage.
Punting: 9th in the Big Ten in average yards per punt and 9th in the conference in total punts, but was first in return yards allowed.
Kick Returns: 4th nationally and 1st in the Big Ten in yards per return and had one touchdown, but gave up two return touchdowns.
Punt Returns: 3rd in the Big Ten in yards per return and had one touchdown, but gave up one touchdown.
The Individual Numbers
Devin Barclay was 20 of 24 on field goals and 62 of 62 on extra points for a team-leading 122 points. He tied for 2nd in the Big ten in field goals made.
Ben Buchanan punted 44 times for a 41-yard average with 15 punts landing inside the 20 and five punts of 50 yards or more. He had one punt blocked.
Jordan Hall was 16th in the nation and 2nd in the Big Ten with a 28 yard per return average on kickoffs and had a touchdown against Michigan.
Jordan Hall was 29th nationally and 2nd in the Big Ten in yards per punt return.
It was a tumultuous year for Jim Tressel’s favorite part of the game. OSU had a kick blocked and returned for a touchdown against Marshall, gave up two return touchdowns against Miami, had a punt blocked that almost cost OSU the Sugar Bowl and surrendered a game-opening kickoff return touchdown at Wisconsin that put them in a major hole early that they never recovered from.
Part of the blame can be attributed to injuries. The Buckeye defense was depleted at times during the season, forcing backups onto the field on defense and third-stringers into special teams’ duty. Running back Brandon Saine was even enlisted into the coverage units.
Then again, Jordan Hall and Devin Barclay were big bright spots. Hall didn’t make any mistakes in his returns and was a guarantee to get positive yardage. Tressel will make this unit’s struggles a point of emphasis going into 2011.
The Grade: C+
This unit probably wasn't as bad as its highly-profiled mistakes. Then again, there’s no escaping this unit’s major blunders in 2010's biggest games.
Scout.com: No. 2
ESPN.com: No. 6
Rivals.com: No. 7
Obviously the crown jewel of the class is Braxton Miller, the five-star quarterback out of Dayton. He’ll have the keys to the OSU offense in 2012. OSU netted a few steals away from other schools with commits such as defensive back Doran Grant and linebackers Ryan Shazier and Conner Crowell.
It’s a well-rounded class that address needs at defensive line (Steve Miller, Michael Bennett, Chase Farris and Ken Hayes) and safety (Ron Tanner and Jeremy Cash). Tressel also acquired a good crop of pass-catchers in receivers Devin Smith and Evan Tanner and tight end Nick Vannett.
The Grade: A-
The 2011 class is deep and talented with a few guys that could make an impact as freshmen. Braxton Miller is in the running to start the first five games before Pryor comes back from suspension. Shazier and Steve Miller could be stalwarts on special teams. Bennett could be a John Simon-type in the rotation along the defensive line.
Final Grade: A-
I agree with HD Handshoe, this was probably the third best team of the Tressel era. It was a team defined by its dominance on both sides of the ball, but also by its special teams’ shortcomings. They outscored Big Ten opponents by a combined score of 35 to 13. OSU finished fourth in the nation in turnover margin, a credit to the coaching staff’s emphasis on protecting the ball.
But to attain an “A+” OSU needed to win the national championship and had to reach the title game to get an “A”. Ultimately, this team is defined by the special teams’ errors that cost them the Wisconsin game and almost lost them the Sugar Bowl. Yes, plenty of other important plays happened in both games. But in the case of the Wisconsin game, allowing the opening kickoff to be taken back on the road when you’re a No. 1 team in a raucous environment is THE perfect storm to be demoralized right out of the gate. And that’s what happened to the Buckeyes in the first half. They got their wits about them in the second half but it was too late.
However, 12-1 is one hell of a season. Snapping the bowl game losing streak against the SEC with so much pressure on the entire program was very impressive. Now, on to 2011.