Thanks for tuning into the inaugural edition of BuckNews!
The first topic today is the second, yes, second shooting of Ohio State DE commitment Jamel Turner. You may recall that Turner was shot about two months ago. He was doing well after being wounded by two bullets in that shooting - until today's AP release stated that Turner was shot again while at a house in Youngstown, and is apparently in critical condition at an area hospital. It appears as if Turner's life, and football career, may both be in jeopardy. Both incidents could be gang related. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jamel and his family. He's not the only Buckeye who's football future is in question.
Albeit a far less-scary issue, The Lantern reported today that Duron Carter is out. I already knew this. A close friend sent me a text on Saturday from Columbus and said, "Carter is out - grades". Hard to believe. How embarrassing is this for pops? Duron is the son of Buckeye great Chris Carter. How does this affect the team? It doesn't. Sure, Duron started every game save the Bowl last season(or didn't depending on the 3rdWR/Fb argument), but Carter had just 13 catches in '09 for 176 and a TD. His absence creates an opening for much more explosive players that the fans have been crying for since the departure of Ted Ginn Jr. Carter's likely replacement will be Chris Fields. Fields is a 6' 185lb speed-burner from Painesville Harvey. Fields has sure hands like Carter, but provides the big play capability expected from the WR position. Fields is a polished WR who should have an instant impact. The void also creates more potential playing time for two other speedsters, frosh James Louis and rFr James Jackson. Senior Taurian Washington will also be in the mix. He lacks the pure speed of the earlier mentioned trio, but has something that they don't have, size(6'3" 190). It will be an open competition in the fall, but let's give the early edge to Chris Fields. He could have a breakout season.
Here's the new WR pecking order:
Rumors are also swirling that DE Keith Wells may be transferring due to a lack of playing time. With all the talent at the position - I'm not sure it has much affect on this season.
Tyler Moeller was cleared for physical contact by doctors last week. After piling up 17 tackles in the spring game in 2009, and being projected as a starter at OLB, Moeller was on the wrong end of an altercation in Florida. The incident sent Tyler to the hospital for brain surgery to relieve pressure - his assailant subsequently flipped the bill. The consensus is that weight loss and injury concerns will have the staff moving the former OLB to the star position(nickleback). Moeller(6'1 210) will have to fight for playing time with a host of 'star' candidates. Here's the projected defensive-back depth chart:
WCB-CHimdi Chekwa 2.Donnie Evege 3.Dominic Clarke
SCB-Devon Torrence 2a.Corey Brown 2b.Travis Howard
SS-Orhian Johnson 2.Tyler Moeller 3a.Jamie WOod 3b.Nate Oliver
FS-Jermale Hines 2a.Zach Domicone 2b.CJ Barnett 2c.Aaron Gant
Star-Tyler Moeller 2.Aaron Gant 3.CJ Barnett
Ohio won the Big33 game 18-15. That's 2 in-a-row for the Buckeyes. The win brought the all-time series between the two states to Ohio=10 Pennsylvania=12. As for future Buckeyes in the game: the stand out was WR/DB Christian Bryant. Bryant scored the winning touchdown on one of his several catches. Bryant looked explosive with great awareness and speed. Expect Bryant to be a big part of filling the cornerback voids after this season. The cinderella was local prospect Verlon Reed who was named the MVP. Reed went 7-11 passing and broke a 73 yard touchdown run to get the red back in the game. Reed has athleticism that his recruiting ratings and statistics don't exhibit. At 6'3" 200 he runs like a WR. That's probably where he'll end up - especially after the commitment from QB Braxton Miller. Reed could also end up as a menacing free safety. Verlon, like John Simon last season, could be one of the biggest cinderella recruits in the country. Two DE's, JT Moore and Darryl Baldwin played well and looked every bit the part of the typically highly touted Ohio State DE recruit.
Every season I purchase my Phil Steele's magazine and predict the scores of every Ohio State game. Here are my predictions for the 2010 regular season.
9-2-10 vs Marshall - Ohio State 34 Marshall 10
Marshall is decent on both lines, but gave up a monstrous 444 rushing yards to VTech last season - the only top tier rushing squad they faced. They'll pull an Oregon by loading the box. They still won't be able to stop the running game, and Pryor will hit Fields and Sanzenbacher all day long on WR screens and bombs alike. The 444 on the ground to VT and the 517 in the air they gave up to UTEP, as well as 'issues' at the safety position, have me expecting this one to get ugly. 20-3 at half. The inexperienced backs for Marshall will struggle to obtain positive yardage. Later in the season, when Marshall is 7-5 and headed to their 2nd straight bowl, we'll realize the magnitude of this result.
9-11-10 vs Miami,Fla - Ohio State 24 Miami 20
The Hurricanes are a top ten team. After giving up 170 on the ground in the bowl - Miami will be focused on improving the defensive front. Pryor will be improved this season, but the pressure to win a NC surfaces each and every game, especially in an early test like this one. After Miami shows that they are one of two teams on the schedule(Iowa) that can slow Ohio State Rb's, Pryor will have to be unwrapped, and give OSU another dimension. I expect this one to be close. at half... OSU 10 Miami 13. The only reason that OSU will win this is because of Javarris James and Graig Cooper's absence. I think OSU will be the stronger team, but turnovers, and a revamped OSU DL will make this interesting. Heyward could be moved inside if Miami is moving the ball early, and with all the young talent Miami has on the OL, it might be a necessary. We'll see if John Simon is ready for the big-time.
9-18-10 vs Ohio - Ohio State 26 Ohio 10
The bobcat defense is solid and will test the OSU offense for a post-big-game letdown. The DL and LB Noah Keller could make for tough sledding up front - even for one of the best OL RB combinations in the country. This is the game where Pryor shows his progression as a passer(much like he did in the spring and against Oregon). I expect OSU to rush for about 140 and pass for about 300. The Bobcats will likely be bitten by the small, silent and deadly sanzobuck - a deadly WR dressed in a 7th graders' body. I'll call for the Toledo native to post career bests in this one.
9-25-10 vs Eastern Michigan - Ohio State 52 EMU 3
This could be the best rush offense versus the worst rush defense in D1. Nebraska-style, Ohio State breaks-in some of their new toys, Jamaal Berry and Rod Smith, and rushes for some ungodly number. Nobody gets hurt(knock on wood) and Ohio State goes into the bigten opener with momentum. The only thing keeping me from typing 70 up there - is Jim Tressel. Choose a back.... between Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith... whoever plays will continue to get some reps, whoever doesn't will redshirt.
10-2-10 @ Illinois - Ohio State 38 Illinois 17
Not much has changed from last season.
10-9-10 vs Indiana - Ohio State 31 Indiana 17
Ben Chappell and Tandon Doss will test the young safeties for Ohio State. Expect them to get a couple of scores via the pass. Indiana will come in 3-1 or 4-0 pending the outcome against Michigan the week before. I expect Indiana and Purdue to finish above the previous weeks' opponent(illinois).
10-16-10 @ Wisconsin - Ohio State 31 Wisconsin 24
You think bigten you think defense. not here. Wisconsin proved they could move the ball last year against OSU. Without turnovers they might have scored 24 then. This will come down to Pryor's improved passing and Wisconsin's suspect Db's. i wouldn't be surprised to see Tressel play too conservative and fall down early. at half... Wisc 17 OSU 10.
10-23-10 vs Purdue - Ohio State 27 Purdue 3
OSU will put the clamps on a running-back-less Purdue team and get revenge for last years loss. It will get ugly.
10-30-10 @ Minnesota - Ohio State 48 Minnesota 13
11-13-10 vs PSU - Ohio State 31 PSU 17
Not much has changed. OSU controlled both lines last year, and they'll do it again. Expect Cam Heyward and Nate WIlliams to blow past the OT's for PSU. PSU will move the ball on the ground.
11-20-10 @ Iowa - Ohio State 20 Iowa 17 OT
It will be as close as it was last season. TE Jake Stoneburner will be the difference here. Keep your eyes on the holdout secret weapon for Jim Tressel... #11 is an unknown, and could remain that way until he's needed here against a inexperienced LB corps.
11-27-10 vs Michigan - Ohio State 24 Michigan 23
Tressel squeezes the play book against his rival... a big no-no... and Michigan gives up a long TD run to Pryor in the final minutes of the game to drop a 13-10 halftime lead and fall by 1. A tough 3 game stretch to end the season has me wondering if we'll be healthy. We'll need to be healthy on the DL against this offense.
That's right. I'm calling for an undefeated season. 12-0!!! This is the third time I have called for an undefeated season in the last decade... I called for it in 2002, and in 2007. The Bucks just have too much on offense for any team outside of the "Nations' defensive elite" to keep it close. if you wanna see a team manhandle some defensive fronts and move the ball with relative ease, then watch the 2010 version of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Here's my BigTen grading card:
Ohio State - Offense A+, Defense A-, SPT C+ OVerall Grade 92/100
If it weren't for the fallback of moving Heyward inside, and the depth/talent at DE, I wouldn't have such high expectations. The fact is that depth at DT appears to be the only weakness. John Simon(6'2" 280/4.75) is a strong young DT. If John and Dexter Larimore stay healthy, this defense will continue to be a top 5 overall D. The thing that sets apart OSU in my mind is the incredible OL and the progression of Terrelle Pryor. Pryor showed better footwork and accuracy in the spring game, much like the Oregon game. Teams will have to load the box to stop what may be the most dangerous offensive attack in the country. TE Jake Stoneburner and WR Chris Fields will only help to balance out the offense, but in the end, it is the sheer power of the offensive front and RB threats(Pryor included), that make them a juggernaut for opposing defenses.
Iowa - Offense B, Defense A-, SPT B+ Overall Grade 88/100
Watch out for frosh TE Fiedorwicz - as he is the real deal and could fill in nicely after the departure of Tony Moeaki. Robinson, Wegher, and Jewell Hampton are just three more strong BigTen running backs. I may be a BigTen homer, but I've never seen a RB stable in the BigTen like there is this season. You start looking at 3rd string backs like Jamaal Berry of OSU, Jewell Hampton of Iowa, Brandon Beachum of PSU, and Zach Brown of Wisconsin to realize just how deep and talented the position is in '10. I think Iowa's defense and experience make them A LEGITIMATE NC contender in 2010. They handled GT in the bowl and took OSU to OT last season. Nobody rushed for more than 191 yards on Iowa last season, and they won't this year.
Wisconsin - Offense B+, Defense B, SPT B Overall Grade 84/100
Wisconsin always has that awesome, mammoth OL. This years version appears to be as big and as nasty as ever. With the Ron Dayne-like addition of John Clay, and the improved play at QB, Wisconsin figures to be a handful for opposing defensive coordinators. The rush defense is still solid despite the loss of O'Brien Schofield, but if they don't start getting interceptions and making plays in the defensive backfield, they'll struggle to improve on last years bigten finish. Scott Tolzien edges the Badgers over....
PSU - Offense B, Defense B+, SPT C+ Overall Grade 83/100
Penn State should be able to run the ball effectively, but has a gigantic asterisk at the Qb position, and it reads.. *we don't have one... It's also hard to believe that losing Jared Odrick and two All-American LB's won't affect the defensive production. I think they showed LSU in the bowl that they are a solid team from a solid conference, but all three teams I have above them have much better quarterbacks. Graham Zug is a sneaky-good receiver and RB's Evan Royster, Stephon Green, and Brandon Beachum are very good. PSU. OSU, and Iowa could show up in the Rb's catagory when my unit rankings start to come out.
Michigan - Offense B-, Defense C+, SPT B- Overall Grade 81.5/100
Well, it's put up or shut-up time for RichRod. I expect all the hard work and returning experience to pay dividends in the rushing game. Michigan could end up being a top 5 team running the ball. The LB and DL look stronger on paper, but when was the last time we saw a NFL caliber DB out of this usual DB factory. Pass O and Pass D will be weaknesses, and rush-O and rush-D will be strengths. Ryan Van-Bergan and Craig Roh are solid young pass rushers, but will need to improve on last years' numbers. Ohio's own Fitzgerald Toussaint, as well as Martavious Odoms, Denard Robinson, and Michael Shaw - give the Wolverines some gamebreakers on offense. If the new defensive scheme improves the D, and if Tate Forcier improves his ratio, they could finish as high as 3rd. That's a lot of 'if's' though.
Michigan St. - Offense C+, Defense C+, SPT C+ Overall Grade 77/100
Another great BigTen coach here. Dantonio received fantastic news when All-American LB Greg Jones decided to return for his Senior season. The question marks are up front on defense. If youngsters William Gholston and Tyler Hoover can step up - this team could surprise. ohio State is NOT on the schedule, and Sparty gets Wisconsin and ND at home. Probably an 8-5 yr with their first bowl win since 2001.
Northwestern - Offense B-, Defense C-, SPT C+ Overall Grade 76/100
The DL will be down a notch, but Pat Fitzgerald is a fantastic coach. Expect coach to get the defense to last years standard by the mid-way point. Persa steps in, and is exactly the same qb as Mike Kafka. He has weapons at WR. The Wildcats will start 6-0. I'm calling for their third straight bowl game.
Purdue - Offense C+, Defense C+, SPT D+ Overall Grade 74/100
Ryan Kerrigan joins Cam Heyward and Adrian Clayborn as the best conference trio of DE's in the nation. All three could be found in 2011's first round of the NFL draft. This wasn't the best pass D last season, and things could get even worse in that area. They'll probably fall just short of a bowl again. I think QB transfer Robert Marve from Miami will help(he's underrated), but questions at RB and WR will make Danny Hope's job very difficult in his second season as head coach of the Boilermakers.
Indiana - Offense B, Defense F, SPT C+ Overall Grade 67/100
Don't sleep on the Hoosiers... they stand an outside chance at making another bowl with their cupcake OOC scheduling. Tandon Doss is on the top line with Devier Posey as the BigTen's best receiver. Their schedule and their offense will help them improve on last years' 4 win total.
Illinois - Offense D+, Defense C-, SPT D+ Overall Grade 65.5/100
This will be Zook's last year.
Minnesota - Offense C, Defense D-, SPT C Overall Grade 64.5/100
Hopefully Tim Brewster won't lose his job - because he's a great coach, and they should be much improved in 2011. With better recruits brought in by Brewster and the new stadium - it should mean better days ahead. This team could step up and bite somebody with this offense, but the defense could be amongst D1's worst. Expect Wisconsin, PSU, and OSU to run right over top of this team. The Gophers and the Hoosiers could end up allowing an average of over 420yards/gm in conference - and that's not good. The Gophers will lose game one to MTSU in Murfreesboro! Dwight Dasher and his band of experienced offensive players will expose this defense and have the bigten haters crying foul in week 1. Don't read too much into it. MTSU will win runaway with the SunBelt and finish the regular season at 11-1. Final MTSU 38 Minnesota 24.