Spring Preview: Ohio State's big expectations

The debut for Urban Meyer was smashing, as he led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record in 2012. If not for being on NCAA probation, Ohio State would have been in the thick of the national championship race. The shackles are off this season—and expectations are sky high for a team that should have a terrific offense. How will the defense develop? That will be the key for a Buckeyes team that has legit national championship aspirations.

BTN provides live coverage of Ohio State’s spring game at 1 p.m. ET Saturday on BTN2Go only. The game will then air at 7 p.m. ET Saturday. Track the Buckeyes football Twitter chatter on our BTN.com Ohio State Connect page.

BACK IN 2012 …

Record: 12-0; 8-0 Big Ten

Day Date Opponent Time TV Result
Sat. Sep. 1 vs. Miami (OH) 12:00 PM ET  BTN W 56 – 10
Sat. Sep. 8 vs. UCF 12:00 PM ET  ESPN2 W 31 – 16
Sat. Sep. 15 vs. California 12:00 PM ET  ABC W 35 – 28
Sat. Sep. 22 vs. UAB 12:00 PM ET  BTN/BTN2 W 29 – 15
Sat. Sep. 29 at 20 Michigan State 3:30 PM ET  ABC W 17 – 16
Sat. Oct. 6 vs. 21 Nebraska 8:00 PM ET  ABC W 63 – 38
Sat. Oct. 13 at Indiana 8:00 PM ET  BTN/BTN2 W 52 – 49
Sat. Oct. 20 vs. Purdue 12:00 PM ET  ABC/ESPN2 W 29 – 22
Sat. Oct. 27 at Penn State 5:30 PM ET  ESPN W 35 – 23
Sat. Nov. 3 vs. Illinois 3:30 PM ET  ESPN W 52 – 22
Sat. Nov. 17 at Wisconsin 3:30 PM ET  ABC/ESPN2 W 21 – 14
Sat. Nov. 24 vs. 20 Michigan 12:00 PM ET  ABC W 26 – 21

KEY LOSSES

Offense: T Reid Fragel; TE Jake Stoneburner. Defense: T Garrett Goebel; T Johnathan Hankins; CB Travis Howard; LB Etienne Sabino; John Simon; E Nathan Williams

OUTLOOK ON OFFENSE

2012 Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards: 5085 (64)
Passing Yards: 2178 (110)
Rushing Yards: 2907 (18)
Points per game: 37.2 (21)
Yards per game: 423.8 (46)
Touchdowns: 54 (31)
Field Goals: 8 (112)

This group has a shot to be special—very special. The line was a major surprise last season. Credit line coach Ed Warinner. And it should be strong again, with four starters back. But a right tackle is needed with Reid Fragel gone. A top priority will be to develop more big-play ability at receiver. Players like Devin Smith, Corey Brown, Michael Thomas and Evan Spencer need to take the next step. TEs Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman have flashed promise.

QB Braxton Miller must continue to emerge as a passer and decision maker, while taking full advantage of all of the spread-option offense the coordinator Tom Herman has to offer. Miller is a legit Heisman contender. We will have to wait until the fall to see Jordan Hall in a “Percy Harvin” role. He could be a real wild card and difference-maker. At least that’s the hope. There are some nice options at running back: Carlos Hyde, Bri’onte Dunn, Rod Smith.

OUTLOOK ON DEFENSE

2012 Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards: 4315 (20)
Passing Yards: 2922 (61)
Rushing Yards: 1393 (14)
Points per game: 22.8 (32)
Yards per game: 359.6 (34)
Touchdowns: 29 (19)
Field Goals: 14 (58)

There is lots of work to do here. And it begins upfront with all four starters from the line are gone—E/T John Simon; T Johnathan Hankins; E Nathan Williams; T Garrett Goebel. The good news: There are a lot of young, talented players ready to emerge into big roles. Players like E Noah Spence, T Tommy Schutt and T Adolphus Washington, among others. Joel Hale, Steve Miller and Michael Bennett also are in the mix for coordinator Luke Fickell. Etienne Sabino, Storm Klein and Zach Boren are gone, so some linebackers need to step up around Ryan Shazier.

Former five-star recruit Curtis Grant will once again try to win a spot. The unit underwhelmed in 2012. That must change. Keep an eye on youngsters like Joshua Perry, David Perkins, Jamal Marcus, and Camren Williams. The secondary is bolstered by the return of three starters, including stud CB Bradley Roby and safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett.

2013 SCHEDULE

Day Date Opponent
Sat. Aug. 31 vs. Buffalo
Sat. Sep. 7 vs. San Diego State
Sat. Sep. 14 at California
Sat. Sep. 21 vs. Florida A&M
Sat. Sep. 28 vs. Wisconsin
Sat. Oct. 5 at 17 Northwestern
Sat. Oct. 19 vs. Iowa
Sat. Oct. 26 vs. Penn State
Sat. Nov. 2 at Purdue
Sat. Nov. 16 at Illinois
Sat. Nov. 23 vs. Indiana
Sat. Nov. 30 at 24 Michigan

***

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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BTN.com staff on 4/11/2013 @ 1:01pm EST Said:

An earlier version of this post noted Conner Crowell. Due to an injury, Crowell is no longer with the team. We apologize for the error. Full roster here.