Dienhart: Here's what I'll be watching at Ohio State practice
Ohio State and Urban Meyer face some big challenges as they try to reclaim the Big Ten title with 12 NFL draft picks gone and just eight starters back. Meyer has lived a charmed life since taking over Ohio State in 2012, posting a 50-4 overall record and a 31-1 Big Ten mark. His crowning feat was winning the 2014 national championship, and last year’s team looked poised to repeat before a late-season stumble at home vs. Michigan State. The goal is to get back to summit.
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Here is what I’ll be watching for at Ohio State practice Tuesday.
1. Is Mike Weber the real deal? The redshirt freshman arrived in Columbus amid massive hype and proceeded to redshirt. With Ezekiel Elliott off early to the NFL and with Bri’onte Dunn booted from the squad, the job as No. 1 RB is in Weber’s lap.
2. Is the offensive line developing? The unit lost three starters. The tackle spots are especially intriguing. Junior Jamarco Jones is slated at left tackle with sophomore Isaiah Prince at right tackle. A real wild card is true freshman Michael Jordan, who projects to start at left guard. Vets Pat Elflein (center) and Billy Price (right guard) will be anchors.
3. Will the d-line step up? Three starters are gone led by end Joey Bosa, who left early for the NFL. Sophomore Sam Hubbard, junior Tyquan Lewis and junior Jalyn Holmes must bring the heat off the edge. And is incoming freshman Nick Bosa—brother of you-know-who—as good as recruiting pundits think? Inside, Michael Hill and Tracy Sprinkle, among others, need to impress. The front needs to get a push for a defense that welcomes coordinator Greg Schiano, who filled the spot created when Chris Ash left to coach Rutgers—a place Schiano once was head coach. What type of impact will Schiano have?
4. Has J.T. Barrett regained his 2014 form, when he was fifth in Heisman voting? The job is his—and his, alone—this fall after Cardale Jones was dubbed the starter entering last season after taking over late in 2014 for an injured Barrett and leading the Buckeyes to the national title. Barrett is one of the few sure things on an offense with a lot of new starters. He must deliver the goods.
5. Who is stepping up at WR? Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller all are gone. Now is the time for the likes of Noah Brown, Austin Mack, James Clark, Torrance Gibson, Parris Campbell and Dontre Wilson, among others, to shine. No doubt, having a veteran QB like J.T. Barrett will help the cause of this talented-but-largely-unproven collection of pass-catchers.
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