10 Questions Ohio State Buckeyes Must Answer This Offseason
10 Questions the Buckeyes Must Answer
The 2013 season didn’t end quite the way that the Ohio State Buckeyes wanted it to. They won 24 straight games under Urban Meyer, but have since gone 0-2. Despite their finish, they will still be favorites to get to the first-ever college football playoff in 2014.
In 2014, they’ll have a good chance to find the same success that they had in 2013. They’ll have another easy schedule and won’t be tested until late. They welcome Maryland and Rutgers to the Big 10 Conference, but they don’t expect to be much of a challenge to the mighty Buckeyes. It won’t be until later in the season that things start to heat up for them.
Before they can get there, they’ll need to answer a few questions -- 10 to be exact. Whether it’s filling a gap of a player that’s moved on or another player needing to elevate their game, they need to figure some things out. Ohio State didn’t end the season on a good note and they’ll be looking to get even further than just a conference championship in 2014. If they want to do so, finding the answer to these questions should be on their to-do list.
On the following slides, you’ll find 10 questions that the Ohio State Buckeyes must answer between now and the beginning of the 2014 season on August 30, when they play Navy in their season opener.
Do you have the answers to these questions or maybe have some questions of your own? Let me know and get the discussion going in the comment box below.
10. Can Devin Smith Step Up?
Corey “Philly” Brown is moving on -- he’s graduated. Logically, the next man in line to be the number receiver is Devin Smith. Smith is a deep-threat receiver, and Miller and him connected often for long plays. Smith caught 44 passes for 660 yards and eight touchdowns. He’ll need to be even better in 2014 for the Buckeyes to have a chance. Does he have what it takes to become elite?
9. What Is Dontre Wilson’s Role?
Dontre Wilson wore many hats as a freshman in 2013. He returned some punts, some kicks, ran with the football and even played a little bit of receiver. In 2014, while they can still use him as a utility player, they’ll need to find a more permanent role for him. He’s a speedster, so obviously returner should be an option. However, the Buckeyes need a running back and the slot receiver position is looking a little thin as well.
8. Can Joey Bosa and Noah Spence Evolve Their Game?
Noah Spence may have some maturity issues, He’ll be suspended the first two games of the season due to drug use, but he has talent. Joey Bosa is a great defensive player that could exit Ohio State similar to the way that Zach Boren left Ohio State two years ago. These kids are good, but they are still kids. Can they evolve their game to get better than the competition?
7. Who Will Step Up on the Offensive Line?
Forget about the hole in the middle of the defense left by an exiting Ryan Shazier, the Buckeyes have some serious work to do along an offensive line that will graduate four out of five starters. Taylor Decker will be the only starter returning. If the Buckeyes want to find any success next season, they’ll need to find four offensive linemen that can replace arguably some of the greatest in Ohio State history.
6. Is Luke Fickell Really the Defensive Coordinator?
The defense has struggled against upper-level competition, and Luke Fickell hasn’t exactly found much success in his adjustments. The Buckeyes have hired some quality assistants around Fickell, but should they consider a change at defensive coordinator? After all, the Big Ten Conference is a conference that lives and dies by defense.
5. Will Braxton Miller Repeat His 2013 Performance?
Rarely do we see a quarterback return for his senior season and live up to the hype. For Braxton Miller, that’s exactly what he’ll be trying to do. After throwing for a career-best 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns along with 1,068 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, he’ll be an early-season favorite for the Heisman trophy. Can he live up to the billing?
4. Who Will Replace Ryan Shazier?
The Buckeyes are going to have to find a way to replace their leader on defense as well as 142 tackles. With Ryan Shazier heading off to the NFL, there is now a huge void in the middle of the field for Ohio State. Who will step up?
3. Who Will Step Up in the Secondary?
The Buckeyes’ secondary had playmakers, but didn’t play well as a unit. Bradley Roby has declared for the draft, and replacing him will be a more than difficult task. Freshman Vonn Bell got some playing time in 2013 and had an impressive interception in the Orange Bowl, so he’s a player to keep an eye on.
2. Who Will Play Running Back?
Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall are gone. While Hall started the season off with a bang, it was Hyde that re-took his starting job and ran away with it (pun intended). He rushed for a career-best 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s got the NFL well within his sights, and replacing him will be tough.
1. Can They Get Back to Winning Ways?
All season long, the main criticism of the Buckeyes was that they hadn’t been tested and they ultimately proved that criticism to be true. With another weak schedule in 2014, the Buckeyes could go back to the Big Ten championship game. Will they falter again?