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Posted on: August 11, 2010 5:15 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2010 10:17 am
 

Is 2010 The Year of the Buckeye?

On January 1, 2010, the Buckeyes ended their three year bowl losing streak with a Rose Bowl win over Oregon. With sixteen starters returning from last year's 11-2 campaign, the Buckeyes may compete for the national title. The arrival of summer practice brings optimism and curiosity. Many people are wondering- is this the year of the Buckeye? My answer: yes.

With Terrelle Pryor at the helm, the Bucks are loaded on the offense side of the ball. Brandon Saine and Dan Herron give the team a lethal ground attack for Pryor to fall back on should he struggle. A stellar offensive line, with four returning starters, will pave the way and keep Pryor safe in the pocket. The big guys up front will be the strength of the Buckeyes this season. At wide receiver, the Bucks have two viable playmakers in Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey. Besides these two, the squad lacks proven players at wideout following the loss of Duron Carter. This concerns me, because a lack of depth may be an issue. Nevertheless, Tressel runs an offense that requires only two good wide receivers to be successful. In 2002, the team relied on Michael Jenkins and Chris Gamble at wide receiver and won the national championship. The reason the Bucks will be great this year- Terrelle Pryor. His production will explode in his junior year. I see a great deal of similarity between Troy Smith and Pryor. Both learned under Tressel to think pass-first instead of taking off out of the pocket. Pryor had this to say last Sunday: "I really feel like I'm a quarterback now... I can be a complete quarterback, but I can also run the ball." Around this time a year ago, he said: "I'm a running quarterback". His transformation is complete. We will see the outstanding play from him that we have been waiting for since his arrival at Ohio State.

On the defense, the Buckeyes have a lot of experience, with seven senior starters. Ohio State lost three defensive linemen, leaving only senior Cameron Heyward. Tackle Dexter Larimore is coming off of injury. It will be interesting to see what he can do. Tackle John Simon impressed during spring practice. He will hold down a starting spot. Once again the Bucks are stacked at the linebacker position. Senior linebackers Ross Homan and Brian Rolle will lead the way for the defense. Etienne Sabino may have trouble holding down his linebacker spot with talented junior Andrew Sweat backing him up. In the secondary, the Buckeyes have three talented seniors- Chimdi Chekwa, Devon Torrence, and Jermale Hines. The only inexperienced starter in the secondary is strong safety Orhian Johnson. Hard-hitting senior Tyler Moeller is returning from a skull fracture suffered in July 2009. Moeller, who started out as a safety, has transitioned into a nickel back. The Ohio State coaching staff, particularly Tressel, thinks highly of Moeller. Tressel said this in April 2010: "I thought it hurt us quite a bit last year not to have him."

The 2010 Ohio State roster is stacked with talent. The Buckeyes have all the key pieces in place for a great season- a playmaking quarterback, a good supporting cast, a sturdy offensive line and a stellar defense. The Buckeyes have the potential to go all the way this season. It will be a long journey, though, as the Bucks will face Miami (Fla.), and Wisconsin & Iowa on the road. Whether or not Ohio State will be able to run the table remains to be seen. My prediction- an 11-1 regular season and a win in the Rose Bowl.

Posted on: August 7, 2010 2:07 pm
 

New Season, New Hope for the Browns

Another year of Browns Training Camp is upon us. Just like in the years past, Browns fans young and old are putting on the “rose-colored glasses” and hoping that this is the year the Browns will become a contender. This year, Browns fans’ hopes are well-based.
After Eric Mangini led the Browns to four straight wins to end the season last year, it seemed to me that his job should have been secure. This was not so- Randy Lerner brought in the sage Mike Holmgren, who many fans thought would fire the “Mangenius”. Mangini was kept, and given a new General Manager- Tom Heckert. For the first time in years, Browns fans had cause to believe that the team was heading in the right direction.
Despite all the hype, this is not the year that the Browns will break out. The Browns will be average in 2010, and a contender in 2011. Make no mistake- there is a lot of potential on this Browns squad. However, there are too many holes- at quarterback, wide receiver, etc.- that cannot be filled until the rookies become effective.
In order to fully prepare for the season, I will share my thoughts/ predictions on each major position.

QB: Jake Delhomme is obviously just a stopgap until Colt McCoy can catch up to the pro game. McCoy is the real deal, and has the potential to be a great NFL quarterback... Seneca Wallace can be a dangerous weapon when paired with Josh Cribbs, but whether he has the potential to overtake Delhomme for the full-time job remains to be seen... A lack of a true starting QB will haunt the Browns this season, as I foresee Delhomme and Wallace sharing time under center.

RB/FB: Jerome Harrison earned the starting job after his performance in the last few games of the season, yet the Browns drafted Montario Hardesty in the second round. Not only did the Browns draft the Tennessee RB, but they also traded for bruising back Peyton Hillis. This tells me that the Browns still doubt Harrison’s talent, which is disappointing. He has done nothing but impress me since being drafted out of Washington State. He deserves the starting spot. Hardesty has great potential, and may turn out to be the future back of the future. Still, he was injury-prone in college, which worries me... James Davis impressed me in training camp last year before he was lost to a season-ending injury. His roster spot is in jeopardy, however, as the Browns’ roster is filled with backs... Chris Jennings performed well as the backup back last year. He will earn the third spot at running back after beating out stiff competition... Lawrence Vickers is one of the best fullbacks in the league and will continue to plow the way for the Browns’ backs in 2010 ... Peyton Hillis can either be used as a bruiser running back or a fullback at 6-2 250 pounds. My guess is that he will not see much of the field until 2011.

WR: This is the year that Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiske step up. Massaquoi was thrown into the fire last year as the number one wide receiver. He did not perform to that level, as he dropped quite a few passes. He will improve a great deal this year, but will not be the true #1 WR until the 2011 season at the earliest. Robiske comes from a football background (his dad is a wide receivers coach for the Atlanta Falcons), and is a smart kid. He will be able to make the necessary adjustments this year to have a good season... Chansi Stuckey is an average wide receiver, and will not develop into the starting slot receiver for the Browns. He did not impress me at all- he had a mere 19 receptions in 11 games for the Browns in 2009... Josh Cribbs will be an able receiver, but nothing spectacular. He will shine once again on special teams... Bobby Engram, Carlton Mitchell, Jake Allen, and Syndric Steptoe will fight for the fifth spot at wideout. Engram will be cut, and Steptoe will round out the position, while Allen and Mitchell will be sent to the practice squad.

TE: Benjamin Watson is a definite upgrade at this spot over Robert Royal. Royal drove me insane last year with his dropped catches. He should be cut outright, but will stay on the squad until midseason... Evan Moore showed outstanding hands in his limited playing time last year. If he can demonstrate blocking ability, he will see a lot of time.

OL: Joe Thomas will have yet another Pro Bowl caliber year while anchoring the line at left tackle... Center Alex Mack will improve and become a premier center over this year and the next... Eric Steinbach’s left guard spot is secure for the time being, but if he is not careful he could be gone by next season... Tony Pashos will be average at right tackle for the next two years until the Browns groom a better tackle... Floyd Womack will give Delhomme and/or Wallace headaches all season with mediocre play. The Browns will either trade for someone at midseason or wait until next year to use a pick to fill the spot.

DL: Ahtyba Rubin was a pleasant surprise this season, and will continue to see his playing time go up at the expense of Shaun Rogers... Kenyon Coleman and C.J. Mosley will share time at the left defensive end spot... Robaire Smith will miss a few games due to injury, allowing Clifton Geathers to step up and show his stuff. Geathers will steal a great deal of playing time from Smith by the end of the season.

LB: This spot will be the site of an interesting position battle in training camp. The Browns have a great deal of depth at the linebacker position. Matt Roth, David Bowens, D’Qwell Jackson, and Scott Fujita will start to begin the season... Roth gave the Browns cause for excitement last year, and will be a staple in the years to come... Jackson will return to his 2008 numbers and post over 100 tackles... Fujita will have a good season, abut his job will be put in jeopardy by Gocong by year’s end... At 33, Bowens is vulnerable at the left inside linebacker spot. Kaluka Maiava and David Veinkune, who both sit behind Jackson on the depth chart, will get a chance at Bowens’ spot. Bowens will be riding the pine by the end of the year...  Gocong needs to have a strong camp in order to win a starting position. By midseason, he will force the Browns to give him playing time with stellar play... Jason Trusnik and Blake Costanzo will be given few opportunities to see the field, but will shine when given the chance. Look for them to have more playing time in 2011.

CB: First round pick Joe Haden will see some time but will find himself behind Eric Wright on the depth chart in 2010. Look for Haden to have a good year in 2011... Sheldon Brown will help shore up the position in 2010, but won’t be anything spectacular... Eric Wright will shine this year, making everyone forget about Brandon McDonald, who will be a great nickel back this year but will never return to his 2008 form... Coye Francies will share time this year but will disappear in 2011... Mike Adams will see very limited time at cornerback, and will be gone by 2011.

S: The Browns drafted two safeties- Larry Asante and T.J. Ward- to shore up the secondary for the Browns. Asante has a history of injuries, so look for him to be inconsistent in his first two years... Nick Sorensen and Abram Elam will begin the season as the starters, but neither is the long term solution... T.J. Ward will be the starter by the end of the year, and flower into a Pro Bowl caliber player in the next two years.

The 2010 season will not be an unforgettable one for Browns fans. It will be another year in the long rebuilding process that is necessary to build a winner. Mark my words, however, this is the year in which many of the Browns’ young players will develop into good, if not great, players. So here’s to a successful 2010 season. Go Browns!
Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com