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.