Drive! Drive on down the field (2009 Offensive Preview)

OSU FootballWith a scant couple of days before the season, I think we have a pretty good idea of who will be on the field and what we can expect to see out of the 2009 offense. We know who the movers and shakers are. But there’s more to it than that. Big holes are still gaping since last season. Let’s take a look at what we know, what we don’t know and that great unknown.

What we know

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. We know we have one of the most electrifying talents at quarterback this year. Terrelle Pryor will be one of the few steady positions going in this year. Pryor has, for all intents and purposes, a year of experience under his belt. He’s going to be fun to watch. We know that he will do that little shimmy-shake and make defenders look positively silly. But he’s got more going for him now than those purty little legs. He’s got the whole offense in his capable man-hands.


The offense is setting up to look a lot like the 2005 Buckeyes. Starting with a quarterback who is clearly in control of his team (even though that didn’t happen until the third or fourth week for Troy Smith). Also, said QB is athletic with the ability to give defenses nightmares. A smallish RB that had speed and just enough punch. A competent offensive line. Things are very similar between then and now. The only glaring difference would be the WRs. A tandem like Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez only happens once and while. But give this group time, they most certainly could blossom. That is exciting to think about.

Reminiscing over. Moving on.

So we’re solid at QB. I think we can safely say we’re pretty solid at running back, too. Losing Beanie hurts like turf-toe, but I think Boom and Zoom are poised for big things. Boom Herron runs bigger than his stature would lead you to believe, and Saine has the speed and size to put a hurt on defenses. A steady dose of these two, with Berry and maybe even a little Jordan Hall will keep the pressure on defenses all season long.

Wide receivers has to be the most intriguing and exciting bunch. That may be more for the next section, but we do know that we’re still waiting for the bundle of potential, Ray Small, to wow us. Until then, we know Posey and Sazenbacher should give Terrelle some sure hands to throw to. What’s more exciting is what we don’t know about the new guys.

Let’s make this the understatement of the year: The line needs improvement. This we most certainly know. What looked like a promising class five years ago really turned out mostly rotten. The outgoing graduating linemen oversaw two of biggest embarrassments an Ohio State offensive line has ever experienced. We have questions and doubts here.

This offense, given good line play, should provide enough firepower to keep the Buckeyes in every game they play. According to Ken Gordon, the base offense this year will be 3 WRs, TE, one RB. Sometimes in shotgun, but not always. This is the future. Look for vanilla against Navy, with flavors being added every game.

What we don’t know

The unknowns. The question marks. Will the line improve? Where will that improvement come from? Is Tebow the Second Coming? Did Lou Holtz really say Notre Dame is a national championship team?

First, the line. The starting five for the Navy game has new faces and new positions. Browning, who struggled against quicker DEs now moves down to guard. Justin Boren, he of the nasty meanstreak, and Andrew Miller (who?) protect Pryor’s backside. This is not your four-years-older brother’s OSU line. How much improvement can we expect? Is any improvement a huge improvement?


What about those wide receivers? Right now, the most exciting unknown is Duron Carter. Word out of practice is that he has been moving up the depth chart, looking like the total receiver package, ahead of schedule.
Taurian Washington is another player we’re waiting to explode on the scene. We’ve seen the flashes. Now bring the full meal deal. And there is Lamaar Thomas, my sleeper pick for a break-out season. I know he finds himself down at the bottom of the depth chart, but I get excited anytime he touches the ball. I hope he gets his hands on the ball a whole lot.

Will Tressel open the playbook? Over the past four years, the Buckeye’s total offensive production was ranked nationally 32nd (2005), 26th (2006), 62nd (2007) and 76th (2008). For a team ranked in the top 10, a middle of the road offensive team is very unbecoming. I know the stats are hamstrung by Tressel’s inability to run the score up against anyone, but 400 yards a game should not be an unreasonable goal (200 pass, 200 run) which would rank a team in the top 35 (last year’s stats). In fact, I know this is one of The Vest’s stated goals for every game. Let’s see it happen. We have the means, let’s open that playbook.

A few glimpses of word coming out of practice make me think the playbook could, in fact, be opening. One mention in particular was the mention of throwing to the running backs more often. One of my favorite Buckeyes of all time was FB Matt Keller. Seeing him catch passes out of the backfield was a favorite play of mine. A fullback with a full head of steam and meatshields out in front? Could we see that happening again? Yes PLEASE.

What we fear

What everyone else fears: Injury. I honestly wrote, deleted, control-zeed and control-zeed again the following sentence: What will happen if Pryor goes down? Full-on depression? Rioting and pillaging? The arrival of 2012 a few years early? I don’t even want to consider the possibilities. But life has to go on. Let’s not dwell on that one.

Another thing I think every Buckeye fan fears is another debacle in front of a national audience. We’ve had enough, thanks. I think we’re set up okay for our marque games this year. But we are now conditioned to fear the worse. We don’t need another offensive bed-crapping like last year’s USC game. My mental status couldn’t take another hit like that.

What we hope

This may turn out to be more of “what we hope” for the whole team and for the season. There was talk today on the radio about “what defines a great/good season?” I believe we have the makings of a great season. Of course, I am a glass-half-full kind of guy. If you look at the two-deep for the offense, there are a lot of underclassmen on there. Terrelle Pryor and Boom Herron are sophomores. This is a young team. Long-term, this team is going to be good for the next few years. But what about this year? I think it’s fair to expect a lot from this team. Things are setting up nicely for them, as well. Another weak Big Ten schedule. A USC team that, as we’ll discuss later, has tons of excuses why they’ll lose to the Buckeyes next week. An eleven or twelve win season isn’t out of their reach this year. So yes, I hope this team pulls it off and plays well beyond everyone’s expectations.

I hope this offense blows the doors off some teams. I don’t want Urban Meyer levels of blow-outs, but I’d like to see some points scored this year.

We all hope Terrelle shows up in the Heisman talks. We want to see him become the dominant player in the country and we all want him to take the mantle of leadership and lead the Buckeyes to the promise land!

So that’s what we think. What about you? What do you fear? What are your hopes for this team? What did we leave off or miss? We’d love to hear more.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: