Posey Return Can Impact Buckeyes

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Last updated: 11/16/2011 5:42 PM

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Football
The DeVier Posey Impact: How Much Can He Help?
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time since their Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas, the Buckeyes will have their full arsenal available Saturday when they host Penn State on Senior Day at Ohio Stadium.

Ohio State won’t exactly be at full capacity, simply because injuries have started to pile up late in the season. They could be without a number of key starters Saturday—including J.B. Shugarts, Johnathan Hankins and Andrew Sweat—but the return of DeVier Posey could not come at a more opportune time.

DeVier Posey makes a catch against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl
Photo by Jim Davidson
DeVier Posey

These Buckeyes have had to play through numerous suspensions, not to mention season-ending injuries to Nathan Williams and Verlon Reed. They have had to win games—and lose them—without their best offensive weapons, but suddenly the Buckeyes have those guys back for the final two games of the regular season.

It’s probably a week too late to salvage any chances of a Big Ten championship—the Buckeyes would need Wisconsin to lose at Illinois and then defeat Penn State in Madison to have a chance.

But is it too late to help revive a passing game that has already been read its last rites?

What Posey Is Not

DeVier Posey is not the savior of the Ohio State football team. He is not Justin Blackmon or A.J. Green. He is not going to single-handedly take over a football game each week the way Blackmon does at Oklahoma State or the way Robert Woods has for USC this season.

Those guys are simply on a different level than Posey, who has never caught more than 60 passes in a season. He might be more comparable to a guy like A.J. Jenkins at Illinois, although Jenkins has put together a phenomenal senior season in Champaign. He has five 100-yard receiving games this year, including career game against Northwestern where he caught 12 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns.

That is not going to happen with Posey, not in this offense and probably not ever. Posey has the speed and size you want in a wide receiver, but he is not a physically “dominant” player, or at least he wasn’t during his first three seasons at Ohio State.

Posey didn’t make a Julio Jones impact as a freshman—remember Jones had nearly 60 catches for over 900 yards—but he was also playing behind Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie.

Posey put together back-to-back 800 yards receiving seasons from 2009-10, but a lot of his production has come with Ohio State leading big. In fact, four of his seven touchdowns a year ago came when the Buckeyes were ahead by three touchdowns already.

That doesn’t mean Posey wasn’t a factor the rest of the game, but he is not Dane Sanzenbacher. He does not have a history of making big catches in big moments. He has had a couple deep ones—in particular the 62-yarder against Penn State in ‘09—but he has also had a few big drops, none bigger than the dropped touchdown at Iowa last season.

So Why All the Fuss?

Now that we have ripped Posey’s game to shreds, let’s build it back up because this is a pretty good football player we are talking about here. As of now, he doesn’t look like a first-round NFL talent, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a tremendous college football receiver.

At 6-2, 210 pounds, Posey is a big, strong, physical receiver. He only has four 100-yard receiving games in his career, but three of them came last year as a junior. He caught four passes for 105 yards in the win over Miami (Fla.) and also had three big catches for 70 yards and a score against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

Posey hasn’t played since then, but he has the experience of being a starting wideout in the Big Ten on two Ohio State teams that won conference championships and BCS bowl games. He has 124 catches in his career for 1,793 and 16 touchdowns, and that’s playing his first two years when Terrelle Pryor couldn’t really throw the football.

When he did throw it, Posey was one of the few guys he always trusted to make a play — Dane was the other one. Braxton Miller has had neither of them, or anyone he really looks comfortable throwing the ball to. He and Devin Smith definitely have a little connection going, but both of them are freshmen, so timing is always going to be an issue.

What Kind of Impact Should We Expect?

A lot will depend on how much rust Posey has from missing the last 10 games, but just him being on the field will be an emotional boost for this team. We saw it when Mike Adams came back and even more so when Boom Herron returned, but this could be a whole different level.

These guys clearly respect DeVier and they hurt for him when he was hit with a second five-game suspension. He has continued to lead and continued to work hard in the film room and on the practice field. His return is going to be a jolt of electricity to this offense.

That doesn’t mean they are all of a sudden going to be the 2006 Buckeyes in these final two games. They simply don’t have the other playmakers around Posey, but they desperately needs some balance. They have an excellent trio of tailbacks, a fantastic fullback and an impressive offensive line. That doesn’t mean a whole lot when opposing defenses can out 8-9 guys in the box. It’s mathematically impossible for six to block nine.  

Where Posey can make the biggest difference is in the fact opposing defensive coordinators have to respect his ability. They have to pay attention to him on the field or he will get behind the defense for a score.

Even if Posey is their only weapon in the passing game, the attention he draws from the defense should free guys like Jake Stoneburner, Chris Fields and Devin Smith to make more plays, or at least have a little more room to maneuver.

Teams won’t be able to jam Posey at the line like they have with OSU’s other receivers this year. He is strong enough and experienced enough to make them pay. He is also great at getting open down the field. That has been a huge issue for these young receivers. When a play breaks down, Miller is so good at keeping things alive with his feet.

He showed that on the game-winning pass against Wisconsin, but that was simply a blown coverage by the Badgers. More often then not, when Miller breaks contain he keeps his eyes downfield, but he is not finding open guys.

That should change with Posey, who has always been good at finding the soft spot in a zone. He also has a lot of experience with broken plays from his three seasons playing with Pryor.

The Buckeyes aren’t suddenly going to be a passing team, but just the threat Posey brings in the passing attack should help make Ohio State a more balanced offense.

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