Offense Will Have Different Look in 2011
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It is only five games of the season, but Ohio State’s offense will likely take on a completely different look while Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey and Boom Herron serve their NCAA-imposed suspensions.
For obvious reasons, the Buckeyes have built their offense around Pryor and his playmaking ability at the quarterback position.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“It's always great when you have that element added to your game. You guys have seen Terrelle. If his protection breaks down or something he can get out of there and run past everybody,” said left tackle Mike Adams, who will also miss the first five games of the year.
“It's a little bit of a security blanket, which can go a long way.”
Except now the security blanket is gone, at least for a while. Even if the Buckeyes end up with Braxton Miller or Kenny Guiton under center, it won’t be the same as having Pryor and his ability to make plays out of nothing like the one at Iowa last season.
If they end up with Joe Bauserman or Taylor Graham under center, it will create a serious test for an offensive line that must replace three starters, including Adams and Justin Boren from the left side.
“Even though we are thin, we really have seven guys that could start,” senior center Michael Brewster said.
“It’s unusual you have seven guys who could all really start. Usually you have five guys and then like a sixth man.”
Brewster, a four-year starter at center, and right tackle J.B. Shugarts are the returning starters up front. Sophomore Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall both have seen playing time behind Shugarts at right tackle. Fellow sophomores Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley, the front-runners to replace Boren and Bryant Browning at the two guard spots, have seen very limited action in their young careers.
The talent appears to be there on the offensive line, but Ohio State will also be without two key playmakers in Posey and Herron, who accounted for over 2,000 yards of offense and 23 touchdowns last season.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“Oh man, it will be different,” tight end Jake Stoneburner said.
“With four of our starters not being there, we’re going to have to have different players and younger players step up, but they’re here for a reason.”
With Posey out and Dane Sanzenbacher looking for an NFL team, the young wideouts will take center stage this fall. They didn’t exactly blow anyone away in the spring, but did finish on a high note with three touchdown catches in the spring game.
All of a sudden, with the addition of freshman Jeff Heuerman, the Buckeyes appear to have more depth at tight than receiver, which is why Stoneburner could see more time split out wide at his old position this fall.
“I think they're really going to have to count on me being able to do that,” said the redshirt junior who caught 21 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns last season.
“With DeVier being gone and not a lot of proven guys over at the wide receiver position, they're going to have to ask me to be able to do a little bit more.”
Stoneburner came to Ohio State as a receiver out of Dublin, and he could be joined out wide by a pair of running backs as the Buckeyes look to explore all of their offensive options during the first five games.
“I think Jordan Hall and Jaamal (Berry) can fit in just like a receiver,” Stoneburner said.
“They’re out there making plays just like a receiver would. I feel like being able to have backs catch the ball and makes plays helps out.”
It certainly seems like the best way for Ohio State to get as many playmakers on the field as possible. It’s hard to imagine they couldn’t use a guy like Rod Smith in the running game while Herron is out, but it won’t be up to Jim Tressel to make that decision.
Not only will the personnel for the Buckeyes differ drastically to start the season, but the coaching as well. With Tressel being suspended and Darrell Hazell taking the head coaching job at Kent State, a huge chunk of Ohio State’s play-calling committee will be missing for the first five games.
That means more responsibility will likely fall on offensive assistants Doc Tressel and newly hired Stan Drayton to help offensive coordinator Jim Bollman call the plays for interim head coach Luke Fickell.
Tressel has said they won’t make any decision on that until the fall.
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