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Last updated: 04/11/2011 1:40 PM

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Football
Around the-Ozone Water Cooler-- Which Departed Buckeye Senior will be the Most Difficult to Replace?
By The-Ozone Staff

Welcome to our newest feature here at The-Ozone where we take a topic or question that has been, or will be, floating around your office and make our own individual thoughts on the matter known.

Surely after each subsequent edition, you'll find the matter completely settled and find no other reason to discuss the subject  again, other than to let others know that said matter is now closed as it has been covered so sufficiently by the staff here.

If you have questions that you would like to see be addressed in future additions, feel free to submit them via email or Twitter and we'll put them in the queue and get to them as we can.

And if you have a question that you do not want to see addressed, you better send that to us as well just to be safe.

The first question we'll be attacking is:  Which departed Buckeye senior will be the most difficult to replace?

Tony Gerdeman -- For me, you don't have to look any further than last year's MVP, receiver Dane Sanzenbacher. Not only did he lead the team in receptions (55), yards receiving (948), touchdown catches (11), and yards per reception (17.2), but he was also the most reliable player on the team.

On third downs everybody on the field knew that he was going to be targeted, and he'd still find a way to free himself and locate a zone. And when he got the ball on his hands, it didn't usually matter how hard he was going to get hit--the ball stayed in his hands. He caught everything.

Dane Sanzenbacher
Photo by Jim Davidson
Dane Sanzenbacher

Terrelle Pryor knew that he could count on Sanzenbacher at any time, and that allowed him to look around for other options before getting the ball back over to Old Faithfulbacher.

Sanzenbacher provided a level of security for Pryor that won't be around for the first five games of the season, and may not even be around after that.

Devier Posey is going to be fantastic when he comes back, but will he be able to sidle around virtually unseen like Sanzenbacher did? Given that he'll be the Buckeyes' only proven threat, I highly doubt it.

And let's not forget, when Posey gets back they're going to ask him to do what Devier Posey does, not what Dane Sanzenbacher used to do. That means somebody else is going to have to take over the role of slotmaster general. That looks to be Chris Fields right now, and I have complete confidence that Fields will be a very good receiver for the Buckeyes, but nobody is going to step in and be the picture of reliability like ol' number twelve.

How many third downs will fail to be converted without Sanzenbacher on the field--especially in the first five games? You would have to think that at least one of those failed conversions would also equal a loss of points. With a new quarterback and a new receiver corps, this offense can't afford to leave points out on the field, but without Sanzenbacher, they may not have a choice.

The other factor to look at is that Terrelle Pryor had a security blanket in Sanzenbacher. The Buckeyes' opening day starter won't have such a security blanket. Heck, he won't even have a security shawl.

There is no replacing Dane Sanzenbacher, there is only hoping that his absence doesn't cost the Buckeyes a game or two.

Cam Heyward
Photo by Jim Davidson
Cam Heyward

Brandon Castel -- On the surface, it might seem like Dane Sanzenbacher would be the obvious choice here. He was named the team MVP last season and rightly so. No one was more clutch for the Buckeyes offensively last year, and whoever is playing quarterback for the Buckeyes this fall will wish they had Dane out there to make their life a lot easier.

But wide receivers only impact a certain amount of plays on offense, especially ones that don’t stretch the field vertically. It got to a point last season where Cam Heyward was impacting nearly every play on defense. He got off to a slow start after his big junior season, but ask any opposing coach who their focus was on and they will almost certainly start with Heyward.

From his big interception against Miami to his ability to draw a double-team, Heyward was a force to be reckoned with on the OSU defensive line. The Buckeyes will replace a number of starters on the defense this season, but it starts with finding someone who can draw the same kind of attention Heyward did.

Defensive Coordinator Jim Heacock called him their “best player” last season and said it got harder and harder to take him off the field as the season went along. The senior out of Georgia certainly seemed to save his best for last, as he turned in dominant performance against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. No one on the Razorbacks could block him one-on-one, and in the end, they resorted to injuring him.

From a production standpoint, Heyward won’t be as hard to replace as guys like Thad Gibson and Vernon Gholston were in the past, but his impact is about so much more than numbers. He was the vocal leader of the defense, a guy who always did the right thing. If the Buckeyes are going to be good again in 2011, it has to start up front. That’s why Heyward will be the toughest player to replace.

Justin Boren
Photo by Dan Harker
Justin Boren

John Porentas - Like Cameron Heyward, my guy had an impact that doesn't necessarily show up in the box score.

Before he arrived at Ohio State, the Buckeye offensive line sometimes played like it was in a pillow fight, not a dogfight. That all changed when Justin Boren came to town.

Boren changed the pillow fight mentality to a street fight mentality. For Boren, every game was a 15-round, knock-down, drag-out fight to the finish, and every snap of the ball when he was on the field was the deciding round of that fight.

OSU's tailback running game blossomed and flourished during his two years on the field in a Buckeye uniform. That was not a coincidence, and it took a lot of the pressure off Terrelle Pryor as a runner and let him develop as a passer.

There will be talent along the offensive front this year, but what I want to know is who is going to be the guy that kicks dirt (or rubber pellets) in people's faces between plays? Somebody has to bring that tough-guy attitude to the offensive front like Boren did. If not, we'll be back to the pillow fight mentality, and that talented stable of OSU running backs that everyone is talking about will be the ones looking for pillows after they get knocked out.

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