Staff Predictions

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Last updated: 08/31/2012 11:02 AM
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Football
Staff Predictions for the 2012 Season
By The-Ozone Staff

It's that time of year again when everybody and their brother is making predictions. So, rather than go against the grain, we decided to make some educated guesses of our own.

Feel free to tell us what you think, but if you disagree with somebody, remember to add your own prediction below. After all, if you get material with which to chide, then so should we as well

1. Who will score the first TD of the Urban Meyer era?

Brandon Castel: I’m going with Jake Stoneburner, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Zach Boren get a call in the red zone early against Miami. Stoneburner’s been itching to get back on the right track after missing the Gator Bowl with a knee injury. Remember, he had three TDs in the opener a year ago.

Tony Gerdeman: Let's go with Braxton Miller on a zone read keeper from around 15 yards out. And I'm not just saying that because he's the starting quarterback on my fantasy team.

Scott Dame: Zach Boren. I think he will be Urban's short-yardage and goal line back.

Michael Chung: Braxton Miller, he probably is itching to run after being protected during camp.

John Porentas: Carlos Hyde. OSU first touchdown will come after a long drive, not on a big play, and that's likely to be capped off by the Buckeyes attacking that A-gap with Hyde. It's a macho thing.

2. Who will lead the Buckeyes in rushing?

Brandon Castel: It has to be Braxton Miller, doesn’t it? I think Carlos Hyde will also be in the mix, but his carries will be tapered a little bit when Jordan Hall returns from his foot injury. My guess is Braxton finishes somewhere around 900 to 1,000 yards (remember, he had 715 in that offense a year ago). I see Hyde and Hall both being around the 600-700 mark.

Tony Gerdeman: There will be one player on this team who gets consistent carries all season long, and that's Braxton Miller. If there was no Jordan Hall, I'd go with Carlos Hyde here.

Scott Dame: Carlos Hyde with 780 yards. Hard to get too many yards when he'll be splitting carries with Braxton, Hall and Dunn.

Michael Chung: Braxton Miller (900 yards), I doubt anyone will rush for 1,000 because Meyer likes to attack with multiple people. In 2008, four players at UF had over 600 yards rushing, lead by Tim Tebow. Miller can do more than Timmy and will have more yards because there is no Percy Harvin on this team and Jordan Hall will not be back till later in the season unless he redshirts.

John Porentas: Carlos Hyde. Urban Meyer won't be afraid to let Miller run when he needs him to win a game, but will discourage his running when the Buckeyes can win without the use of his legs. Why risk the franchise when you don't have to? That means Hyde will lead the Buckeyes, but don't be surprised if Philly Brown racks up some significant numbers too.

3. Who will lead the Buckeyes in receiving?

Brandon Castel: Whoever it is, they will have more than 14 catches this season. I’m going to stick with my Stoneburner pick and say he will lead the team in receptions this season, but Devin Smith is my pick to lead the Buckeyes in receiving yards. People want to talk about Aaron Hernandez, but how about Rice TE James Casey? He caught 111 passes for 1,329 yards and 13 TDs in Tom Herman’s offense at Rice back in 2008.

Tony Gerdeman: I'll give you two answers here. Philly Brown will lead the team in receptions, but Devin Smith will lead in yards. I'll go 57 catches for Brown and 758 yards for Smith.

Scott Dame: Philly Brown with 708 yards. I think the passing game will be much more efficient than the mess they put on the field last season, but still a long way from great.

Michael Chung: Corey Brown (800 yards), just a guess here. OSU was pathetic last year so I have nothing to go on for this year. Would not be surprised if Devin Smith or Chris Fields or Verlon Reed also emerged.

John Porentas: Corey Brown is my choice, but something tells me that someone like Verlon Reed or Michael Thomas will come out of nowhere to make some noise as well.

4. Who will lead the Buckeyes in tackles?

Brandon Castel: Without question, I’m going to say Ryan Shazier will lead the team in tackles this year. Ohio State’s defense is designed for the Will and Mike linebackers to have a ton of stops, but they are also used to having talent at those two spots. Shazier should clean up with that defensive line in front of him.

Tony Gerdeman: To me, there's only one answer here and it's Ryan Shazier. I'm pegging him for 110 tackles. That's about nine tackles per game, which is what he averaged in his two starts last season.

Scott Dame: Ryan Shazier with 96. I expect him to play at an All-Big Ten level.

Michael Chung: Ryan Shazier (120), he will be playing for an entire season and hopefully stays healthy as his full throttle play lends itself to injury.

John Porentas: Ryan Shazier, but I wouldn't be surprised if Etienne Sabino suddenly becomes a force. Nobody ever questioned his athleticism or toughness or desire, but Luke Fickell has consistently talked about the way he learns (everybody learns differently) and that Sabino would live up to his hype when he finally grasped the defense and started to play fast rather than thinking. It looked to me that he finally got there in the Gator Bowl. If he picks up where he left off he may be one of the bigger and more pleasant surprises of the season.

5. Who will lead the Buckeyes in sacks?

Brandon Castel: Hard to go against John Simon here, unless Nathan Williams is truly back to full strength. He could benefit from playing across from Simon, who will draw a lot of attention this year.

Tony Gerdeman: The correct answer here has to be John Simon, and if it isn't, then that means that either Simon got injured, or there is another phenom on the roster. (Don't sleep on there being a phenom though.) I'll put Simon at 9.5 sacks.

Scott Dame: John Simon with 13. I think Simon has a chance to break Vernon Gholston's single-season record of 14.5 sacks, but I think he'll fall short because he'll play in one fewer game and Big Ten refs will refuse to call holding, except against Ohio State offensive linemen.

Michael Chung: John Simon (10). This guy will dominate.

John Porentas: John Simon. There really isn't another choice headed into the season until we see if Nathan Williams returns to form.

6. What will Ohio State's record be this season and who will they lose to?

Brandon Castel: I’ve said it before and I’m going to stick with 10-2 as my official prediction for this season. I believe they will lose their Big Ten opener at Michigan State and then run the table up to their final two games against Wisconsin and Michigan. I expect them to lose one of those two.

Tony Gerdeman: For me, the easy answer is 10-2 with losses at Michigan State and Wisconsin. Though I do think that the Buckeyes have a better chance at winning in Madison than East Lansing.

Scott Dame: 11-1, with a loss at Michigan State. It will be tough for OSU's inexperienced offense to score in their first game away from Ohio Stadium and against an excellent Sparty defense.

Michael Chung: 9-3 (MSU, WISKY, NE) I hope I am wrong and they only lose one, or none, of these games. But the first year in the system and so many freshmen in the two-deep make me feel that OSU is one year away from being the team Meyer wants.

John Porentas: 11-1. The OSU offense will be better, but will not be good enough early in the season for the Buckeyes to defeat the Spartans in East Lansing. The Badgers will pose a threat, especially in Madison, but they are rebuilding just too much this season so the Buckeyes will prevail.

7. Who will be the first true freshman to start a game?

Brandon Castel: It’s hard to go against Taylor Decker or Noah Spence, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say Devan Bogard. He was the first freshman to get his black stripe removed, and I think he could eventually become their top guy at the “Star” position in the nickel.

Tony Gerdeman: I'm going to go with Devan Bogard at star. And, as a bonus, I'll even tell you that it will come against Illinois.

Scott Dame: Taylor Decker. He'll be the first off the bench if Jack Mewhort or Reid Fragel get hurt, and he has a decent chance to eventually beat out Fragel at right tackle.

Michael Chung: Mike Thomas, though he has not really shined since the Spring game.

John Porentas: As long as this isn't a trick question that includes special teams, Mike Thomas. There will be a game when OSU will open with five-wide and an empty backfield. When that happens Thomas will be on the field.

8. What will be the most points Ohio State scores in a single game this year? And the fewest?

Brandon Castel: It’s a little hard to predict how many points this offense is capable of without seeing them in a game, but even Bowling Green put up 56 points in Meyer’s first season as a head coach. They scored 72 points in his second year, so I’m going to split the difference and say 64 will be the high and 21 will be the low against MSU.

Tony Gerdeman: Interesting question. I like 63 points for the high against UAB, because that's just about in the wheelhouse of where Meyer's Florida teams were. For a low, I'll say 17 points against Michigan State.

Scott Dame: Most UAB 45. Least MSU 17.

Michael Chung: 59 against UAB. And the fewest? 24 against Michigan State.

John Porentas: Highest will come against Indiana where OSU will put up 62 at the home of The Rock. Low will be 20 at MSU.

9. Predict the final score of the Michigan-Alabama game.

Brandon Castel: I actually think Michigan will score more than people expect, I just don’t think they can compete with Alabama in the trenches. ‘Bama 31, Michigan 24

Tony Gerdeman: In the Tip Sheet, I took Alabama 31-20. So I guess I'll just stick with that.

Scott Dame: 'Bama 24, m1ch*g4n 17. Closer than Vegas thinks, but there's not nearly enough defensive talent or depth for the Wolverines to match up with Alabama.

Michael Chung: Alabama 31 - Michigan 14.

John Porentas: Why do I care about this? Really? Who came up with this question. Your pay rate is in jeapordy. Alabama 38 - Michigan 13. It's a bigger spread than everybody else thinks. If the Wolverines are lucky the Alabama defense will simply cost Denard Robinson the September Heisman. They will turn his looping jump ball passes into turnovers and then into points. If the Wolverines aren't lucky, the Alabama defense will turn Denard Robinson into a spectator by knocking him out of the game or maybe even more than one game. Either way, this is not as close a game as people think.

10. Predict the final score of the Ohio State-Michigan game.

Brandon Castel: There is so much time between now and the season-finale, but I think Ohio Sate is going to be jacked for “the Beat Blue Bowl,” as one radio caller termed it. I’m going to say Buckeyes 40, Wolverines 31.

Tony Gerdeman: With the understanding that there are a variety of reasons why my prediction will change when the time comes, I like 41-27 Buckeyes.

Scott Dame: OSU 21, m1ch*g4n 20. A fierce, hard-hitting, cold-weather game. The Team Up North hasn't won in Columbus since 2000.

Michael Chung: OSU 31 - UM 24.

John Porentas: I'm not as impressed with Michigan as everyone else seems to be. They gave up a bunch of points to a bad OSU offense last year. Their defense profited by a great turnover margin last season, but those things tend to even out. I think that will happen this year because I don't think they "created" those turnovers so much as it was just their turn for the breaks to go their way. Denard's jump balls are going to go the other way this year, and defenses will pound him. He'll be beat up by November. OSU 38, UM 17

11. Who will be Ohio State's team MVP in 2012?

Brandon Castel: It would be easy to give this to Braxton, because he really is the most important guy on this football team, but I think the actual award will go to someone on defense. Ryan Shazier is going to be my pick, although I could see Simon and Big Hank sharing the award after a dominant season on the defensive line.

Tony Gerdeman: It has to be Braxton Miller, right? Or is that too easy? My sleeper pick would by John Simon, who would get the vote out of fear.

Scott Dame: Braxton Miller. In this offense, he'll win almost by default if he stays healthy. Ryan Shazier or John Simon would be good picks as well.

Michael Chung: Braxton Miller, if the offense is picking up Meyer and Herman's system; John Simon, if the offense is still grasping the play book.

John Porentas: Braxton has to be the obvious choice, and if he isn't in this conversation at the end of the year it will have been a disappointing year for OSU. All that being said, I have a really good feeling about Philly Brown. I think he will contribute as both a receiver and ball carrier and will surprise with the extent of his contribution.

12. Predict the final numbers (passing and rushing) for Braxton Miller.

Brandon Castel: When Troy Smith won the Heisman at Ohio State, he passed for 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns with only six interceptions, but I think Miller’s numbers will look more like Troy’s junior season. He threw for almost 2,300 yards that year with 16 passing touchdowns and 11 more scores on the ground. He also ran for over 600 yards, which I think Miller will eclipse with ease as long as he stays healthy.

Tony Gerdeman: As starters, Josh Harris, Alex Smith and Tim Tebow combined to average 3,361 yards of total offense per season. So, using that number as my cheat sheet, I'll go with 2,436 yards passing and 925 yards rushing.

Scott Dame: Passing: 2,275. Rushing: 745. Since the offensive coaches will call intermediate pass plays and allow him to – gasp – throw between the hash marks, Miller will nearly double his 2011 passing yards.

Michael Chung: Rushing 900 yards; Passing 2,800.

John Porentas: I have no idea. I also have the advantage of going last here and seeing everyone else's predictions. I like Tony Gerdeman's approach, but don't think Meyer will call on Miller as a rusher unless he is in a game in which they need his legs to win. If they can win without him running and getting hit, they will do so, and that will limit Miller's rushing numbers. I'm going with 675 yards rushing and about 1,800 yards passing. That adds up to (let see, carry the one...) 2,475 total.

Psst. Hey Tony. Those numbers are average per season as a starter. What is important is average yards per season as a first-year starter in the Meyer offense. I'm going to bet the numbers went up for all those quarterbacks as they progressed through their careers, so they were below the average early in their careers and above it late in their careers. Miller's numbers are likely to be below the average this year. This is why I sign the checks and you don't.

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