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Athlon Preview of tOSU- ranked @ #10


Athlon preview

Ohio State has certainly re-established itself among the nation's elite by winning 24 games and one national championship over the past two seasons. The key to the Buckeyes' success has been their play in close games, where Ohio State owns an amazing 13-1 record in games decided by seven points or less. Be it coaching, players or just plain luck (playing in a Horseshoe doesn't hurt), Ohio State finds a way, and this year should be no exception.

A year removed from its latest national title, Ohio State could challenge for another in 2004. But coach Jim Tressel has to replenish the pantry at the quarterback position, where Craig Krenzel and Scott McMullen have been starter and backup for the last two years. Sophomore Justin Zwick, who came to Columbus after a stellar high school career in Massillon, has the only experience (4-of-8 in mop-up duty), and his name sits atop the depth chart.

Santonio Holmes caused a stir among Big Ten observers last fall by turning in a team-high 17.2-yard average on 32 catches with seven touchdowns as a freshman. Tailback Lydell Ross ran for 826 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2003. Tressel will restock his offensive line around Nick Mangold, one of the top two centers in the Big Ten.

A.J. Hawk led the 2003 Buckeyes in tackles and picked off two passes from his weak-side linebacker station. Bobby Carpenter, a two-game starter last season, and Mike D’Andrea were two of the nation’s most coveted linebacker recruits two years ago, and Anthony Schlegel, who was the top linebacker in the Mountain West before transferring from Air Force, is an intriguing addition to the unit.

End Simon Fraser is the only returning starter in the front four, but junior Marcus Green and sophomores Quinn Pitcock and Jason Patterson should comprise a formidable tackle rotation after seeing extensive duty last season. Dustin Fox tied for the team lead with three interceptions and headlines the secondary corps from his cornerback spot. Trusty Mike Nugent returns for his senior year as placekicker.

The ‘04 Buckeyes take to the road for matchups with NC State and Iowa, but Wisconsin and Michigan must come to Columbus. The Wisconsin and Iowa games are on back-to-back October Saturdays.
It's nice to see a write up that doesn't include all the legal junk... Fox is good and has been around for a while, however I think we would all agree that Salley is also an important cog in the DB's as well...
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