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Four Questions Facing the Buckeyes - SI.com

BuckeyeNation27

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http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/football/ncaa/03/31/bc.fbc.buckeyesstart.ap/index.html
Four questions facing the Buckeyes
Posted: Thursday March 31, 2005 4:46PM; Updated: Thursday March 31, 2005 5:23PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A team with 18 of its 22 starting position players back doesn't figure to have a whole lot of mysteries. Yet Ohio State still has to sort through and answer several questions during its month of spring practices, which got under way on Thursday.

Here's a who's who on the Buckeyes focal points leading up to and long after the annual spring game on April 23:

Who's the quarterback?

With Troy Smith ruled out of the season-opener on Sept. 3 against Miami (Ohio) for taking money from a booster, Justin Zwick reclaims the starting job with Todd Boeckman the backup.

"Those will be the guys who we'll prepare -- being the people you're going to count on in game one," coach Jim Tressel said.

Smith, however, is working out with the team and will be doing everything the other quarterbacks are doing up to the Miami game. After that, the Buckeyes have the luxury of having two experienced juniors at the position, with Boeckman still an unknown quantity after spending the last two years around the program but never seeing game action.

For now, Smith is in the background although no one believes that he will be once the season gets going in earnest.

"You have to have a beginning point," Tressel said. After that, he called the race for the job, "an open competition between people with more experience."

Who replaces Mike Nugent?

Josh Huston, who had the placekicking job briefly three years ago before Nugent claimed it for good, has graduated and will be enrolled in graduate school this fall. He has appealed to the NCAA for another year of eligibility and expects to hear back within a short time.

"We're optimistic based on precedents," Tressel said of Huston's chances for another year.

Regardless of who does the placements, it'll be extremely difficult to replace the ultra-dependable Nugent, who was the nation's best kicker for the past three years.

What is Ted Ginn Jr.'s role?

Ohio State sent its offensive coaches to LSU, Oklahoma and Arkansas to tap those staffs for ideas. One of those ideas, naturally, would be how to get the ball into the mercurial Ginn's hands more often. The Buckeyes took off last year at precisely the same time that Ginn began a remarkable freshman campaign by leading the nation with four punt returns for touchdowns.

Ginn ran the ball just 13 times (for 113 yards and two touchdowns), had 25 catches (for 359 yards and two scores), 15 punt returns (for 384 yards) and two kickoff returns (40 more yards). In other words, he got the ball only 55 times last season and still scored eight times.

Ohio State will find a way to get him the ball more -- putting him in the slot or in the backfield, and also returning kickoffs -- in addition to his usual load of receptions and punt returns. Tressel said he's open-minded about opening things up.

"We'd like to be very explosive," he said. "The more problems you can give defenses ... you know, I'd prefer to have every scheme that there is, to be able to attack a defense in so many different ways."

Who's at tailback?

For a team with so much talent and depth, it has to be troubling that the Buckeyes are so thin and so unproven at such an important spot.

Sophomore Antonio Pittman, who ran for 381 yards and a touchdown a year ago, has the edge this spring. He's battling Erik Haw, who was an acclaimed recruit a year ago before being redshirted. Only one recruit (Freddie Lenix) has a tailback pedigree, and is unlikely to step in as the controversial Maurice Clarett did three years ago as a freshman.

Not only do the Buckeyes have few players at the position, but none of the candidates have shown they can withstand a season taking the bumps and grinds that come with being an every-Saturday back in the Big Ten.

"They're going to have to be warriors back there," Tressel said.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.





nice, but somebody might want to introduce this guy to Maurice Wells.
 

LloydSev

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Maurice .................................................... Freddie

How do you mix these guys up?
 
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bukIpower

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yeah really? needs to do alittle more work on the recruits coming in but over all a good write up. I like tressels comments about him wanting to be more explosive because it creates many ways we can attack. It seems tressel is starting to be alittle more open with his offense and his goals for our teams.
 
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It seems tressel is starting to be alittle more open with his offense and his goals for our teams.

Either that, or he is in the fifth year of implementing his program, and now it's starting to flower.

He either stumbled into this 2005 team or he planned it from the beginning. which do you think it is? Luck, or skill? I'll take skill.
 
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Dryden

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BuckeyeFROMscUM said:
Keep in mind how effective tressel ball would have been in 03 (and probably 04) had mr clarett repented of his crimes.
Exactly. The loss of Clarett really hurt. Once Clarett showed up, JaJa Riley and Sammy Maldanado bailed, and we stopped pursuing elite RBs for two full recruiting seasons. It was a domino effect that hurt the team at RB for two full seasons, possibly even three. After Iowa's season last year, I'm a pessimist about going into a 2005 NC-campaign with only Pittman, Wells, and Haw.
 
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zincfinger

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BuckeyeFROMscUM said:
Keep in mind how effective tressel ball would have been in 03 (and probably 04) had mr clarett repented of his crimes.
I try not to - opportunities wasted... The guy was a dominator and those teams would've been monsters - odds on favorites for conference titles both years (certainly '03) and possibly at least one additional undefeated season. Good lord, with the clock-chewing, field-chewing running attack we would've had?

Dryden said:
After Iowa's season last year, I'm a pessimist about going into a 2005 NC-campaign with only Pittman, Wells, and Haw.
What happened to Iowa last year was freakish, and very low probability to happen to us, or anyone else (they lost, what, 5 tailbacks in one season?). Yeah, we're thin, but if we can got consistent production from two of those three, we've got a good chance to be in business. On a side note, there hasn't been a lot of chatter about Wells (since recruiting wrapped up), but man was that a great get. I think he just might be able to contribute this year.
 
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IronBuckI

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Dryden said:
Exactly. The loss of Clarett really hurt. Once Clarett showed up, JaJa Riley and Sammy Maldanado bailed, and we stopped pursuing elite RBs for two full recruiting seasons. It was a domino effect that hurt the team at RB for two full seasons, possibly even three. After Iowa's season last year, I'm a pessimist about going into a 2005 NC-campaign with only Pittman, Wells, and Haw.
Sammy was already gone. JaJa still wouldn't have been on the two deep. We didn't stop pursuing elite RB's. They stopped considering us as an option, figuring they couldn't crack the two-deep until their junior or senior seasons.
 
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