Thursday, August 25, 2011

TBT Q&A: DOES OSU OFFENSE LOOK AS GOOD AS MANY ARE SAYING?

Boom Herron
TBT/Darla Dunkle
With the college football season ready to kickoff in just a little more than a week, there are continuing questions that need to be answered in regards to the 18th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

How do I know this, you ask? Because my Twitter and e-mail accounts are jammed up like a fat guy in a Smart Fortwo.

Of course, the majority of the questions and comments have been about the ongoing quarterback battle — and we'll touch on that — but there are actually other topics that have garnered attention.

Now, I can't possibly answer all of the questions due to newspaper space limitations, so I'll answer a few that have popped up in my inbox/Twitter feed (I will use full names from Twitter, initials/first names from e-mails).

JOHNNY LUNSFORD via Twitter: I know sometimes people get excited in preseason and exaggerate, but does our offense really look that good?

LEE HUDNELL: I wouldn't say "really good," but decent. Although the offense was eventually named by the coaching staff as the winners of the jersey scrimmage last weekend, I thought the defense actually looked better. The offense made a few big plays, but all-in-all, they struggled to move the ball throughout the scrimmage.

Of course, in my seven years of covering Ohio State football, I have yet to see the offense look "really good" in practice.

TERRY via e-mail: Do you see Braxton Miller starting as early as the opener (against Akron)?

HUDNELL: He won't start, but will definitely play ... and quite a bit. Look, the only reason there is a QB battle going on right now is because Miller is a true freshman who hasn't completely grasped the offensive scheme yet. If he were a red-shirt freshman — with a year in the system — this wouldn't even be a race.

Please, do not have any illusions that Joe Bauserman is making great strides in camp. He's getting the nod in the opener because he's been in the system for five years. He's the safe pick.

However, if Miller improves as much in the next two weeks as he's had in the past two, the starting job is his ... PERIOD!

R.C. via e-mail: What has been the biggest surprise to you in (fall) camp?

HUDNELL: There have been quite a few surprises, but if I had to choose just one I would say the wide receivers. After losing last year's starters Dane Sanzenbacher (graduation) and DeVier Posey (five-game suspension), I have to admit the cupboard was looking bare. But after nearly three weeks of observing camp, I see a lot of talent out wide. There's a great mix of speed, size and play-making ability at the position. Also, a lot of youth — which contrary to public opinion can be a good thing.

They should go five-deep early on, as sophomore Philly Brown and red-shirt freshman Verlon Reed will start, with sophomore Chris Fields and true freshmen Evan Spencer and Devin Smith also seeing considerable playing time.

CHRIS HUNT via Twitter: (In response to me stating Miller's feet are needed at QB because of questionable pass blocking) I was under the impression the offensive line looked great in pass blocking?

HUDNELL: From my observations in live drills and scrimmages, the quarterbacks are often seeing pressure before they can get to their recovery step. Perhaps a lot of that can be attributed to facing a great pass-rushing defense. Or it could be because the line is replacing two senior guards and a left tackle (Mike Adams for first five games) and they haven't quite gelled yet.

I certainly wouldn't say they've looked "great" in pass pro ... more suspect than anything. That's why I feel it's imperative that Miller gets fast-tracked to the starting job.

E.M. via e-mail: Do you think Luke Fickell will still be the coach after this season with so many big names, i.e., Urban Meyer floating around?

HUDNELL: I think on just sheer talent alone, the Buckeyes will win nine games in 2011. With all that has gone down in Columbus in recent months, nine victories I feel would secure his job. You have to understand that Fickell has been in this program for 10 years, and has been a catalyst for the Buckeyes in recruiting during the Tressel era. No one is more of a Buckeye than Fickell. The job is not too big for him.

Also, forget about Urban Meyer ... Ohio State is not interested in the former Florida coach. There's a reason Meyer left the Gators, and I'm sensing we're going to find out in the coming months. A little hint from a birdie: it had nothing to do with health, family or wanting to coach at OSU. Another hint: don't watch ESPN if you're expecting to find out.

If you would like to ask a question or leave a comment about Ohio State football, follow us at Twitter @TheBuckeyeTimes. Or e-mail at leehudnell@thebuckeyetimes.com or lee@bryantimes.com.