They say college football is a copycat sport. From the air raid and gun veer running dynamics to Saban and Meyer staff hierarchies, it's not always what have you done for me lately but rather what can I do that they've done lately. Accordingly, it's time to poach (or rather adopt and adapt) a concept that's worked so well for others in and around these parts.
We'll let Barking Carnival have the honors:
Good depth, the stuff trolly you-go-to-the-B1G-championship-on-a-technicality runs are made of
Defensive line. Ohio State has the best defensive line in the country. There. I've said it. Wax on, wax off. John Simon and Johnathan Hankins could be top 10 2013 NFL Draft picks and Nathan Williams (when healthy) is an all-conference caliber DE. That's to say nothing of Adam Bellamy, Garrett Goebel, "Joker" Miller, Joel Hale, and Michael Bennett. In fact, the Buckeyes have the luxury of having a 5-star instant impact maker in Noah Spence come in with the probability he'll barely crack the 3 deep. The weaknesses on defense will likely seem less painful in large part because of how much pressure on the opposing quarterback this core gets.
Tight end. Jake Stoneburner going into this season may have already been the nation's best pair of hands at the tight end position. Now he's playing in an offense fully catered to his particular skill set. Couple that with a potential future star in the making in Jeff Heuerman, go ahead and add a dash of Nick Vannett just because and baby, you've got a stew going.
Running backs . This may be a somewhat contentious inclusion as we're still not completely sure how many of these guys will be utilized (effectively) in the offense, but given that we expect a balanced attack and at least two of these guys have shown flashes of "having it" in years' prior, we'll bump them into this class. Jordan Hall looked every bit the potential game changer in the early-to-middle part of last season and "El Guapo" Hyde, well, we know what he brings to the table in terms of a power back that still has a fifth gear. Mix in Rod Smith, Bri'onte Dunn, and if you want to get greedy, go ahead and count Zach Boren and Adam Homan in this group and call it a day.
Bad depth. Nightmare fuel, 2011 walrus-ball 72-hour hallucination hustle 'ish
Defensive back. We've said it probably half a dozen times this past spring and we'll probably say a dozen more before and into the season, but this group has every bit the potential to be the disaster they were in 2011. A year older doesn't always mean a year better. Bradley Roby, he of the likely embellished/hand timed 4.3whatever 40, is the only principle playmaker in the bunch. Imagine if Yao Smith or Ashton Youboty had ever been focal point of a secondary? Roby has a higher upside than those two, but the lack of a real star in the group goes against the grain of Ohio State's long standing tradition of outstanding defensive back play. Travis "The Island From LOST" Howard, the streaky Christian Bryant, and the prone-to-great-moments-in-football-and-head-slapping C.J. Barnett make the mid-2000's feel awfully far. Adam Griffin, an almost courtesy scholarship, as a potential nickelback is a not exactly comforting to say the least.
Wide receiver. It's odd that independently these guys don't seem all that concerning but collectively (and given their 2011 body of work) it becomes hard not to worry some. Philly Brown is amongst the only names that don't worry me particularly much but until the latter half of last season and on into the Spring Game, I have to admit, he hadn't shown a whole lot besides great high end speed. Michael Thomas had a great spring, but how much of that was going against a suspect secondary? Devin Thomas, he of Wisconsin glory forever and ever amen, is a nice third option and all, but how will he fare should Ohio State need more than that? Evan Spencer is a promising youngster, but Ohio State will likely necessitate more than mere promise. It's even tougher to say what Ohio State has in Chris Fields and Verlon Reed. This could be a group we see move into the middle (or in a perfect world, top group), but there's too many questions to feel much anything other than cynicism to this point. Who knows, maybe Jake Stoneburner will command so many double teams some of these guys will appear far better than they actually are. Dare to dream.
Offensive line. I don't know that there's a single lineman other than Jack Mewhort and maybe Corey Linsley anyone can feel super strongly about. Perhaps not even then. Andrew Norwell has some upside, sure, and Marcus Hall? I don't dislike him. Taylor Decker is promising and Reid Fragel, who the hell knows, but should any of the already nebulous top 5 or 6 go down, Ohio State will have issues. The Bucks showed a proclivity towards making their quarterbacks dance in 2011. If the injury gods are merciless, 2012 might not be much different.
Meh depth. The OK Cola of football.
Special teams. Ben Buchanan did little in the spring game to win me past former Buckeye punter Jon Thoma's theory that it'd be hard for Buchanan to get better with no one really challenging him. Drew Basil is good but not great and doesn't even belong in the Josh Huston echelon of specialists. The kick return game can't be worse than 2010 but didn't set the world on fire in 2011 either.
Linebacker. Ryan Shazier may be the one guy defensively with a higher upside than some of those freak linemen, but besides hot-and-cold Etienne Sabino and crazy-talented-but-raw Curtis Grant, there's not a ton to write home about. Storm Klein? Gooby, plz.
Quarterback. Braxton Miller! Kenny Guiton! .........................................................