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The 2011 Ohio State team faced similar uncertainties heading into camp

At least this go-around, there aren’t any starters wrapped up in possible suspensions.

USC v Ohio State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

“The big difference between in the situations was in 2011, Ohio State, in the midst of an NCAA investigation, also went into the start of the season without several of its top players who had been suspended for various numbers of games, and without quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who applied for a supplemental NFL draft rather than face continued NCAA scrutiny.”

-Tim May, Columbus Dispatch

It hasn’t even been a decade since the last time Ohio State was embroiled in controversy so close to the start of the season. There are a lot of differences between the 2011 Jim Tressel situation (#TattooGate) and what we’re seeing with Urban Meyer, but the one thing that they have in common is the commotion that the ordeals cause for the players.

Distractions are unavoidable, but having to face the possibility that one of college football’s best and winningest coaches might not be back in the locker room, can be a tough pill to swallow. It affects everyone, from the players to the coaches to the training staff.

While the 2011 team didn’t exactly excel under Luke Fickell, there’s hope that, should the worst-case scenario play out, and the team is without Meyer for the year — and possibly beyond — the 2018 season will at least be better than the last time this happened.

As May points out in his column, one of the biggest differences this go-around is that there aren’t any players facing suspensions or actions from the NCAA like we saw with a handful of the top names for the Buckeyes in 2011. When Ohio State suits up for Week 1, we’ll still see Dwayne Haskins at the helm, with rushers J.K Dobbins and Mike Weber ready to break away and an entire room of veteran receivers.

There’s still a long road ahead before we find out how this all shakes out, but even the worst-case scenario isn’t all that bad with the plethora of talent the Buckeyes still claim.

“I’m ready for whatever they throw at me. Whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to go out there and do it. That’s it,” Elliott said.

-Ezekiel Elliott via Todd Archer, ESPN

The Dallas Cowboys have lost a lot of their receiving talent this offseason, including veteran tight end Jason Witten and wideout Dez Bryant. The team has a smattering of young receivers to get into the mix — including Buckeye Noah Brown — but the team seems to be looking toward their other skill players to add yet another role to their workload.

This will probably mean the most to running back Ezekiel Elliott. After breaking several rushing records during his rookie season, 2017 was filled with off-field distractions and a lot of unknowns. Now, with certainty that Zeke won’t by missing any time due to lingering legal or suspension issues, the Cowboys are relying on him to catch the ball more often.

It wasn’t something that he was asked to do often at Ohio State, but the talented rusher has shown that he can get more than a few yards after the catch. Whether they utilize shuttle passes toward the outside, or let throws sail 15-20 yards before reaching Elliott, the Buckeye is ready to embrace whatever the team asks of him.

“Really that’s probably been the guiding principle here the first couple years,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve given him a lot of responsibility as a runner, as a protector, so you’ve got to be careful about spreading him too thin when you have some other guys who can do those same kinds of things.”

Elliott has found a lot of success when used on screen plays, including two 70-plus yard touchdowns, and is continuing to improve during training camp.

Without a six-game suspension looming over his head, Elliott should be the top performer for Dallas this season — but, the team as a whole probably won’t be nearly as impressive as it was back in 2016.