The USA Today Coaches Poll
has fired its first shot of the season and has scored a bullseye, tagging
the Ohio State University Buckeyes as its preseason number one.
The Buckeyes return what is probably the most dynamic offense in college
football going into the 2006 season, yet they return only two starters
from one of the nation’s best defenses last season. I know.
I know, you have heard all of this before, why bother writing another
article about it? I’ll tell you why, because Ohio State is the
best team in the nation going into next season.
The offense is strong, there
is no question about that. What most people outside of Columbus
don’t realize is how strong it is going to be. Everyone has
heard the hype surrounding Smith and Ginn’s Heisman campaigns, and
most should know about Antonio Pittman. What is surprising is
the rest of the offense that no one is talking about.
The Buckeye’s return a veteran
offensive line. Sure the loss of Mangold and Simms hurts, but
it is not like they are being replaced with total scrubs. Word
on the street is that former guard, Doug Datish will be moving to center,
making room for T.J. Downing and Tim Schafer at the guard slots.
Sophomore phenom, Alex Boone, should be a huge asset (6-7 325) for the
team on Smith’s blindside at left tackle. Smith should have
plenty of time to find his targets down field, not that he really needs
it with his legs.
There is a lot of talk about
Ohio State’s Junior flanker, possibly the fastest player in the NCAA
this year, Tedd Ginn, but lost in the shuffle is Junior wide receiver
Anthony Gonzalez. Gonzalez does what Ginn does not, Gonzalez is
not afraid to catch the ball over the middle on those dangerous slant
and crossing routes, yet he is still a big threat on the outside.
There are only a handful of Buckeyes with anywhere near the speed that
Gonzalez possesses. I suspect that by the end of the season he
will be widely recognized as Ohio State’s real threat at wide receiver
and I also think that this will be the year that Roy Hall, at a David
Boston-like 6-3 240, is able to finally put it together as the teams
“Z” receiver, a big body on the outside. Should he falter
What can you say about Ted
Ginn Jr. that has not already been said? He is the homerun threat
for the Buckeyes, every time he touches the ball there is a very real
shot that it is going to go for 60 yards and a touchdown, unfortunately
there is also a very real shot that he will drop the pass. Ginn’s
work should primarily be done on the outside on hitch routes, alternating
on a short isolated hitch route, leaving him a corner to beat with a
move and a safety to beat for the touchdown, and a “hitch and go”
burning the cornerback deep or capitalizing on blown help from the safety
who should have deep help. I sincerely hope that the Buckeyes
stay away from the gimmick plays that became all to predictable last
year in an attempt to get Ginn touches.
Now if those three on the outside
don’t present enough trouble, just picture it for a second.
Troy Smith drops back, looks down the field, sees Ginn in over under
coverage on the left, Gonzalez well covered on the right, Hall covered
on the out, and a dump to Pittman is not a possibility because the strong
side linebacker is cheating up on him, who does that leave? Marcel
Frost. For the first time since Ricky Dudley, the Buckeyes have
a viable threat at tight end. His development at the end of last
season was phenomenal and his contribution to Smith’s development
cannot be overstated. A solid tight end is like a big old fluffy
security blanket to a quarterback, especially on a team with wide receivers
like Ohio State’s. You know that no matter what, no team in
the country is going to be able to give safety help to that linebacker
stuck with the task of covering Frost. That means lots of big
gains down the middle of the field, right in the seam of the Cover 2
defenses that most teams are going to be forced to play.
This offense has the capability
to put up huge numbers against everyone one. What makes this offense
better than USC’s from last year? The fact that is exceptionally
talented across the board and features a quarterback with exceptional
arm-strength and an incredible set of wheels. The Buckeyes do
not have a Reggie Bush, but their talent runs much deeper creating a
To Be Continued….
Next time the hard part, the Defense