The rest of the responsibility for bouncing back from a thoroughly underwhelming showing against Bucky Badger will fall on the very same group that put on the suspect performance in the first place (ostensibly sans flu this time). For the second time in three contests, Senator Tressel seems bent on playing things close, dare I say it, to the vest, as the rest of the offensive depth chart has no noticeable differences from this week to the one prior. Andrew Miller is listed as potential starter at LT and first backup at LG, though unlike the past 2 depth charts, should actually serve in those roles this week. Assuming Miller is back in game shape, any extra rest he can provide the offensive line is an added benefit. (Brief aside: any guesses as to what the stars next to some of the player's name indicate? Letters earned perhaps?) The most noteworthy exclusion on the defensive side comes with d-tackle Dexter Larimore set to miss his second straight game recovering from a knee injury. Todd Denlinger will again start in his absence, with John Simon serving as the principle backup for that spot on the line. The omnipresent Rob Rose as well as Garrett Goebel could also see time at that tackle spot as well. On the outsides of the defensive front, fresh off his first sack of the season, Thaddeus Gibson seeks to double his output and catch his primary backup Nathan Williams. The two-headed devourer of quarterback's souls Cam Heyward/Lawrence Wilson man the other side.No shakeups in the linebacking corp, with Brian Rolle continuing to anchor things. To his left will be defending Big Ten defensive player of the week Ross Homan, he of the 15 tackles, 2 sacks, pass breakup, forced fumble, a half dozen kittens saved from a burning tree, and 3 old ladies helped across the street last Saturday. The suddenly making the cliche prone Ohio State fans eat crow Austin Spitler mans the other side of the linebacking unit. The secondary sees no noticeable realignments, though I can't say enough about what a difference the presence of Kurt Coleman can make. Coleman's return was so inspired that it actually made me worry about what his departure could mean at safety for the Buckeyes next season. Devon Torrence, Chimdi Chekwa, Andre Amos, Jermale HInes, and even the still hungry Anderson Russell continue to also merit much credit for their work week in week out. The only other mentionable change for the Purdue game comes after one of the many "pocket" depth chart adjustments (as in unmentioned until it was actually happening) The Vest's made this year panned out in the best ways possible. After stepping in as the #2 kick returner several weeks back (though not officially recognized as such on the depth chart), Ray Small finally housed Ohio State's first kick return for a touchdown in what felt like an graduating class' 4 year academic career. His reward is the official title, Dan Herron (when honestly was the last kick you recall him fielding?) being demoted from the all-star team (Urban Meyer's phraseology, but catchy/Tresslean, no?), and Brandon Saine sliding down to the seldom seen third kick return specialist. Small continues his hold as the principle punt returner with Aaron Pettrey and Jon Thoma rounding out the bunch. A final brief quick shootout to long snapper Jake McQuaide. Long snappers seldom see their name in print unless something nightmarish has transpired. So despite being an often overlooked "when you do things right, nobody will notice you did anything at all" lunch pale type, we appreciate the precise work McQuaide does to get the ball where it needs to go. Carry on young squire.
We opined that last week could serve as a bellwether to determine the bulk of the meaningful carries for the Buckeyes offense going forward, and per this week's depth chart, we appear to have been spot on. After suffering a second straight injury against the Badgers, on the heels of bouncing back from another injury (see a trend here?), Daniel "Boom" Herron's finally been relegated to running back 1B duties. Injuries alone don't tell the entire story, as Saine's body of work these last several weeks has more than earned Mazda-in-Cleats the starting honors. Perhaps more as a direct result of the aforementioned injury, true freshman Jordan Hall emerges on the depth chart as third in the pecking order. TP's Jeanette running mate should get his, particularly should Purdue continue their running with scissors act of their past several games.