With anticipation rapidly approaching a boiling temperature for this weekend's clash with undefeated Wisconsin, we take two steps back to survey a sad reality before delving into this week's depth chart: after this weekend's game, there are but six Buckeye regular season football games to go in the year of Coach Hayes two thousand and nine. While I'll gladly take the prospects of some 7+ full weekends of football still to come, the idea that some 300 games are already in the books, and that it was almost an entire calendar month since pre-USC nerves were a thing of the present seems unreal.
With the Badgers coming to town, so too comes that creeping suspicion as to what lies ahead. Wisconsin's seemingly found a way to make life miserable for Buckeyes throughout the better part of this decade. I'm not going to lie: I was somewhat relieved when it came time for Bucky Badger to be absent from the Buckeyes' rotation in 2005 and 2006. Going 1-3 pre-Bielema will certainly do that to one's constitution. But back to the game at hand, Ohio State will unsurprisingly be without tackle Dexter Larimore, who was carted off the Memorial Stadium turf in a visual we were all relieved to find was not near as bad as it appeared. Todd Denlinger gets the nod in his place, though given Rob Rose's performance of late, it wouldn't come as much of a surprise to see #9 getting extra work in the interior. Doug Worthington, Garrett Goebel, and Johnny Simon join the Tolzien tackle parade as well. The rest of the defensive line remains static.
The linebacking corp is tweaked ever so slightly this week, with Ross Homan now listed as the unquestionable starter (the previous week listed the start as going to Homan OR sophomore Andrew Sweat, though Homan shrugged off injury and made the start regardless). Brian Rolle is listed back at the Mike linebacker position, though reality saw Rolle, ahem, roll out to Sam and swap places with glue guy Austin Spitler. The less prone to actual observation and reconsideration of one's preconceived opinion on subjects will undoubtedly counter than Spitler was only able to man the interior due to Indiana's "substandard even for a 'down conference' quickness." For them, I offer up sunshine and rainbows.
The secondary too exhibits a noteworthy change, with Devon Torrence listed as the proverbial man at the #2 corner spot for the first time since his elevation to the starting role. For those who recall, we had plenty of Torrence OR Amos or Amos OR Torrence in weeks prior. Chimdi Chekwa is still manning the top CB spot, while Kurt Coleman returns from his controversial suspension to relegate new hero Anderson Russell back into a more complimentary role. Jermale Hines and Russell could very well be utilized together at times during this game with Hines in the "Star" safety/linebacker hybrid position he's lined up in throughout the season.
Across the sideline on the other side of the ball, arguably the biggest news of the Wisconsin game depth chart is the lack there of: Dan Herron returns as the starting tailback, with Brandon Saine listed as the primary backup. Saine's Indiana performance continued to add to his mystique and further legitimize the Team Zoom movement, though pending a not unprecedented trademark change of the Vest's mind (or card up his sleeve), his 23498.0 yards per carry average will have to come in a Halfback B capacity this weekend. Touchdown scorin' Zach Boren returns to block for whichever halfback gets the nod.
With no changes at wideout or Jake end, we look towards the big uglies, who see the return of Andrew Miller from pancaking the flu. Miller is listed as the alternate starter to Big Mike Adams, though given Adams' play the last two weekends, it'll be difficult to see Miller on the field to start this weekend's game or beyond. Justin Boren and Bryant Browning are your guards, with the Brew Crew's Aramis, J.B. Shugarts, continuing to man right tackle with Jim Cordle sidelined. Curiously Jack Mewhort gets mention for a second straight week, though it would likely take a catastrophic injury to both starting center Mike Brewster and backup C/RG Andrew Moses for that redshirt to be sacrificed. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness remain comfortably deferred for the time being.
Finally, we fail to see any major movement amongst the specialists. Despite Pettrey's struggles within the 30, it seems unlikely as though Devin Barclay nor Ben Buchanan will be called on any time soon as close range specialists. And with rumors of his demise greatly exaggerated, Lamaar Thomas is still your top kickoff return guy. That first kickoff return for a touchdown since TG2 created highlight after highlight still beckons; your move, sir.