The official hate week cryptic, disseminated order of who's playing where's out in the wild. I start with the offensive line, where Justin Boren is expected to back. Boren's plays tapered off gradually since the USC contest. The Boren we get could very well depend on not just his health, but his mental and emotional states going into these three critical contests. We know #65 will get at it November 21st in A^2, but can he show the heart against Penn State and Iowa necessary to help keep Joe Bauserman in his rightful place on the sidelines? Assuming Boren will be right, considerably more trepidation comes in the form of senior Jim Cordle returning a second straight weekend to start at left tackle. Cordle was yet again a revolving glass door, even to the likes of New Mexico State, before being relieved for the majority of the meaningful snaps by Andrew Miller. As has been the case in the past, sometimes "pocket" changes can occur where by tacit replacements are made without the knowledge of the media or otherwise. Perhaps Cordle will begin the game on the left side of the line, then Tress will let the results dictate exactly how much we see Miller. Mike Brewster, Bryant Browning, and J.B. Shugarts are your stalwarts at center through right tackles respectively.
The other notable change on the offensive side of the ball this week comes with the re-emergence of one Daniel Herron. Even in limited duties, Boom managed to find pay dirt against the hapless Aggies. He's now usurped the crown of running back-B from Jordan Hall, who along with Jermil Martin (who was praised by number by NMSU coach DeWayne Walker, late of the UCLA/USC rivalry and a man who knows a running back when he sees one) could continue to see carries on an as needed basis. Brandon Saine will continue to be the primary option at tailback many hoped he'd be going into the season. The wide receiver slots, the fullback position, and of course, the coveted principle game caller spot, all remain static this week. There's been little on the front of Pryor's "lower leg" injury to this point, so as far as we can possibly be concerned, radio silence = win.
On defense, one sure to be controversial adjustment (but defensible to those who've been paying closer attention) is the reprise of Anderson Russell as the starting free safety. Jermale Hines' combination of big play potential and better measurables has given him a slight edge on Russell in the minds of many this season, but Russell's nose for the ball and experience has aided and abated some gutty performances in recent weeks. The fifth year senior will have every chance to go out the last 3 games of his Ohio State career the way he envisioned, long before inconsistency and underwhelming play necessitated an early season demotion. Kurt Coleman, Devon Torrence, and Chimdi Chekwa remain the other principle players of the Buckeye secondary.
As we touched on last weekend, Andrew Sweat being lost for the season makes for the only other defensive shake up pre-PSU. The recently back from injury Jonathan Newsome platoons with sophomore Tony Jackson in the backup Will slot. Ross Homan remains the starter at the position, playing opposite the Sam, Austin Spitler, along with the (TD scoring!) hedgehog-on-crack Brian Rolle still handling business in the middle at Mike. The defensive line remains identical to previous weeks with Doug Worthington and Todd Denlinger clogging the Evan Royster running lanes up the gut, and Thad Gibson and Cam Heyward haunting the aforementioned Clark's dreams all week. This does appear to mean Dexter Larimore won't be returning from injury, and Rob Rose and John Simon will continue to platoon spelling Denlinger.Finally, with New Mexico State's absolutely deplorable cheap hit on inconsistent kicker Aaron Pettrey bringing the senior's Buckeyes career to an early end, the Buckeyes usher in their 2nd kicker in as many weeks. 26 year old former Columbus Crew forward Devin Barclay is now the heir apparent in the once automatic-for-3 field goal kicker spot. Barclay went just 1/3 in his debut against the Aggies, so questions loom whether or not the relative instability surrounding the position will influence Jim Tressel to consider playing more aggressively when he otherwise normally would've settled for the tres in the past. Some have inquired as to why the once highly recruited Ben Buchanan won't be seizing the role, but as the Dispatch's Ken Gordon mentioned, Buchanan has been by and large being groomed to succeed Jon Thoma at punter. However, it isn't out of the question for Buchanan to be the primary kick off specialist against the Nittany Lions, a role he already filled once prior in the season.