Buckeye Starting Units Beginning to Take Shape

By Jason Priestas on August 5, 2008 at 7:00 am
If a dog is going to bite, he's gonna bite as a pup (AP Photo)

The first day of fall practice saw the Buckeyes working in shorts and Tressel speaking to the press (video) for the first time since the Big Ten media event in Chicago. For a fanbase starving for information, today's fix hit the spot.

As Keith pointed out in the comments yesterday, Terry was indeed permanently moved to fullback, opening the way for Ross Homan to grab an early lead in the WLB battle.

With the quickness that this announcement was made, I'm envisioning Jamar the 2nd blowing holes in the line for Beanie all year long (he looks freakin' huge). Whaley and crew were more than adequate last season, but it's been a while since a Martin or Sualua were destroying linebackers on a regular basis. (Just imagine how much more effective that stiff arm will be if he can save its use for DBs...)

The Buckeye offense may look a lot like this when they line up for that first play of the opener:

Robiskie   Boone Rehring Cordle Person Browning   Hartline
  Boeckman   Washington  

Given the fact that it will be the Penguins of Youngstown State lining up against this offense in the opener, there's probably a better chance we'll see two tight ends, but you get the point.

The third receiver spot is still wide-open, and chances are it may remain that way, with several players getting looks well into the season. Still, I'm pulling for Taurian Washington. I think I've seen him catch about three balls in his career (including spring games) and all three have gone for six. One wideout that probably won't be featured in that group is Devon Torrence -- he's working exlusively with the cornerbacks and will be looking to find a spot on that side of the ball.

Not surprisingly, Pryor's name came up early and often. When asked if he could see snaps in the opener, the response was downright senatorial, if not illuminating: "if he earns it." You could tell how giddy the press were as they informed Tressel that Pryor wasn't wearing a black jersey like the other quarterbacks (Pryor quickly changed).

The two Dublin kids were held out of drills. Mike Adams is still recovering (quite speedily) from surgery and Jake Stoneburner was also shelved, but Tressel maintained that the team was free of any serious injuries.

Heyward   Larimore   Denlinger   Wilson
  Freeman   Laurinaitis   Homan  
Chekwa   Jenkins
  Coleman   Russell  

The first team defense should look like the unit shown to the right. A pretty sick unit -- even excluding Donald Washington and his 20 starts at cornerback. Washington and tackle Doug Worthington's names came up right off the bat and trying to parse Tressel's words ("[he] has to get over some hurdles, but Doug's a good kid") I'd guess that Washington is out the first two games, while Worthington will probably have to sit the opener. Nothing firm was given and this is just my own opinion -- not based off of any super-secret inside stuff, but we'll probably all be the wiser in the next 10 days or so.

Homan at the WLB spot is interesting. He played a ton as a true frosh backing up Kerr and actually finished third among linebackers in tackles that year. Injuries gobbled up his season last year, but as redshirt sophomore's go, he's pretty damn seasoned. Freeman will be moving to the strong side, so the future trivia question of "Who replaced Larry Grant at linebacker?" just took a tricky turn.

All the talk about the offense and the defense, but today's sessions were special teams only. The Buckeyes, looking to improve upon their dreadful return numbers last season, figure to give Tressel's favorite aspect of the game plenty of time this year. Saine and Boom were singled out as looking great on kickoff returns, while Tressel offered that he believes Ray Small is as good as any returner in the country on punts. The Ghost may find his niche after all, but as Tressel also mentioned, the upfield team needs to create lanes for him to really blow up.

Finally, a bit of a downer, but Shaq Rowell didn't qualify and will look to get back to OSU in December if all goes well. I know how much he really wanted to be a Buckeye, so hopefully he'll be back in a few months.