Five Questions Before Kickoff

By Chris Lauderback on August 27, 2008 at 7:00 am

With Jason offering up five predictions Monday, I thought we could examine five questions as we head into the season opener.

For the most part, I wanted to avoid topics we've discussed at length - such as Pryor's projected snaps - to hopefully foster some discussion on alternate topics.

Without further adieu:

Which freshmen not named Pryor will have the biggest impact on offense? Even before the recent depth chart was revealed, we thought Boom Herron (redshirt frosh) might have a chance to see the field and it looks like he'll get the chance.

Herron flashed ability to find and hit the hole in the spring, avoiding the freshman mistake of lurking too long in hopes of breaking a long one versus hitting the initial seam then surveying the second line of the defense to see what else he could accomplish.

The fact Saine is constantly banged up gives Herron a chance to do his thing and potentially convert Saine to a multi-purpose back instead of Beanie's true backup at tailback. Plus, I'm not sure how realistic it is that many other freshmen will see the field in this veteran offense.

What do you guys think? Could one of the O-liner's work themselves into the mix as an impact freshman or maybe Posey?

Will Heacock adjust his gameplan to a more agressive approach? This could be the most important question of all. Past history says Heacock won't change but it's hard to fathom employing the exact same defensive philosophy that's been good enough to stifle mediocre teams but not good enough to stop elite competition with all the chips on the table.

Forcing the majority of the Big Ten offenses to execute for 60 minutes makes sense when you see what OSU has on offense but it's time for Heacock to start dictating what opposing offenses have to do instead of the other way around.

I continue to wonder why OSU brings in elite talent only to seemingly be afraid to match up on the outside with the opposition's top talent. I'm not advocating blitzing and playing bump and run every play, but dammit, let the athletes play. More often than not, OSU's talent will win out because the majority of opponents eventually make mistakes in the face of pressure defense.

Instead of lamenting the lack of turnovers this defense creates, maybe it's time to evaluate if the conservative system isn't largely to blame. Could this be the year the kids are turned loose?

Will the offensive/defensive lines hold up when it counts? For all the hype bestowed upon the offensive line this preseason, I'm personally a skeptic. Sure this group can manhandle poor to decent teams, but again, it's what they can do against the elite that matters.

Take away Beanie's 65 yard jaunt to paydirt and OSU managed just 80 yards on 29 carries in addition to giving up 5 sacks last January. I know it's just one game but folks like Rehring and Person, specifically, still have a lot to prove in my eyes. At least they have plenty of experience under their belts and the knowledge of how good they need to be if OSU is to win it all. What's your confidence level in this group? Are they overrated?

I think they can be good enough, combined with the skill players around them, to do their part in an undefeated season but I'm less confident in this group than any other on either side of the ball.

Defensively, things appear to be locked down on the outside with Wilson, L'il Ironhead and Thaddeus Maximus forming what should be a potent trio and now it looks like Curtis Terry will provide depth. I can certainly see him on the field in obvious running situations.

In the middle, I'm a little less confident but not overly concerned. Worthington showed some flashes last season and Larimore looks the part but Abdallah and Denlinger need to step up if the line is going to do it's part to stuff the run and take on blockers so the linebackers can roam freely and make plays.

Will Tressel sacrifice goodwill in an effort to get Beanie enough carries in blowouts to make a run at the Heisman? I'm conflicted here. On one hand, Tress did what he could to showcase Troy during his Heisman run but on the other hand, Tress isn't referenced as "The Senator" for nothing. In the end, I think he's willing to give a few extra carries to his top player if he feels that player has a true shot at an honor such as the Heisman. Plus, he knows Beanie sincerely views it as a team award and the offensive line would truly bond in a combined effort to pave the way. Come December, I think Tressel gets Beanie the carries, and with it, the Heisman. You?

Who will emerge as the third receiver behind the two Brian's? (speaking of which, can we come up with a less hooptie name for those two?) Jason has mentioned both Posey and Washington as two possible candidates to emerge but I think this is the year Ray Small finally shows up. After getting smacked down by Tressel, he's quietly gone about his business and drawn some decent, if not tempered, praise during camp.

It could be more wishful thinking than reality, but I'm ready to give him one more chance. He's got the ability - might he finally have the head to match?