The Buckeyes were predicted to be a Top 5 team come August till the bottom fell out from under the program. Their starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor left the school, Jim Tressel resigned under loads and loads of scrutiny and they will also play the first five games without key players. Can this team fight through their off season troubles to continue their dominance in the Big 10?
Tressel resigned on Memorial Day
The Big Ten will be completely reformed in 2011. The addition of Nebraska to the conference, two divisions, a conference championship game, and the possibility no team from Ohio being a Big 10 champ. The Buckeyes have been in a BCS Bowl the last 6 years and 8 out of the last 9 years. They also have won or held a share of the Big 10 title for the last six seasons and a total of 35. I'll explain why this year will be a different story in Columbus.
Co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell will take over in place of Jim Tressell for the upcoming season. Fickell was the right man for the job after the bottom fell out on the program and Tressel resigned. Ohio St didn't have enough time before the season began to look for a new high brow coach so picking Tressell's assistant should limit the damages but it still wont be Tressel at the reigns. Fickell has only spent 9 years in the coaching industry, all at OSU, and has never held a head coaching position. Not only is Fickell not the mastermind of a coach like Tressel was but he will also have significantly less to work with this upcoming season, especially in the first five games.
Terrelle Pryor was getting the same amount of pressure as Tressel during this whole process so just days after Tressel resigned from the program Pryor decided to leave as well. Pryor was already going to have to sit out the first five games of the 2011 season but other leaks came out about new cars and extra money so Pryor left. The 2011 offense was to be formed around the senior quarterback and his ability to create something out of nothing by scrambling and using his much improved throwing mechanics to lead a deadly two dimensional team. The Buckeyes will probably now look towards freshman dual threat quarterback Braxton Miller to lead the troops on the offensive side of the ball. Miller will step into his first season and play in Miami for the third game of the season and will also play in two 100,000+ seat stadiums when they face Nebraska and Michigan on the road. The lack of experience under center will defiantly keep the the Buckeyes from reaching as high as they want to.
True Freshamn QB Braxton Miller
Running Back Dan "Boom" Herron, Offensive Tackle Mike Adams, Wide Receiver DeVier Posey and Defensive End Solomon Thomas will all be on the bench for the first five games of the season due to suspensions. The group was said to have sold their Ohio St memorabilia to pay for tattoos. Herron was the leading rusher on a rush heavy team last season, Mike Adams was a first team all Big 10 selection at Tackle, DeVier Posey was the 2nd leading receiver and Solomon Thomas had the game clinching interception in the Sugar Bowl. The loss of these players for the first fives games will defiantly hurt, not only in those first five games but several ones after that because it may take them a couple games to adjust. The Buckeyes will face the likes of Akron, Toledo, Miami, Colorado, and Michigan St in those first five games and it will be very hard with a freshman quarterback, especially one that is missing his best blocker, rusher, and receiver, to win all five games.
The Big Ten hasn't been the normal Big Ten over the last few seasons but with the introduction of Nebraska and the hopeful return of Michigan to its elite status should help this conference thrive once again. Michigan returns most of their roster, including Heisman candidate Denard Robinson. Nebraska will return QB Taylor Martinez and their always strong defense, Former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson heads to Wisconsin, Michigan St looks to repeat their Top 10 season, Joe Pa looks to keep Penn St rolling and other Big Ten programs will also look to thrive. All of them are looking to take down the struggling Big Ten powerhouse.
The Buckeyes have a very tough road ahead of them if they want to continue their win streak vs Michigan, get back to another BCS bowl game and win their 7th consecutive Big Ten title. It is defiantly do able with the talent that they have on the roster but I do not believe that it will happen with all these problems inside the program.