Ohio State position analysis
Published: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
· Troy Smith has been unflappable and nearly flawless this year for Ohio State. His play earned him the Heisman Trophy as well as AP Player of the Year honors. As good as his play has been all year, his two best outings came against teams ranked No. 2 at the time (Texas and Michigan). In those two games he combined to go 36-of-67 passing for 585 yards while throwing six TDs and only one interception.
· Ohio State's imposing front five only allowed 14 sacks during the regular season, and blocked for running back Antonio Pittman, who ran for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns. Center Doug Datish has been very effective in replacing Nick Mangold, who is now the starting center for the New York Jets. They are one of the bigger lines in the country and have both depth and experience (two starting fifth-year seniors).
· Antonio Pittman had his second straight 1,000 yard season, finishing with 13 rushing touchdowns. He is a speedster who can outrun an entire defense if he gets into the secondary. But as much speed as Pittman has, he is also an every down back who rarely goes down on the first hit. Fullback Stan White is a consistent blocker, and has the ability to move a defender when he needs to.
· This talented group gives Troy Smith a variety of weapons to attack defenses with. Ted Ginn Jr. is the Buckeyes' main deep threat and leads the team in TD receptions (9) and yards (781). Not far behind is Anthony Gonzalez with 8 TDs, 723 yards and an average of 14.8 yards per reception. Brian Robiskie is mostly a possession receiver, but has success when he catches the ball , scoring five TDs and averaging 13.2 yards per catch.
· With three seniors, this is the most experienced component of the Ohio State defense. This foursome is a big reason the Buckeyes are giving up only 93.5 rushing yards per game. On the season they have combined for 19.5 sacks. Although the Buckeyes are not among the biggest defensive lines in the country, the group is fairly effective at managing the line and does rely on the assistance of their elite linebackers.
· With the loss of three All-Americans from last year, this was thought to be one of the weaker points of Ohio State's defensive scheme this year. But sophomore James Laurinaitis developed into a Nagurski award winner, making the loss of A.J. Hawk less of a concern. There has also been no drop off in play with Marcus Freeman and John Kerr. This has become one of the strongest parts of Ohio State's defense, and rivals last year's group as one of the best in Buckeyes' history.
· After losing all four starters from the previous season, this group has been tested early and often. They have been successfully able to stave off the perception of being a weakness. The secondary combined for nine interceptions on the season, which is five more than the previous secondary unit had. The corners don't like to give up the big play so they try to jam receivers close from the line of scrimmage, and the safeties have great closing speed on running plays.
· While Ohio State doesn't have a great kicker in Aaron Pettrey or a great punter in A.J. Trapasso, both have been sufficient for what the Buckeyes need. Pettrey has made 8-of-11 field goals and 53-of-56 extra points and Trapasso is averaging 41 yards per punt. The return game is centered around two dangerous players, Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez. While the numbers have not been outstanding for either, they do provide great potential for big plays.
— Jon McDonald
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