Drew Thurman (2:13 pm)
It has been awhile since Buckeye fans have had to deal with question marks. Whether it was the end of the Troy Smith era in the 2005 and 2006 seasons or even the upperclassmen laden teams of the last two years, Buckeye fans have been pretty sure of what was coming.
In fact, about this time of year over the past three or four seasons, there has been a "just don't screw this up" mentality from us fans. The Spring Game was less about excitement, and more about making sure none of the stars had digressed from the year before. Our nightmares were filled with the possibilities of injuries, and how they could spoil our chances at living up to the media hype. I mean, let's face it folks, we were suppose to be a BCS team the last four years.
That is not so much the case this year. As the 2009 edition of the Buckeyes get ready to head into the summer, there seem to be more question marks than answers. We now find ourselves reading headlines about position battles, and the progression of the multitude of youth that are trying to fill holes left by the departures of seniors and draft entries. We know the certainty of Terrelle Pryor and the running game, but almost every other position has some uncertainty to it.
So, does that make this season any less exciting?
Not at all, and in fact, it may make the season more interesting. First, this team has a ton of position battles taking place. Hearing the reports out of spring practice about what is going on at places like corner and at linebacker is pretty exciting. Sure there are some holes to fill and some questions to answer, but the competition taking place is going to make this team better. Guys are having to look over their shoulder, and they know that slacking means they will get passed up by one of the other talented youngsters waiting their turn. This was a big problem last year, at several positions the team had seniors that had lost their drive and hunger to some extent. That won't take place this year, and in fact it can't.
On top of that, sometimes the most exciting teams to watch are the "up-and-comers." This team is filled with youngsters, many who are waiting to prove their high recruiting rankings coming out of high school. Positions like offensive tackle, cornerback, wideout, and linebacker all have some questions marks, but most of them surround the lack of experience and not talent. There is no doubt that mistakes will be made by all these units early in the season, but as the season progresses, watching their transformation will be exciting. The 2009 Buckeyes could really become a force come the end of the season, once a lot of these talented youngsters get game experience.
All in all, enjoy the question marks. It is not always easy dealing with uncertainty, especially after the last four or five years, but this team will be exciting for new and different reasons. In fact maybe this new wave of players, question marks in all, will be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Buckeyes to get over the bowl blues.