Drew Thurman (5:27 pm)
It is truly a year of uncertainty for Buckeye fans. Will the running backs fill in Beanie's absence? Do we have the athletes to fill the corner spot effective? Will the offensive line play be sufficient? There is obviously lots of question marks, but I think there is one that could define the success of this 2009 team above all others. Will we develop a short and intermediate passing game?
I like many people have been wondering this question since Troy Smith's departure in 2006. I mean we know Tressel can coach a team to run the ball, like Mike Shanahan did with the Broncos in the prime of his coaching career. We also know the staff is solid in coaching up the defense, well at least against opponents not from the SEC or named USC. What the staff has yet to prove is that they have the capability to develop a consistent passing game that doesn't depend on forty and fifty yard bombs down the sideline. The only time this wasn't case was when number 10 was at the helm, and I think that was his ability and not the play calling.
It is that spark that will make the difference for this team. Running the ball on first and second down while throwing the bomb on third will allow us the beat the Indiana's and Northwestern's of the college football scene, but will also result in this team collecting two or three losses. This kind of plan not only hinders Pryor as passer (as it does any quarterback), but it also limits the effectiveness of his legs. It totally puts the gameplan on having better athletes than the other team, and we all know that isn't going to happen every game this season!
On top of that, the Buckeyes finally have the wide receiving core to once again attack all angles of the field. We have big, physical wideouts like Posey and Carter that are going to cause nightmares for small corners. There are also route runners like Sanzenbacher and Small, that have the capability to break ankles. Throw in guys like Stoneburner and Ballard at tight end, and you have some spectacular athletes for Pryor to throw the ball to (and I didn't even mention their speed)!
Boys and girls, you can mark my words. With a short and intermediate passing game, this team could find themselves in a national title hunt. Without it, this team will face the troubles and embarrassment it has it recent big games. So in a year of uncertainty, I say that one defines them all: Can the staff adapt and create a high octane passing attack?