Winston Churchill said, "The farther back you look the further forward you are likely to see." As 2009 comes to a close let's look back at the past season to help us get a glimpse of what 2010 holds for the Bucks. We'll do this by analyzing each position group:
QB: Needless to say this position wasn't as good in 2009 as most OSU fans envisioned. Considering that Pryor is a true sophomore it seems most of us were looking through Scarlet and Gray glasses when we dreamed of a Big Ten MVP season from him. Of course the media made the same mistake! It did seem that he progressed as a leader this year, and began to cut down on turnovers, particularly after the disaster at West Lafayette. Pryor still needs to work on mechanics, and improve his completion percentage, but that should happen if: 1) He gets good coaching; and, 2) He continues to dedicate himself.
As for backups, there is a feeling that Kenny Guiton might supplant Joe Bauserman as the number two guy, and certainly his skills more closely resemble those of TP. Still, the Bucks are in trouble if Pryor goes down next year. Incoming freshmen Taylor Graham and Verlon Reed will obviously not be ready for action.
2010 prediction: Marked improvement if Pryor remains healthy
RB: What started off as a liability came on to be a strength this season, when Herron and Saine were both finally healthy and running behind an improved line. Neither of the two is Beanie Wells, but they both bring some unique talents to the table, and both return for 2010. In addition Jordan Hall was a pleasant surprise and shows the ability to be a fine back at OSU. If that's not enough, the uber talented Jamaal Berry was unable to play and redshirted, but the coaches love his skills and hope to get him on the field in 2010. And, with bigger backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith coming aboard next year this may be the deepest Buckeye backfield ever. And I didn't even mention Jermil Martin who looked like a hardnosed runner when he got the chance. If there is any negative it may be that there still isn't one Eddie George or Beanie Wells to be the bell cow.
Fullback should be better, too, as Zach Boren and Adam Homan learned on the job, and improved as the year went on. Boren may even become a stud.
2010 prediction: Marked improvement. This should go from a "B" backfield to a solid "A"!
We know Ray Small will not be back, and that doesn't hurt the receiving corp in my estimation. However, the Bucks may also be without the following who were supposed to be back: Taurian Washington (possible transfer); Lamaar Thomas (possible transfer) and Duron Carter (grades). If none of those guys plays in 2010 this will be a thin unit, relying on young, unproven talent: redshirt freshmen Chris Fields (who wowed the coaches) and James Jackson; plus true freshmen James Louis, Corey Brown and Tyrone Williams.
2010 prediction: Slightly better, even though green
TE: Better known at OSU as the sixth offensive lineman, the Bucks relied on senior Jake Ballard this past season and he did a good job blocking, and caught most of the balls thrown his way, which wasn't many! Getting a little playing time was Jake Stoneburner who can catch but needs help blocking, and Reid Fragel who can block but is really an offensive tackle in training. Still waiting to see the field is Nick DiLillo. All three of these guys will be sophomores in 2010, and all should see action. It would be nice if the Bucks looked to throw some to Stoneburner who could stretch the middle of the field, but I'm not holding my breath. Unless Darryl Baldwin is used as a tight end (doubtful) there will be no additions to this position in the incoming class.
2010 Prediction: Slightly worse, with Fragel playing the most
OL: There's good news and better news concerning the o-line. The good news is they actually became a solid line by year's end, thanks to improved health and experience. The better news is that they bring back everyone except Jim Cordle who played out of position in 2009. There have been rumblings that Justin Boren might opt to go pro, and that would hurt, but my guess is he returns. If so look for the following starters in '10: LT - Mike Adams, LG - Justin Boren; C - Mike Brewster; RG - Bryant Browning; RT - J.B. Shugarts. That could be a fine o-line and backups would include Marcus Hall (who could push for a starting spot) and Andrew Miller with help from redshirt freshmen Jack Mewhort, Corey Lindsay and Sam Longo.
2010 Prediction: Much improved (Could actually become a strength if Bollman doesn't mess things up)
K: Aaron Pettrey's six years at OSU are finally done, and he certainly showed a strong leg, kicking 50+ yard field goals successfully. Strangely however, he often missed the chip shots. While he will be missed, the good news is that his late season injury opened the door for Devin Barclay to get some invaluable game experience. He looks pretty good and might come on in 2010. Battling him for playing time should be incoming freshman Drew Basil.
2010 Prediction: Similar production to '09
Later this week: Part two - the defense