Program: Ohio State Buckeyes
2004 Record: 2-0
Head Coach: Jim Tressell 34-7 (169-64-2 overall)
Ohio State Offense
12 Justin Zwick, QB – Third-year sophomore finally gets a chance after Craig Krenzel's departure, but has also shared some reps with classmate Troy Smith. Zwick has great command and will make good to great throws at times. But he already has 4 INTs on the young season, most of them as ill-advised passes a young guy might attempt. Still, he's coming off a monster 318-yard, three-touchdown game against Marshall.
10 Troy Smith, QB – Incredible athlete. Uses speed to avoid would-be tacklers and stays alive to make plays. Has a cannon for an arm. Only saw 3 snaps against Marshall after playing 4 series against Cincinnati.
8 Roy Hall, SE – Another young guy, also a third-year sophomore. Has great 6-3, 228-pound frame and all the athletic ability in the world. Coaches hope his 20-yard TD grab against Marshall is the play that gets him going.
77 Rob Sims, LT – Anchors the offensive line and guards the quarterback's blind side. Has done a fine job with that. Beginning his second full year as a starter.
50 Doug Datish, LG – First-year starter, but he was a big-time prep recruit three years ago. Has answered the bell.
55 Nick Mangold, C – Took over as the starter midway through last year and has done a fine job as the leader of the line. Heady player.
52 Mike Kne, RG – Former walk-on and transfer from Fordham, where he started as a freshman. Fifth-year senior in his first full year as a starter. Probably one of their best run blockers.
68 Tim Schafer, RT – Won a battle for this open position in camp and has done well in the first two games.
80 Ryan Hamby, TE – Big target (caught 4 balls in opener, including a TD). Has worked hard on his blocking. Zwick will find him if the receivers are covered and he can make plays with the ball.
4 Santonio Holmes, FL – Proving to be one of the top receivers in college football this year. Coming off a 10-catch, 218-yard, two-TD performance against Marshall. It would have been better, but he missed the third quarter due to cramps. Will run the post and/or the fade once a quarter, so be ready. Hard to get a good hit on him in the open field and will deliver big yards after the catch.
30 Lydell Ross, TB – Kind of a plodder. Works hard, runs hard, good physical specimen. Will have a ton of 3 and 4-yard runs, then finds an opening once in a while for that home run play. Had 141 yards against Cincinnati. Tons of experience backing up oft-injured Maurice Clarett in 2002 and as the starter last year. Has over 2,000 career yards. Co-captain.
43 Brandon Schnittker, FB – Dependable blocker, but he never touches the ball.
38 Branden Joe, FB – Did not play either of the first two games due to an ankle sprain. But they want to get this versatile back involved and take heat off Ross with the running game.
85 Mike Nugent, K – An All-American in the national championship season of 2002, when he was 24 of 27 on field goals. Coming off a game-winning 55-yard field goal on the final play of the game against Marshall. So well respected his teammates voted him as a captain.
Offensive Overview – OSU wants to establish the run. The Buckeyes were able to do that against Cincinnati in a three-touchdown win, but struggled in that regard against Marshall. The offense has seven turnovers in two games, so they are mistake prone. Zwick is still learning, but he seems capable of a wide array of throws. Holmes is just special. Ross wants to be a workhorse, but Joe could be the last piece of the puzzle to get this unit in gear.
Ohio State Defense
75 Simon Fraser, DE – Plays his assignment well. Won't make a bunch of sacks, but he puts consistent pressure on the passer. Strong physically and mentally. Co-captain.
94 Marcus Green, DT – Becoming a play maker. Had a big sack in the win over Marshall. Played behind Darrion Scott last year. First-year starter.
90 Quinn Pitcock, DT – Another first-year starter as a third-year sophomore. Played behind Tim Anderson last year. Strong as an ox at the point of attack and will quietly make big plays in the trenches.
57 Mike Kudla, DE – Similar to Fraser. Perhaps the strongest player on the team. First-year starter.
99 Jay Richardson, DE – Top reserve at end. Had team's first sack of the year in Game 2 against Marshall.
47 A.J. Hawk, OLB – All-Big Ten as a first-year starter last year as a sophomore. Preseason Big Ten defensive player of the year candidate. Has picked up where he left off last year in first 2 games. One of the unquestioned leaders of the defense. Just makes a ton of tackles. Will be where the ball is all day. Helped Will Allen make the final stop on T.A. McLendon a foot outside the goal line on the final play of last year's game.
5 Mike D'Andrea, MLB – First-year starter as a junior. Has worked through some injuries and is becoming a force. Versatile player who can stuff the run, handle some pass coverage duties and go after the quarterback.
51 Anthony Schlegel, MLB – Splits some reps with D'Andrea and also plays alongside him when they move to a 3-4 look. Great run support player. Transfer from Air Force, where he was team MVP and captain as a sophomore in 2002.
42 Bobby Carpenter, OLB – First-year starter as a junior and has gone right to work. Team-high 22 tackles in two games. Makes plays all over the field.
2 E.J. Underwood, CB – Plays the field-side corner. One of the team's best athletes. Played sparingly last two years and this is his first full year as a starter.
26 Ashton Youboty, CB – Will step in for the injured Dustin Fox (broken arm vs. Marshall) at the boundary corner. Also a great athlete and will make big plays happen (in a good way).
21 Nate Salley, FS – Back for his second year as a starter as a junior. A heavy hitter at 6-3, 215 pounds. He'll be around the ball all day, too.
6 Tyler Everett, SS – Emerged as the starter in fall camp, replacing Allen. Good overall player and will make plays on the ball whenever he can.
86 Kyle Turano, P – First-year starter at punter in his fifth year. Former walk-on. Hit one 57-yard punt against Cincinnati and averaged 43.7 yards last week against Marshall.
Defensive Tendencies – Mark Snyder replaced Mark Dantonio as the coordinator, but kept all of the key strategies with the base 4-3. Have not blitzed as much as they were expected to. A very young but extremely talented defense. Marshall succeeded in running the ball when Cincinnati was unable to. Young players may lack patience against a good, controlled passing attack.
Thanks to Bucknuts.com's Steve Helwagen for contributing to this report