All indications are the junior defensive end is ready to make his season debut for Ohio State when Miami comes to town Saturday afternoon. The 6-3, 260-pound junior has 12 tackles for loss, including 5 1/2 sacks, in reserve duty his first two seasons and is arguably the team's best pass rusher.
Senior linebacker Ross Homan said Williams looked smooth and agile - "like the old Nate" - at practice earlier this week.
"I think he's just busting to get out there. I fully expect him to be out there making plays for us," Homan said. "Nate's a very, very good athlete. He's very big and strong and can take on the run but at the same time he's an athlete so he can play the pass, too."
2. Will the Ohio State tight ends be a factor?
The last time Miami played a Big Ten team, Wisconsin tight ends went wild with a combined 13 catches for 195 yards during a 20-14 Badger win in December.
Ohio State tight end Jake Stoneburner thinks he and quarterback Terrelle Pryor can have some success of their own.
"Wisconsin was able to use its tight ends in a way that they were open across the middle of the field with some drag routes and corner routes," Stoneburner said. "We feel like we can do the same thing. We feel like our tight ends can do that and Terrelle can make those passes. It's a void in their defense that's open for us."
3. Can the Hurricanes hit big plays with play action?
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday the Hurricanes do not do a lot of different things on offense. They just do a few things well.
Asked if Miami used a vanilla attack while thrashing Florida A&M 45-0 in its season opener, Ohio State safeties coach Paul Haynes shook his head then he echoed Tressel's message that what the Hurricanes do is not fancy, though it can be quite effective.
"These guys want to run the ball. They are a physical offense," Haynes said. "They have a physical offensive line and a stable of running backs. It sets you up a little bit because they run the ball, run the ball then try to hit you with the play action deep ball. So we've got to have great eye control and make sure our guys are doing the things they're supposed to do, both run and pass."
4. Can the Buckeyes protect their quarterback?
Ohio State players and coaches have talked about the need to affect Miami signal caller Jacory Harris, but keeping Pryor's jersey clean will be just as important.
The Hurricanes bring a talented, deep defensive line to the Horseshoe to match up with a veteran Ohio State offensive line that includes four players who were rated five-star recruits in high school and are upperclassmen.
"It will be a good test, but I feel like we'll be well prepared," said Stoneburner, who figures to be asked to help with some of the protections.
5. Will the Buckeye offense maintain its multifacetedness?
In the past, passing too rarely was not so much Ohio State's problem as was passing too rarely out of certain formations.
Such was not the case in the season opener against Marshall as the Buckeyes stretched the field vertically and horizontally with a handful of pro-style sets and spread formations.
Will Tressel and his staff avoid a similar regression this time around?
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