5 Answers: Ohio at Ohio State

This week the Five Answers focuses on Ohio State's fast start, the Buckeye passing game, special teams and the new starter at safety. For an evaluation of all those areas, read on.

1. Can the Ohio catch Ohio State snoozing?

The first-quarter numbers left little doubt the Buckeyes came out ready to play. Through 15 minutes, the home team led 17-0 with nine first downs to zero for the visiting Bobcats, who were outgained 149-2.

"We knew coming in and preached all week that we were going to have to get going early," said Ohio State receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, a senior captain who caught five passes for 58 yards. "Any game you want to get a fast start, but you want to make sure your guys are not falling into the trap of not being ready for every game.

"I think it's a good feeling throughout the locker room because everybody already understands that we can't take any team lightly, so we don't have to talk about it."

2. Will the Buckeyes fix their kick and punt coverage woes?

Umm.. sort of.

Groans of, "Here we go again…" could be heard throughout Ohio Stadium when Bobcat Julian Posey returned the Buckeyes' second kickoff of the game 99 yards for a touchdown, but the faithful were able to exhale when the play came back because of a block in the back.

"Even with one guy getting clipped we want the whole kickoff unit to the ball, so it's no excuse," said linebacker Jonathan Newsome, a member of the kickoff team. "We can't let anybody keep returning kicks."

Special teams in general remained a concern after the Buckeyes allowed a punt to be blocked in the third quarter.

3. Will the Ohio State passing game be more efficient?

A resounding, "Yes."

The coaching staff made good on quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano's statement that the passing game would be more efficient with more easy throws. They gave Terrelle Pryor a variety of places to put the ball, and he responded by rewarding their faith in him, repeatedly hitting slant, hook and crossing routes to keep the chains moving.

He was 16 of 18 at one point, but things got a little dicier after that, including a pair of interceptions on questionable deep throws.

He finished the day 22 for 29 for 235 yards and two touchdowns to go with the picks.

"That's a good step, but I'd like to go 25 of 25," Pryor said. "That's just how I am. Those two interceptions are killing me today. That messed up my whole day.

"I think the offensive line was in a rhythm with the pass protection and guys held their blocks. I think we all made some plays."

4. What about the Buckeyes' red zone offense?

After Ohio State scored only three touchdowns on eight trips into the Miami red zone (excluding when the Buckeyes chose to kneel on the ball at the end of the game), the Buckeyes showed improvement against Ohio, but there is still work to be done.

They scored on all seven times inside the Bobcat 20-yard line but still settled for field goals twice.

One of the field goal drives came when the entire reserve offense faced the Ohio starting defense, and one of the touchdown drives by the starters required a conversion of fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

5. Can Orhian Johnson pick up the slack?

In his first collegiate start at safety, the sophomore recorded three tackles and forced a fumble. He contributed to a day that saw the Ohio State defense allow only 158 total yards, including 82 through the air.

"It was a good feeling just to be there with all those guys on defense," said Johnson, who replaced the injured C.J. Barnett in the lineup. "Those guys are just ball hawks, everybody getting to the ball, everybody making plays. I just wanted to contribute any way I could."

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