5 Questions: Akron at Ohio State

Quarterbacks, running backs, freshmen and new starters are all in our sights this week as we prepare for Ohio State's season opener. Head coach Luke Fickell advises we keep an eye on the Buckeyes' effort level as well.

1. How will the quarterbacks be used?

This is certainly what fans want to know the most.

Senior Joe Bauserman is likely to start, but super recruit Braxton Miller will play as well. The pair give defenses different things to worry about, but both are expected to run the same offensive scheme.

"We've still got the same responsibilities," tight end Jake Stoneburner said. "We've still got to go out there and execute. Whoever is at quarterback will still have to get us the ball, hand the ball off and just make sure they're doing their responsibilities as well."


2. What will the running backs rotation be?

Jordan Hall is the starter while Carlos Hyde and Roderick Smith are listed as co-backups, but who gets the most carries is anyone's guess. The 5-9, 195-pound Hall figures to play in the slot at times as well, potentially clearing the way for the 238-pound Hyde and 230-pound Smith to carry the mail behind an offensive line from which big things are expected.

"I'm sure you've heard me say a million times, how you take advantage of your opportunities will determine how many more opportunities you have," head coach Luke Fickell said. "We'll see how that all works out. We don't have it laid out and scripted exactly. But we know we've got a lot of opportunities for guys."

Fans have been clamoring to see four-star Florida speedster Jaamal Berry for two years, but he is questionable with a left hamstring strain.


3. How will the new starters perform?

There is no shortage of fresh faces on either side of the ball.

The offense will have new starters at quarterback (see above), tailback (Hall), left tackle (Andrew Norwell), left guard (Jack Mewhort), right guard (Marcus Hall) and both wide receiver spots (Verlon Reed and Philly Brown) while the defense has a new nose guard (Garrett Goebel), tackle (Johnathan Hankins), two linebackers (Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein), two cornerbacks (Travis Howard and Bradley Roby) and safety (C.J. Barnett, who started two games before being injured last season).

There is no lack of talent - Norwell and Sabino were five-star recruits while Mewhort, Hall, Brown, Goebel, Klein and Barnett all received four - but will there be growing pains as the new players learn to play with each other?


4. What about the effort?

It seems odd to wonder about how a team that has had one of the most frustrating offseasons imaginable could come out anything other than fired up for its season opener, but head coach Luke Fickell said that is what he will be looking for when he flips on the film.

"Come Sunday morning, the first thing I do when I come in is I put on the special teams reel and I'm going to put on the fourth quarter," Fickell said. "I want to see what your body language is like, your competitive nature is like. I don't care if you're a third team, a first team guy. If you're on special teams, I want to see how you compete. I want to see your body language looks like in the fourth quarter whether you're up 35 or down 35, whether it's a tie ball game or not. Those are the things we want to see."


5. How many freshmen will play?

Eight true freshmen - Miller, defensive lineman Michael Bennett, linebacker Ryan Shazier, cornerback Doran Grant, wide receiver Evan Spencer and offensive linemen Brian Bobek, Antonio Underwood and Chris Carter - find their names on the initial depth chart published by the university, but that is not a guarantee all will find their way onto a college field for the first time this Saturday.

Wide receiver Devin Smith and defensive lineman Joel Hale also impressed at times during preseason camp and could see playing time before the season is over.

Several redshirt freshmen figure to make their debuts against Akron, including expected starters Roby and Reed.

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