Spring drills open up March 31 with the Scarlet and Gray Game set for April 23 at Ohio Stadium.
Working backward from No. 10, we are up to the sixth pressing question leading into spring football.
* 6. Will somebody step up at defensive end?
The Buckeyes lost starter Simon Fraser to graduation. Senior-to-be Mike Kudla returns at one end. The other side is wide open with junior Jay Richardson likely having the inside track. When OSU issued its pre-spring depth chart, sophomore David Patterson was bracketed at end with Richardson. Patterson has spent the majority of his time at defensive tackle at OSU.
This is one of the critical positions on a defense that is almost otherwise set. OSU registered just 24 sacks last year in the first season of the post-Will Smith/Darrion Scott era. At times, OSU really struggled to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Northwestern's Brett Basanez, Wisconsin's John Stocco, Iowa's Drew Tate and Purdue's Kyle Orton all operated almost unfettered in key OSU defeats.
There is help coming in the fall with three defensive end signees joining the fold in Ryan Williams, Lawrence Wilson and Doug Worthington. But the staff will not want to go into the new season counting on help from those freshmen, no matter how impressive their high school tape may be.
At 6-6, 270 pounds, Richardson has the body to be a real beast for opposing linemen. Now he needs to get it done on the field.
"Here's a guy that came in here not a big time recruit," Heacock said of Richardson. "He came in here as a potentially good football player. This is his first year playing a bunch of football. He started. Jay is maturing. He was only a sophomore. He has a lot of time left.
"By the time Jay Richardson is a senior and you compare him to Will Smith and Darrion Scott – he is going to grow each year and become better and better and better. That's part of life. That's the way it is. That's why you like to have seniors playing for you because they younger they are the more time it is going to take, but he is going to be a good football player."
On Tuesday, we began this 10-part feature with the No. 10 pressing question for the spring:
10. Will several players "on the spot" deliver?
Click this link for a look at that installment including spring practice dates, the 2005 schedule and returning starters for OSU in 2005.
On Wednesday, we had question No. 9: 9. Will Ted Ginn Jr. spend a great deal of his time at cornerback?
On Thursday, we had question No. 8: * 8. How will new assistant coach Paul Haynes fare in his debut with the Buckeyes?
On Friday, we had question No. 7: * 7. How will OSU juggle the linebackers and will Mike D'Andrea be full-go?