Spring drills open up today with the Scarlet and Gray Game set for April 23 at Ohio Stadium.
Working backward from No. 10, we are up to the No. 1 pressing question leading into spring football.
1. Will the Buckeyes develop the consistency they need to return to championship form?
We harp on consistency a lot, but it seems to be the hallmark of championship caliber teams.
Through the first six games of last season, OSU struggled on both sides of the ball as players tried to adapt to new roles. The staff also seemed to have problems deciding which schemes would work. But a lot of these issues were ironed out in the second half of the year, culminating in a pair of lights out performances in the wins over Michigan and Oklahoma State.
If Ohio State harbors any serious thoughts of winning a Big Ten championship – which would be just their second in seven years – or contending for another national title, the Buckeyes need to play at that level from the season opener straight through the bowl game.
OSU coach Jim Tressel hinted that this could be a special team at his pre-spring press conference Tuesday.
"(The) question is, would it be outlandish for this group to consider the possibility of being the best team in the land, and I don't think so at all," Tressel said.
Certainly, there will be mistakes and maybe even a loss or two along the way. But another monthlong lull – as happened in October 2004 – would prove disastrous.
Getting all concerned to buy in appears to be job one, Tressel said.
"I think it was (linebacker) Anthony Schlegel, when I asked him what's our greatest challenge in 2005, who said, 'Making everyone understand what it takes -- on the field, in practice, on game day, in the classroom, outside of campus -- to be a champion,' " Tressel said.
"I think we have guys interested in doing that."
Now, in the spring, is when championship teams come out of the box and the assembly process truly begins. Bad habits are broken. Decisions are made. Starting jobs are won.
Spring football is about teaching, learning and, above all, moving toward that level of consistency that championship teams aspire to have. It will be interesting to see how Ohio State fares in that regard this spring.
"Every team should go into every season with that mentality that they can win the national championship," wide receiver Santonio Holmes said.
Well said, Mr. Holmes. We'll see you at the Scarlet and Gray Game.
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?
On Saturday, we had question No. 6: 6. Will somebody step up at defensive end?
On Sunday, we had question No. 5: 5. Will the offensive line continue its progression and, as a result, will the running game come back any time soon?
On Monday, we had question No. 4: 4. Who is going to play running back for OSU in 2005?
On Tuesday, we had question No. 3: 3. Will OSU find serviceable replacements in the kicking game?
On Wednesday, we had question No. 2: 2. Who is going to play quarterback for OSU in 2005?
OSU Spring Football Data
The practice schedule for OSU's spring practice includes practices on these dates (all 3:15 p.m. unless noted): March 31, April 1, April 2 (9 a.m., first full pads practice), April 5, 7, 8, 9 (9 a.m.), 12, 14, 15, 17 (jersey scrimmage, time TBA), 19, 21 (3 p.m., kick scrimmage), 22 and 23 (Scarlet and Gray Game, 1:30 p.m.).
From past experience, it is safe to assume that all practices are closed unless announced by the school. General admission tickets for the Scarlet and Gray Game are on sale at hangonsloopy.com for $5 each.
2005 OSU Football Schedule
(Times TBA)Sept. 3 Miami (Ohio) Sept. 10 Texas, 8 p.m. (ABC) Sept. 17 San Diego State Sept. 24 Iowa Oct. 8 at Penn State, 7 or 7:45 p.m. (ESPN2 or ESPN) Oct. 15 Michigan State Oct. 22 at Indiana Oct. 29 at Minnesota Nov. 5 Illinois Nov. 12 Northwestern Nov. 19 at Michigan
* Specialists (0): None.