A quick spring preview - offense

Spring practice is about to begin for OSU, and there are a lot of questions that need to begin to be answered. Today, we're going to take a quick look at some of the issues on offense.

Spring is in the air... and very shortly, some footballs will be in the air on the OSU campus! That's right... Spring Football is here, and today, I'm going to take a quick glance at the team and the issues coming into the spring. I'm going to go position by position (offense today, defense tomorrow) and go player-by-player in those positions, and hopefully I haven't left anyone out!

Quarterback

All eyes will be on the quarterback position this spring. Only two of the legitimate candidates will be there, but will one of them do enough to become the undisputed "man"?

Craig Krenzel - Based solely on game performance last year, Craig Krenzel (left, Allsport photo) should be #1 over Scott McMullen. But you get the impression that Craig is not quite a lock to be the starter this year (even though he would start right now). That's not too much of a surprise; after all, he didn't exactly raise any eyebrows last year. The question is, is there anyone who can beat him out? That is a question we won't find the answer to until the fall, but Craig is in a position right now to step forward and put some distance between him and the competition. Mike Nugent told us that he is becoming one of the leaders of this team, which is a good start.

Scott McMullen - Let's be honest... Scott didn't look too good when he got the call to start against Illinois. And many fans are pretty much assuming that he won't be a starter anytime soon. However, he was #2 on the depth chart for quite a while last year... can he do anything in the spring to catch Craig Krenzel again? We shall see, but he has a few doubters out there.


Tailback

I was originally of the opinion that OSU was going to miss Jonathan Wells more than people think, but with all the talk of these running backs working so hard and getting ready to go, I think OSU will be okay here. Maybe the question now is who will get the bulk of the carries? Jerry Rudzinski thinks Lydell Ross is going to step up and become the next Buckeye star RB, while Duane Long gives his vote to Maurice Clarett getting the nod this year. Let's take a look at the position:

Lydell Ross - I think I speak for all of us at Bucknuts.com when I say that Lydell (left, Allsport photo) is one of our favorite players. He's a great guy to talk to and a guy you want to cheer for. He heads into the spring as the favorite to win the spot, and he's got the tools to be the man.

Maurice Clarett - Duane told us in chat that Maurice is outworking everyone this spring. If he's healthy, he'll be tough to keep off the field.

Maurice Hall - I remember when Maurice Hall was in high school and was one of Ohio's highest-rated players. Duane would tell anyone who would listen that Maurice should be playing cornerback, but very, very few people agreed. However, as the season started to progress, I saw people start to see things as Duane did. But as it stands, Maurice remains at RB, and you have to wonder... assuming Maurice Clarett lives up to his billing, is there room for Maurice Hall at that position, not only now, but in the future as well? He's got that great speed, so fans want to see him used, but will he see much time anywhere other than special teams? Hopefully he can prove the doubters wrong, but the guess here is that he might struggle to find a niche for now.

JaJa Riley - JaJa is a player who people are going to be watching this spring just to see what he can do. We hear good things about him, and spring ball may help give us a glimpse of how he can help.

Jesse Kline - Jesse has been fighting injuries his whole career, and he is going to continue to do so as he is battling a shoulder injury this spring.


Fullback

Jamar Martin is gone, but we should discover in the spring that OSU has some players that are ready, willing and able to step in.

Branden Joe - He was highly-touted coming out of high school, but he hasn't made much noise since then. He now has his chance and appears to be the favorite to start at FB, but...

Brandon Schnittker - ...a lot of people really like this guy. He's big and can move and can pound the heck out of people. When I saw him in high school, I thought I was looking at OSU's fullback of the future. I think he's going to put up a fight for this spot and may very well win it.

Jack Tucker - Time is running out for Jack Tucker. Hopefully he will be able to step up and find himself a role in the offense.

Nate Stead - Where Nate will fit in is unclear to me, as is his status. I was intrigued when I first saw him and how huge he was, and he got playing time as a freshman, but things have gone backwards since then.


Wide Receivers

The OSU wide receivers are the deepest and most talented group from top to bottom in the Big Ten. There are some question marks on this team coming into spring -- this isn't one of them.

Chris Vance (left, Allsport photo) and Michael Jenkins - Two players whose spots are safe. There's really not much analysis needed here; barring something unforeseen, these are the #1 guys.

Drew Carter - Here's a player I'll be keeping an eye on. He'll be trying to bounce back from an injury-plagued season... what will he bring to the table? Last year in spring ball, he looked like the #1 guy. If he comes back strong, what a bonus that would be.

Chris Gamble - Chris is most likely the #3 WR right now, and I'm looking forward to seeing him break out and start to become the player he is being hyped up to be.

Bam Childress - Bam brings a potential spark to the offense, but he seemed like he wasn't there yet last year as far as being a WR was concerned. He has that potential to make things happen, but with a group this deep, it is hard to see him getting much more time this year.

Angelo Chattams - And don't forget about this guy. He's one of many at this position right now, but when he gets the ball in his hands, he can do some things. Let's see what happens when he gets in a position to show what he can do.

John Hollins - When many fans think of John, they think of the fine Spring game he had last year. Let's hope that doesn't turn out to be his claim to fame at OSU. Injuries have been problematic and he seems to be a candidate to be the odd man out, but he has some ability to be a solid contributor if he can stay healthy.


Tight End

Darnell Sanders' departed here unexpectedly, but not too many people seem concerned about this position in 2002. The starter seems set, and the issue now may be who the best #2 TE will be.

Ben Hartsock - Here's your #1 TE heading into the spring, and he has shown that he is capable of being the man at that position. Big Ben isn't the athlete that Darnell Sanders is, but he should be solid here.

Jason Caldwell - Coming out of high school, Jason Caldwell was labeled as a great athlete with a lot of potential, but he was a project since he hadn't played a lot of football, so we heard people say he was about three years away. That was three years ago. It's tough to tell what to expect from him.

Ryan Hamby - Hamby seems to be the fave for the back-up spot. Pass-catching was his strength coming into OSU; we'll see if he can make some noise this year.


Offensive Line

This is the question mark that never seems to go away, although it does seem like -- slowly but surely -- this unit is on the way up. With LeCharles Bentley and Tyson Walter gone though, there is still work to be done.

Adrien Clarke - Clarke will be a big part of this line, just maybe not in the spring as he will be hampered by a wrist injury. His spot doesn't seem to be in doubt, but everyone still wants to see him finally start to approach his potential. If he can do that this year, it will go a long way towards solidifying this line.

Alex Stepanovich - Alex is the man at center right now, and he's got big shoes to fill. He is probably the best candidate to be the center this year, so the choice is a good one, and hopefully he can step forward and become the lineman we thought he could be when he signed with OSU.

Shane Olivea - It looks like Shane is going to be the one at left tackle. The good news is that there doesn't seem to be any concern about him bouncing back from the ankle injury he suffered last year.

Bryce Bishop - Last year at this time, some fans seemed concerned about Bryce (above, Allsport photo) and if he'd be able to make an impact at OSU. He had to sit out his first year due to academics, then he redshirted another year after that. Not many people expected him to start after that, but when the smoke cleared, he was a starter. Will he ever dominate, as was the projection when he came out of high school? That is yet to be seen, but with a year under his belt, he should continue to move forward.

Ivan Douglas - As Coach Bollman told us on the Bucknuts Radio Hour, this is a big spring for Ivan. He's coming off a lost season, but he's in a position to grab a starting spot at tackle. If he can bounce back, it would be big. A lot of eyes will be on him this spring.

Scott Kuhnhein - It's now or never for Scott Kuhnhein as this is his final season. Unfortunately, he's not projected to make an impact.

Ryan Cook - This redshirt freshman will be a key backup this season and still has a chance to grab himself a starting spot. The overall vibe on him during his redshirt year seemed positive, and he's expected to be productive this year.

Adam Olds - Word is that Adam still needs development and will be a backup this season. He's not expected to get much time in the fall, but it will be intriguing to see his progress this spring.

Andree Tyree - Andree was moved here from the defensive side of the ball. He's short but strong and athletic, and since he redshirted last year, fans are interested to see what he brings to the table. Andree is not expected to be more than a back-up this year, but you never know.

Mike Stafford and John McLaughlin - Two players who walked on originally... they will help round out the two-deep.

Offensive outlook - There is potential here, but work needs to be done at quarterback and offensive line. This offense will not remind anyone of last year's Miami Hurricanes, but is questions are answered (and that may be a big "if"), there's a chance that OSU could field a solid offense in 2002. This spring, we're going to find out just how far away that is from happening.

Check back tomorrow for the defense!!!


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