Five Answers: OSU-Youngstown State

This week we take a look at the new playing surface, the No. 2 offensive line and three more issues involved with Ohio State's season-opening win over Youngstown State in the first edition of the Five Answers.

1. How is the new playing surface?

The chunks of flying sod and steps splashing up sand were not in abundance Saturday as they were a year ago.

Also conspicuous by their absence were the slips and slides players suffered on a seemingly regular basis last season.

Brian Robiskie, who managed to keep his footing well enough to catch nine passes for 153 yards, said he liked the new FieldTurf.

"Definitely it's fast," he said.

On the other side of the ball, safety Anderson Russell gave a good review as well.

"It's great," he said. I love playing on that stuff. It feels pretty much just like the stuff on the indoor field. It's good because we can plant and drive on that stuff a lot better than we can on the grass."

There was some concern about the heat from the high-noon sun, but Russell thought claims of the field registering 140 degrees Fahrenheit were exaggerated.

"It didn't feel like it," he said.

2. What will the second offensive line look like?

When Ohio State took possession for the third time, the offensive line was from left to right Josh Kerr, Daniel Dye, Andrew Moses, Connor Smith and Bryant Browning.

The drive started with an I-formation from which speedy freshman Brandon Saine scampered for 18 yards and ended with burly sophomore Beanie Wells smashing in from the 1-yard line out of a vintage wing-T formation.

There were a couple detours in between, but overall offensive coordinator and line coach Jim Bollman was satisfied.

"In my years of doing that, those guys always do a little bit better than you think they're going to do, and it's not that they haven't played against some pretty good competition," he said. "I mentioned to someone that with the lack of depth we have right now a lot of those guys that played today on the second line, they rotate back and forth on the scout team to help out so they're going against our (starting) defensive line half the day anyway.

"So I mean they're playing against good people. They're probably playing against better people than the other guys are. So it was nice for them to get a score and do a nice job."

3. How will the debuts go?

In all, counted 21 players who were able to get their feet wet for the first time, and three of the true freshmen – Brandon Saine, Dane Sanzenbacher and Taurian Washington – found their way to the end zone.

"We've been saying that all camp: Look out for the freshmen," senior co-captain Dionte Johnson said. "They've been stepping up all of practice with peole getting banged up and hurt. Brandon Saine stepped up when Mo (Wells) and Beanie (Wells) were hurt, and you've got people like Dane who stepped in for Devin (Lyons). Everybody's been learning well. In practice they're learning every day so it was beautiful for them to get out there and score."

Lest any of the newbies think this stuff is getting too easy, senior co-captain Kirk Barton said there is a contingency plan.

"Our coaches are good at that," Barton said. "Plus the veterans at their positions, they'll keep them intact ... or else we'll tape them to the goalposts and dump Gatorade on them."

4. What about the ever-present overlook factor?

This is something that is hard to gauge from outside the huddle, but there were few indications that Ohio State overlooked YSU.

"I thought our kids played hard," Jim Tressel said afterward.

Both Vernon Gholston and Johnson agreed they got the kind of physical test they expected – not to the level of a Big Ten game, but nothing to dismiss out of hand.

"That was a thing we knew about them – they are hitters," Gholston explained.

There was a dissenting opinion, however, and it came from the always-candid Barton, who was frustrated by the Penguins ability to plug up the OSU running game early on.

"We need to come out with more intensity," Barton said. "We didn't come out the way we need to. You really want to go after a team from the get-go and it seemed like we just kind of trudged through the first half. We really needed to pick it up and put more points on the board. We left a lot of points on the board in the first half. We have to pick it up."

5. So you're saying there's a chance? (Or, will this help everyone to forget that last game?)

If Ohio State came out with the intention of making the Penguins sacrificial lambs, that was now how it played out. The Buckeyes beat the Penguins handily but got a measurable of a test in the process.

Though some pregame talked centered on getting out on the field to wash out the bad taste of the BCS National Championship game, the word "Florida" was not heard floating around the postgame interview room much at all.

Perhaps that is because for all the talk of turning the page, the fact was it already happened.

"I think they had the right attitude, and more importantly I think they have the right attitude coming out of the game," Bollman said. "I think they know that they need to work at it and keep improving. This group has put their nose to the grindstone a lot and I think they'll do it again. I don't think anyone's coming out of here thinking they're where they need to be.

"It was day's work, so let's do some more work."

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